The end of an era

When your youngest child stops going to the nursery which the older siblings attended too before them, because he/she starts to move on to the next school level, it feels like the end of an era. You know the whole staff names by heart, you remember how each Xmas show went every year, you recall when that class room was painted in green and now those walls are orange… You are so used to the journey from home to the nursery, you cannot imagine you will never do it again (unless you have another baby in the meanwhile!).

It was a difficult choice for us to make, we absolutely loved our kids first nursery and will never stop recommending it. However we feel that our youngest is ready to move to bigger spaces in a preschool nursery for kids from 3 to 5 years old as her older brother did at the same age. And the fact that we are now offered 30 hours a week for free (9am-3pm Monday to Friday) with only lunches and after school clubs to pay the days we are working until 6pm, is also another main reasons that lead us to give our notice to our previous nursery. Not only she will have teaching staff who is more specialized in her age group, with amazing indoor and outdoor spaces and activities; for us it will also feel like we had an increase of salary without actually having to ask for one… When you combine budgeting factor with thriving conditions, the answer becomes quickly quite clear.

 

Dear nursery manager,

It is with great regret that I am giving our 8 weeks notice to remove my daughter from your nursery.

My husband and I want her to follow her brother’s step and have a year at a preschool nursery before she will start reception in Sept 2018.
It was a very difficult decision to take, our children had the best years of their toddlerhood at your safe, loving and stimulating nursery.
Their little personality will have been shaped for ever by the input of the Montessori method and the great care of your staff as a whole.

We wish all the best to the school, the teachers and the kids and we never know, you may have a third little infant of ours attending in the future or maybe not, we will see!

Kind regards,
C.

Remembrance day

You are in every single tear, in every single breath of mine, you are the wind in my hair, the rain on my face, a leaf on a stream, a butterfly on a flower…

You will have never known newspapers headlines with pictures of Syrian kids' little bodies on a beach, the Bataclan massacre, Brexit and Trump USA president, gay people mass murdered in Orlando or tortured in Cecenia…

I hold the phone where your number is still saved, from which I won't be able to call you anymore; my mother sits in the evenings at the same caffe where you won't join her anymore.

Are you really gone forever? Or are you just hiding in a Tibetan monastery meditating and contemplating nature's beauty, far away from the pettiness of the human beings that you despised so much?

Wherever you are, we terribly miss you and we hope you may rest in peace

Emilian mountains for every season

My husband and I were raised in Tuscany, Italy. Many Italians actually don’t live the country for their holidays as there is so much to see all around Italy and every region is so different from one another that you feel a tourist in your own country even just after a few hours drive. That is probably why, when coming to visit our family in Tuscany, we often chose to spend a few days in another beautiful region next door, Emilia Romagna, to have a break and leave the kids with their grandparents without being too far, ideal destination both in winter and summer.

 

The first time we went it was August 2013; we stayed in a town called Porretta Terme where you can relax and have amazing spa treatments at Hotel Helvetia.

There is a beautiful natural park in the area called Corno alle Scale where, with the use of a chair lift, you can do some amazing hiking with breathtaking views on the Appenines mountains or simply walk in silently enchanted woods.

Even just wondering around and discovering nature, little castles and waterfalls is worth your relaxing holidays.

 

Lakes of this region are charming under any weather conditions (first line Lago Santo and Lago Baccio in January, below Lago Scaffaiolo and Lago di Suviana in August – just google them).

 

During our stay for new years eve this year we rented a flat in a lovely little village called Fiumalbo.

 

Val di Luce, which by car is not far from there (surrounded by free parking spaces), is excellent for skiing, even for beginners as it has a very small ski run for lessons, together with the higher and longer ski runs for experts, so even if you are a mixed level group of friends, everyone can ski 🙂

 

 

So if you love mountain in the winter or the summer, Emilia Romagna is one great region to go to in Italy!

PS All pictures in this post were taken by myself between August 2013 and January 2017.

My kids and potty training….

This could be one of my posts of which I am so proud of, full of tips for a quick and successful potty training and overflowing enthusiasm for my new accomplishments with the kids I want to share with everyone… If only I had found the grip of how to deal with this all lol! Still up to nowadays, I don’t know why but this is certainly my kids’ phase I struggled the most with so far. Not the sleeping through the night, not the tantrums, nor the healthy eating or the socializing: the potty training. Which means that if it was not very easy to achieve for me, you can expect horrifying details of smelly explosions and disgusting stories of ‘human body products’ spread everywhere in the house! Don’t worry, I will spare you 😉

I have always been fascinated by a theory of mine (based on exchange of experiences with several of my friends): mothers that succeed quickly in sleep training tend to encounter more difficulties with potty training, whilst the ones who don’t mind if their child still wakes them up several times in the night or sleep in the same bed with them, usually start potty training at ‘ridiculously’ early ages such as 18 months and they often crack it quickly and without many bumps along the road… I guess it’s a matter of priorities and maybe our children can feel it: in fact I cannot live without a good night but compared to lack of sleep, I don’t mind cleaning a bit of poo now and then from clothes, sofa covers, floor and so on. My friends with kids, who can survive with little sleep but absolutely could not stand the whole changing nappies that came with motherhood, made it very quickly through this phase of their child.

I cannot really say that it has been a total disaster in our family, however there are common behaviors in both my kids to note and try to understand once put together. They both were absolutely not interested in potty training at all and never really gave us those famous signs they were ready for it (books legends in our case lol). They got to start it totally under our initiative as it felt it was time to put a limit to procrastination: around the age of 3 years old, my daughters 3 months before her birthday, my son 3 months after. They both had constant wee accidents for over 6 months so we had to keep on asking them to sit on the potty every hour or so to avoid those (you may be happy to do it only in the initial 4 weeks every book promises you will need, but after month 3 you are so sick of it!). The main remarkable fact is that they both kept on pooing in their pants absolutely uncaring: rather than just going to the loo and get done with it quickly, even if they knew by now how to do so as it had happened in so many past occasions, they preferred doing this way despite they had to then interrupt their game afterwards to be cleaned and changed.

My daughter who is in month 7 of her training still does this, she does not like to tell us she feels she needs a poo, so she closes the door of the room she is in to remain alone or she would hide behind a curtain whilst she feels the stimulus: if we catch her in time we have to promise her several stickers and some chocolate to convince her to sit on potty or loo… And my son who is now 6 still suffers from nocturne incontinence. I hear some children do, even girls, without being too worrying, however it may be a bit embarrassing to have to wear a night pull-up at a sleep over, no matter how nice is your best friend… I have to say I should not be surprised: I wet myself when I laughed wholeheartedly until the age of 15 (my kids do the same if they have not been to the loo for a while when they start laughing hysterically at something funny!).

Maybe I started too late? Though I was waiting for those signs and did not want to force things through too quickly… Maybe it’s their way of getting my attention, as an amazing child advisor pointed out so well with my son (‘Do not get angry when it happens, it still means attention to him, even if negative… Instead praise only when he does well and make all accidents very boring with the changing clothes procedure and no reaction on your side’ – Great advise as it sped up the training with him after a moment of despair!). Maybe my expectations are too high and everyone on average takes a few months to assess in their whole new condition of autonomy. Maybe it’s just genetic since they act in the same way and I had some issues too… Well if you had a better experience please free to send me some tips in the comments! Or comment to relief me if you had worst situations than mine 😉

 

 

How to encourage your child’s positive behavior and gratitude at the same time

I often think back to the ‘Raising Boys’ course which I attended 4 years ago as a guidance to understand what could be my next step to help me and my children in a difficult period…. So when I noticed my 6 years old son (who is usually naturally well behaved and gets amazing reports from his teachers about both his learning and his social skills) struggling to respect some simple rules for a few weeks in a row, I came up with a reward chart of my own, since its use was suggested in one of this course sessions. We had some purchased ones in the past when he was only 3 or 4 but this time I wanted it to serve several purposes so I needed more flexibility in its diagram and he loves new family projects such as home made boards and so on!

The above works as follow.

  • My son gets 1, 2 or 3 points depending on the behavior I want to encourage (he hates getting dressed or playing on his own and he has quite frequent fights with his sister lately).
  • The points are represents by stickers (who does not love some good stickers when they are under 10?!) which he can allocate to the different prizes as he wishes (apart from the piano lessons ones, see below).
  • He can get several points in a day (on average 5 which is good if I want him to have 2 play dates a week!) if you count clothes in the morning and pajama in the evening; moments when I need him to occupy himself without a screen whilst I am doing something important for half an hour or so; and all the times I ask him to stop screaming in the car, hitting his sister during an argument or responding to her or us (when he enters the ‘no I am not, yes you are, no I am not, yes you are’ kind of endless useless conversation lol).
  • Prizes relates to activities more than material objects, so that he can appreciates for instance that organizing and hosting (or going with him to) a play date takes up quite some of my time, so he has to earn it by behaving well and helping the family routine instead of giving it for granted.
  • He expressed a strong desire to have some Lego boxes as prizes and I had 2 big ones that I had bought on massive discount a few months ago, so rather than giving those away to him straight away, he is ‘earning’ them little by little, whilst I have not spent any money recently to buy any new.
  • We are spending quite some money on his piano, swimming and football lessons during the year and lately he has shown no gratitude for our budgeting towards those activities, refusing to practicing or attending them regularly, nevertheless he does not want us to stop paying for them: so now he needs to practice 3 times a week his piano during the summer break in order to get more lessons paid in September, and that is the only prize that he can get by earning a specific type of sticker (1 practice, 1 sticker towards piano lessons only).

With this chart I am trying to achieve the best of both worlds: his good behavior in our day to day family routine but also appreciation of the things we do for him every day, his social life and diary, his extra scholastic activities, little chocolate treats now and then, and his passions such as Lego building or books! I hope to have passed on you some ideas out there 😉

 

Update a few weeks later – What I have noticed since using this chart is that an added benefit is also my increased sense of gratitude towards my child good behavior, so now instead of using it as a reward (‘if you do what I need you to do you will get a sticker’ command) at the end of the day I reflect on what positive behaviors my child had in a spontaneous way, so we remark them together before bedtime and notice what a kind and smart boy he is still outlining his positive acts which did not come from my requests or bribes but more out of his personal choice to do the right thing. Maybe that is the best key for the use of this kind of chart, to promote his internal price more than any external motivator (as mentioned in the Raising boys course).

New interesting local campaign 

Fostering is something that my husband and I always considered. It must be extremely hard yet so rewarding, and that just sounds like parenting in general, but this is a another level. Your kids learn to share with those who struggle more than them in life and to value what they have: a family, a unique roof to which they can always come back at the end of the day…

So will definitively look into these for some more information.

Easter break away from London on the seaside

You don’t have to go far to find beauty. Whilst you may find yourself attracted by foreign countries’ temperatures and landscapes and feel an urge to book an expensive flight to have a proper break from London, there are also lots of little gems at a few hours drive from the capital. It’s ideal when you only have a short break at disposal and a little budget too but you are nevertheless in need of that holiday feeling for the whole family.

That is why last Easter we spent a great weekend in Bournemouth. It was like one of those quick Japanese tours as we only had the Sunday night free (my husband was working both Friday and Saturday) but we really enjoyed it!

First of all, if you drive to Bournemouth from London you have to cross the New Forest so whilst we drove there we made a stop in Furzey Gardens to have our Easter lunch picnic. It was so beautiful! Not only it is really relaxing for the grown ups but there are also lots of things to do for the little ones such as looking for fairy doors, or climb on to small huts!

 

 

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