Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunny weather

Saturday we finally had some sunny weather and so we headed to town and came across some Easter markets (they seem to have markets for many occasions here)

with lots and lots of painted eggs

We even went out without a coat for the first time in a really long time...

but just to make sure we didn't rejoice too much, it was raining and cold again today...

Oh, and some more good news is that Emma was more open to being entertained/fed/put to bed by her father and less clingy in general. Yippee!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Emma eating banans

Upon arriving in Geneva (March 6th 2009), bananas for tea and who are we going to see?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mamma mia!

After the "non, non, non!" phase... we proudly present "Mamma mia!" or "maaamôn!"

Emma has not been a particularly clingy baby or toddler; her curiosity was always stronger than her separation anxiety and she has so far demonstrated a strong sense of security and confidence.
She has often stared at and analyzed new faces, greeted strangers in the street, sometimes even turning around to follow them. Playing on her own for about 20 minutes while I showered or had coffee in the morning was not really an issue and she has often sat in her high chair pouring endless cups of pretend tea while I chop veggies, the two of us attempting Ba-ba black sheep or Frêres Jacques a cappella.

Then, we went to Geneva for ten days.

Despite frequent visits from family and friends, baths and meals in good company and a few hours spent with family on her own, the two of us spent a lot of time together since there was no Kindergarden to provide both of us with "social interaction with peers".

We came back and all of a sudden it was "maaamôn!" five trillion times a day. Because she had a fever and the runs, I figured she wanted the added attention and cuddles 'cause she wasn't feeling well, but now I'm so sure.

Emma, who frequently wanted out of her pushcart, now wants to be pushed around and refuses to walk: she stands lifting her arms towards me indicating she wants to be carried or tries to scramble into her Maclaren on her own. In fact, she does not want to leave home without it!
On the rare occasions when she will walk, she
will run off in the opposite direction chuckling. (I have stopped playing chase the toddler which she loved but I think she was not able/or willing to distinguish play from walking back from school.)Patience, patience... I'm sure she's testing me for something.

When she is in her high-chair she wants out and when she is outshe wants up. She even wants me to carry her insideat home. The little toddler who used to go fetch a book and "read" on the kitchen floor now wines and tugs at my pant-leg "maaamôn-ing" me constantly.

When the pediatrician tried to listen to her heart beat while she was sitting on my lap (and after having listened to the heart beats of the mummy kangaroos and the baby kangaroos on her desk at least 3 times) Emma got so upset and desperately clung on to me yelling as if she were drowning. She was utterly inconsolable and we didn't even manage to weigh her. This is the first time going to the pediatrician was a fuss.

Now, if I am around, even when her Dad tries to take her off to bed or feed her milk she pushes him away calling "maamôn" and she screams and screams if she does not get her way - something she never used to do.
When I do give her the bottle, she stops sucking
every thirty seconds or so to look me in the eyes and say "mamôn". Initially, it was kind of sweet but after the first trillion times, it's rather irritating. What do I do? Well, if I'm there, I reply "oui Emma" or "oui, maman est là". If I can't attend to her at that moment I explain that I hear her but that I am washing the dishes/making dinner/whatever and that I will come when I am done. Sometimes I try to distract her by asking her to bring me a tupperware or help me put the laundry in the dryer. It seems to work for a little while but sure enough she's at it five minutes later.

Yesterday, after her Dad and I kissed hello, and I was carrying Emma to high-chair she repeatedly tried to kiss me on the mouth, maneuvering my face with both her hands on my cheeks and her mouth aiming for mine. It was actually quite funny but managing not to laugh, I decided to give her a few noisy kisses on the cheek and plonk her down for dinner.

Thankfully, there is no fuss at all when we drop her off at kindergarden in the mornings. She is still curious and greets stargers in the street and will joyfully run ahead in the park towards the swings, but at home, it is a pretty hard ballgame at the moment. I really hope it's just a phase. And I can't wait for the weather to get better so we can get out more!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

the weather in Vienna and weekly round-up

The weather in Vienna is nice and bright if you're up at 6am (like when I get up to go to my electric therapy for my wrist)- after that it's just:


The building en face is nearly finished and so we are hoping for a relatively quiet garden to enjoy this year -once the weather gets better and warm spring starts! (why do we seem to be haunted by construction sites, huh?)

I made the best ever ginger, celeriac and sweet-potato soup! All the more for me, since Emma would not even taste it preferring a "bouillon de poule" (note: she calls soup, "poots" and I don't think that's German).

Emma has had high fever for the past 2 days (too early to know about today yet) and we haven't quite figured out why. Only symptoms are fever, slight crankiness, mild dürchfall (diarrhea) although her appetite is as usual. Could be stomach flu or last teeth coming out. Luck would have it: it's the week-end so I hope it doesn't get any worse!

Yay! She now like clementines! another fruit is always good especially since practically all vegetables are totally "has-been".

Oh, and she now calls her dummy/pacifier the "looola"! Really quite nice, don't you think? but I don't think that's a symptom.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Animals and their babies - how many do you know?

I can't believe the French language (the language we have chosen to speak at home and teach Emma) is so complicated!

Emma is really into animals at the moment, both in real life and into naming them when she spots them in whatever form (pictures or drawings in books, stuffed animals in shop windows, etc.).
Anyhow, we saw a bambi sticker on the wall of a kid's café/shop and I couldn't remember the name of the beast for the life of me. So, I googled it this morning and came up with the below list in French and then tried to recall the names in English. Woah! Not good.
Am I the only one?

  1. un chien, une chienne et un chiot ; dog, bitch, puppy
  2. un chat, une chatte et un chaton ; cat, cat, kitten
  3. un dauphin, une dauphine et un dauphineau ; dolphin, dolphin and baby dolphin?
  4. un éléphant, une éléphant et un éléphanteau ; elephant, elephant and baby elephant?
  5. un lapin, une lapine et un lapereau ; rabbit, female rabbit, baby rabbit?
  6. un lion, une lionne et un lionceau ; lion, lion, lion cub
  7. un loup, une louve et un louveteau ; I'm guessing wolf, no idea, wolf cub
  8. un ours, une ourse et un ourson ; bear, bear, bear cub
  9. un renard, une renarde et un renardeau ; fox, vixen baby fox
  10. une souris, une souris et un souriceau ; seriously? a mouse
  11. un tigre, une tigresse et un tigron ;
  12. un zèbre, une zèbresse et un zébreau ; I give up!
  13. un bélier, une brebis et un agneau ;
  14. un bouc, une chèvre et un chevreau ;
  15. un cerf, une biche et un daim ; ummm bambi?
  16. un cheval, une jument et un poulain ; stallion, mare, pony turns out a baby horse is either a foal (m) or a filly (f)
  17. un homme, une femme et un enfant ; oh! I know this one! a man, a woman, a child
  18. un lièvre, une hase et un levraut ; buck, doe, leveret (I had to look this one up!)
  19. un porc, une truie et un porcelet ; boar, sow, piglet
(source of the French ones: Journal de Cooker: Tergiversations psychoquantiques)

Initially I was thinking the English equivalents were pretty easy ,
"elephant, elephant, baby elephant" right? and for the more complex ones dog, bitch, puppy...
but I started going down the list and decided I needed to look it up and it turns out English is not only more complex than I thought - although who the hell uses this terminology outside of a biology class or a farm? - but also very confusing... For example, did you know that a cow could also be a female elephant and a cub the baby tiger, baby lion or baby bear?
Ahh! this is just another humbling moment when you know you're just not going to know the answer to the questions your kids ask so start getting used to it. Plus, there are more important things to teach in life, right?
Still, I better get cracking before we hit the zoo as soon as it stops snowing!!! (yes, snowing on March 20th people when is spring coming to Vienna?!

If you are as clueless as I was on the list above, check out the site by Enchanted learning where you can also download animals for coloring and games for your kids (or you) where you can pair up the adult animals with their babies.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Electrical therapy

A couple of months ago, I started feeling pain in my left wrist. Carrying/picking up/putting down Emma a zillion times a day (not to mention getting her into her car seat and pram while she twists and wriggles) had started to take its toll.
The last couple of weeks, it got so bad I couldn't even lift a freakin' frying pan so I instead of giving up cooking altogether, asked Emma's pediatrician if she knew of a good osteopath in the area.

Fast forward to Monday morning: after waiting for an hour (at 9h30 am!!!) I get to see the
Frau Doktor H.
who after a couple of questions, fiddles with my wrist and then with a smooth wave-like motion chinks some small bone back to mobility. Ta-da. She wiggles my wrist some more and checks that, yes, it feel less painful.

Not done though. She taps her keyboard while staring into her computer and sips some tea. She then tells me I am to have 10 sessions of therapy after which I am to see her again. I'm a bit surprised since I have a long-standing relationship with an osteopath and there was never any follow up therapy.

When asked, she says I am to go to the front desk to make the appointments and that her assistants will be giving me the therapy which is necessary because the bone has been left stuck for a long time. (Note to self: get to the osteopath asap next time!)

As I leave the room having thanked her and said "good-bye" she gratifies me with a "You're welcome" and shouts out "Nächste!" (next). I tell you, bedside manner or customer service could compete with the levels achieved by communism. (Am I totally spoiled because my doctor in Geneva always comes to get me in the waiting room with a warm smile and an extended arm?)

Whatever... she fixed my wrist, and was by no means the gruffest Dr. I've met here, so off I go, adamant to make the appointments earlier so I won't have to spend half my free time in a doctor's waiting room for the next 10 days...
As it turns out, early in Vienna is 7am!!
Ok - fine I'll do it if it means no waiting, fine. If Steph is around, he'll get Emma up, dressed and fed and I'll be back in time to take her to kindergarden. If he's not - well, I'll have to reschedule.
Oh, and I am asked to bring a towel or I will be charged 1.- Euro for one. Ummm...

So, Tuesday morning bright and early I head in for my therapy, expecting some sort of massage...
I am told to go to room N°2 and after a wrong turn and some re-routing in simplified German, I arrive in a room subdivided into about 20 cabins divided only by blueish dingy curtains that remind me of my student hall in London. Each subdivision, or "cabin" if you will, contains a camp-bed, a chair, a coat hanger and some kind of electronic instrument that looks like a very old-fashioned radio receiver...I also note the burn marks on the sheet of the camp-bed. Ummm...

I take a seat on the chair in my cabin and soon enough a lady in blue dungarees muffling "Guten Morgen" takes my prescription sheet from me and clips it onto the curtain with a laundry peg. After peering at it over her specs, she walks off and a couple of minutes later appears pushing another radio-receiver-like machine on a cart and squirts translucent gel onto my wrist. First the ultra-sound she says. Huh?
Oh, but it's not the kind they do when you are pregnant 'cause there is no screen. It doesn't hurt so I go along with it. 10 minutes of her rolling it on my wrist later, the radio-receiver-ultra-sound-providing machine beeps and she wipes the remaining gel off my wrist.

She rolls the ultra-sound cart away and comes back with what look like orange dish-cloths (the ones you wipe your kitchen counter with). Turns out they are orange dish cloths and they are wet. She tells me to remove my ring and reaches behind me to the first radio-receiver and pulls out some electrical cables. As if this were the most natural thing in the world, she sandwiches my hand between the cloths and pegs the electricity on to them. Ummm... I'm beginning not to feel so confident about this. Isn't water conductive?

In the end it was ok, a slight tingle and a rash on my hand for a couple of hours was all... I didn't get electrocuted or anything...

As it turns out, this kind of therapy is used for the relief of acute pain (back, wrist, knee, you name it) and what I did not see the first time was that there is a piece of paper coated in medical substances in between the orange kitchen cloths. The electricity is used to enable deeper penetration of the substance and the ultrasound apparently improves circulation.
There you have it. It was news to me, but it seems to be working.


I knew the Germans where into kinky sex - I recall a trip to Munich during high school - but Austrians? and in your neighborhood high street? Seriously?!

Titties but no nipples

Sunday, March 01, 2009

having a second child... or not?

To have N° 2 or not to have N° 2... that is the question which is hovering in our household and on my mind these days.

I am going to be 36 in 3 months. My husband is 2 years younger. Emma is 19 months old. We love her to bits.
Hopefully we will be staying in Vienna long enough not to have to move with a new-born again unless we wait too long.... but I can't say we are currently in a great big hurry to do anything about having N° 2.

Before I got pregnant with Emma, and looking at friends' kids, I thought 2 or 3 years difference was not small. Now I'm thinking more along the lines of "as long as it's under 4" (um.. or under 40). In my defense, should I need one, the Viennese winter with a toddler is about the most "I don't want to do this with two" inducing environment there is.

There is also the fact, that I can't help feeling that I am only just now enjoying some "me-time". Well, since she started kindergarden last autumn, really. Although, I realize I have said this a few times since she was 6 months old. With each milestone (full night's sleep, sitting, crawling, eating on her own, walking...) come some challenges but also more independence and more interesting occupations and activities for both of us.
Emma is now walking and talking a bit. She goes to kindergarden in the mornings and we do stuff together in the afternoons (playing, reading, park-going, but also the occasional food shopping at the market, cooking dinner, stuffing the wet laundry into the dryer...).

I like my own time. I like doing Pilates twice a week, having time to walk the streets of Vienna lost in my thoughts and observations, being able to go to a trendy café even if it's a bit smoky for a chat and a panino. I like taking some time to read my emails and visit other blogs, or read the paper on-line with a home made latte sprinkled with grated chocolate.
I also like the fact that when I am with Emma I can spend quality time with her because I have had my own time in the morning (reading, walking, writing, painting, shopping, talking, seeing friends, doing sports, whatever...).

It took me a while to realize that it was a lot less frustrating for me (and no doubt for her) if I did one thing at a time properly. One hours' play then one hours' cooking while Emma places stones in moulds with me in the kitchen. Then 30 minutes "reading" together while the meal simmers, and 20 minutes "Neighborhood animals" for Emma while her Dad and I have a chat. Then her dinner time, bath time, bed-time... We've got a routine going. Most of the time, it runs pretty smoothly.

I now find it much harder to function with the lack of sleep if she has a couple of bad nights due to a blocked nose or teething and find it absolutely exhausting having her home all day (when she is sick). In fact, I cannot imagine that I did it for nearly 15 months. I have grown accustomed to my comfort once again.

Admittedly, when babes are babies you can walk them around the shops, take them to lunch with your friends or with you practically everywhere and they will sleep/feed pretty easily. But what when you have a babe and a toddler? You can no longer nap when your babe naps to compensate for your night breastfeeding. You can no longer sip latte's on sunny terraces while your babe snoozes in the shade and enjoy a chat with a friend... You need to plan for two totally different ages/needs and try not to forget yourself... Yikes!

It's hard 'cause I feel the pressure of age (mine), and time passing by. I feel the pressure of the
"if you wait too long you might not want to have a second" or another truism: "you might not get pregnant again right away...". I worry that the second will take away from Emma and our quality of life. I absolutely hated feeling torn in between my dog's needs and Emma's as a tiny babe. Constantly trying to satisfy both and failing miserably yet feeling constantly stressed and tired. I know I will hate feeling torn in between two of my children. Right now, I cannot see the benefits. Interestingly, hubs and I are rather aligned on this, although our alternate ups and downs aren't necessarily simultaneous.

Most importantly, I really wanted Emma. I loved discovering we were pregnant. Loved being pregnant with her (except for the last month where I was totally fed up and impatient to meet her) and loved having her. I don't feel that way yet about a second child. Maybe I will, if we wait a while longer. Maybe I won't and then we'll see.
I think you need to want a child. And as long as that's not the case we can discuss and think it over endlessly but it won't make me feel I want it.
So... like a friend of mine said in other circumstances entirely, "ask me after the summer!" and let's enjoy the spring and another birthday as a threesome.

For more reading on the subject: having a second child