Thursday, December 20, 2012

Yummy things for December

December... for me it should be absolutely brimming with delicious recipes, colours, lights and smells. We are going back to Geneva for Christmas and I am glad as I found it hard to experience the spirit of Christmas here last year away from family but also in a place that stays so warm at this time of year.
Today, after a very stormy night it was sunny and 18°!!!

However, the winter season is full of decorations, lights and yummy things to eat in our home wherever we are!

One of my favorites, great for home but also as a little home made gift, this delicious recipe which I discovered last year; pear and rosemary crostini with goat cheese which is really easy to make.

Another yummy, easy (and healthy) bake are oatmeal and date cookies.
I got the recipe from the lovely Eating for England where I also found the very satisfyingly delicious Maroccan carrot soup which is so simple, rich and as comforting as a soup should be when coming back from a walk in the cold.

Moving away from food there are also the lovely Christmas decorations and activities; cards to make, decorations to make and hang, shows to attend...

We made lots of Christmas trees

and other Christmas decorations

Raw chocolate truffles with coconut

opened two Advent calanders every morning

We made two Gingerbread houses with lots of smarties, 
jelly beans ad marshmallows. I had to build it really quickly to avoid all the decorations being eaten up!

We saw Emma dance and sing in English, act & sing in French, William play and elf and show us all his arts and crafts and baking. 

Phew!  We are ready for a holiday! It's now cooler even here in Athens and so off we go to Geneva tomorrow!

Merry Merry Christmas and happy holidays!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Merry Christmas!

'Tis the season to be jolly... La la la...

Sunday, December 09, 2012

A letter from Santa

William received this letter from Santa yesterday (click on the letter to enlarge). He sent it to the Kindergarten along with some yummy cupcakes and cheese puffs.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Before William's Xmas show

Emma and William waiting for Mummy and Daddy to get ready while watching their favorite video of the Duck and the Lemonade stand.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Counting the days to Christmas...

I told you she was good at taking this pose! ;-)

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

Emma dancing Zumba on Greek national TV

Check out his link to see Emma dancing Zumba on Greek National TV with her Zumba class. Alpha TV - Παιδική Zumba 29/11/12

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Emma at her Zumba lesson

Sorry! the previous one was not the one I meant to put up! Here are some better ones.

Monday, November 19, 2012

the worry of Emma update

So perhaps I should come back to what the school psychologist said about what she saw in Emma (after speaking with me, observing her in class and also after putting Emma and her classmates through the Brigance screening). 

In a nutshell: 
  • Emma enjoys being the centre of attention of the class, her teachers or friends (same at home)
  • there is definitely some sibling rivalry but it is normal
  • she is quite the little perfectionist and very competitive
  • she appears to fear failure
  • she needs to be reassured a lot
  • she is one of the most dominant characters in her class
  • although she is among the strongest in her class she was the by far the slowest in doing the Brigance screening because as soon as the answer to the exercise was not immediately obvious to her she kept saying "I can't" and stalling. The child psychologist told me she felt Emma clearly wanted to be walked through it and wanted more attention.
  • she has trouble finishing things especially if they require the extra bit of effort as most things come quite easily to her.

What we /I can do:
  • It is necessary to set clear limits to her in terms of attention and time (like giving Emma a turn to speak at the table then moving on to William and Emma should now wait quietly also in terms of my time especially when she tries to stretch it like before bed-time or when something/someone else needs attention) but also so as to protect myself and stopping before I have lost all energy and patience.
  • Do not give attention to "negative" behavior  or behavior we do not want to encourage (whining, complaining about the food she did not want for dinner etc.) - just set the limit/give some kind of instruction, then ignore and move on.
  • Make her aware of her feelings by mirroring them them back to her. For example when she tells me that William comes to kick her in the middle of the night (oh yeah!) I should hear her out and then tell her something like "you seem quite angry at William" (pause give her a chance to express more) then perhaps something like "I wonder if it's because you have to share Mummy and Daddy with him? (pause) sharing is not easy but we all get our turn (...) Mummy loves both of you very much - loves you and William".
  • do not compare
  • explain and show that mistakes are ok and that we just get up again and start again (and she actually tells me she does not like losing/catching the boys at tag/not winning which I think is great cause at least she is expressing it and it gives us a chance to talk about it)
  • keep her to a routine as much as possible (this totally reassures her and she thrives in it)

That's about it. 

Having said that, most days things are fine. Emma is doing very well in class and it no longer stalling so much when asked to do an exercise. This might be because she has understood it is not going to get her the extra attention or because she has learned more (adding, reading) to feel comfortable once again. 
At home she plays really well with William and I try to do something with just her at least once a week but it's tough as William does not yer have his own activities at the grand old age of 2,5  (although he is very good at keeping himself busy on his own with bricks or lego).
She is getting better at understanding that asking Mummy to give her more snack and put music on at the same time although I have not yet sat down in the car myself is not a good idea and that if she has to ask she can say "when you can..." or "when you are ready..." first.

I do still find it tiresome having to stop her from being overbearing and answering in William's place when he is trying to learn to pronounce a word correctly. I know she just wants to help but she does not seem to get that William also needs his own time in the conversation. I guess for a 5 year old it's pretty normal though. 

On the other hand I have been patting myself on the back for not losing my patience with her too often lately despite her total being dissipated and basically totally distracted.I find humor goes a long way (but you do have to have the energy and distance to take that road - still practice makes perfect.)

Finally, I realized that practically everyone is losing their nerve with their own kids (other people's kids are easy) and that the key is in not being too hard on oneself and taking it too seriously and letting it ruin your day. 

so... have a good day!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

William and Emma in the kitchen

Emma and William in the kitchen this morning

Since Emma had just given a rendition of her November poem, William wanted to sing a song too. Here he with the  "Big Balloon song". As you can see, he can be terribly shy... 

November poem by Emma

Here is Emma's rendition of her November poem.  If you missed the October poem please click here and if you wish to see her rainbow recital from last June click here
And again:

Emma, if you ask me as many questions as today and if I can't remember: you were 5 years and 3 months old, at Melina's kindergarten in Mrs Theresa's class. ,-)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The rainbow poem - June 2012 end of school show

Here is Emma's rainbow recital - something that was prepared for the end of year show last June.(Wow! that is less than 5 months ago and she already seems so much older!)

Emma tinker bell

Recently someone told me Emma reminded them of tinker bell.

I had not thought of it but I guess there is a kind of resemblance... Especially as she takes the below pose quite naturally!

Monday, November 12, 2012

crumble and clothes

Making cherry crumble

and vanilla sauce
New clothes for Emma! She had grown out of most of last year's autumn-winter clothes
and although she is wearing her uniform all week, luckily weekend clothes can be more colourful!
Although she has now taken to changing into a pretty dress after school because she "likes it".  Oh the laundry!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The October poem

Every month Emma learns a new poem in class. Quick before the month is over, here is her version of the October poem.

In case you're wondering, she said (Because I am reading it on my notebook, ha! ha!... )

Happy Halloween!

Emma the Witch and Will the Wizard ready for their Halloween parties.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween fun

Last week we had fun carving Jack O'Lanterns with the Martinelli family at their house and dressed as Tiger (William) and Fairy (Emma).

Unfortunately for us, they have not lasted until Halloween... With the local temperatures mold and fruit flies have set in! Not something to worry about in cooler climates.
This week we baked and decorated Parisian "sablés" in the shape of skeleton heads, pumpkins, bats, ghosts and cats.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Happiness is a new kitchen...

Before and After pics of our kitchen at "le Poirier"



Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Alleviating Emma's bag of worries

Sometimes Emma seems to worry a lot. And sometimes that worries me. At times I think it might "just" be a ploy to keep me at her bedside longer when she does not want to sleep although it is 9pm on a weekday but at other times she seems to get caught up in feverish anxiety that seems genuine. That's why I bought this book. It arrived in the mail today and I look forward to reading it with her.

I know a lot of kids get worried about things, sometimes due to misunderstanding something they heard from an adult converstaion (like I totally waited up a hole night once waiting for the A-bomb to go off, hugging my favorite stuffed animals on my bed in total anguish until I woke in the morning to the same old world and decided to ask an adult about this bomb....).

The thing is, even when I think she is authentically, truly worried, I am not sure the things she is talking about are really the things worrying her. Hence I am not sure how to reassure her. For example, one day after school and some time at the park, she suddenly got into a state about not writing her "y" the right way round.   We practice the letter "y" (at her request) and she gets it right and despite all the reassurance I could muster having interrupted my dinner preparations to hug her, console her, explain that she is learning to write and like everyone who is learning something she will sometimes get it wrong; "but what if Mrs T. asks me to write complicated words and I can't do it? she wails.. I tell her that she also used not to know how to walk, run, ride a bike, speak English... and now she does. That it's like William learning new words and trying to pronounce them properly (he has been unable to make the sounds "r" "l" or "w" so far);    "it's ok, he's just learning" she often says when he says "choo" for thank-you or "waan" instead of "run".  She gets it.
"There is no rush"  I try to convince her. She will get there, she will learn this like all the other things she has already learned. Oh dear. Why on earth does she put so much pressure on herself?  I try to reassure her that Mrs T. knows that she is learning and that she will only ask her things that she is capable of doing now. In fact, that's Mrs T.'s job; to teach children so they can learn more easily. The wailing goes on and on. I'm not sure she is hearing me and I am not sure that the reassurance I am giving her is targeting the issue. It's as if she is on a roll with no intention of calming down.

That evening, the hugs, some "pink milk" and sitting on my lap and rocking do the trick. Thankfully, William spent the whole time drawing by himself at the dining room table. Dinner is nearly burnt but Emma has gotten something off her chest - whatever it was - since she is quite cheerful through dinner and bath-time. I on the other hand am exhausted, drained and a bit worried and sad.

I write her teacher, Mrs T. a note about the episode and ask if she has any insights at all. Mrs T. tells me Emma is in fact quite careless about how she writes her letters at school and does not seem worried at all.  Also that she has no trouble with any of her work. We later talk about Emma's double-sided character; how she is sociable and exuberant at times and super shy and insecure at others.  Still, I wonder... why this total melt-down at home?

The talk with her teacher just adds to my feeling that sometimes, she buries herself under this big load of self-induced pressure or fear, so that she can get reassurance - is it a plea for attention? - but I still do not know what she needs to be reassured about. Just that she needs to be reassured that it will be ok.  I guess that's all I can do. Listen and reassure.

I am going to have a chat with the school psychologist tomorrow just in case she has any ideas.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Mini update

So now that the kids have been in school for 3 weeks I am sick. With the flu. Totally and utterly blocked up and already on my third tissue box although it is around 30° outside and stubbornly nothing like autumn which would make me at least feel seasonal.

On the bright side, so far, it's only me. Phew.

Today, we celebrate our first year since we moved to Athens. One year. Utterly unbelievable. Perhaps it's the constant sun that is making it seem like it has been many summers already. I don't mean to sound spoiled, and I never thought I would feel this way, but I wish it would cloud over and cool down just a bit so I could wear trousers and a sweater and put my sunglasses away. Just occasionally you know? Instead, google weather is constantly showing this - and usually it's 4 suns  - like a win on a cash machine. 

Just yesterday, Steph and kids swam in the pool - although it was chilly when they got out. But it was October 1st! Nothing like autumn (grumble, mumble, sigh).

We took advantage of the warm weather and had another BBQ

and also prepared home made pizza

which was actually really delicious thanks to the dough recipe I got from my Italian friend M.

What else?
Emma started Zumba lessons, of which I hope to be able to show you some pics soon, William is learning the colours at nursery, of which his all time favorite is purple (although he could be colour blind...) and Emma is learning about the body, it's brain, lungs and circulatory system. 
I am on a diet - I know! who the hell goes on a diet after the summer holidays?! - which is actually really helping me to food-shop more efficiently but is a bummer when it comes to dirty dishes as I mostly prepare 2 dinners (one for me and one for the rest of the gang who is mostly growing upwards) on top of a midday lunch for myself and then lunch boxes for the next day. Even after a year, I still hate them.  
Emma and Will are taking French classes 2 times a week
We have decided to go back to Geneva for the Christmas holidays
I am in love with Yotam Ottolenghi's aubergine croquette recipe from his mouth watering recipe book Plenty

mmm.... I think that's about it for now.

Have a happy week all!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

There's just no stopping him

As soon as he has a moment, William grabs a broom and starts cleaning!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ever the little helper

Will loves unpacking groceries and putting them in the fridge, sweeping the floor, carrying bags, emptying the dishwasher, hanging paintings, putting things away on shelves and closing cupboards. I'm enjoying it while it lasts ;-)

Friday, September 07, 2012

last day of the first week of school

 Emma and Will waiting for the bus this morning
 Who loves their big sister???
 All smiles!
Emma steps up

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Bye bye summer hols - back to school!

Finally the summer is coming to and end, or rather, school is starting! Tomorrow is orientation day; a chance for the children and Mums to meet teachers, visit class-rooms and see classmates old and new. I am looking forward to it! 

It's not really the end of summer here yet; we are still enjoying sunny and warm weather here day after day but I am sure we will get in the "autumn-back-to-school-mood" soon enough. 

The past two weeks here in Greece we have kept busy;

visiting the wonderful Attiko Parko (zoo)
where we saw a family of hippos keeping cool in their mud pool
and amazing feathers and coats
We also liked dressing up and dancing
 polishing up our looks
going for short walks
jumping on our new trampoline

 visiting friends...
 having lunch in outdoor malls
 painting plaster figures
 being brave at the park
 making play-dough cookies while Mum and Dad lazed in front of the telly for once
 climbing olive trees...

and lots more!

Anyway, goodbye summer, we are happy to have enjoyed you but we are welcoming school back with a smile.