Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa's home was robbed

On the same day we visited Santa's beautiful home in Haute Savoie, he was robbed!!!

Luckily, all the gifts are wrapped and ready to go -the nasty robbers
"only" took the money.

This article, in French, tells more.

For pics of our visit to his house click here.

If you are ever in the area, it's definitely worth a visit!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Emma's favorite things

At the moment Emma's favorite things are:

Her musical Christmas calendar - thankfully it has pretty music!

and her crowns

She loves the crowns so much, it's now become difficult to convince her to wear her bonnet when going out in the cold!!!

and her English tidy up rhymes from kindergarden (click on pics to enlarge)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Children make Christmas more magical

This year I am getting so excited about Christmas. I think it's because Emma is starting to understand a little about it and so it makes the gift shopping, wrapping, decorating and baking all the more fun and exciting. (I am soooo relieved that I was super organized this year and had practically all my gifts ordered or bought before my wallet got stolen end of November!!!! Phew!)

Also, I am really pleased with the gifts I have got for Emma. (and mostly everybody else too!) Gosh, just thinking about the smile on her face and imagining her yelp with joy makes Christmas a whole lot better!

As always, we have decorated our Christmas tree - albeit a bit early this year due to lack of activity on a rainy Sunday afternoon. But beautiful as I think it is, it somehow does not seem complete without gifts underneath. (We'll be celebrating Christmas in Geneva again so I sent all our gifts there with Steph who was flying out for a workshop and agreed to play father Christmas with a full suitcase of wrapped presents).

Anyway, I was thinking about all this and the Christmas tree we will be decorating in Geneva when I suddenly realized that the presents would be under the tree for a very short time this year if we wanted Emma to believe in Santa Claus. Mmmm.

I think I would like Emma to believe in the magic of Christmas. And that includes the Santa-Claus-brings-us-presents-while-we-are-asleep-thanks-to-his-helper-elves-and-reindeer-who-magically-pull-the-sleigh-across-the-sky story. Which involves us parents putting the presents under the tree only once Emma is asleep on the 24th so she can wake up to them on the 25th.

How are we going to organize this since we are also due to have a Christmas celebration at Tata Yéyé's new apartment on Christmas Eve during which I am sure everyone will want to give Emma their presents?

I guess we're going to have to have the "family and friends give each other presents" story as well as the "Santa Claus brings presents on his sleigh on Christmas Eve" one.

What do you do with your kids?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Drawing in the sand by Kseniya Simonova

Kseniya Simonova is a Ukrainian artist who just won Ukraine's version of "America's Got Talent." She uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and "sand painting" skills to interpret Germany's invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII.

Her interpretation is mesmeric to watch.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Too much medicine robbed the magic

Here's a slightly more "medical" update on my previous post It's a boy!!!

At week 21, our little boy is estimated to measure about 23cm and weigh about 375gr. The EDD (estimated delivery date) remains the same and all that was measured was within the normal ranges.

The heart activity and rhythm, veins, lungs, stomach, cord, fetal movements and amniotic liquid are all "normal". My placenta is a little low (actually my report says "There is placenta previa, we advise to check the placental position at 34 weeks" ) but hopefully this will correct itself by the third trimester and I will not have to have a C-section. (I really, really do not want a C-section! Enough ops and scars thank-you! ) On the up side, they also typed "IUGR and preeclampsia are very unlikely to occur in this pregnancy." Well that's a relief!

All ok, right? But you know what? The fact is that I read all of this -except the placenta previa bit which I asked about while we were there- on our report once we got home. Although we had been looking forward to the organ screening, we walked out of the examination feeling really let down and actually worried. Nothing at all like the elation we felt each time we went to "the movies" as we used to call the monthly ultra-sound checks we had in Izmir when we "visited" Emma.

I have heard women say they wanted to give birth at home because they felt the medical environment and/or medical professionals overshadowed the natural and or human aspect of giving birth. While I am NOT considering having the baby at home (as far as I am concerned, it would be an unnecessary risk) I have to say that I do feel a little robbed of the magic by the medical and administrative requirements and modus operandi this time around. And this is despite the fact that there are no medical grounds for specific medical treatment or scrutiny.

In Turkey while pregnant with Emma we were a lot more relaxed and although examinations were thorough we somehow had more fun and looked at the "human" aspect of the pregnancy and baby more (like whose nose she might have inherited and how tall she would be). Our Obgyn would totally participate in this and indeed lead the way. Never were we asked to sign papers such as the ones we have had to sign here telling us about limited accuracy of medical tests or the risks of malformation. And this is despite the fact that in Turkey I was considered to be an old woman pregnant for the first time at the age of 33!

Here, prior to examinations we are asked to sign forms attesting our understanding that the examination/ultra-sound cannot guarantee 100% accuracy and telling us that approximately 5% of all pregnancies result in babies with undetected issues. Well, that really puts you in an optimistic and relaxed mood before seeing your baby doesn't it?

On one occasion, I have felt like we were present during the ultra-sound merely because we had to be, with the baby being inside me and all... On Monday, while carrying out the organ screening the doctor
didn't systematically address us with explanations about what he was measuring or checking but rather was focused on dictating the data to his assistant who was typing it all up. I really felt nervous when he scrolled over the heart in total silence... breaking it only to dictate abbreviations followed by numbers until I asked: Is everything ok? and we were finally told "everything appears to be normal".

Then after we had paid and received our report he shook our hands and said "Enjoy your pregnancy" - yeah...I really felt like he had helped contribute to that!

Today I had an appointment with my Obgyn and thankfully she was reassuring telling my more about placenta previa (apparently present in about 5% of pregnancies at the time of delivery) and encouraging me not to worry about it saying it would probably move up as the baby and uterus grow upwards. We actually had a proper conversation. Well, that's more like it.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

It's a Boy!!!

It is a boy.

Lately, quite a few mothers have told me that they too thought their second was going to be a boy but ended up being wrong. In fact my father was certain my sister was going to be a boy... Must ask my mother what she felt. Although I was right about Emma being a girl (despite all of my Turkish entourage telling me that the size and shape of my belly and the fact that "my beauty was intact" * meant it was going to be boy for sure), this got me thinking; I think I would have felt quite shaken had the doctor's told me it was a girl all along. Not disappointed, no, just shaken. I think I would not have felt able to trust my instincts about this pregnancy anymore.

Anyway, girl or boy all the same to me, as long as it is healthy and happy and the pregnancy and delivery go well.

* Gender myths:
There is a saying in some cultures, whereby a baby girl "borrows" the mother's beauty during pregnancy. So basically, if your hair is greasy, you come out in acne and look your absolute worst in pregnancy you are thought to have a girl. If, on the contrary, you are glowing and beautiful then you are said to be pregnant with a boy. In my experience this is not true but a couple of Mums who have daughters have told me it worked for them.

Also, I have been told that Mothers of "sturdy" girls always had a boy afterwards, whereas those who had dainty little girls then went on to have another girl. This seems to prove true in my case and in quite a few I know of. But what about the other way around? If you have a boy first?

And here he is, our little boy of 21 weeks in utero for whom we still need to find a name:

Any suggestions for a name?

Does he look like Emma did at 30 weeks ? or like Emma looked at 23 weeks?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Natural herbs, teas and vitamins used in pregnancy

As every week I read my Pregnancy E-zines and this week I found a particularly interesting topic was touched upon in the American Pregnancy one; Natural herbs, teas and vitamins used in pregnancy.

Some of these tie in with a previous post of mine on Morning sickness relief recipes but the article is informative to anyone who drinks herbal teas, suffers from nausea, flatulence or heartburn or wants to avoid (or if you're past 40 weeks indulge in!) herbs that may cause contractions.

Below is an excerpt.

Herbs used in Pregnancy

The following herbs have been rated Likely Safe or Possibly Safe for use during pregnancy:4

  • Red Raspberry Leaf - Rich in iron, this herb has helped tone the uterus, increase milk production, decrease nausea, and ease labor pains. Some studies have even reported that using red raspberry leaf during pregnancy can reduce complications and the use of interventions during birth.5 You may see pregnancy teas that are made from red raspberry leaf to help promote uterine health during pregnancy. (Read about herbal teas for more information)
    • There is some controversy about whether this should be used throughout pregnancy or just in the second and third trimester, so many health care providers remain cautious and only recommend using it after the first trimester.
  • Peppermint Leaf - Helpful in relieving nausea/morning sickness and flatulence
  • Ginger root - Helps relieve nausea and vomiting
  • Slippery Elm Bark - (when the inner bark is used orally in amounts used in foods) Used to help relieve nausea, heartburn, and vaginal irritations
  • Oats & Oat Straw - Rich in calcium and magnesium; helps relieve anxiety, restlessness, and irritated skin
To read the whole article: click here

Photo courtesy of: Mahealions

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

20 weeks preggie: Half way there!

20/40 weeks!! YAY!!!

So what's new with the bump?

  • My tummy definitely feels bigger and I'm finding staying bent in the middle for a while (like to help Emma get her shoes on/off, pull my own boots on or get the laundry in the machine) a lot tougher.
  • I've put on 3,5kg in 20 weeks
  • I am already fed up with wearing preggie jeans all the time! Dresses are much more comfy but my legs get cold when I spend time outside in tights.
  • I can still zip up my winter coat but not for long. I hope February won't be too cold!!!
  • I've been feeling the baby's butterfly-like flutters for the past 3 or so weeks and his movements are getting stronger.
  • Sometimes he just stays still but pushes hard against the wall of my belly.
  • For a couple of days now, I have also been able to feel him (or her) from the outside (my hand on my tum) but it's still quite infrequent.
  • He seems to be like swimming in the middle and on my left side whereas Emma used to push out on my right side which was a bit of a fight at bedtime (I used to sleep on my right side a lot).
  • We still don't have a name.
On Monday we are due to have our organ screening test (see ultrasounds scans explained here) and so we should also finally find out if it really is a he.

That's about it!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Time gone by

How quickly we forget. How much can change in a year when you are (or are parent to) a toddler.

Here are two videos of Emma "live" last November at approximately 15+ months:
She couldn't speak much but she already knew what she wanted, was repeating words she liked, and was intrigued with the camera.

Now compare those to most recent films of her in this post and this one.
Wow. Wow! right?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Goodbye lousy day

It's been a lousy day.

Apart from Emma being better, which is a huge relief -

Emma enjoying some post-gastritis dry bread

Emma reading a Peppa Pig book to her "loup" (wolf) friend

November 27th has been quite a series of really annoying hiccups.

The day started off with an email from Steph (currently on a business trip in Budapest) informing me that he had lost his mobile phone and was going to be unreachable except via his blackberry.

After a morning expending energy at the park and a good lunch and nap, I decided Emma and I could celebrate her getting better with a new dress. I hesitated going to town at this late hour on a Friday afternoon but I figured tomorrow would be worse, so to town we went.

I parked under the Ringstrassen galerien and hurried off towards the nearest H&M. I guess I had not completely zipped my bag closed having just used my wallet to pay the entrance of the parking (I use my direct debit to enter and then again to exit -so much more practical!) and was trying to keep up with Emma who was running off ahead of me and the buggy, when a woman I felt instant antipathy for, asked me for some Geld.
I waved her off in English saying I didn't understand but kept focusing on Emma who was running ahead - something the woman no doubt had noticed too. She got closer to my left side and repeated her request for money in English to which I exclaimed "NO!" giving her a dark look and rushing past her to catch Emma.

Having caught up with Emma who was playing independent in the Christmas shopping crowd - refusing to hold my hand or sit in the buggy - we finally get to H&M where I quickly find a pretty dress we both like and head to pay for it.

Only my wallet had vanished.

Immediately the woman's face flashed before my eyes and leaving the dress on the counter, I ran back to the crime scene as quickly as the crowd and buggy allowed. Naturally, she was nowhere to be seen.

I suddenly realized I could not get the car out of the parking without my bank cards and I could not get a cab home without a penny and no access to a hole in the wall. To make things worse, Steph was in Budapest.
On the bright side, I realized I still had my car keys and phone. And Emma was singing Frères Jacques.

What to do?
I broke out in cold sweat and fury, wishing I could find the woman and get my stuff back - she could keep the money, I just wanted my cards and wallet back!

I kept scanning the crowd but realized there was little chance I could spot her without her spotting me first, especially since I was wearing my bright green coat in the midst of a crowd clothed in black.

Hoping against all hope I ran back to our car, figuring my wallet might still be in it, what with Emma fussing about which book to take with her and then getting her into, then out of, the buggy.

No luck.

Finally, I reasoned I needed to block my cards and make sure I could still get the car out of the parking and get us home. A kind employee from the parking walked Emma and me to the nearest Police station where I made calls to block my credit and bank cards and made a deposition. All the while Emma typed on the Police department's computer and was entertained by her first man in uniform.

Emma and her sitter-man in uniform

I have to tell you that all this kindness nearly caused me to forget how upset I was at the whole incident. I do realize that a pregnant mother of a young, cute child provokes sympathy and that it is their job to help citizens in need, but I have not often encountered such benevolence in a police department. So Hurray! and a big, fat medal for the Viennese Police for being so friendly, helpful and efficient. I hope the other 100/day victims of purse theft get the same treatment. If only they could catch the thief and get my wallet back too!

While we are at the Police station, my phone rings; it's Nina from one of my favorite shops in Vienna telling me that the top I wanted has arrived in my size and that I can pick it up tomorrow. Yeah, how? I have no money, no plastic. Luckily, Nina agrees to hold it for me.

Nearly three hours after the approximate time of the theft, Emma and I headed back to the garage where the kind parking employee made sure we and our car were let out without any further ado.

On our way home, the phone rang flashing an unknown number; Steph's flight, it turns out is postponed for mysterious reasons.

Oh boy.

Well, at the rate our luck is going today, perhaps it's better that the flight technicians double check the plane...

At home, the phone rings again as I am putting Emma to bed after a quick dinner; Steph's flight has been canceled. No cars available. They are trying to get a flight back for tomorrow morning.

Well, at least he's with a nice colleague and they can get themselves some dinner and glass of wine before sleeping the day off.

And, at least Emma and I are safely home, no physical injuries, healthy and warm. Could have been worse, I guess.

But I do resent that woman for stealing from me. For picking on another woman. For picking on someone who was running after her kid and could not have run after her even if I had (consciously) noticed what she was doing. I hope she sees the smiling pics of Emma, Steph and I in my wallet and feels bad. I hope she decides to take my wallet to a shop, hotel or police station saying she found it so I can get it back.

A text from Steph; they have found a hotel room and are off to dinner.

Tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sick Emma

Last night was a long one. Or a short one as we say in French meaning there was not much sleep to be had.

Emma was fast asleep by 7h30pm having had no dinner and a tiny sip of water she had thrown up before bed-time, a paracetamol suppository keeping her temperature under control.

I hit the sack at 10h30 pm.

At 12h30 pm Emma woke crying out of thirst. I gave her a few sips of really cold water from the fridge (as per doctor's orders, though I'm not sure why) and held her for a while. After 30 minutes I put her back to bed hoping...

Ten minutes later just as I was nodding off again she screamed out "Mummy! Mummy!" and then as I entered the room "nettoyer" (clean in the sense needs to be cleaned) showing me the vomit covering her sheets.

I got her out of bed, gave her a long hug and cleaned up her face and hands. Then while she was safely seated on the nappy changer, changed her sheets. Then her pyjamas.
She was burning up so I and gave her another paracetamol. She wanted water. Ugh. It's really horrible having to deny a child water.

I held her for another ten minutes then gave her the tiniest sip of ice cold water (I tried using a spoon but she took it out of my hands and threw it to the side furious at this new and inexplicable restriction) before putting her back to bed.

Back to bed at 1h12am, I decided to watch an episode of House MD.
She called again at 2 am - thirsty. Another careful tiny sip. Emma is furious at me for taking the water away so soon. "Encore l'eau Maman" she pleads. I try to explain that she needs to have only a little so that she does not vomit again. Her temperature seems to have dropped a little.

Back to bed.

I finish watching House MD and then drift off to sleep.

5 am another cry for water. My little smarty pants has got the trick and is now taking bigger first sips having figured out that I won't let her have too many.

Another couple of sips at 6am and again at 7.

At 8h30 a cold banana straight from the fridge.

Emma enjoying her first solids in 20 hours - a banana

I think the worst is behind us.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sick toddler

Today just as I was about to drive off to my first acupuncture appointment the kindergarten called to tell me Emma was vomiting so I immediately canceled my appointment (much to the very vocal displeasure of the practitioner) and went to pick her up.

"Magen und darn" (gastroenteritis) is going around kindergarten and it's very contagious. Looks like that's what she's got. Good thing Steph is traveling - hopefully he'll not have caught it.

Emma vomited again in my arms as I tried to console her in kindergarten, then again as we arrived home and again while we waited for it to be time to leave for our doctor's appointment.

Poor little one. The first times she got very upset (I think she was scared never having vomited before) but gradually she got used to it and seemed to realize that although it's awful it passes rather quickly. On the other hand, she does try to stop the convulsions by holding her dummy in her mouth

As luck would have it our pediatrician is away all week and the replacement one doesn't work Wednesday afternoons. I ended up calling Dr. G. who we've never been to and whose name was given to me by another pregnant mother who does Pilates with me. He seemed very nice on the phone and speaks good English and is not too far away. Let's hope for the best.


Dr. G. was great! No fuss, no waiting, quick diagnosis, friendly and efficient. Emma did not scream once (not like with that awful Dr. R who had less bedside manner than a hibernating bear you might have mistakenly sat on!). Anyway, it is stomach flu so basically we hydrate and wait for it to pass. No solids until Emma can hold down water for at least five hours (right now it's more like 30 minutes).

So tonight we skipped dinner and our bath after Emma said "d'abord dodo" (sleep first) when I suggested we bath before bed-time. Awwww. It's really tough having a sick babe, but at least now she can tell me what she needs - in this case sleep - it makes things a lot easier.

Hopefully tomorrow she'll be feeling better and stronger. And hopefully with some luck I will manage not to catch the virus myself.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baking tea biscuits with Emma

An enjoyable activity on cold foggy winter days is baking - and now Emma can participate in other ways than in eating!!

Emma checking on the biscuits

Here's a dead easy recipe for tea biscuits you can adapt using coffee or chocolate chips or whatever else you prefer to tea leaves!

Emma checking out the timer

Tea Biscuits

Makes about 45 - Ready in approx. 1h30 (although I get the dough ready the night before and then it takes way less time to cut the cookies and bake!)


  • 200g flour
  • 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 115g light muscovado sugar (or mix half muscovado / half white if the taste bothers you)
  • 1 Lady Grey tea bag (we used Twinings)
  • 1 egg


  1. beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy
  2. add the Lady Grey tea leaves and stir until well combined
  3. beat in the egg
  4. carefully fold in the flour
  5. roll the dough on a into a rectangular loaf of about 20 cm long
  6. wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 1 hour until the dough is firm enough to slice
  7. slice the dough loaf into 5 mm biscuits and place on paper-lined baking tray
  8. bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned
  9. transfer the cookies to a wire rack and leave to cool before serving or storing in a tin
5. roll the dough into a rectangular loaf ------------ 7. slice the dough into 5mm biscuits


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Emma's English and Peppa Pig

After two months in the bigger kids bilingual group and thanks to Pete (the native speaker in the Stargroup) and Peppa Pig* Emma is starting to use some English words.

Also, I think she has taken to the sound of the English language.

This is what she is saying so far:

1. Hello
2. Bye Bye
3. This one
4. Let's go
5. New shoes (this is straight from an episode of Peppa pig in which Peppa gets new red shoes)
6. Dinosaur (George's favorite toy)
7. One, two, three, four, five (she actually counts to five! - I'm impressed)
8. Enjoy your meal (instead of the up to now "Mal zeit" or "Bon appetit")
9. Stars
10. Twinkle Twinkle little star how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high like a diamond in the sky
11. Happy Birthday
12. Ready, steady, go
13. Yes
14. No
15. Jumping
16. Sit down
17. See Saw
18. No more jumping on the bed (from the song "No more monkeys jumping on the bed")

*Initially Peppa pig was an attempt to a) introduce English at home without confusing Emma (we've always kept to French at home)
b) introduce Emma to the concept of a family of 4 after she had been watching "Petit ours brun" who is an only child and speaks French. Peppa pig has a little brother named George who Emma adores, as well as Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig.

The series are great for toddlers - especially girls - with simple stories (at the park, pool, in the snow, baking, jumping in muddy puddles, visiting Daddy in the office, ballet lessons, visiting grand-parents etc.) and really cute animation. Even Steph loves it and says he is improving his English too! And another bonus is that Mummy Pig (unlike Maman Ours) doesn't spend all her time scolding, cooking and cleaning!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hands on approach to sex education and making slaps illegal

Today the Guardian published an article about a teaching programme targeting 14-17 year olds in Roman Catholic Spain of all places. The article explains that the programme aims at teaching "how best to set about "sexual self-exploration and the discovery of self-pleasure" – or to put it less delicately: masturbation." (click here to read the article)

Simultaneously, the French are considering a law which would make spanking children illegal - a law which apparently already exists in 19 out of 27 EU countries.

So? Well, both "activities" (sex-ed and slapping) used to be considered "family property" and are now being handled by institutional entities. I'm generally not too thrilled about that although it seems that one of the reasons this is happening is due to parental negligence.

I'm all for sex ed. as long as it's carried out in an appropriate framework, at a reasonable age and by professionals.

And, don't get me wrong, I am
absolutely not for physical punishment although I have to admit that Emma has had the occasional slap on the hand or squeeze of the shoulder - although my preference goes to, removing her plate if she is "playing" with food or standing her in the corner of the room for a couple of minutes, but how do you do that when you are walking down the street?!

Studies show that children brought up with physical punishment are more aggressive and violent themselves (I do believe in leading by example) and so one can hope that such a law would perhaps also have an impact on violence against women (read some facts). On the other hand, I have to admit that when I first heard about actually making a slap illegal, my first reaction was "that's a bit far-fetched isn't it?
However, the more I think about it, the more I think that it might not be such a bad idea.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Laternefest - a year gone by

Today Emma celebrated Laternefest* with her kindergarden for the second time. Only last year she was sitting in her buggy because she was not yet walking, not really standing much and certainly not singing.

Emma holding her paper lantern at Laternefest* November 2008:

Emma at Laternefest* this November (due to the rain it was held inside) with friends Marie (left) and Isabella (middle):

*Laternefest is celebrated in Catholic Germany (and Austria it seems) on November 11th, in commemoration of the burial of Martin of Tours who ripped his cloak and gave half of it to a beggar. In celebration of this act of kindness children participate in paper lantern processions while singing about St. Martin and their lanterns.
This date is also the first of a fast period of 40 days which was later called "Advent" by the Catholic Church. At St. Martin's eve and on the feast day, people ate and drank heartily for a last time before they started to fast.
In kindergarden this celebration is also an opportunity to talk about sharing and kindness.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beyond packaging

Had the below not been strongly recommended to me, I would not have given them a second glance. Wrapping does matter.

What are they?
Although they look like chubby sausages and are often found next to the skinnier sausages, they are in fact freshly made delicious soups. Indeed.

You can freeze them or pour them right into a pan, warm them up for 5 and serve with crunchy bread. They have all sorts; potato, pumpkin, goulash, bean, mixed vegetables, chicken... And every one is scrumptious!

Find them at your nearest "Radatz"

Monday, November 09, 2009

Ever since I can remember, every evening I sing Emma a good night song which actually wishes a good night to all family members. Well that's how it started anyway.

The idea was to overcome one of the challenges of expat-life and keep grand-parents, aunts, uncles and cousins living around the world "alive" in her mind in between visits.

So I sang "bonne nuit" (good night) while pointing to pictures around her room and naming "Grand-maman", "Nonna" and "Gogo" "Deda" and "Tallie" "Grand-papa François", "Pata", "Tata-yéyé", "Aka et Bruno"... (Talk about stimulating! here it's simply "Opa und Oma" while Emma has a totally different name and language for every grand-mother and grand-father!!!)

Anyway, gradually, we started to include friends' names (both hers and ours) in the "bonne nuit" song as well as objects like dolls' names, the swing at the park, flowers and leaves, the sun and the moon, the ducks and the cat and any new vocab. we had come across in the day...

Now Emma not only adds on names to the song and sings it to herself when she does not fall asleep right away, she also sometimes sings it in the middle of the day pointing to photos up in her room and wishing them good-night.

So if you occasionally feel slightly drowsy in the middle of your dinner or tea, think of Emma wishing you a very good night...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Thyroid Schmiroid

For the first time in 10 weeks* my dose of thyroid medication has not needed to be adjusted - and I've being going for blood tests every 2 weeks. That's a BIG Yay!

Next check up in 3 weeks time!

For more info on hypothyroidism and thyroid regulation click here

*my first check this pregnancy was during week 6. I have been taking thyroid medication since February 2007 following discovery of hypothyroidism at the end of the first trimester of my first pregnancy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The "terrific" in terrific twos

So while we are still in the midst of the terrific twos and Emma does still spaz out (stomp feet, growl, lose her temper, pout and run away) some truly wonderful things are happening too.

Emma is a huge chatterbox! Talking is incessant at dinner, in the car, at breakfast, while playing - Emma is telling us about something or more likely how to do it or not. In fact on top of being a pipelette she is a bit of a dictator too; she often tells me to stop singing "arrête maman!" so she can listen to the music, tells me to finish my meal or asks us if we want more "encore salade Papà?". During the day, she'll command "c'est Papà/Maman qui fait" depending on who she wants bathing her, dressing her, etc.

On the upside of this, she is quite happy to chatter away in bed to her doll and animals if she awakes before we get her up and frequently does a solo repeat of our goodnight song should she not fall asleep right away. She gets very creative with this and once she has run out of names she wishes all sorts of things goodnight. Quite funny and freakin' fantastic as far as I'm concerned!

Another relatively new trait - or maybe it is appearing more clearly now - is that Emma is incredibly possessive; "meine Mummy!" "meine Papa" and "meine caca" are favorites. And, yes, "caca" is "poo" in our house.
She actually gets into verbal fights with "colleagues" from kindergarden where each one shouts out "meine Mummy" or "meine caca" (both have happened but with different friends) and it was incredibly intense. The mummy part was easier - both children's Mummies were present and so we could explain that each one had "meine mummy" but the caca? Why
on earth?
On the same subject, although Emma is still utterly disinterested in using the potty or loo, she now asks to see her "caca" in her nappy. Mmm. I wonder.

And what about the baby? Well, she understands that there is a baby lurking somewhere and most of the time she understands (or at least indicates) that it is in a belly. Only, she points to hers... So now, when we say goodnight to every family member at bedtime, she also says goodnight to Mummy's baby and to Emma's baby. Oh, and she also attributes one to her good friend Isabella on certain days, a sure indication of true love.

Yesterday was Tata yéyé's birthday and although we had quite successfully practiced singing "happy birthday to you" during the afternoon, when the time of the evening phone call came - no cigar. Below the filmed version over dinnertime just before Daddy got home.
Tata yéyé, I hope you will not be offended by the association with the "tomate" (tomato) and "assiette" (plate). As I mentioned above, Emma uses all sorts of vocabulary in her creative singing.

Enjoy the movie!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Morning sickness relief recipes

In order to celebrate us moving into the second trimester of pregnancy - supposedly the best of the three - and without wanting to jinx the hardly missed departure of morning sickness - I thought I'd share some of the tips others shared with me and that seemed to help.

Here's what I found helpful:

  • a non-menthol toothpaste (children's Elmex worked for me) if you're finding it hard to brush your teeth without gagging every other second
  • apples, apples, apples! (I kept at least one in my handbag at all times) they help relieve the acidity that makes you nauseous
  • ginger (in whatever form you find palatable)
  • grilled almonds and cashew nuts (a good snack to combat hunger which increases nausea and in my case the salt and proteins helped with the low blood pressure)
  • some kind of salty crackers or tortilla chips (I had soletti a lot) a friend kept some next to her bed and nibbled on some before getting up
  • peanut butter on toast
  • salty noodle or chicken soup - very soothing!
  • chamomile tea with a dry biscuit just before bed-time stopped hunger pangs from waking me up
  • small meals or snacks frequently to keep hunger at bay

Avoid whenever possible:
  • feeling hungry (makes nausea worse)
  • cooking (or being in the kitchen when someone else is cooking or making coffee)
  • the smell of coffee, fried food, meat and fish, mushrooms... and basically anything with a strong smell (changing nappies was torture - surprisingly pee filled ones were worse for me)

Second trimester here we come! Yay!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

12 week ultrasound and combined test

This week is an important one for us. We've just ticked off the 12th week of pregnancy (yay! yay! yay!) which marks the end of the proverbial three months or first trimester during which the risks of, well, issues are the highest. Also, hopefully, the end of "morning" sickness (yay! yay! YAY!!!!).

It is also in between week 11 and 14 that you can do the so-called "combined test" (a blood test and a very complete ultrasound which enables us to thoroughly check the baby for risks of chromosomal abnormalities without being invasive).

And so we did.

As I write, we know that our baby has a nasal bone (70% of Down Syndrome babies don't) as well as 10 fingers and toes, a bladder and liver, a stomach and a brain and spine that look just as they should. His (or her) heart beat was 167 per minute (fast is normal) and the arteries and blood flow were all fine. The little one measures 7cm and jumped for us which made me laugh and recall that Emma had done that too.

Here are some of the pics from this morning's ultrasound:

don't these look like Christmas stockings?
head, arms and hands from above

feet, legs and head (or bum?)
frontal view of head (moving) arms and crossed legs

Well, it does make things more real. And in a way, easier.

I keep marveling at how I cannot remember being worried in the slightest while pregnant with Emma. Carefree and confident is probably how I felt most of the time, especially once I knew we had a good Obgyn in Izmir and in Geneva, and simply happy to be pregnant.

This time around (since week 6) I have found it much harder and felt like it's actually something that needs dealing with (as opposed to a time to be enjoyed).

It's been hard not to make idiotic and superstitious parallels; I was happily pregnant with Emma, eating heartily and feeling great (until the last trimester anyway) = Emma is a happy, healthy, beautiful girl with a healthy appetite for food and life. Is this little one going to be a skinny, pale picky eater with a sulky mood? Oh, noooooo!

Although, according to hubs, my moods are much more even and rational this time (indeed, no hysterical laughter or mystery tears so far means he's finding it easier this time around) my lack of interest in food due to morning sickness and low blood pressure have made me feel weak and tired and really quite awful some of the time. Not something you remember with a smile. But oh! how I wish I could remember this pregnancy as happily as I do the previous one!
The good news is, there are still 6 months ahead and so, who knows, I might end up loving this pregnancy too.

The blood test results (the other part of the combined test) are due in this afternoon and I'm also getting my TSH levels checked again before seeing our Obgyn on Thursday for the 12 week check.

Monday, October 05, 2009

False alarm and imperfect muffins

Today shortly after I dropped off Emma at kinder garden at 9h and pottered off home to recover from a week-end of toddler-induced activity, I received a call from kinder garden telling me Emma had thrown up and was probably ill.

Emma on her way to school this morning

I immediately went to pick her up and was pleasantly surprised when she greeted me with her usual loud "Meine Mummy! Meine Mummy!" (my Mummy) just in case someone else were to claim me.

Her teacher informed me that she did not have any fever and admitted she did not seem ill (not in the slightest) but since she had thrown up...
After a few questions I gathered Emma had in fact thrown up while running around on the roof after breakfast in her fleece jacket in the sun (she apparently paused in her running to do this). I figured she probably got hot and choked up but just to be sure she was not coming down with the "abdominal flu" already contaminating some of her fellow kinder garden-goers, I took her home.

After a light lunch of soup and yogurt and a nap (still no fever nor vomiting) I decided we would stay in and try and make some muffins (enough walking to and around and from the Imperial Zoo on Sunday).

Admittedly, I had one of those "quick mixes" in the cupboard but I figured as a first cooking-at-home-with-Mum-experience it would do.

Emma's Stargroup class now cooks on Thursdays but so far, Emma had not been interested in the slightest -surprise, surprise- unless she can eat the ingredients...

I got her tiny table and chairs set up in the kitchen (there is no table in our kitchen) so that she could actually participate properly, got out the mixer, figured out the instructions in German , measured out the milk and checked that we had eggs and instructed Emma to lay out the muffin paper cups... Then, I realized I did not have the required amount of sunflower oil (we use Olive most of the time). Preggie brain = a lot less organized!

Off we went to the shop
on foot.

... So about one hour later (once we had named the colors of all the cars on the street, done some standing somersaults, tested the temperature of the shop windows -she literally touches them to see if they are hot due to the sun and announces "c'est chaud Maman" or "non, ça va", walked down a zillion stairs, collected some more chestnuts, sung Incy Mincy (wincy?) Spider and Frères Jaques) we finally got home and back to the muffin mixture.

Here are the pics. The muffin making actually went ok.

  • did inevitably eat some of the mixture and especially the chocolate chips
  • managed to get some of the dough mix in the paper cups (although she kept losing patience when it took a while to blob off her spoon resorting to waving the spoon off in another direction predictably leaving traces of the dough mix across the table and floor)
  • alternated ordering me to stop ("arrête Maman!" when I tried to scoop more mix on to her spoon) and complimenting me ("Bravo Maman! c'est bien!" when I successfully blobbed some dough in the paper cup)
  • enjoyed helping with some of the cleaning up (handing me the spoons and wiping her table) and being picked up to watch the muffins rise

However, when we finished eating dinner tonight and it was finally time to taste them,
she took one bite and said "gâteaux pas bien" (i.e. cake not good - although the correct form in French would have been "bon" and not "bien") and asked for yogurt instead. (Note that this is the first time ever that Emma has turned down a cake, biscuit or muffin and although I'm sure she enjoyed dinner I somehow doubt it was all due to a full tummy.)

After having tried them myself, I have to say; Emma definitely knows a home made cake from a "quick mix".

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Child rearing and politics

Sometimes getting to school (read kindergarden) can take ages. That's part of the reason why I drive there although it would only be a 15 minute walk at a normal pace but I think we could at least triple that with Emma.

Emma's curiosity (a wonderful trait, yes I do realize)
means she is still prone to stopping and checking everything and everybody out (the beggar on the corner, the man raging at the trolly that won't come undone from the row, the gardener watering the plants, a moving van...) and what seems like stalling (I think this is part of her trying to make the point that "I'm the one to decide what I do, Mamââân" phase).

During her observations she is so totally absorbed that her brain filters uninteresting appeals "Emma, on va être en retard à l'école" (Emma, we're going to be late for school) like a person turning down the volume of their hearing aid so as to read in peace. But then sometimes we see a familiar child from afar (or a teacher or a garbage truck, which she loves, or something else interesting in the right direction) and I can say "Emma, regarde qui est là" (Emma, looks who is here) and luckily for me it usually works.

Sometimes I even find the right words to convince her that putting on her jacket is a good idea - "comme Maman/like Mum" doesn't always work nowadays, but "regarde, il y a des poches!" (look it has pockets!) is a winner!

Who knew child rearing taught you about politics (as in telling them what they want to hear so that you get what you want)?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hello belly, good-bye feet & Emma update

I recently ordered a belly book on Amazon so that I could chart this pregnancy's progress and have something to give the little one later in life. (I also did one for Emma but it was sent to me from Singapore from my sister and hence a slightly different format).

I realize now how easy it is to forget certain details
- like, who knew that my tummy was already this big at nearly 10 weeks?!

and I am sure all of us will enjoy reading up on bits and looking at the (by then) out-dated ultra-sounds just like we already love looking back at pics of Emma and exclaiming at what a big girl she is.
Speaking of which...

Emma constructing a lego house

Emma on her way to school for her first day in the bilingual bigger kids class

Emma at the breakfast table in her bilingual class with her doll Nicky next to her

How is Emma doing in her new kindergarden group? Well, it's been a week now and the first few minutes are still a bit heart wrenching because Emma always asks me to stay and cries a bit when I don't but it thankfully only lasts for about a minute and then she dives into the activity at hand.
She still goes back to the younger group to take her nap after lunch and they all come together after that for tea-time and play. Every afternoon when I pick her up she yelps with joy and is happy to show me what she has done (baked a muffin, made a puzzle/collage, etc.) and some new toy she has discovered.

The other day she even said "Emma, sit down" (in English!) before sitting down to put her shoes on to go to school. I think she really enjoys languages - nearly as much as she likes music!

Next week we go to our first trial music class... I'll keep you posted!