Friday, September 26, 2008

Sources of Joy

Emma has been going to the kindergarten for two weeks now and so far, seems to have taken to it like a fish to water.

She gradually went from spending 30 minutes to an exceptional 5 hours yesterday (9am to 2pm including lunch and a nap) after she had caught the flu, got better and passed it on to me. I desperately needed some extra sleep.

She is the youngest of the sunshine group (there are three different age groups) and their little liebling (darling). Melanie, the group teacher and the leiterin (head) are amazed at how calmly she observes other children cry as their parents leave. I give her a kiss and we wave "ciao ciao" and off I go. They even asked me for the "recipe" for an "Emma"!
Ok, she is good, but they are still in the honeymoon phase. At home, she is much more "assertive", especially when it comes to brushing her teeth or when she is unable to achieve something she is trying to do, like to open a can - then watch the sparks fly!

I must admit though, she has always been very sociable. After she was six months old, I regularly left her with her tata yéyé (my sis-in-law), her Gogo (my mum), her baba Aka (her adopted gran) and Bruno (adopted granpa), for whole afternoons at a time. She also actively participated in lunches with my girlfriends in Geneva (Sev, Nicole, Tania, Léo, Nora...) and weekly ice-creams with Baccarha. She came to the hairdressers with me, was breastfed at the dentists while (yes, while) the hygienist was cleaning my teeth (a first for the hygienist she told me afterwards) and was regularly involved in any other social activity I participated in before her bedtime. (Another benefit of not having been in Vienna this whole time - who knows? she might have become a hermit like me!)
At school, for now, she only goes so far as showing staunch determination when retrieving her dummy, water bottle or a toy from another little one's paws.

Emma is also the only one in the sunshine group who does not yet know how to walk. So she crawls enthusiastically from "corner" to "corner" (the tree corner, where they read stories, the play corner, the meal corner, the nap corner, the cooking corner...) often pausing to extend a new-found toy to the teacher or to a "colleague" as we have come to call them.

Apparently, Emma's new non-spill water bottle (with built in straw so you don't need to tip it) is a hit among her class mates! (thanks for the reco' Lind.)
Steph and I also went to our first Elternabend** (parent-teacher meeting all in German!) on Wednesday. It made me feel so grown-up!

We learned that the three pillars of her "school", as we call it, are hygiene, routine and independence.
Kids are taught to wash their hands when coming in and before meals which always take place sitting down at the table be it for a snack or lunch.
Naps are preceded by relaxing music and play is adapted to children's biorhythms and is gradually calmer as lunch time then nap time approach.
We were told about the leiterin's wish to put a stronger emphasis on musical activities and the calendar system for each group, where we can find out about planned events (excursions and outings mainly for the over 3 year-olds) and unplanned ones like a bout of Kopfläuse (lice) for example.
We also learned that
Emma is good at putting things in boxes but did not wish to participate in the baking of cookies and that she responded to "Viens!" following many unsuccessful "Komm!".

Oh-oh, I am definitely going to have to learn German.

Anyhow, Steph and I are very happy about how things are going. Emma seems to agree. Let's hope it continues this way so we can both (Emma and I) grow independently and I can have something more interesting to tell Steph when he gets back from work than what I read on the Internet or what novelty Emma came up with (not that she's not interesting, but you know what I mean).

I read a quote from a Harvard University psychology professor Daniel Gilbert on another Expat mum's blog (Did I Sign Up For This? An Expat Mom's Life). It really echoed in me:

"Parents tell me all the time that: 'My child is my greatest source of joy'," he said.
"My reply is that: 'Yes, when you have one source of joy, it's bound to be your greatest'.

So here's to finding other sources of joy.

**A parte on the parent-teacher meeting dress code: Contrarily to Singapore, there were no Gucci handbags, Todds shoes or Dior sunglasses to be seen. This was more like big woolly sweaters, casual shoes and jeans. Steph was among the most formal having come straight from the office. Phew! what a relief! Honestly, how can you manage the In Style look with a toddler?)

Emma's first ever drawing. Looks like Arabic to me, no?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Raspberry monster

Nothing beats raspberries for Emma's 4 o'clock

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

on her own two feet

Luckily, Emma's little bout of flu didn't last long and she is healthy enough to go back to kindergarden. In the meantime she learned to pull herself up.
My turn to be slightly under the weather now (thank heavens for Strepsils and Lemon Sip! They just keep you going) although I did manage to drag myself to my second Pilates class in Vienna. Yipee!
Only thing is, not sure what is causing my sore back and bones today...the flu or the exercise.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

First sniffles

I guess we're pretty lucky not to have had any so far (Emma is nearly 14 months old) and it figures that is should happen after a week in Kindergarden. Although, the autumn chills (more like winter when in fact today is the first day of autumn no?) that had people wearing woolen hats, boots, long coats and sprouting umbrellas, are probably as much to blame.

Anyhoooo, Emma spent last night trying to breath through a very congested nose, banging the mattress with her hand in frustration as she miserably sniffled at having to loose her dummy in order to breathe.
Today she's as hot as a bun and a understandably a bit cranky.

I finally got out my nasal aspirator and "blew her nose" early this morning. She absolutely hates me decongesting her nose, but I should have done it earlier anyway- she's now out for the count and getting some much needed rest.

If you have any advice on how to make Emma's first sniffles easier please let me know!


Emma's now up, changed and dressed and has had her breakfast. She's still hot as a bun, with temperature at 38,7°C, sneezing and coughing a little - although I think this is due to the excess mucus running back into her throat.

Found this bit of useful information and have put the humidifier on in her room. Right now we're breathing in Eucalyptus essential oils.

Wish I could ask her to blow her nose but she doesn't know how yet not having ever needed to. I guess you have to have had a cold or two and be over one to know how.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First day, new job

Dear friends and family,
When you next call, should you hear a strange muffle, shuffle and crackle, or even a dead line, consider not hanging up straight away or calling us back. It might be our new, self-appointed secretary.

Indulge her will you? She is a little gruff but she is new to the profession and so will sometimes make you wait (and me work!) before you get either Steph or me on the phone.

Rest assured, she is currently undergoing training and shows great promise. She demonstrates intelligence and determination. Admittedly, her patience rivals that of Deda and needs to be worked on. She is often adamant that she knows best and is sometimes a little resistant to our suggestions. Nevertheless, she is already a valued member of our team family and we are confident that, in time, she will prove to be a great talent and successfully overcome new challenges.

In the meantime, dear friends and family, we appeal to your sense of ahem, perseverance, and ask you to persist in trying to reach us... we don't yet have any friends in Vienna and appreciate the interaction.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What do you know!?

Tomorrow is Emma's first day at Kindergarden! and I just sent out my resume for a part-time position in Vienna... who knows? life might not be so grey here this winter!!

I'm pretty excited about Emma going to "school" tomorrow. Her first week will be all about induction so she'll be there a little longer each morning. Today I ironed her name on some of her clothes and prepared her bag with a change of clothes and nappies.

I look forward to an hour of peaceful window shopping in the area of the kindergarden tomorrow morning. Cross fingers that the new routine won't totally mess up her sleeping.

By the way, what's with the winter weather in September? today was freezing in Vienna!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Scientist on the loose

At the moment one of Emma's favorite activities is feeding us her biscuit when she's not trying to throw it over the side of the table or stick it in the satellite decoder.

She is now crawling around everywhere at the speed of lightning. Naturally, she's opening all containers, boxes, drawers, cupboards, spilling out their contents on the floor before meticulously inspecting each and every object like a true little scientist. What does it sound like? taste like? feel like?

She has figured out how to turn on the TV and so enjoys pressing buttons.

Another favorite object is the mobile phone. Yesterday she called me using Daddy's and left me a message. Today, in a moment of weakness ("aw, alright, have it, just let me finish writing this email...") I figured there wasn't much danger as it was turned off.

ha! I so underestimated my little one! In a matter of moments she had turned it on and reading: "PIN invalide, veuillez entrer le PUK" !!!

Thank heavens for Swiss efficiency! After a series of questions Swisscom gave me the PUK number and my phone was up and running again... and so was I -after my little scientist!