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.