Saturday, February 1, 2014

Our New Home

A couple of months ago, we received the news that we would be leaving Luxembourg and moving to Dubai. It was a bittersweet news. Although I was ready to move on, I fell in love with Luxembourg and wasn't quite ready to leave. Then of course all the stress of finding a new home, new school and new friends settled in and weighed heavily upon me. But as an expat these are the realities of everyday life. You move a lot and you have to build a new life at the drop of a hat.

We decided it would be best to go to the USA for a month or so to spend time with family before the new transition, which I believe is really important for young kids if you travel, or move around a lot. Kids need security and need to feel grounded, and being with loved ones is an easy way to help kids build strength for big change. We have been in Dubai for almost a month now, and adjusting to a new country is always difficult, but it was easier than the first move. We were able to make a friend or two within the first few weeks which always makes one feel more settled. So far the kids have not expressed any moving woes which I am very grateful for, although Ameera does usually ask when her Luxembourg friends will visit and says how much she misses them.

The main issue I had so far here was choosing a school for Ameera. She had an amazing experience at the Waldorf school and I wanted to continue her Alternative education, so I opted to send her to another Alternative School that is Waldorf Inspired but uses the Oak Meadow Curriculum. The mainstream schools did not sit well with me when I went to visit them mainly because it seemed overwhelming and not what we as a family are used to. As Ameera becomes older the decision of her educational path becomes more difficult for me, but I feel confident that the path we are on is the right one inshallah.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Travels with kids

I recently returned from a 10 day trip from Italy with my family and thought I would reflect a bit on what I learned while it is still fresh in my  mind. Our itinerary included 3 cities: Venice, Florence, and Rome. The journey to Venice was exciting to say the least and spectacular upon arrival. We found our way around using maps and asking around easily enough, but what we were not prepared for was the weather, which was very rainy and cold. In the interest of packing light, I went against my instinct and didn't bring the kids rain gear which turned out to be a huge mistake. One by one my kids got sick and had fevers for the entire trip but it didn't hinder us from exploring and going out everyday but it was really hard on my 5 yr old who was often cranky and exhausted by the end of the day. Some tips for those who plan to travel with young children is to check the weather of your destination and do lots of research to prepare in advance what you wish to see and do and how to get from one place to the next. Also pack light, but smart with lots of layering, and weather appropriate clothes.

One item I could not have traveled without was my Ergo baby carrier, and cheap ultra light umbrella stroller. Cities are very difficult for children and having means to ease their tired feet is always a must. I wouldn't discourage families from traveling with young kids, in fact I encourage it, but you need to be prepared to go at a very slow pace. Every morning we would have breakfast and then go back to our hotel to wait for Noah's nap time, which was at 10am and then leave for the day when he woke up around 11-11:30am. For us this meant well rested, happy kids. And we would often return between 5-6 pm to allow the kids to unwind, bathe, have dinner in hotel room and go to sleep at their proper bedtimes. Even doing so we still managed to do a lot of sight seeing and museum and park visits.

Although at times it was stressful and kids did have occasional melt downs, the one piece of technology that saved us was my iPhone which I had loaded with games and cartoons. So when Ameera and Noah could take no more art or architecture or sight of busy cities in general, I would whip out my phone and they could play or watch at their leisure which bought us often hours of uninterrupted exploration time. This tactic worked like a charm every time.

Some thing's I would do differently for next trip are:

1. Look for private apt rentals instead of hotels.
- it would be more comfortable for little kids
- allows you to cook, and keep snacks and drinks handy

2. Make sure weather in my chosen destination is going to be suitable for outdoor activities and Lil one.
- although I did see chances of rain in the forecast, it rained more than predicted and was colder than predicted.
- upon researching weather in Italy I found that March is a very rainy month.

3. I bought a lot of prepaid tickets to places such as the Vatican and Colloseum to avoid hour long lines which were a BIG help. But some tickets I purchased were not necessary to buy in advance.

All in all, a memorable experience with family that I greatly enjoyed. I will add pictures soon.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Winter Blues

It's been quite a while since I posted, and I have to say that I fell into the rut of winter blues. Winter here in Luxembourg has been harsh, with constant grey clouds hanging in the sky, frigid air, and endless snow. As beautiful as it looked in the beginning, I longed for it to end. We did get a chance to do some fun things like attend the Christmas Market in Trier, Germany and build a Snowman in our backyard. But in the end I actually packed my and my kids suitcases and flew back to NJ for 1 month. It was so great to be with my family and friends again and spend the holidays with them and just reconnect. And it also gave me a great sense of emotional support, being that I had been away from home for about 6 months at the time. One important lesson I did learn from going back home is that I had to accept my new life in Europe and make a valid effort to make a life for myself here that doesn't only revolve around my kids. That aspect was always hard for me to swallow, but in the end I realized you will always need a friend wherever you may be. Getting to know people and letting them into your life is not as easy as it seems. But as soon as I returned from the USA, I made it a point to start building relationships with people, not only for me but for my children as well. Spring is now approaching, and after just a few short months I can actually say that I have met some really great moms and have formed new friendships. This experience so far really has been bittersweet, but after Winter always comes the Spring. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tree Swinging

We came across these trees the other day that had long, soft, but very strong swinging rope-like branches. It looked kind of like a lagoon tree, or weeping willow. We were grabbing and pulling on them and realized they were great for vine swinging, so we went at this for a little bit and it was loads of fun for me and the kids.

Beginner Nature Forts

Fall is a great time to introduce building beginner forts. Parks, streets, or forests are just full of natural debris that you can collect and use to build various things that suit a child's imagination. Lately, when the kids and I go to local parks nearby we have been examining the various debris on the ground such as fallen leaves, sticks, pine cones, branches, etc. One day we decided to gather all the things we could find to use for building and put them in a big pile near a large tree. We then began to use the items to try and build a small fort of some sort. It took some thought on Ameera's part at first trying to figure out how she was going to turn a pile of leaves and twigs into anything at all, but with some guidance from me she eventually got the hang of it, and began using the twigs and branches to form a small foundation.

Some of the branches were long and kind of resembled rope, so they were easy to twist, turn and mold into various shapes. With these she was able to form the shape of a hobbit sized door. The shorter, stronger branches she would use to hold the structure in place.

 She then used small twigs and branches to lay over the any holes, then used the dead leaves to cover the fort. Overall it was a small structure, but just the sheer thought process and energy that went into making something out of natural materials I feel is valuable in getting children to think outside of the box, and to build their creativity and imagination.

The following week we were at the park again and she asked if we could build something else. And this time, without much help from me collected materials on her own and began to make her own fort.