Saturday, December 31, 2011


William is not yet fully comfortable using his balance bike... so he carries it!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thursday, December 08, 2011

I'm a third culture kid!

and it looks like my kids are also!!!

A definition I liked of a Third Culture Kid (TCK) is "a child who spends a significant time of his/her developmental years outside of the parents culture. The TCK builds relationships to all of the cultures while not having full ownership of any."
If you think you might be too or that your kids are, then please listen to this interview with Ruth Van Reken.

It's great actually to have a name to this "I come from nowhere and everywhere" identity of mine. I always felt that living all over the place made me feel kind of "rootless" because I was always different even if what I knew and what I had seen, learned and experienced was practically always presented in a positive light, for me there has always been a sense of not belonging and loss that I have found hard to manage. When I am here, I feel from there, and when I am there I also feel foreign.

It was kind of comforting for me to hear this person say that because everyone is always talking about the positives, you feel almost ungrateful when you express the losses or the fact that your identity is full of holes bigger than any cheese. She also talks about the unresolved grief which was a total slap in the face it felt so true to me.

When people ask me where I am from, to this day I try to explain in the truest possible manner the entirety of my origins because I cannot say that I am "only" Swiss/ Slave/ South African-English/ a world-citizen/ a little bit of all 9 countries I have liven in. When asked what my mother tongue is, I can only truthfully say my mother's language is English or that I spoke 3 languages at the age of 3; my mother's, my father's and Italian since at that moment, we were living in Italy. It's as if I need to explain my lack of belonging or my links to all the different places that are part of me. Maybe kind of crazy?

... to be continued

In the meantime, here are some related links:

tck world
International family transitions

N.B. I started writing this post three days ago then got interrupted by my  third culture kids and their international musical requests on youtube!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Recent Emma-isms

While brushing her teeth with a new minty toothpaste
Emma: Mummy! it's too spicy!!
On our Sunday afternoon walk:
E: Mummy, I want to go back to the car now.
Me: Yes, Emma, we are walking back to the car now.
E: But Mummy, we must hurry up before it gets dark.
Also during the walk:
E: No, Mummy, Willy wants to hold my hand, not yours!
While putting her to bed:
E: Where are you going now Mummy?
Me: Downstairs
E: what are you going to do there?
Me: Have dinner with daddy. Good night now sweetie. I'll see you in the morning.
E: When will it be morning?
Me: at 7 o'clock. Nightie night.
E: but  Mummy! I will wake up when you have dinner.
After waking from her nap Sunday afternoon nap
E: When are we going to have breakfast Mummy?
Me: Tomorrow morning. Now it's tea time.
E: Mummy? What's for lunch?
While walking: 
E: Mummy, shall I tell you something?
Me: Yes, Emma
E: Concombre! (cucumber in French)
In the car: 
William: aap, aap!
Emma: Mummy, William is saying apple!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The count-down begins

Emma has already started asking "How long until Santa comes? When will it be Christmas?" A way to countdown the days helps her manage her impatience. I think. Or maybe it's just getting more sugar into her system. ;-(

Last year we painted Christmas tree shaped boxes and numbers to create our home made advent calendar. Some of the boxes are now tough to open and/or close but it still looks pretty and it's usable. Here are some cute ideas of some home made advent calendars to help you manage the countdown to Christmas! (and keep them busy while making them this afternoon). 
Oh! how I miss Creatopia and Libro just down the street from where we used to live in Vienna.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In front of our house

they are making a paved street (paid entirely by the resident owners) and finishing the neighbour's house
a lot of dust, a lot of noise and some sunny blue sky

Hopefully by December the street will be done!

Friday, November 25, 2011

This week's happy and or victorious moments

This week's happy and or victorious moments

  • our new cleaning lady: "Ma'am, uh, why do all French people have only beige (in their) houses? I clean for many French ladies and everything is beige. Why??? My house blue and white, your house orange, red, colourful...why only beige?" 
  • Emma loved her swimming lesson this time around! SO much can change in just a few months! She will now be going on Thursday mornings in stead of art. It's a shame she will miss art class but I do think she needs to learn to swim (or at least tolerate the water) before hitting the pool and Greek beaches this summer AND I welcome any kind of physical activity for her since we are no longer walking anywhere! I REALLY miss walking around neighborhood parks and shops. ;-(
  • I dragged my butt out and had coffee with 2 Mums (separately!!) and still managed. Although dinners this week have been quick pasta, rizi-bizi, fish-fingers, scrambled eggs and soups after a number more elaborate dinners (chicken rosemary and rice stew, Italian chunky soup, home made hamburgers...) were totally rejected by my kids.
  • With the help of one of the above-mentioned Mums and Vodaphone I got my iPhone voicemail menu to speak English!! Yes!
  • Having started this in Vienna with impressive results I have made an appointment to continue IPL treatment on my legs!   I really want smooth legs that do not require daily/weekly/monthly care in the Greek sunny weather!! Yippee!
  • William's new "nickname" (by the neighbours' three boys) : "Microscopico William". This is the equivalent of "little one" or "piccolino" in Italian but to my foreign ears it sounds like he is as tiny as an insect or bacteria to be viewed under a microscope (of course!). It makes me smile every time I hear it.
That's all for now!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Olive picking time

Olive trees are being shaken down for olives in fields and street corners by owner's and passers by. It's olive picking time!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Emma and Will on the kitchen floor. It's great watching them play together ;-)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

William at his new kindergarten

And I forgot to mention another favorite activity of his in my recent post; William loves emptying the dishwasher!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Athens in the rain

Today it was raining, 5° and really windy so we took the metro out of our privileged neighbourhood to the centre of Athens - we got off at Omonia and walked to Monastiraki. It felt like a different world.

William 18+ months

November 2011, William in our Athens kitchen having some juice.

He loves dancing, music, eating ham/salami/cheese/bacon/carbonara/clementines/grapes, running, playing, incessantly re-arranging my muffin moulds, books, being tickled, playing with Emma, laughing, hiding, hanging his coat up/putting his coat on, baths, playing with water, climbing, slides...

He hates waiting for dinner, car-seat straps, having his nappy changed when he is in the middle of something, being stopped.

He eats using a fork and spoon quite well but sometimes helps himself with his fingers. He pulls his bib off and hands you his plate when he is done. He does not hesitate much.
He has super sensitive skin and the bluest eyes. 
He says Mama and Papa and something that sounds like Emma, ah (with many different tones), oh, oh-oh, ugghhh, he clicks his tongue, he can carry a tune. To answer questions he nods his head and laughs, he shakes his head and laughs. He understands absolutely everything we say in French and increasingly more in English but he does not talk  - still prefers grunting, shouting, sighing, laughing...
He is the sweetest funniest darlingest boy. He is stubborn and curious, he is enthusiastic. He is provocative and charming.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Lonely but wanting to stay snuggly home

Sitting at Starbucks having an English breakfast tea by myself. Reminds me of many caffe latte's in Izmir's Starbucks with my friend I. Hoping some time soon I will be having a chatty visit to Starbucks here too. Still pretty lonely here.

Will is gradually adapting to his new Kindergarden although he is still unhappy when I leave. Also one of his back teeth is pushing through which does not help.
I am feeling REALLY tired despite going to bed early. Also having head aches. An article I read about listening to your intuition recommended you stop and examine how you feel repeatedly throughout the day and said that tiredness and headaches are a sign of your compass being off. Indeed... My body seems to just want to stay snuggly home away from the wind with a warm blanket and a good book or movie. I think I am going to head home after the food shopping and do just that.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Will's favorite passtime

Taking things out of cupboards and arranging them in a row.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Help - go get yourself a copy!

Last night I finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I am so going to miss Aibileen, Skeeter and Minny! and even little Mae Mobley!

It is truly one of those books that takes you into them, away from your day to day and into a different time and way of life.

If you haven't read it, go get yourself a copy!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

vomit, alarms, good news and a dreamy hotel

Things have been a bit hectic; on Monday night, alone with the kids as Steph was traveling, William drank his milk to fast laughed and then threw up the milk and his dinner all over my new American Vintage sweater and his clean pajamas. Just as I had him changed and ready for bed, Emma still singing in the bath-tub where she was making her millionth soup, the fire alarm went off for the first time. Let me tell you it even took me a while to figure out what was ringing so loudly as just the previous day William had managed to set the alarm on his day clock!!  It went off 3 more times as I was putting the kids to bed. Each time, shortly after I or the landlord managed to switch it off and reset it, it went off again. In the end, he graciously called the electrician for some instructions, I got some screw drivers and we killed the damn thing. Phew. 

Wouldn't you know it, now that we no longer have a fire-alarm, I burnt my pizza in the oven yesterday! 

Anyway, just as a quick update to yesterday's post - William got the place at the International School of Athens' Nursery. I'll be starting induction with him there next week when his bum rash has cleared and everyone is back from school holidays. 
I am happy but so sad he has to leave the place he is at now where he seems quite at home with the Greco-French atmosphere. I cannot say how much all these changes break my heart for him. I realize some of my feelings must be from my past as a child who changed schools and languages a lot for they are so strong and brutally intense. That and I am a very protective Mum. I am sure William will cope with English quickly and make new friends. But I cannot tell you what a toll it takes on me having him hide behind my legs for one hour, how much I miss his playfulness and smile during this time, how much I will myself to be positive and playful to ease things for him while my gut hurts.

Today William and I will be taking Emma and her friend F. to French lesson after school. First time with 3 kids in a car and this stressful traffic and sidewalks where you cannot walk side to side. A bit daunting, I must admit. 

Yesterday, I received an promotional email from a hotel we once stayed in, in London. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to be there - no kids of course- to relax, drink, eat, shop, watch movies, just ENJOY.

Monday, October 24, 2011

first interview

I have not been able to find a French speaking kindergarden for Will and  as of Tuesday he can no longer go to his current one

On Friday I visited an Anglo-Greek bilingual kindergarden - which is near by and offers a home cooked hot meal - but although I liked the director I was not fully convinced by the teachers. I decided to give Emma's International School a call and ask them about making an exception to the "2,5 year old minimum" rule. On Friday they told me that since William has a sibling in the school it should not be a problem but that they would call me back on Monday. 
Today they called me to tell me they could offer him a place in January (in 2012 he will turn 2 years old so I imagine someone wants to tick a box) but I insisted and so tomorrow we plan to show them how mature and capable he is. William's first interview at 18 months for a 2 year old's place at the International School of Athens. If family experience is anything to go by, my first job required a minimum of 5 years experience and I got it anyway. My Dad had a similar experience.  Plus, when William turns the charm on who can resist? 

Seriously, I do think he can manage and be happy in a group of  2-3 year old children. And I really really REALLY don't want to change kindergarden again next year or in 6 months and this one seems good with a great team of teachers. We were planning on sending him there anyway later on so he could follow the same English speaking program as Emma, but I really don't want to have to change him again in 2 months time so if this falls through tomorrow I don't quite know what I'll do...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

First fun Saturday in Athens

This week-end, since the weather was once again sunny, we gave the "settling in" a break and went out a bit; on Saturday morning to Kifissia for coffee in a retro style bakery-come-café. I was thrilled to find this authentic place. Have a look!

At midday we went back home for lunch and William's nap (our midday break!) and then headed off to Attiko Parko, the zoo!

More on Sunday soon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy William in the morning


Just before breakfast this morning - happy dancing and drawing William.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kicked out of kindergarden

On Saturday the owner of Will's kindergarden sold it because she is leaving Greece. 

Yesterday as I was dozing on the sofa (still sick and feverish) she called to give me the news. 

The new school will not welcome the under 2,5 year olds and hence as of November 1st William will no longer have a kindergarden to go to unless we find him a spot somewhere else. 

I am furious shocked outraged but it does not help. The fact that we have a signed contract does not help. I am angry that William will have to make another change after having just adjusted to his new environment following our move from Vienna 3 weeks ago - this too does not help. 
Right now, a part from the strikes, the no sidewalks, the crazy unlawful driving and heaps of garbage everywhere this countries ways are pissing me off. But I guess I can count our blessings for we are all ok.
Today I will try to hunt down a free spot in another french speaking kindergarden. Fingers crossed please!!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The way you make me feel

William's face us exactly the way I feel at times... Only It's not acceptable for an adult to show it... Pity that, I could do that Waaaahhh !!! quite well I'm sure.

Today isn't going that great; 
Emma said she did not want to take the school bus and then asked when this holiday was going to be over. When I asked her what she meant she asked me "when are we going back to our other home in Wien?" ;-( 
There is an electricity outage today so I had to rush to get my car out if the garage bright and early (luckily the neighbor / landlord reminded me or I would have been stuck at home with Will all day!)
The electricity outage set the alarms beeping like mad.  
I left the garbage out front last night (not in a bin since we don't yet have one) and the cats tore it to bits meaning we were greeted by a carpet of garbage as we opened our front door this morning. Yuck!
The garbage men are apparently on strike. 
Another strike looming (truck drivers I think) as we have been told to fill up on petrol! The nearest shell station was packed and the queue was blocking road traffic this morning as I drove Will to Kindergarden.
As if having two kids in a foreign country wasn't stressful enough...

Monday, October 10, 2011

First week in Athens...

It's been an eventful first week.

On Monday, after a 30 minute sit-in in her kindergarten class and a 30 minute recess in the park, Emma decided she wanted to stay at kindergarten so we had to improvise a lunch box and leave her there. William's first morning at his was only a stop over of 10 minutes to apologize and reschedule. Yay! Emma! for being so brave and enthusiastic!
Emma holding her lunch box and Will - ready to head off to school

Then just as William and I were about to leave home to pick up Emma I managed to lock ourselves out on the second floor balcony!!! (the sliding door's handle flipped up and locked!). And of course no phone on me. Screaming at the top of my lungs I caught the attention of some workmen who called our neighbor who was just boarding a plane who called my husband who drove home like a mad man not knowing if William was with me or stuck alone inside. Phew! Then Steph picked up Emma and I had a drink.

Emma in her school (kindergarden) uniform and William with his lunch box

On Tuesday afternoon Emma told us she wanted to go to school with the school bus so for the first time on Wednesday she went to school and back in a yellow ISA school bus. So lovely and happy. Only thing is every morning she does not want to wear the "same again" (her uniform).

Her school Passport (contains notes from teachers to us since due to the school bus we don't see them everyday) says she has made friends and is very happy and participates in class. Indeed she has been singing new songs and has mentioned a little boy called Phillip...

In the meantime, Will has once again charmed all female presence at his kindergarden and has although he initially only had an hour, then breakfast and 2 hours play there, by Friday he had had lunch and a mid-day nap there too.

On Thursday we had a fuel leak in the house but luckily the smell alerted us in time and the workmen cleaned it all up and repaired it. Phew!

Technical problems such as no phone for me due to iPhone being blocked so we cannot use a different carrier than the one we had a contract with in Austria are proving quite difficult to resolve and I really do need a local number! Despite my best efforts to jailbreak the phone I had to give in and by a new phone in the end. Ugh.

The admin is absolutely mind boggling. Every day Emma brings back more paperwork with lots of forms to fill out and sign. I need to organize a health check and still decide whether or not we wish her to have tennis or swimming lessons although I would prefer something a bit less technical where she can just run and jump and use up some energy.

Once the children were more or less settled, the next priority was finding a cleaning lady (partially done now) and to finish unpacking boxes (also moving ahead...).

Ugh the dust (from the dirt road and the neighboring houses still being worked on) and the clean laundry are piling up. And whose brilliant idea was it to have a school uniform with a snow white top??!!

Over the week-end we discovered a couple of parks with lots of fun for kids.

Emma and Will driving together

Will held by Steph and Tata-yéyé on our was to have an ice-cream

How do we feel?
the kids seem to be doing great and the only things that seem to bother them are:
- that the house is on multiple levels and so a) we always seem far away if we are not right there b) it's a bit dangerous for distracted Emma and tiny Will as there are many stairs to fall down.
-the distances are greater than in Vienna and Mummy sometimes gets lost so we spent more time in the car (finding the park) than in the park.

As for us, well, since the kids are ok, we can now focus on the house and ourselves a bit. It's hard to believe we only left Vienna a week ago. It feels like forever. For us it's been a tough move - the first as a family of four - and despite being super organized and having head at hand there is only so much you can do with kids around. Still, all in all we are doing ok. We have Internet, heating, phone numbers and kids at kindergarden, a near by supermarket and a GPS on my mobile phone. We're sleeping and eating ok and most days it's sunny. Today I even had a neighbor and her kids over for a while and tomorrow I am going to a newcomers meeting organized by some francophone "oldies" .

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Alive and (nearly) kicking in Athens

We made it! We are here, there are lots of boxes that still need unpacking but tonight we are spending our first night in Athens and in our new home - all four of us.

The movers were great and we had the precious help of G. (another one!) a Russian lady who cleans at our neighbors and who came over to help us. What a wonderful, quick, positive woman. And I got to practice my Russian!

As I write everyone is in bed and I am totally exhausted having unpacked and put away lots and lots but happy to be here.

Tomorrow we might go to the sea and take a break from "the move".

More news soon...

Nightie night!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Last post from Vienna (unless we come back?)

So this ia a quick update on the last post:

It's now nearly 10pm and the children are fast asleep. Their farewell parties went well, they both received t-shirts with their names on them and Emma also got a hand-made photo album with lots of children's quotes and drawings. Absolutely lovely.

Both the kids and I received a lot of love today. Lots of hugs and kisses, presents and kind words, happy wishes and compliments. I was able to say goodbye to everyone I intended to and we even managed a last ice-cream before coming back to the hotel!

I've been so busy trying to be positive for the kids and just so busy, I haven't yet felt too sad so far - only cried a bit once - I am still floating on all the love and functioning in efficiency mode so in a way, I can't quite fathom that we are about to leave all this behind... but I know that soon enough, in a week or two, maybe sooner, I will land and sadness and nostalgia will set in (along with frustration at a million new things not going smoothly).

All part of the (expat) life I guess. On the other hand, we would not have experienced lovely today if we were living here permanently. I wonder can one get addicted to this kind of life with arrivals and departures, intense reunions and good-byes and relatively short commitments? Oh but that's another subject... Nightie night!

Last everything in Vienna

Last coffees and lunches, last playdates, last Genusspfads at the market, last burgers at Orlando's, last Pilates class, last drop off at Kindergarden, last proseccos, last gathering of fond memories here...

Tonight is our last night in Vienna.
I'm now off to pic up the kids at Kindergarden here for the last time... (I hope their goodbye parties went well) then off to the park and perhaps a last ice-cream on Tuchlauben... Oh! So sad!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jeeves please!

Emma had trouble getting her rain boots off yesterday and as soon as his own shoes were off, William jumped to help her. They thought their heartfelt grunts were hilarious as they took turns pulling on the boot. It was really a wonderful sight!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday morning

Feeding the ducks

Aren't the park and pond gorgeous?!

Friday, September 16, 2011

the count-down has begun!

The countdown has started! This time next week the packers will be here! and this time in two weeks will be out last full day in Vienna and Emma will have her going away party at the kindergarden. Then on Saturday October 1st we fly off to Athens where Steph and our furniture will hopefully be waiting.

At times, I have a hard time really comprehending it all, and at others I just want to drink in all of Vienna while I still can.

It's hard thinking that my now home will no longer be my home in about 10 days. I know I go through a process of feeling slighty homeless and un-rooted before I can feel at home again in my new home.

Emma and I play a game where we list all that will be new and all that will be the same; new friends, news school, same Mummy, Daddy, William, Emma, new car, new house, same toys, same furniture... you get the picture. This is my attempt to prepare her for what is coming and so far she seems to be taking it well. In fact a couple of her kindergarden friends' Mums have told me that their son/daughter was very sad, crying, upset about Emma's departure and asked when they would see her again. Interestingly enough Emma has not yet had this reaction or question. I am not sure whether this is good or bad.

I asked her favorite kindergarden teacher to sound the waters with her to see what she was feeling and she told me that Emma was generally quite open about the move if apprehensive about the new kindergarden and friends.
Timing wise it's a shame for William too - he now feels so happy and at home in the kindergarden here. And it's lovely that they are both in the same one and can see each other at break time and when they are outside. In Greece, they will not be in the same Kindergarden at least for the first year.

I am glad that Emma and Will's aunt, Tata-yéyé, will be with us when we hit the ground in Greece to soften the blow and make it more fun and also that Emma has met some of the neighborhood children already. Hopefully this will soften the blow.
The "but when are we going home?" is the question I find the most daunting because I also find making a new home difficult.

Friday morning playing

Will's favorite kitchen cupboard

Still sleepy Emma and the lego doll house