Saturday, August 30, 2008

up, up and away

We're off on our first holiday since I was three months pregnant with Emma - (we flew to Thailand from Izmir in January '07) and I can tell you we have been looking forward to it a lot!

That also means it's our first holiday with Emma (to a place other than a second home or family) so packing has been quite something (powdered milk, bottles, plastic plates, food for the trip, some toys, nappies, wipes, baby suncream, hats, cot, buggy, car seat...) !

We're heading for Croatia again (we were there in 2005), because t
he coast is beautiful and we can drive there relatively quickly, easily transport all the baby stuff and be mobile while we are there.

We'll be spending our first night just outside Zagreb in a place called Samobor (here) and then heading down to the Makarska Riviera where we've rented a small flat in Baska Voda.

For our second week, we'll be heading up to Plitvice National Park for 3 days and then we'll see...

We're really looking forward to it.

Must get Emma out of bed now and give her some breakfast.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy Mummy

It's not quite as much an event as when my books cleared customs in Turkey, but it's always good to receive an order of books in English - especially before we leave on holiday! Happy, lucky me!
I'll let you know what I think of the toddler books as soon as I've gotten my teeth into them.

For books to read when pregnant (or if you have a pre-toddler baby) see this post. Over a year down the line, I definitely recommend Tracy Hogg's Baby Whisperer solves all your problems. Her E.A.S.Y (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You) routine and general good sense really helped us with Emma!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

and Buc (pronounce Buu-uch)!

My Dad did this thing with Emma (and no doubt with us when we were small) where he touched foreheads with her saying "Buu-uch" while she sat on his lap. Gradually, Emma started moving her forehead in toward my Dad's as he would stop half way. Since they don't see each other that often, I continued playing this little game with Emma, and now it's something she does spontaneously with her favorite giraffe, Sophie, when she first picks her up in the morning or indeed the camera.

UPDATE (8th October 2008) below Emma greets squash with "Buuuuch":

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

back to Turkey...

No, we're NOT moving back to Izmir! but it sort of felt like being there on Saturday.

We visited Brunnenmarkt in the 16th district of Vienna. Lots of veggies, fruit, shoes, cheeses...

and lots of people from the Balkans and surroundings. We heard languages from the former Yugoslavia, Romanian, Polish, Turkish and saw stalls held by Indians.

It was a lot messier than Bostanli market but hearing stall holders calling out "buyurun" and seeing signs with the price indicated next to "ekmek" (bread) felt familiar even without the sun and the sea. When we saw a Turkish restaurant in the middle of the market it made us nostalgic for the food, so we went in for lunch.

I had some "sarma" and veggies, and Steph had a "tavuk" (chicken) kebab and couldn't resist the baklava and çay. Wouldn't you know it, the owner of the place comes from Izmir.

While we were there, we tried out Emma's new portable "high-chair" in preparation for our holidays in Croatia. Actually, it's pretty handy having our own portable baby highchair wherever we go since a lot of places don't keep them and especially now that Emma can eat most of what we eat and wants to "participate" a bit more.

On Sunday, we went to another restaurant we had spotted a while ago, off Mariahilferstrasse: VaPiano. A really nice environment with a good concept: Pizza, Pasta and Salads (as well as drinks and desserts) tailor made with the toppings/content of your choice. Yummy, central, affordable, non smoking (there is a small smoking area), ideal for a quick lunch, and - they have highchairs for kids!

VaPiano in Vienna: Theobaldgasse, 19, Wien 1060 - Tel:01/581 12 12

Monday, August 25, 2008

Poop Show - 2nd Installment

Some of you may recall this post where I wondered about the "landing" in the toilets in Vienna.
Jonathan Davis had contributed a comment including a link to an analysis of a Dutch toilet (apparently what this "model" is called) pointing out the same downsides as I had had the pleasure of experiencing:

The first encounter with a toilet in the Netherlands can come as a shock to visitors from abroad. The platform upon which the result of the digestive process lands is what shocks. The construction of the Dutch WC ensures that the smell of the product of human digestion spreads further and that the visitor to said place is confronted with his or her own 'end product'

Well, it looks like the Dutch doctors are not the only ones to reason that being able to examine one's faeces was like getting a photography of one's health.

Interested in learning to distinguish a "good poop" from a bad one?

Friday, August 22, 2008

old rituals, new places

In Geneva, Emma and I got into the habit of going for a weekly post-nap ice-cream with a good friend of mine at this fantastic ice-cream place in Carouge called GelatoMania.

They have a huge choice ranging from unique ice-cream flavors to the more traditional ones. Most are yummy, yummy, yummy although some I find just too oxymoronic (like the calypso = shrimp cocktail or the ham and melon one with real bits of parma ham in it!). Happily, they are kind enough to let you have a taste of the weirder flavors so you don't have to buy it to find out it's just too weird for your pallet. I, for one, could just not swallow the chèvre and the one with pepper.

My preferred flavors over there was "ananas-basilic" (Pineapple and basil - so refreshing!), the ginger-chocolate (mmm...) as well as the more classical "Fior di latte". I also quite liked the black chocolate (very intense!) the green tea and the "pistacchio".

Since we've been in Vienna, Emma and I have been striving to keep up the good habits and so after her afternoon nap and a detour by the fruit & veg market (held by Turks! yummy, if expensive fruit) for some raspberries, we head over to de Rocco's for some "After-eight" ice-cream (my current favorite).

I'm sure this little routine is doing wonders for my post-preggie bikini silhouette...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Smart, cute and eco-friendly all-in-one

How ecologically green are you?
Most of us try to use as few single-use plastic bags as possible. Yet, I for one, often forget my big re-usable carrier bags in the trunk of the car or even at home
because most of the green carrier bags are big, ugly and bulky and don't fit into your purse (if they do, they won't be able to fit all your food shopping in).
So unwittingly, I end up either having to pay for a carrier bag -paper in Switzerland, re-usable plastic at Spar in Vienna, re-usable plastic covered material in major supermarkets in France- or get a free plastic one (unfortunately most places in Switzerland). Even if I have managed to remember my bulky re-usable carrier bag, I end up with a couple of plastic ones when buying fruit and veg anywhere but a market, if only to weigh the fruit and veg. So much for saving the planet and thinking of my kid's future.

Another inconvenience of most re-usable bags is that many cannot be machine washed so once you've spilled some yogurt, say, you can either through the bag out (paper) or have to scoop out the mess and wipe it with a cloth and that's a real pain in the tush.

So, I am thrilled, to promote (because I really think it's a very smart idea and anyone who knows me, knows I love smart inventions) and hopefully convince you to buy a
Trolley Dolly bag so that you never have to use another plastic bag again.

  • you will take this one with you when you food shop
  • it will fit and carry all the stuff you buy
  • it will even fit your parking ticket/tube card, pen, shopping list, I-pod...
  • it can be machine washed
  • it will not break
  • it is rather cute
  • you won't need to use any plastic bags (not even to weigh the fruit and veg)

Imagine the thrill at the till when you say; "no thanks, no bag required, I have what it takes".

Have a look at the below. It's Zoe, mother to three and the inventor of the Trolley Dolly Bag

Then compare it to the one you have or one of the below:
flip and tumble
chico bags
turtle bags

if you're as smitten as I was this is the place to go!

Happy shopping!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Vienna take 2, week-end N°1

So how was our first family week-end back in Vienna?

We went bicycling with Emma for the very first time and lost her hat.
As you can see, I was a bit wobbly in the beginning, but in my defense, Em' kept kicking my bum and tugging at my top.

I was a bit disappointed by the lack of bicycle lanes in Vienna, I thought there would be at least as many as in Geneva and I haven't seen any so far!


We discovered Emma had played Indians with her nappy cream during her nap... (hadn't realized she'd taken it to bed with her from the nappy station)


She also managed to stand for the first time (doesn't she already look computer literate?!)

notice the cute "déhanché"


We decorated and improved the garden wall:



Better, no? What do you think?

We had a yummy macchiato at Bar Italia (not the London one!)

Finally, the sun came out and we visited the MUMOK (Museum Moderner Kunst) and saw and exhibit ironically called Bad Painting good art which was interesting.

The pictures below show the MQ (Museums Quarter) with lilac concrete sun-beds, classical architecture and cafés.

A really interesting mix and in my opinion, a great idea to avoid culture getting that old and dusty feel. There was even a DJ at work in the centre of the "platz" and Mojitos going round. Nice!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

what really matters

I have grown accustomed to seeing our furniture in very different settings;our flat in Vandoeuvres, the house in Zeytinalan Izmir, our first disaster area flat in Vienna (Zuckerkandlgasse) and now this one in the 18th bezirk of Wien. It's surprising how you somehow manage to make it fit the new layout with a little creativity (e.g. sometimes we have room in the kitchen for a table and sometimes we don't, sometimes our desk is a a desk in the guest room/study and sometimes it's a console table in the entrance or hall where we dump our keys and mail)

However, upon arrival in this new flat, the strangest thing happened when I saw our furniture all set up in the right rooms with our pics up and little knick-knacks laid out; it was like seeing a dead man (so I guess that would be a ghost?). I mean I was really surprised to see it all again. As if it had all died and gone to furniture heaven and could not possibly be in our home again. Weird huh?

I guess it can be explained by:
-not having gone through the process of actually moving out of the flat of the 19th moving into this one (since my honey did all the work while Emma and I were still in Geneva/France)
-the fact that I have sort of settled in our pad in France, making it my new home with pics, decorations, new clothes, bed sheets, cushions etc. as well as new routines, coffees and ice-creams with friends, etc.
-but mainly I think it's due to the fact that I tried so hard to put the Zuckerkandlgasse disaster out of my mind, that I kind of threw the baby out with the bath water as it were.

How weird is that?! It's taking me a little time to consider all these belongings as mine and enjoy them again.

I recently suggested to a friend she do without something (or rather someone) for a trial period before actually deciding whether or not she wanted to do without. Coincidentally, I realized that having lived without practically all my belongings for nearly five months, I manged quite well. In fact, I was just fine.
Admittedly, I bought new furniture , clothes etc. in Geneva, but still, it made me realize how many things I have that I don't actually need, and how they are not the be-all and end-all in terms of making my home. All these things are nice to have, but I if required, I can start over (with a little spare cash and some time) and be happy.
A refreshing, empowering thought.

Likewise, I realized that being in a smaller more compact space had its benefits, especially with a little one. Sometimes we realize how much less is really more. Granted, the two flights of stairs leading up to our pad in France (carrying Emma and groceries), doing all the cleaning (hadn't done it since student days!) and the reduced space was more than compensated by the fact that I could see friends and be in a place that was familiar (easily find my way around town, speak the language etc.). So, how cool is it to realize that I have not grown accustomed to being a spoiled-expat-spouse?! Very.

So... I'm going through stuff and I'm going to give lots of it away and make space for now.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Back in Vienna!

So, we have been back in Vienna since Sunday 10th. ... So far no major disasters. Yippee!

A close call though; the newly acquired Mummy-car, a second-hand black automatic Polo, refused to start on Monday afternoon when I decided that it would be nice to get out after Emma's morning nap and lunch. Turns out the portable GPS had sucked the life out of the battery. Luckily we managed -did I say we? Uh, I meant; my star of a husband and the VW service (Emma and I were sending good vibes) to resolve the issue speedily enough and on Tuesday morning the car started on the first attempt.

Emma has adjusted rather well to her 5th bedroom (!!!!) since birth (and I am not counting the maternity ward or family visits) and is generally sleeping ok (although last night she let out a few screams I think might be due to more teeth pushing out).

The new flat is super nice, lovely and bright and spacious, surrounded by our own garden which is accessible from all the bedrooms and the living room. Very best of all (aside from the fact that we never have to go back to that horrible construction area we thought was going to be our home in Vienna) is that there is NO UNPACKING REQUIRED since my star of a husband did it all (with a little hired help) so that we could land running and not get bogged down in boxes. What more could I ask for to make "Vienna take 2" a totally different experience? Cross fingers people!

Today is "Mariä Himmefahrt" so we'll be enjoying a long weekend with Daddy/hubby and getting out and about.

Tune is soon for more...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

stuff she does when sitting

clapping, pushing, banging Emma and her aunt Annabel.

Emma opening presents

And the winner is... the potty!