Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wow! I would hate to miss this!


P1020611.JPG, originally uploaded by NSDY.

In Geneva women are entitled to four months maternity leave. If I'm not mistaken, that's twice as much as women in France and about a quarter of what can be taken in northern Europe.

The thing is, although every day, week and month since Emma was born has brought it's magic moments (challenging and tough ones too), and Emma has been smiling and laughing for over 6 weeks, it is now, at nearly five months, that she is really interacting with us and giving us clear and varied feed-back. Laughing, chattering away, testing new sounds, imitating us, grasping at things with her pudgy hands and sticking everything into her mouth with her dimpled fingers.

Perhaps as her mother I have been privileged to witness these moments earlier and more often than even her Dad and certainly the rest of her family, but I'm pretty sure that's mainly because I spend the most time with her.

Although I look forward to taking up activities without Emma, I wouldn't want to miss any of it for the world. Although bringing up kids can be hard work, I am so happy to be able to spend so much time with her.

Oh, and another thing; I take my hat off to single moms. Respect.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Enjoying life and silver beauty

We are back in Geneva, staying in our little pad in France, where we are gradually settling in.
A few minor set backs mean we are not yet fully furnished (we've borrowed a few chairs until ours arrive) and some work still needs doing (doesn't it always when a place is yours?) but luckily nothing as unpleasant or as intrusive as the stuff that was going on in Vienna (I am trying to put that behind me in the hope that no more will be needed when we return to Wien, but who the hell knows with all that went on there....)


Anyway... it's lovely to be in a place of our own, dry frozen fields outside so Balou doesn't need bathing after walks, and to be able to actually enjoy life a little (workmen waking your baby every single day does not make for enjoyable life).

Enough already! Now for some pleasanter stuff;
  • Emma gave us a great Christmas gift and let us have our first full night of uninterrupted sleep since she was born. Yay! Bring out the Champagne!!
  • I also got some more tangible really nice Christmas gifts this year
  • our new chairs should arrive tomorrow!
  • waking up to beauty is good for the soul (read on...)

Although I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a winter person, I am finding that winter can be absolutely gorgeous.
Here are a selection of pics from our pad (or just outside) I wanted to share.

Remember, the view from our place this summer was like this:



well, now it's this:


I am absolutely stunned at the beauty of the winter scenery
the silver trees and the coral like branches



Beautiful, don't you think?

Merry Christmas!


MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS PEOPLE!!!!




Hope you have a cherry day!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Here we go again....


This time it's leaking in the kitchen.
Whoever said expat life was a walk in the park?

Monday, December 03, 2007

in the country of Christmas Markets


On Sunday after a long walk in the vineyards with Em and Balou, we went to our first Christmas Market in Vienna - in fact it was my first ever Christmas Market excluding the one on the Place de la Fusterie in Geneva and the one in Covent Garden which don't really count, do they?
We chose the Weinachtsmarkt in front of the Schönbrunn Castle, the Austrian Emperors' former summer residence, which is supposedly one of the most "authentic" markets -whatever that means in terms of Christmas shopping!



At the moment, it's dark here as early as 15h30 when it's gray, but yesterday was sunny and we arrived after 16h00 just in time to enjoy the lights.
Loads of people from near and far (bus loads of people from Croatia, Hungary and Italy) enjoying the Christmas spirit, decorations and
Glühwein.

Despite breastfeeding, I couldn't resist sharing a cup of apple wine with
crème chantilly and vanilla sauce, mmmhhh de-li-cious (I'm sure Emma enjoyed it too). See pic below of the stand

Your first drink will cost you an extra 2 Euros for the mug which you keep throughout evening and take home as a souvenir. People carry their mug from one stand to another re-filling it with anything liquid they fancy. Apparently every year the mug is different.

Maybe after a few years we'll all be drinking Glühwein in front of the fireplace from our own favorite Weinachtsmarkt mug.... a shame this year's mug isn't very Christmassy.


Friday, November 30, 2007

nasty november

Today -
OK - here's a huge post of stuff that's happened since October 21st to today and the reason it's huge, is it's actually lots of posts that never got posted since we didn't have Internet until very recently. Pheew.
So here's our nasty November and I am throwing it at you all-in-one.

Oh, and Emma is four months old today. And, miraculously and thankfully I'm still able to breastfeed her! Vive mother nature!


Thursday, November 29th - the nap I almost had
For the first time since we were in Belgrade, I actually thought I was going to be able to have a blooming nap. Emma was in bed, I had had lunch, the dog didn't need walking and no workmen were due. I had turned off all mobile phones and spoken to relocation asking them to send me and email about the matter at hand since we now have Internet (thanks to them!). Yay!
At 1h40 pm I lay down on the couch in front of the TV and closed my eyes.... just as I was nodding off, our new land line phone rings! Damn, I had forgotten about that phone. Relocation - and wouldn't you know it, they are calling to let me know they sent me an email. I just can't win.

Wednesday, November 28th - it's the small things that make me happy
I not only managed to get out this morning (thanks to the on-call elevator service whereby I bang on the lift door twice and they send it to pick us up) but also to go shopping with Emma. We got her a new S shaped pillow (my maternity one didn't survive the move and zillions of snow white balls of styrofoam where leaking from it!), a new hat (appropriate for the local climate that doesn't itch -as it's fleece inside and wool on the outside- can be tied beneath her chin and has flaps for her ears), a new pair of socks and a fleece "sleeping bag" to be left in the car seat so we can leave the warmer one in the pram for walks.

Tuesday November 27th - warmth, bad luck and everything else is relative
The good news is, they have started repairing the hole in the floor. We can now walk into Emma's room as opposed to jumping into it. But as Murphy's law would have it..... The pressure of the bloomin' boiler has fallen back down again to near zero. This means we might have another leak. I cannot believe this. Luxus Wohnung my foot! The poor family with 4 kids that actually own the biggest flat in the B building has no heating (and they bought the flat). Steph says he saw them through the window doing the dishes wearing their coats.
Thankfully, they have now
been moved into another flat since all of the plumbing and electrics are going to be redone in their apartment. They are stripping the floor boards, and tearing down the walls and concrete. Unglaublich!

Monday, November 26th - looking better but let's not kid ourselves here...

Yay! Cause for celebration, Emma and I went out to meet hubs for lunch! We went to Kids Talk Café, a place made for parents and kids where you can eat, breast feed, play, park your pram, change your babe (lovely changing stations with nappies in all sizes and bum wipes galore). Life is looking better.

Oh, and another thing (just to show you that I have not become an utter cynic and that I am still quite an optimist): today all the workmen who came to do stuff in our flat knocked on the door. I was touched, and thought it was sensitive of them to have finally stopped ringing the doorbell so that Emma could get some sleep. (Ok so maybe my answering the door with a scary look on my face contributed to this, but hey, if it works...) Ha! Well, it turns out that the doorbell and inter-phone actually no longer work.

Friday, November 23rd - is the deadline necessarily the day things get done?

Yay! A technician came by – sent by relocation but from the Internet provider – and he actually got them to move their asses (pardon my French so we now have Internet and a landline! Turns out November 28th was the deadline, not the scheduled do-day - I guess the diff' isn't always understood.


Thursday, November 22nd - Internet, Balou and the bloody weather

I got my hopes up yesterday about Internet actually happening. Austria Telecom was here for the third time and there were 3 technicians in our flat past 6pm so it’s not like there wasn’t hope…. Unfortunately, no cigar. Again. Turns out it’s not the building’s fault this time – the provider says they are scheduled to do it on November 28th….Shit.


I am seriously resenting Balou at the moment. Poor thing, it’s not really his fault, just that it’s hopeless having to shower his paws, bum, belly and ears after every walk – due to the mud in front of the building and the melting snow. This entails, carrying him into the bath without getting caked in dirt myself, after having made him wait in front of the door so I can a) remove my mud-caked shoes and b) undress Emma and get her into bed or bouncer first. Thank heavens he obeys – as long as a well intentioned builder doesn’t walk in, in which case Balou follows.
Life was so much easier in a sunny, dry climate.... I miss Turkey.

I am sooo tired. “Nap when baby naps.” Yeah. I shower or talk to technicians/workmen/relocation or walk the dog or cook lunch or unpack more stuff when she sleeps. And just as I am done (or in need of collapsing), Emma wakes and needs feeding.

Wednesday, November 21st - rant, rant, rant and my depressing life / the expert visits our flat and the parqueter who never came

Hubs off to Stockholm again today. Not his favorite destination. Means we’re on our own again.

Horribly interrupted night again. Don’t know why Emma is waking me so often after having been on Baby whisperer’s wonder routine… Am really starting to feel the lack of sleep. Maybe she’s teething? Oh, no, wait, silly me - it's the drilling.


The morning starts with me waking at 6, 6h30, 7h, 7h20, 7h40, 8h00 and finally getting out of bed at 8h30 – my once again short hair all over the place – to the perspective of Rodica (the cleaning lady) and the Building Expert (meant to evaluate exactly how bad our situation is) both means to be arriving at 9h00.

Hubs has walked Balou and is all ready to go, so he makes me coffee… unfortunately it’s cold when it reaches my lips since my mobile rings and it’s B. from relocation: the parqueter will come to finally close the whole in the floor -please will I call her by 10 if he is not here. She also wants to let me know that she is optimistic about the phone line being set up in the building this week. If only….

I pull my jeans over my non-showered butt, (I showered yesterday) but don’t have time to remove my pajama top (pink with white polka dots) when Rodica arrives, shortly followed by Mrs T. from HR and the Expert (but by this time I am breast feeding in the living room).

Status according to the expert? “Frecheit” - which I understand is like “bezobrazlog” or “foutage de gueule” - a scandalous fucking joke basically.
It seems, this apartment should not be available for rent. In fact, in Vienna there is some kind of “permit” that allows the owner to rent out his/her flat which, he is pretty sure the owner does not yet have. No kidding. Why, WHY did the real estate agency not check this?!
Anyway, consensus is we should not pay (full) rent until things are up and running, and, unfortunately it looks like bad news, so we might consider moving, and in the meantime, at least until the workmen are out of the building, we should consider staying in a hotel as it’s not place for a baby. No kidding! But we’ve had our share of staying in hotels/with family/ anywhere but in our own home, this year thank you very much.

They all leave, and I prop Emma in her bouncing chair on top of our bed as I hop into the shower (yay!) before the parqueter arrives. ( I can actually see her from the shower when she’s on the bed which is pretty good since I constantly think I can hear her crying….)

The parqueter does not arrive. I call B. She calls me back; he will come this afternoon. But of course. I was not planning on leaving the flat anyway. I am growing roots here. Ugh.
At around three pm, one of the coordinators rings the doorbell as I am wiping poop off Emma’s rosy bum cheeks. I open the door and run back to the changing station while asking him to follow me.

Coordinator: “the man for the floor just called me. He was in a car crash for two hours”

Me, hopeful: “ you mean he is in a traffic jam?”

Coordinator: “no, he is in the hospital. He had an accident”

(Holding up Emma, - now in clean nappy I cannot help thinking that this has to be black magic. This apartment has got serious bad vibes! Bewitched!)

Coordinator: He has someone else (who) can come, I said “please come tomorrow or Friday, I will tell you tomorrow. Lovely baby". He bows in apology and says thank-you and backs out of the flat. Why is he thanking me? For not crying/ yelling/ throwing a dirty nappy at him?! Poor man, I would not like to be in his loafers. Still. This cannot be happening. I call B. from relocation and tell her that the malediction goes on.

I just want to leave. Run away. Ugh.

I have not been out except to walk Balou around the block and quickly to the local SPAR (supermarket) since Sunday.

I dig into ice-cream every evening. Hubs is back on beer.

Did I mention we must undergo a health check & eye check before we can convert our Swiss driver's license to an Austrian one? Forget global, where is Europe?
My life is so depressing at the moment.

November, Tuesday 20th: it's the dog's fault I can't leave

Emma and I are going to the pediatrician’s today to meet him in healthy circumstances and pick up our “Mutter-baby pass” (a kind of baby book which tracks vaccinations, weight, height and any other useful baby development stuff. This document is needed for various administrative things here in Vienna, among which the Mutter’s salary of 14,90 Euros per day to take care of your “kind” if you are not working for a period of up to two years.)

(…)

The lift is still not working. And now when they switch it back on it only goes up to the floor beneath us. I asked the workmen if they could “pick me up” on the floor beneath us at 14h30 with the pram etc. so we could get to the Pediatrician’s in time.

I walked Balou, washed his paws, changed Emma and carried the pram down the stairs, then her, and waited for the lift to pick us up. Workmen say they’ll do their best to make it work for when we get back.


Pediatrician didn’t have any “Mutter-baby pass” – the document we have from Geneva is the same he says, but he can give us one next time.

Emma is 62cm long and over 7kg.

The receptionist of the surgeons office – not the pediatrician’s but another doctor who works next door and has the same name and where I went in first since he is also at number 45 – was smoking! Seriously!!!


Hubs and I discuss Em' and me going back to Geneva until this place is livable (working lift, no more holes in the floor, heating that works, etc.) He's traveling anyway and I am losing it here. Balou makes things a bit more complicated since he doesn’t fly easily (me neither with him & Emma! Although I’ve never done it on my own).

One small hiccup - our pad in France (near by Geneva) doesn't have a couch nor chairs. Thank heavens we set up beds and a fridge and the heating, phone, Internet and water are all running. Beats here.... but not exactly how we had planned things....

Hubs curses Balou stating that our life would be much easier without him, (true) that we should walk him by the highway (Balou doesn’t really see the danger in cars), that it’s like having two kids already, and thank heavens we didn’t have twins. Balou has become the “souffre douleur” and is has become the official scapegoat.


Monday,
November 19th - a bad hair day, but it'll grow...
I got my shoulder length post preggie flimsy hair cut short today. I found a hairdresser that isn’t below ground level, has windows and went there early in the morning so that the air woulnd’t yet be full of hairspray in an attempt to preserve Emma’s lungs.

I took a three year old picture of myself with short hair to the hairdresser’s and asked her if she could do this. Of course. I left looking like Maria, our once cleaning lady when we were in Vandoeuvres, Geneva. Not amused. Tried very hard to convince myself it was not a time for vanity, and that the important thing was that my I could now wash my hair every second day, let it dry in 5 minutes – no blow drying required. Practical.

While I was muttering my way into the supermarket, a man from Austria Telecom calls me and says he is there to install the line. – I rush back home to find he is gone. The elevator workmen say he’s around & will be back. Telecom man returns and is appalled at the work so far in the building. I call Beate from relocation and put her on with the Telecom man. No cigar. Still no way they can connect us.


Saturday,
November 17th
We decided that there would be no unpacking, tidying, traveling, Ikea-ing this week-end.

Instead, a walk and shop to get our growing Giant Emma some new clothes that she will not grow out of in a week! As we were getting ready to leave the flat I found Emma’s pram – which I parked on the landing since the wheels were muddy – full of muddy crumbs off workmen shoes and God knows where else.
AGhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

In town we stumbled upon a kids café – called Kids Talk I think – a place dedicated to new parents and kids, complete with an indoor playground on the other a restaurant-café entirely non-smoking and equipped with colorful high-chairs, quick easy eating and lots of breast-feeding, yelling, kicking and an impressive number of prams parked in the front. Inspiring. A total nightmare for any non-parent, but so practical for us.

Sunday,
November 18th
We drove out to the Wiener Wald - for a walk in the snow with Balou and Emma & had hot chocolate and lunch at the Cobenzl Café – where they have Wireless Internet. Loads of kids on sleighs and parents with woolen & colorful hats.
Café Cobenzl – named after the Graff whose property it is located on – it has a gorgeous view of Vienna, the waiter is from Izmir – can you believe it?! – and they brought Balou some ham on a plate asking if he was not a vegetarian – apparently every dog is offered ham in their cafés! We had a delicious goulash and wonderful hot chocolate. Unfortunately as we left the place we could not help noticing that our coats and hair stank of smoke and over-fried oil. After airing out coats for two days, had to wash everything to get rid of the smell. Too bad since the café is nice, the location good and the staff friendly. The week-end has cheered me up a bit. Let’s hope next week will be better and more successful than last-
Friday,
November 16th
Just as I was at the end of my rope Sis and Dad called, or rather Skyped me on my Viennese mobile. Bad timing for them, but it gave me the opportunity to off load all of my anger and vent my utter resentment at the bad luck we are having at the moment. So good to talk to someone other than:

Three-month-old Emma

Balou the dog – although my current lack of patience means I’m not sure this would qualify as talking

Beate from the relocation agency – usually bad news

The workmen – also pretty much always bad news as you’ve gathered by now

Hubs – as fed up as me most of the time


Anyway, thanks guys for the talk – it meant that hubs and I probably had a much more relaxed conversation than would otherwise been the case – and the invitations to have us stay.


Thursday, November 15th

It’s going to snow all week-end. We don’t have winter tires. Relocation tells me no insurance will cover me if I drive with summer tires and that Vienna will be crazy in the snow.

Must get some food in today.

Where can we order winter tires? A few phone calls, (size of tires, brand, tires and wheels?) to be told it will take 5 weeks! (!!!! Might as well tell me to wait for freaking spring!) After requesting we call around to other places, finally I’m told that I can get some as of Monday. Phew! Basically, I need for the snow to melt, before I can get drive to the garage to get them. If the lift works. If the car starts.
If I am still sane by then.


November 14th

How can anyone sleep with the drilling going on all day?!
Emma is really a star, but seriously! There's no way she can sleep with the walls shaking. I would take her out for a walk, but the damn lift has been turned off since all the electrics need to be fitted into the damn shaft. Today the drilled on our floor right through the walls and into our dressing. A cloud of dust set on the floor after having covered all our clothes. Lovely. This is getting better by the minute.
The lift is going to be "out of order" until the end of the month. Only they will leave it on at night. So I can go to the park with the pram at 3am like one does, right?


Tuesday, November 13th

Telecom guy due today.
(…) Telecom man says he can’t “open” our line since the plug in our wall is purely decorative and the whole building needs to be connected first !!!!!!! He requires the building company to order the lines and “boxes” to connect the building, then they can “open” our line. At the moment this are is considered a construction site -my feelings entirely….

Monday, November 12th

I wasn’t wrong – the Telecom man was due Saturday, and apparently someone did come on Saturday, but couldn’t find the entrance. I can’t say I believe this 100% but maybe I am becoming a cynic.
Steph was off traveling again this morning but thankfully took the pram down to the car before he left as the blooming lift is not working and we live on the top floor! Can just picture myself trying to carry the wheels, then the actual pram, then Emma downstairs.

Saturday, November 10th

A Telecom techie due today between 9 and 11am to “open” the Austria telecom line so that our provider can then rent it to us. Did he show up???? Maybe I got it wrong and they are coming on Monday?


November 9th

Today I meet a potential babysitter. She’s in her 40s & used to be a nurse. Not that I can quite see myself leaving Emma with a complete stranger quite yet for more than 15 minutes or so, but we might need to leave her with someone soon, and with no family/friends in Vienna, I wanted to start looking without the pressure of needing one right away.
Update on the babysitter: I would definitely feel more comfy leaving her at a “kindergarten” with other kids and a couple of trained people, than alone at home with someone we don’t know. How old do you have to be to go to a kindergarten here I wonder?

Thursday, November 8th

Workmen in and out all day every day. Impossible to plan or get out or feed E. and nap at regular times. The sound of the doorbell is driving me mad. DING-DONG. Maybe I can get one of the electricians to disable it?
Gaping hole in front of Emma’s room that I need to jump over when I feed her in the middle of the night. Does insurance cover us for living on a freaking construction site!????

Tuesday, November 6th:

We should consider ourselves lucky to have any heating it seems. I can’t believe this is happening. In Vienna. In a new “luxus wohnung”. Ha! I am so eating humble pie. Septic tanks in Turkey at least worked!


Monday, November 5th:

Oh. Oh. The pipes are leaking somewhere under the floor boards. They are knocking down bits of wall and parquet to try and find the leak which is causing the pressure to fall and the heating to falter. Worst of all, this is not the only flat where this is happening. Ugh.

Update:
EVERY SINGLE FLAT seems to be having a problem with the pipes/heating.

November 4th:

Back in Vienna to practically no heating. Ok. I am exaggerating. We put the thermostat down before leaving and now it won’t go up again. The pressure on the boiler is down to 0 when it should not go below 1,5 according to the plumber. I have a bad feeling about this.


November
November is our least favorite month of the year. Gray, cold and neither here nor there. Let’s hope it goes quickly.

October 28th:

Ok, so the drive down was not the most fun experience. We got stuck as we were entering BG and it took us over an hour to make one kilometer. Luckily K was waiting for us at a petrol station or we wouldn’t have found our way to Dad’s. Despite our experience of driving in Turkey for over a year, Hubs said he was never as scared as on the last bit of semi-highway – just after entering Serbia, the shittiest part but where we had to pay a toll – where the dark, and fog limited visibility, making the narrow and badly marked roads lethal - not to mention the crazy overtaking.

Still, the drive there meant we had time to catch up and really talk about other stuff than moving, unpacking, feeding, nappies, shopping, parenting, etc. Emma was a star and was fed at petrol stations while Balou was walked briefly and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the state of the public toilets along the way, even in Serbia (much cleaner than in Italy!)


Saturday, October 27th

Off to Belgrade for a week.
Good bye boxes, Good bye unfinished flat. Good bye Vienna. Hello Daddy, Hello Sarma, Slava, burek, and all yummy food but no-cooking! I am so looking forward to a rest and seeing Bolecanci, Daddy and Nathalie.

October 26th

It's been a tough week and the flat still looks half moved in. Unpacking with a babe in the house, while feeding every three hours is just
slow... And to be honest, I have had to put a check on my standards and prioritize. A moderate mess and a few unpacked boxes in the guest room are really not important. At least we can all get to our beds, and Emma's room is practically done.

October 21st

Emma and I leave Geneva and join hubs, Balou and all our furniture in Vienna.
One week to make it livable and then we're off to Belgrade for a break and Slava.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Am not dead

just no Internet connection and no land line.
Heating working though. Still gaping hole in floor and wall.
Discovered hot spot café -thanks Beate from relocation agency!- but no battery left in computer - Honey, Grrrrr!!!
Will be back tomorrow.
Just wanted to say we are all alive and well, kicking - especially Emma.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Happy Birthday Emma

TWO MONTHS TODAY!
Yipeee!

1 trip on a plane,
met 2 out of 2 aunties,
wore nappies of 3 different sizes and lived in 3 different "homes",
met 3 out of 4 grand-parents,
driven in 5 different cars,
visited at least 6 apartments...

What an experienced girl I am!
Things can only get better, don't you think?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Poop Show


What is the deal with these toilets?!

Why is it that the more recent Viennese toilets are built like bathtubs for the physically challenged or elderly?
I.e. with a step or "landing" half way down?

Seriously.





The downside?
Increased visibility and smell.

Mmmm....
It is rather off putting, you must admit.

I can't figure out what the plus side of designing toilets this way could be.
Any ideas?



Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Welcoming Bratislava

Although you'd think we'd want to discover Vienna, having been here for less than a couple of weeks, on Sunday we opted for a more adventurous outing and decided to visit Bratislava (SlovaKia) after reading about its open shops and cafés on Sundays.

We figured we'd make the 79km road trip (according to Google Earth) for lunch and do a food shop at the 24h mega-huge TESCO so that I wouldn't have to practice pushing Emma's pram and the food troly simultaneously to fill the fridge of our serviced apartment.

Bratislava's old town was nice nicely restored buildings,
lively cafés and ice-cream parlors,
quaint statues...















Bratislava is clearly providing to the needs of the many British and Italian tourists with lots of holes in the wall (ATMs),
international press readily available and signage in English everywhere...
Check that. Nearly everywhere...
Resulting in a less welcoming occurrence which seemingly
only applied to cars with license plates other than SK
And so we discovered that the traffic police in Bratislava
work on Sundays.
A phone call away, they readily came to pocket the (hefty) fine
and enable us to drive back to Vienna.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Marriage and tomorrow's yesterdays

If you think preparing and planning your wedding together tests a marriage, just wait 'till you have a baby!

And if that isn't trying enough, try 3 months (three months today!!) of living out of a suitcase. Make that suitcases, since you're constantly changing sizes in between week 34 of pregnancy and week 40+8, not to mention the change of temperature and season -unless you live somewhere near the equator-, and then there the small matter of the clothes and gear of a fast growing baby...
Add to that, staying with your Mum and your Mum-in-law, while buying and setting up a pad in France (which is great but is also quite a bit of work), before flying out to a new city and house hunting with your lovely newborn while living in a serviced apartment (thankfully equipped with a washing machine)...

And of course, hubs is very much in demand and engrossed in his new position at work and, hey, even traveling....

In the meantime you're desperately trying to sooth yourself with positive thinking and the belief that inner stability is what counts (so what if you've called 5 different places "home" in half as many months and driven as many cars).

So what?

* I've learned to be less anxious and get less unhinged by the small stuff
* modern technology is more than helpful, it actually often saves the day; you can read the paper of your city of choice, keep in touch (and sight!) with friends and family practically instantaneously, lose yourself in music and enroll into a local yoga class that is being set up by another newcomer and discussed on a local forum
* having said that, you really can get by with a lot less stuff than you are used to living with...
* which in turn gives you the opportunity to look around you more and (re)discover that which is most important to you
* hopefully, all of this will be another bumpy corner your marriage will bounce off, and, in a few days, you’ll tease each other about your bloody mindedness and short-lived irritability
* remember to cuddle and play as often as possible - it makes you feel so much better

Mostly, all these moves and co-habitations, travels and change in plans, irritations and encounters have convinced me that you really need to live life in the present; communicate (and not only the about the bad, irritating, annoying stuff), express yourself (go yell in the park or sing in the shower), breathe and concentrate on what's going on for you now. Make it as good as you can.

Tomorrow is another day... and, take it from me, a billion things can happen before then, making tomorrow very different from what you thought it would be... You might as well be able to look back and remember the happy yesterdays that you did NOT spend worrying about tomorrow.

As hard as it may be for some of us, this is definitely one lesson worth learning.

Friday, September 21, 2007

House hunting with little Emma

The colors of this blog - reminiscent of spring and freshness - just aren't working for me today having woken to "purée de petits pois" mushy grey sky for our second day of house hunting in Vienna.

House hunting just isn't the same when it's grey...
A foreign city instantly looks less welcoming and even the most appealing apartments take on a cold and uninspiring allure.
(...)

Luckily, on our third and fourth days of house hunting we have had sunny weather.

House hunting with an eight week old baby has been quite challenging and very different from previous house hunting trips.
Luckily, Emma has been a real star and good company when visiting flats around Vienna with different realtors.

I've been carting her around, in and out of cars and taxis (after setting up the car seat), squeezing her pram into the tiniest lifts, and feeding and changing her just about everywhere! The worst has been getting past the stairs taking us into lots of the buildings (I still need to master the pram over stairs especially if there are more than 3 steps) but it was worth the experience since it led me to add "no stairs" to the agency brief!

Anyway, hopefully we have now found our new home; a three bedroom apartment in a new building with a view (rare), not far from the Wiener Wald, in a green area, on a street with a lovely name, a fireplace, lots of windows, light and a lovely parquet....and with absolutely NO STEPS on the way!

If all goes well, the contract will be signed on Monday and if we're really lucky the owner might even let us move in just before October 1st!
Yippee!


Monday, September 17, 2007

September 17th

Today three years ago we got married!

Wow! How time flies...


Last year for our anniversary we were living in Turkey and now we are settling in Vienna... who knows where are future anniversaries will be?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Come fly with me

Today will be Emma's first time in a plane... and my first time flying with her (packing clothes for a fast growing baby with this year's crazy weather plus all the baby gear: not fun!)

Kind of daunting, but luckily it's a short flight and she doesn't have a cold so hopefully take-off and landing will not be too painful for her tiny ears.

We're off to Vienna -where hubs is already- on a house-hunting trip.

More soon....

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pre-preggers body...

well, uh, getting there...

Today for the first time I was able to button up a pair of jeans I owned and wore way before I got pregnant. YAY!!!

OK, so it doesn't fit me in the same way it used to... This particular pair of Levis (W30 L30) was my baggiest pair and it now fits me rather snuggly... BUT the IMPORTANT thing is I can button it up all the way without any tricks or belts or tummy wraps... and I can actually breathe! (I wore them all day, and if you know me at all, you know I cannot stand anything tight for over 3 minutes)

Not too bad five weeks after giving birth, huh? Not that I can take any credit for this, but nevertheless, it's encouraging!

Still, I look forward to the day my joints (and especially my knees and feet) will feel more like they did before the relaxin hit them... soon I hope!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The tricks your mind plays

My first memory of one of my mind's tricks goes back to when I was a little girl and staying with my grandmother (aka "Baba") in Grocka on the outskirts of Belgrade.

I don't recall my age, but I was definitely "toilet trained" and most likely under the age of 4 or 5. When I stayed with Baba, I slept in her room (u plavoj sobici), which was conveniently located opposite the bathroom.

One morning I awoke quite mortified to discover I was lying in a wet bed. Baba made no fuss and what I recall most vividly is the proverbial trick my mind played; at the time I distinctly remembered waking up needing to go to the bathroom, getting out of bed and going to the loo... so naturally when I woke up wet in my bed I was more than surprised!

It dawned on us that I had awoken, then fallen asleep again and dreamt the part where I got out of bed and went to the bathroom.

Recently in a similar vein, I have been waking startled at 3 or 4am when I hear Emma crying and have wondered (sometimes aloud!) where she is because a second ago, in my dream, she was in my arms and I was already feeding her.

It seems my mind has created a mechanism of defense against getting out of bed in the middle of the night...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

One month!

We have survived! one month of:
  • lack of sleep
  • lots of nappies
  • hours (it ads up!) of breast-feeding
  • cuddles, burps and farts
  • family visits, comments, compliments, "suggestions", etc.
  • getting to know Emma
Our first visit to the pediatrician revealed that Emma has:
  • grown 3 cm (now 53cm)
  • gained 1kg since we left the clinic (now 4,3kg) Apparently this is very good especially on breast milk!
Also, as of today, we are:
  • once again fully mobile having received Emma's passport and ID card
  • officially first time owners having received the keys to our pad in France!

I think this definitely deserved some Champagne!


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

baby's own passport if you please

Yesterday I finally managed to get Emma's passport pics done. Hurrah!

She does not look exceedingly happy, but it meets the requirements.

We had tried before, but getting a newborn to keep her eyes open and "sit" with her head upright (or at least look like it) is no easy task!

Unbelievably, newborns now have their own passports - they last 3 years!!! which is crazy seeing as they change so much in 3 weeks!

Whatever....

If you ever have to do this, here are a few tips:
  • don't try to do take the picture yourself - instead go to a proper photographer who will have done this a few times and know all about the requirements for a biometric passport
  • take a white scarf or shawl with you to wrap your left hand in (this will hide the hand that holds the head)
  • dress your little one in a top that opens in the front allowing you to hide your other hand while you hold her/him steady across the tummy
  • sit down and cross your legs so that you can balance your babe on the knee of your upper leg, holding her/him away from your body
Good luck!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thriller at Prison Break

Fellow blogger and Mum Duke from Confessions of an Expat's Wife, recently wrote a post on an innovative exercise routine carried out by inmates of the CPDRC (Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center) in the Philippines.

Granted, I am a music and dance fan and am convinced that both dancing and music are great ways to chill and get rid of any negative vibes, but I think this is absolutely brilliant!



I'd have cut the final scene though - I'm not sure I'd have prison inmates carrying out a murder even if it is in a theatrical form....

Friday, August 10, 2007

Whose nose is it then?

Very often when a baby is born into a family people start looking for resemblance to themselves and other family members - a way no doubt of linking this little miracle of life to the rest of the pack...

Of course babies change so quickly and so constantly that it's mission impossible to try to pin them down to someone in particular but themselves - which is just fine! - Nevertheless it is kind of fun to try to read a babe's traits and expressions and trace a feature back to a gran's or an uncle's chin, a grandfather's nose or a parent's eyes or hands or feet...

Yesterday was once of those rare family moments - rare not only 'cause a few of us were in the same country/ city/ room together at the same time, but also because there was a kind of easy "togetherness" where there was no tension nor fuss, just easy going time together. My Mom got out a whole bunch of pics from when sis and I and some of our cousins where tiny and so L, D, Mom and I started looking for similarities between our kids and ourselves as well as out cousins when we were toddlers.

We had a bit of a laugh at our parents' hairdo's and my mother's once-upon-a-time impressive bust. Mom recalled the funky Mothercare changing mat my parents had for me, and exclaimed that she still had the yellow baby blanket I was wrapped in and would get it out for me to use for Emma.
Funny to think we are now the parents and no doubt, if we're lucky, one day we'll be showing our kids their baby pics. Wow!

Anyway, back to family traits: on the left a pic of me and on the right is Emma - both feature my Mum's hands- any resemblance?




Sunday, August 05, 2007

Emma and I "out there"

Emma and I left the Clinic on Friday and have been learning the life of new Mom & Baby around home and in town (where are all the pram friendly sidewalks, lifts, parking exits???!!!).

Let me tell you, those clinics have organization down to a tee. Not only is the staff superbly friendly and efficient – they really know their stuff – but the layout of anything you might need is really well thought out and makes your life so much more practical. Staying there for a few days post delivery means that you can learn from the mid-wives and nurses (breast-feeding positions, burping, bathing, creaming, nappy changing…) but also observe how to set up your gear at home so that your new routines can be as streamlined as possible and leave less space for careless accidents (where did I put that clean nappy?!)


So a great big cheer for the Clinique Générale Beaulieu (if we're anywhere around here next time around I will definitely do my best to go back there– but a bit soon to be talking about that now!)

Yesterday, Emma’s birth announcement came out in the Tribune de Genève.

I was surprised at my joy to see her name there in a little box with all the other baby announcements. It was like an official welcome to her as well as letting the world know (ok, Geneva!) that she’s arrived.
I always thought birth announcements in the papers were a bit “so what-?” but I actually bought 2 copies and am going to cut the announcement out and paste it in her baby book. Proud Mummy or what?!

For pics of babies born at the CGB- including one of Emma in her car seat gear (enter July 2007 in the date field and click on "ok")


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Welcome Emma!

Live from the maternity clinic - so no pics yet I'm afraid, you'll have to wait until I can download them on my mac - I just wanted to let the world know that we welcomed our little Emma on July 30th at 6h09 am as she made a rather speedy entrance to the world.
At birth she weighed 3,450kg and measured 50cm, had some brownish hair, dark blue eyes as well as the cutest, though by no means little, nose.
We are over the moon with joy and look forward to a lifetime of love and adventure with the youngest member of our family.
Welcome Emma, we are so happy to have you!

Update: a pic of Emma taken as we were leaving the clinic on Friday, August 3rd 2007


Friday, July 27, 2007

No Champagne... yet!

Just in case you were wondering whether our train had come in...Nope, no cigar, champagne, mademoiselle yet. Not even an inkling.

Too bad, I kind of liked the 27.07.2007 but, hey, tomorrow would be fine too....

Anyhow, it was nice to be able to go to my third aqua-gym class and enjoy a dinner for two with my honey.

Tomorrow is another day....

Off to enjoy a full night's sleep!


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

2 days left....but does she know it? also: from Izmir to Vienna via Geneva and a pad in France

Well into week 39 and I have totally had enough of being pregnant thank you very much.
According to the very first due date we were given (27th July) there are 2 days left. We were also given August 4th as EDD which takes us to Saturday next week.
Honestly, the past 4 weeks have seemed longer than the previous 8 months!


It's a bit of a shame really as I hadn't found it at all difficult to be pregnant until then. On the contrary. Now days I'm finding it no fun at all and my looking-forward-to-meeting-you-baby feeling has been superseded by a can't-bloody-wait-to feel lighter/ able-to-breathe/sleep /feel stable on my feet - longing.


A shame. But I guess that also means that I'm not thinking about giving birth as something daunting, rather like something vital and liberating. De-li-ve-ry. I've never liked that wording in English, but I guess it's not far from what I think I will feel.


So, a part from that, I might mention that we are now temporarily in Geneva and have been for just over a month.
Our house in Izmir is no longer ours at all and our belongings -including baby's room- are traveling around Europe somewhere and hopefully heading towards Vienna. Mmmm.
Vienna. Yup, that's where were moving to next. Sometime this autumn.

In the meantime we're expecting baby and doing our best not to feel too "SDF" as the French say (=sans domicile fixe, literally "without fixed abode" according to the Inter Active Terminology for Europe dictionary) - To be honest and hopefully not sound ungrateful, although we are lucky enough to be in a city where we are able to stay with family members, have friends and know our way around, I've had moments where I've found it rather unsettling to be expecting a baby and be in between locations/jobs at this moment in time.

I guess this is where you feel how stable you feel as a person and a couple. Boy, am I glad we didn't do this a couple of years ago; life treats you with what you can handle, thankfully. But back to us doing our best so as not to feel totally nomad. A huge contribution to putting down some kind of roots has been the decision followed by the opportunity of finding and buying a small flat in near by France (about 15 minutes to down town Geneva with a gorgeous view of fields and the lake). Yay!


We're swamped in paper work and catalogs (choosing tiles, etc.) and it probably won't be ours until September, but it's a super exciting project and really nice to know that somewhere in the world we'll have a HQ / base / pad.
Happy me.

A good thing the sales are now on....Checking out plates, cutlery and furniture in various places has definitely helped keep my mind off my bladder's decreasing capacity to guarantee any kind of serious autonomy, as well as kept me away from buying baby clothes galore.

And baby, you're welcome any time now, really... I'm sure you're quite happy in there and all, but there are loads of people waiting to meet you outside my belly. It's time to come out and have a look at the outside world now.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bureaucracy-schmureaucracy

Who would have thought that having a baby "back home" (Switzerland) would mean you actually have to ask the embassy in your host country (Turkey) to grant your home city (Geneva) permission to issue the baby a passport?
I'm not kidding!

Swiss law says newborn's passports must be issued in stated country of residence - no matter the nationality of the parents or baby's place of birth. Duh.
But we can't travel from the birth country back to the host country without said passport. How twisted is that?


Luckily, the lovely lady from the Istanbul based Swiss embassy will grant passport issuing authorization to Geneva asap after delivery. Pheew!

I am soooo glad she remembers me and my sis-in-law from our visit a year ago!
Administrative bureaucracy is tailored to text book cases... I guess we tend to fit in loop holes more...

We're off to the airport now - pray my tummy looks small enough to board!!!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Baby Birth Announcements

Typically, although we're still not 100% set on the name, I've recently started thinking about announcing our baby's birth.

It's easy to forgo the paper ones because modern technology serves us well and traditional birth announcements can a) require some organization (like a camera when you need one, an up-to-date address book and a stock of stamps) b) be expensive c) be boring or at least unoriginal d) be old-fashioned ...


Now that I think about it, I was informed of friends' kids' births by text messages, emails, and digital pics sent electronically.
Efficient. Gets the message across. But in a way it's a bit of a shame. Text messages and emails are so virtual and short-lived.

Granted, I'm sure no-body but close family members
keep the cards or pics, but something more tangible and long-lived is simply more inspiring to me than using sms. As long as it's kind of fun. And versatile (so we could do a mix -part email part airmail- depending on the generation we're writing to). And original but not over-the-top. And doesn't make us bankrupt or take ages to organize.

Then there's the visual content: although I might feel otherwise on D-day, most newborns I've seen wouldn't win a beauty contest until maybe a few days/weeks later (unless they were born by C-section) so a picture of a baby foot or hand is often way more aesthetic than a "portrait". However it's super frustrating if you're on the receiving end! So you might as well use a printed card featuring someone else's foot. But then it's really pointless and is definitely neither fun nor original....

What do you think about Movie Poster announcements? (not necessarily in movie poster size!) The idea is kind of fun and original but setting up your newborn as a star from day one, isn't that um, like a bit presumptuous? or maybe it's just the idea of associating baby to a blockbuster movie... mhh....

Well, if you have any ideas or have found or used a fun, original, not overly complicated way to tell the world baby is born, I'm all ears (I mean, eyes....)



Thursday, June 14, 2007

Oh Boy! it's a Girl! Not?

Since the moment I was noticeably pregnant, not once has someone here asked me "Are you expecting a girl?" Quite the opposite in fact, most people greeted me with "You're expecting a boy?"

Having picked up on the fact that (for most) it was clearly a desirable thing to have a boy, (and noticed that announcements of us expecting a girl were either met with apologetic mimics and shrugs as if implying "better luck next time" or reactions of surprise as if their "guessing method" could not fail them) I took these "affirmestions" (a boy right?) to be rather sexist wishful thinking.


Granted, some people "guessed" the gender of baby according to the shape of my belly (to be honest, I'm still not clear on this- what shape is supposed to indicate what?) but no matter the "method" applied, the guessing always seemed to lead people to believe we were expecting a boy.

Yes, in this country one could say that a female child is more likely to become a "cost centre" whereas a male child is more likely to earn money and contribute to the family's welfare... but I personally believe it has more to do with an inherent belief that a boy is simply better. As simple as that. Umph. I won't even dignify this with further anything.

Anyway, the other day in a shop, once again me and my belly were greeted with the smiling "it's a boy?! when is he due?" I replied my usual "hayır, Kız" (no, a girl) and was met by exclamations of surprise bordering on skepticism.


Since this time the people asking me were of female gender and old enough to have (had) children of their own, I asked what was so surprising about there being a girl in my belly. Their English being as good as my Turkish, I didn't quite get the answer... but I did catch the word for "girl" and it was was accompanied by horrible grimaces, distorted faces and hands messing up hair - not nice. Whatever....


A few days later, when asked when "he was due", I took the opportunity of an English speaking Turkish woman's presence to question her about the mystifying grimaces and assumptions I had encountered.


She laughed and said: "in Turkey people believe that a baby girl steals her mother's beauty, whereas a baby boy makes her more beautiful... so you see, it's a compliment, because you look nice."


Typical...

According to
baby gender folklore and 38 fun ways to guess your baby's sex I should indeed be expecting a boy....

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

favorite things & bad timing

One of my favorite things now days in Turkey is the yummy fresh fruit and veg.

I loved smelling the sweet strawberries at the market as early as April - and they taste wonderful.


It's a treat having cherries, melon and watermelon in May and delicious apricots and peaches in early June.
Believe me, there's nothing like juicy and sweet fruit when you're pregnant to your eyeballs!

The thing is, often we realize what we like and enjoy when faced with the opportunity or threat of having to leave them behind, give them up, change ways...

Recently it seemed more than likely that we would leave Izmir and Turkey (all the yummy things above, but also the huge house, garden for the dog, shared pool on the grounds, sunny weather and basically the fact of having been here a year which means we know a few nice people and places...) for a place I've never been to but that
  • looked like this when hubs went to visit (talk about a change in climate!)
  • is often thought of as being extremely modern and liberal and brilliant for women and mums (not your typical idea of Turkey)
  • but that didn't really inspire me after I had read this and this (unfortunately by the same author which doesn't give much perspective... but hey reading her was really dissuasive!)
Clearly it's not all about leaving Turkey, after all we will be leaving some day, and probably sooner rather than later, but right now there's also a strong timing component.

I think it's safe to say that, no matter the destination, moving with a newborn (packing or living out of boxes, temporarily living in a furnished flat while trying to adjust to feeding at all hours and sleepless nights, knowing nothing and no-one in a new city, house-hunting...) is about the most repulsive idea I can come up with at the moment.

Moving is stressful.
Having a baby is huge.
One at a time is enough.

Timing is key. Can we at least wait until bebek is say, 4 months old?


moving Stockholm yummy fruit leaving Turkey destination unknown and bad timing


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Week 32

On Saturday June 9th we had our last Turkish check-up with our local Ob-Gyn.

The latest:
weight (EFW): 2133gr (657gr in the past 3 weeks)
height: 41,32cm (= femur length of 6,22 x 6 + 4)
Estimated Delivery Date (EDD): varies depending on what you measure. Since she's slightly Large for Gestational Age (LGA) - some measurements show her to be up to 34 weeks, give or take a few days - obviously this moves the EDD up.


If only...
I'd be very happy to have her at week 37 when she's technically no longer a preemie (in Switzerland)!
Good news is, her lungs are mature so should she come early no issues there.




Other than the usual ultra-sound, we also had fetal monitoring for the first time.

This involved me lying down with straps around my belly meant to capture bebek's heart beat, a nurse
ringing a bicycle bell next to my belly, and me pressing on a what looked like an ignition button every time I felt a kick. Oh, and it also measures uterine contractions should you have any.

Basically, a healthy baby should react to the bicycle bell both by movement and an increased heart rate. Very definitely bebek was responsive - I'm not sure how much she enjoyed the experience, but Doc. was reassured she was well and I got my share of kicks, waves and somersaults.

We leave for Geneva in two weeks and so unless something unpleasant happens before then, the next time we visit our Doc. here, she'll be able to see our bebek without the need of an ultra-sound...
I have to say it's kind of weird having gone through 32 weeks of appointments, ultra-sounds, blood tests, phone calls and talks with her, to suddenly say goodbye before the baby is born. Kind of sad actually...




Friday, June 08, 2007

32 weeks or Being pregnant is...

To celebrate the end of week 32 (is this the beginning of the 8th month then?) here are 32 things that pregnancy is (to me)....

1. knowing what it feels like to have someone have the hiccups inside you
2. sympathizing with anyone who is overweight (especially when climbing stairs, getting up from a floor mat or doing up shoe laces!)
3. thinking anyone with a beer belly should consider wearing pregnancy pants - why suffer tightness around the waste when you can have an adjustable elastic system that is no uglier than "belly over button" and a red face!
4. having incredible heartburn!
5. sharing your body - like when you want to lie on your side and the little one inside you thinks differently!
6. thinking weird thoughts like "once upon a time, every single one of us actually lived in and came screaming out of someone's uterus!"
7. being in touch with your senses and intuition like you wouldn't believe!
8. being drugged on hormones and feeling the emotion you're overwhelmed by is totally disproportional to whatever the de facto situation may be, but you can't help - kind of schizophrenic really!
9. if you're like me, then pregnancy is a blocked nose more often than not, and you'll take up snoring at Olympic levels...
10. experiencing incredibly strong feelings for someone you've never even met!
11. spending hours trying to find a name!!!
12. and more hours trying to figure out how long 40 weeks really is and when the due date will be!
13. people you don't know well or to whom you're not physically close to, suddenly feeling they are fully entitled to touch your belly
14. your "bump" becomes the centre of attention, and boy to people stare!
15. people generally avoiding doing anything potentially upsetting and "bureaucratic" processes amazingly becoming more flexible as soon as your "bump" is noticed
16. complete strangers helping you to carry your groceries, which can be nice...
17. people you hardly know offering to look through their attics and lend/give you their maternity/baby clothes
18. getting acquainted to the smelly public toilets because your bladder (and someone dancing the polka on it) leaves you no choice...
19. as the baby grows bigger, eating small meals often because your stomach has no space left
20. ditto for your lungs, so breathing becomes more like panting
21. pregnancy is also giving up trying to figure out if, bump aside, you still look like you did before the bump - pregnancy is definitely not only in your belly!
22. your legs becoming stronger
23. becoming manic of creaming yourself to avoid stretch marks and itching (if you weren't into full body moisturizing before getting pregnant...)
24. appreciating spontaneously "popping out" as you know you won't be able to do it for much longer
25. ditto for long showers or lengthy gossips over lunch with friends
26. thinking you won't, but you do eventually, actually, unbelievably, start waddling instead of walking like a "normal" person
27. sometimes feeling like there's an alien inside you, especially when your tummy starts making waves or has protruding shapes and shakes on its own
28. being unable to remember what it's like not to be pregnant
29. seeing others jump, run, or even swiftly get out of their car seems quite amazing and definitely enviable....
30. noticing (and checking out) all the buggy brands in the street and becoming acquainted with obscure terms like "onesies", "grobags", "baby grows", "muslins" and "togs"
31. thinking that your "before" clothes seem like a joke, and hoping you'll some day look at your current preggie clothes and think that it's actually funny that a Sumo could fit into them
32. pregnancy is being allowed into the mummy club - an informal club exclusive to mothers who think and act like any non-parent just doesn't get it - and I'm not saying they are wrong...