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The ‘best’ month in Paradise

Mid April until mid May is my favorite time in paradise. The weather is as hot as it gets here (33C/92F), the sea is warm like a bath tub, we have hardly any rain and the storage lakes on the island are still halfway full from the downpours during the peak of the rainy season, it couldn’t be better.

However:

1. Starting today ‘Timan’ is on school holiday for the next three weeks. In one way it’s very nice, I get to play (and snuggle :-)) with my son and maybe I get to sleep in until 7am. On the other hand however this isn’t good at all because I need to keep the little tot occupied or he will keep me on my toes the whole day long. Since many months we live in the era of ‘no-I-won’t-nap-ever-again’.

2. I’m not used to this anymore. After not even 3 short months I got so used to my free mornings I usually spend lounging on the couch, chatting with the neighbors, shopping cleaning the house. But luckily we have the perfect activity right next door. Ok, ‘sort of’ next door.

3. And this is the plan: Day #1 we go to the beach. Day #2 we go to the beach. Day #3 we might go to another beach (just for a change). But on day #4 we go to town. And on day #5 we visit Gromi. Day #6 we make a trip to the playground and stay there forever some hours. On day #7 we’ll go to the beach (again). And then we’ll start from the beginning. I just hope the weather is on our side. Sigh.

4. One thing I know for sure, ‘Timan’ can’t stay at home for more than 1/2 day. He needs an activity that involves running around, jumping and more running, burning energy, doing something physical. Any activity which doesn’t necessarily involve me every second of the day would do it and I’m starting to wonder how I’m going to survive these three weeks. How did I do this before? So fast did I get used to these 6 hours per day for myself.

5. But this week I was enjoying my last ‘free’ days for several weeks.

6. A friend came to the island and gave me some CDs with children songs and audio plays in Swiss. Songs and plays I remember from my own childhood. Since ‘Timan’ is singing the whole day, I’m sure he’ll like them and will pick up some songs in no time.

7. We went for another appointment to the dermatologist, the one I was not happy about the last time. This time however she was totally different. Maybe I’ve done her wrong in the past, because at that point she was not used to the way of life here (which is so much different then anywhere else. Deep down it still is a banana republic). We had a good talk and she completely agreed to the way I was handling ‘Timan’s eczema (double dosing one antihistamine and follow-up with another one at night, both in case he ate an allergen). She also told me about the local pharmacists who refuse to follow the doctors orders but rather ‘follow the book’ concerning prescriptions, even if the particular prescription is the norm in other countries. So we ended up laughing together and making fun of the locals like two expats living in a foreign country. Anyway, that’s what we both are.

8. Yesterday, to celebrate the last day of school, all the kids in preschool went to the local playground in town and I went along to snap some photos. I never thought it would be so difficult. They run and run, all of them, all at the same time, with no direction in mind. The playground looked like an anthill. I tried to make some group shots but 3- and 4-year-old kids are not able to stand still long enough, let along able to look into the same direction, all at the same time, not even for maybe 3 seconds.

Never before I ended up with so many crappy photos.

But all the kids had a great time and that’s what counts. 🙂

Wish me luck for the weeks ahead, enough coffee for the early morning hours and enough wine for the 5pm-frenzy or the overtired-after-dinner-tantrum.

But in the meantime I wish everyone a great weekend.

For more of those important lessons life is teaching you, head over to ‘Life Ever Since’:

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Come sing with me (Memories Captured)

These days we are past ‘Jingle bells’ (finally, sigh), we’re done with ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ and we moved on to other lyrics and songs, which are recited by ‘Timan’ on a regular basis, like … all the time.

With other words: His repertoire of songs and rhymes is steadily growing.

Of course, we are singing the ‘ABC-song’ and he knows some songs in Swiss. But lately he’s coming home with one Creole song after another, these are all songs or rhymes he’s learning in preschool.

Like this one for example:

Translation/rules:

The children are sitting in a circle. And while one kid is walking around this circle, all kids are singing:

“I am planting, I am planting,

a carrot, (a) little eggplant,

(if) it doesn’t grow, (if) it doesn’t grow.

I pull out one.”

and with the last words the one walking touches the nearest child on the head. This kid is following now the one going around. This is repeated until there is only one person left sitting.

“Look at the one that is rotten.”

Everybody is laughing and the ‘rotten’ one gets to be the person ‘pulling out’ the other kids in the next round.

‘Timan’  l.o.v.e.s.  this game.

But sometimes we are making up our own lyrics, like this one for example:

If you want to see more ‘Memories Captured’, head over to Alison @ Mama Wants This or Galit @ These Little Waves for their meme

Tell me about your kid’s favorite songs or nursery rhymes. Do you make up your own variations as well?

It’s done, one day the preschool will call his name …

… and ‘Timan’s days at home are numbered.

The first step in ‘Timan’s academic career is done. He’s enrolled. To the local ‘Creche’ he will go, starting the end of January 2012.

In paradise Creche is part of the public school system, it’s a mix between preschool and kindergarten and an all day program during 5 days per week, including school meals, starting 8am until around 3pm. That’s 7 hours in one stretch. And two years later my tot will start P1 (first grade in primary school). And he’s going to be young, very young in my opinion. He will be 3 years and 5 month old on his first day in Creche. But things have changed a lot since the time I was a kid. I have no idea how my mom managed to keep up with me 24/7 until I was 5 years old and finally started with kindergarten.

Unfortunately we missed the official dates to sign up ‘Timan’. Mainly because the Mommy was firmly convinced this period was going to start after the school holidays. And guess what? I was wrong, it was during the two month prior to the holidays. I think there was a message on the Radio (on high frequency! I never listen to this) and the local news on TV (must have missed it because of some loud noise – screeching?), and that was it. No letter in the mail, no nothing.

So we had to fill out some paperwork at the Ministry of Education and supply a letter stating the reason why we have missed the dates to sign up. Huh? Because we didn’t know about them. But anyway, it’s done.

In a way I am so happy. Now I can start counting the days. I really need a break from my little one.  Sometimes it’s really tough, with the Hubs at work from early morning, before ‘Timan’ wakes up, until late, when the tot is in bed already. And then there is the thing with the itchy rash, it’s finally getting better bit by bit, the rash is going away, but the itching is still there. For the sake of the both of us, for ‘Timan’s social, academic and language development, for my own peace, a change of location is needed.

On the other hand it shows that my little baby is growing up. Soon the lazy days of morning-snuggles in bed are gone forever. But that’s the way life goes, I guess. And in my heart ‘Timan’ will always stay my little baby boy.

But now I still have almost 5 month to get him ready for those long ‘mommy-less’ days to come. And today already he’s looking as if he’s ready to go, don’t you think so?

Many things ‘Timan’ has accomplished already. He is toilet trained (day and night), knows his colors and shapes, some letters and numbers. But there is a little more I would like to do, to give him a head start, so he can fully concentrate on his social skills, finding new friends, learning the new language Creole, and most of all – play, play, play and have fun. For the next couple of month I’d like to focus on:

  • Finish the alphabet (he knows about half of it already)
  • Reinforce the numbers up to 10 (maybe 20) in Swiss and English. Posters on the wall seems to be a good idea for letters and numbers.
  • Talk to him more often in English (and not Swiss most of the time)
  • Teach him to clean himself properly after the big business and the do’s and don’ts in a public restroom (this is going to be a tough one, he categorically refuses to even enter one).
  • Fine tune his dressing and undressing skills, handling T-shirts for example. The bottom part seems to be a piece of cake.
  • And a couple of weeks before it starts, adjust him to the new wake up and bed times. Luckily they still do naps in Creche and I hope ‘Timan’ keeps napping for a while. For peaceful school holidays to come. 😉

And I, during the time the tot is out of the house, I will go shopping, relaxing on the beach, swimming in the azure ocean, sipping on a glass of wine while watching the clouds go by, maybe even getting a dive done once in a while. Yay, good times are coming. That’s one of the reasons why I’m living here in paradise, right? 🙂

Ok, maybe not. I guess I will shed a tear once in a while when I’m thinking about my little baby boy all alone having fun with his new friends.

What’s your advice for the first steps to prepare your (only) child for preschool?



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The secret language

‘Timan’ and I have something nobody can take away from us. And I hope we can keep it up for a long time to come, but even now I know in a way the days are numbered.

After he was born I was considering the options we had. There was Swiss(-German), my mother tongue, English, the language Hubs and I are using together and the one that is used during classes in school from the time on the kids reach 4th grade and there was Creole, Hubs’ native language.

A lot of language experts recommend to wait until the child is 2 1/2 to 3 years old until a second language should be introduced, otherwise this tends to slow down the development of both languages.

But we did not wait until then and started from the beginning with Swiss and English. When you’re talking to your baby, especially during those intimate moments only a mom has, it’s just too hard to use any other language than the one that comes from your heart, comes naturally, your own mother tongue. So I was cooing in Swiss and the Hubs was talking to ‘Timan’ in English. And we were cooing quite differently, no kidding. 😉

This did not slow down ‘Timan’s language development, no, I would even say his benefit was bigger than expected. And I was not surprised at all when I learned about this German Study: Two languages in one child’s brain – When is bilingual language learning best

When the tot was about 18 month old I started to use both languages interchangeably, depending on the situation, because I felt his English is slacking a bit. And it did not confuse him.  He figured out which word belongs to which language. And by the age of 2 years he was not behind his peers with his language development, the local tots who were talking (or trying to talk) Creole as a sole language.

I don’t think this has only to do with the child’s genes. Well, of course I think my son is a genius ;-), who wouldn’t think that of his kid. LOL. But seriously, I think it has to do with the language itself and the way people are using it. Swiss or English for instance are clearer and more distinct. If you constantly keep pronouncing the words clearly, don’t mumble, a child will pick them up much easier. However here in Paradise a lot of people mumble their Creole. I hear it from my Hubs, our neighbours, actually from everybody except the presenters on our local TV or radio station. It makes it hard for me to understand and I just assume it makes it hard for anybody who wants to learn the language, like a toddler for instance.

The other day I inserted a new DVD and jokingly I asked ‘Timan’ “What language do you want to hear, English, French, Dutch or German, you know that’s the language Mommy was talking to the lady we met in town the other day when we went for a coffee.” I didn’t really expect an answer to this, also because I was not sure how much the tot actually understood from the chat I had with my friend. But apparently he did understand, and he did understand much more than I was aware of. Ugh.

Concerning the movie ‘Timan’ chose German, what a surprise, wow. Of course I fulfilled his demand with a big smile on my face.

And because nobody else in our area has the slightest idea of Swiss-German, not even the Hubs, it is a unique way to communicate. Swiss-German is a language based on German, but also influenced by French and Italian, depending what particular area you are coming from and what dialect you are speaking. It’s a language that is spoken only. With other words, a child in Switzerland learns proper German in school when he learns how to read and write.

And these days, when ‘Timan’ and I walk around I can bitch talk as much as I like about anything I dislike in the hood, the neighbours with their loud music or their yapping little dogs or the bunch of men sitting in front of the shop at the road lined up like chickens and watching every skirt passing by with eagle eyes. I can make jokes about them greet them nicely and the only answer is my little son cracking up next to me. Because we are using our secret language.

Are you using more than one language with your kids? What are your experiences or what do you think about teaching them a second language from early on?

 

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Mommy, I’m gonna tell you a story

Before I was talking about ‘Timan’ taking a liking for gadgets, but there is something else he likes to do and about this one I’m not concerned or worried or anything, I am just so happy he’s  doing it and asks for more.

In paradise all the kids are playing outside most of the time, but that’s only possible early morning or late in the afternoon,  when it’s not too hot and the sun is not grilling everyone in its beam. But I’m not talking about playing outside either.

‘Timan’ loves  to ‘read’ a book. I think the interest in writing has to be nourished from early on, otherwise you might never really getting into it, especially when you are living in a place like the paradise. But it’s probably the same everywhere in the world. And I’d like to tell you how we did it.

We started early on, when he was just a baby, lying on my lap and looking at my face while I was reading to him, later we moved on to the little cardboard books, great to chew on ;-). But this was a good way to improve his vocabulary. I was always telling him the name of the things in Swiss and English hoping both words will stay (most of them did) but now he’s just using the one that comes to his mind first.

Around the time ‘Timan’ was 18 month old he was interested in animals, transport, fruits and vegetables. Later I introduced colors and shapes and after that I followed with letters and numbers. He has other ‘educational’ toys like alphabet puzzles and such but I think he likes his books most. And he has many of those little books and some more with little stories inside.

Those story-books are helping ‘Timan’ in many ways. He’s looking at them on his own. But what he likes most is sitting on my lap while I am telling him the story, at the same time we both experience many wonderful cuddling-moments. And we are talking about the things we are looking at, about the colors and what’s happening in the picture.

But nowadays he doesn’t let me tell the story, not even with a new book. ‘Timan’ is the one, telling Mommy a story. He’s telling me what he sees in the pictures.  And later  he’s trying to figure out where the plot is heading. A new book he keeps carrying around all day long, is taking it with him to sleep and is telling the new story to everyone he sees during the day.

I was reading a lot when I was a child and I will definitely encourage this habit with my son. Apart from a vaster vocabulary he knows his colors and a lot of letters. The numbers he’s learning while playing with the phone and the remote controls. But I’m following his lead, he wants to read, we read, he wants to play he plays.

But one thing we don’t do and this might surprise you:  There is no story time during our bed time routine. And the bed time never is or was a problem (so far, knock on wood 😉 ).

It goes like this: dinner, brush teeth, shower, watch the news, watch the weather forecast (for whatever reason this is very important for him and every day we have a guessing game who is going to present it), last run to the toilet,  in my arms while I’m standing in front of the TV for a couple of minutes, I put him in his bed (‘Timan’ is actually telling me when he wants to lay down after a couple of minutes),  I give him a kiss, wish a god night and leave the room. That’s it.

I started doing this when I stopped nursing him, that time he was 22 month old. And it worked from the beginning. But unfortunately only I can do it, it does not work with Hubs at all. And because of that I never have to clear the table and do the dishes when we are all eating dinner together.

Is your little one a ‘bookworm’ too? What about your nighty-night, the bedtime routine you have? Are you telling a story or are we the only ones doing it without? Please tell me about it.

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