Monday, January 30, 2012

All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten...

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:
Share everything. Play fair.  Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life- learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.  Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plants goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we. And then remember the Dick-andJane books and the first word you learned- the biggest word of all- LOOK. Everything you need to know is there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living. Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to put things back where they found them and to clean up after their own mess. And it is still true, no matter how old you are - when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

by Robert Fulghum

I guess our kids are on the right track...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Yummy cupcakes

Ok, fine, the only yummy thing about cupcakes is the topping and sometimes only the look of it -but the kids loved the idea of going out for cupcakes and it was freezing outside so it was a good option. The only backlash was the sugar buzz we had to work off at the park before driving back home.
Next time I have to film William's unique way of eating them - head down straight into the icing!

William's new love

William and his wheeled backpack

Thursday, January 12, 2012

In high school, one of my ex-boyfriends used to help a group of us study for history exams but then consistently got the worst grade whereas we all came through with flying colours.  In French we say, le cordonnier est toujours le plus mal chaussé of which the English equivalent is apparently "It's always the baker's children who have no bread". Well in my case, it's always the cook who is not fed. 

Let me explain; Emma is going through a horribly picky phase with food. And by that I mean that she will only eat bread, some cheese, yogurt, hard boiled egg, pasta, sandwiches, salami, cucumber and sometimes yellow peppers. Oh and of course chocolate and ice-cream and any junk food served at birthday parties. 

I realize that by some standards this is not so bad and she is not too skinny, but her past appetite and willingness to eat seems to have vanished and she has been looking rather pale.  She has even gone to bed without dinner a few times in the past few weeks after refusing to eat risotto, quinoa, various soups, mashed potatoes and roast, rice, carrots and peas and much more.  Our take on it has been to not give her anything else but what is served for dinner.

We figure if she is hungry, she will (finally) eat and so she now only gets fruit (and maybe a tiny cracker) in the afternoons so as not to ruin her appetite for dinner and in the mornings oats or granola with milk or toast, jam and egg.  I place a sweetie or chocolate in her lunchbox that she can have if she finishes her lunch (these days raw veggies, egg, dark bred or soup, greek pasta salad or pasta and home made ragu). And I am going out of my way to make healthy and nutritious meals for her and us. 

Despite this, she is going to bed on an empty stomach quite regularly.

At midday, I cook for our evening meal and then often end up getting myself a sandwich for lunch as I don't want to eat what I have just cooked and plan to have for dinner. But then, at dinner, my tummy too tight with stress from Emma's whining, negotiating and moaning (and sometimes spitting, throwing up in her plate, crying...) ends up being filled up with ice-cream at 10pm in front of the telly! Not healthy at all!!

On the positive side, William and Steph are eating well!

At first we thought it might just be a phase, but now it's been going on for some time and I worry about her health.  And mine!
Most of the things I have read on the Internet about this kind of attitude in children has to do with control - they exert it where they can - and Emma definitely likes to control her environment. In fact she can be quite bossy at times or "likes sharing her strong  opinions" as they put it in her school report. 
So, I really try giving her a choice;  On more than one occasion have made her exactly the dinner she had requested only to have her refuse it. I have also tried taking her food shopping and giving her choice in many other situations such as which clothes to wear, what park to go to, what game to play or music to listen to, film to watch, book to read, parent to take her to bed etc. But there are still many occasions where we need to tell her what to do when asking isn't enough; to get into the car, to put her shoes and coat on, to put her slippers on, to stop badgering William, to empty her mouth before talking, to stop interrupting, to wait... I mean she is 4,5 years old!!!)
Also, I have tried "playing it cool" and just saying "ok" when she says "I don't want this" and asking her to just stay seated until William finishes. This I find really hard. Mainly because she is ruining every single meal these days and I really am beginning to resent it.

I also think there might be a bit of jealousy involved as William is taking up more space these days as he grows older and more independent but also makes his wishes clearer too. Emma is gradually losing all the "big sister" privileges as William is increasingly capable of doing more and more (taking the school bus with her, playing more games...). Undeniably he is also demanding more attention because he gets up to mischief in the bat of an eyelash and also needs help in learning /attaining his goals. I think Emma is resenting this as well as the very little time she gets to spend alone with me. Once open and happy to see him enter her room she now closes the door and says she does not want him to make a mess in it. We always try to respect her wishes when it comes to her room/space/things but when they are in the play-room and he has got hold of a toy first, then she is asked to wait her turn to use it if they cannot share it. This is a major battle. Umph.

Anyway, going back to the food issue,  any ideas or suggestions? 

Friday, January 06, 2012

new doctors and William at 20 months

One of the key things to find when you move especially if you have any sort of medical condition and kids - are good doctors.  Hopefully I have started tackling that mountain.
Yesterday I saw 3 doctors!!! It just so happened that I got some references and my act into gear and appointments all bunched up.

The first was a gynaecologist; he was lovely as well as German, fluent in English, married to a Greek woman pediatrician, father of 3 kids, trained in Munich and ready to take the time to explain all possible contraception that might work for me. I nearly had the impression I had gone for coffee with a friend. 

The second was a very renowned endocrinologist (for my thyroid) and although I am a bit wary of the "very renowned" as they can be professor-ish and not good with patients, I really liked this one. He also took a lot of time to explain things and checked my thyroid (with his hands) and prescribed blood tests that made sense. We talk on Monday.

The third was for William - we saw his pediatrician, Poppy, for his pneumococcal vaccine. We also measured and weighed him and so we have some numbers.

William, 20 months:
  • 86 cm tall
  • 12,5 kg
  • very smily and happy and still not very talkative except for:
  1. Mamaaah 
  2. Papap' 
  3. Mameuuuh
  4. nez (nose in French)
  5. teuk (take or tiens we are not really sure and perhaps neither is he)
  6. ça (this in French)
  7. up (for pick up, put up, go up the stairs but also sometimes for open)
  8. "co" for "encore" (more in French)
  9. "haa" for hot
  10. Aema (Emma)
In our case, girls are really faster talkers than boys!

What else?
  • nods his head for "yes", shakes for "no"
  • points and pulls you and shows you where to sit if you are not sitting in your usual place
  • brings you his plate when he is hungry
  • loves emptying the dishwasher and putting things away (only one glass broken so far!)
  • still has the cutest walk (kind of swings his hips and shoulders like a tough bodyguard)
  • at bed-time in his bed, tucks my arm under his body so I can't leave. (heart melting)
William this morning in the kitchen playing with the serving spoons

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Food glorious food

Just skimming over the last couple of posts here and realized that after having announced the holidays in one pic it was over by the next
So what did we actually do over the past two weeks here with the kids?

Christmas and palm trees - what a change from Christmas in Vienna!

We did a lot of drawing and crafts, made some Christmas drawings and cards, some bicycling, lots of going to parks (indoor and outdoor), we read and played and got dressed up in party skirts and shoes.

William at kindergarden 

William wearing his new helmet on our street (they have nearly finished - the srteet lampsare due up in January)

William at the  park having fun on the sea-saw 

On the food front we tried some lovely new recipes of which the festive and super easy Wibbly Wobbly Clementine Jelly (by Jamie Oliver) and the no less yummy but more refined pear and rosemary crostini on white as snow goat's cheese. Mmmm.
Emma, despite her absolutely maddening impossibly picky attitude to food (But I don't like that Mummy! as soon as she hears we are not having pasta or rice) thankfully liked both. Phew! (more on that perhaps in another post)

We went to the kids first Christmas shows (Emma wanted to be Mrs Claus but ended up quite happy to be an elf), we reassured that Santa did not need snow to come to our home, wrapped presents,  watched Santa videos and opened presents  - Emma opened one before we were all around the tree and then cried and pouted with disappointment for it was not what she had asked from Santa. Luckily we had that one too but it got us off to a rather emotional start on Christmas day.

Emma watching her personalized Santa video before breakfast

My yellow car arrived!

Steph bought some new cool eye-glasses

We had some horrifically junk-foodish crêpes

We went to a man-made lake
and saw some reindeer and bambi!  

We attended a Greek Orthodox Christening and after party (I was Godmother to the very cute and chubby baby D. who made it very clear she did not like being dunked in blessed water one bit, but who was over it within a couple of hours whereas both her mother and I needed a stiff drink!)  and I enjoyed a nice girly afternoon bubbly the day before with baby her Mummy and auntie A. 

Baby D. in Mums arms at Salumaio

We had a yummy home-made Christmas lunch (noix de veau with pancetta, lemon and milk, mashed potatoes and green beans) which we all enjoyed except Emma (what child does not like mashed potatoes???); a lovely Christmas tea with friends (Italian style with Panettone and desert wine) and a day-after Christmas lunch (Greek time, meaning we were famished when we sat down to eat at nearly 3pm!!) but it was worth the wait. 
For New Year's Eve we had a lovely catered dinner at neighbour's house and the kids were all very well behaved despite going to bed much later than usual. 
We even managed to have early lunch with the kids at a typical Greek taverna with lots of lovely meze; aubergine cream and tzatziki, zucchini balls, mint meatballs and roasted peppers  and yoghurt with honey for desert. Delicious and garlicky. William absolutely loved it (eating the aubergine cream with a spoon and licking it off the bread) and even Emma had to concede that the tzatziki and meatballs were delicious. (Phew! again!!)

We happily managed to avoid too much hectic shopping and survived the crazy Athens traffic despite 2 Mercedes crashing into our cars in three days! 

So I guess for the most part it was about a lot of food and festivities, creativity (in the kitchen and with the kids), gifts and entertaining and sharing.  Hope your was fun too!

Oh and  Happy New Year!!!