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PBS ‘Pen Pal’ Video

22 Jan

As some of you may know I’m a huge fan of snail-mailing and pen-pals (see some of my snail mail projects here and here).  It’s something I’ve been doing since I was a little girl and something that I got my kids involved in since they could just write (those early letters are almost impossible to understand but man are they cute!).  They started writing letters to their grandparents and slowly over the years started writing to some of my friend’s kids who live in other countries around the world.  For our kids writing to their pen pals was also a great opportunity for them to practice writing English (my kids are schooled in Dutch and French).

Over the years I’ve loved seeing the relationships they’ve formed with their pen pals and hearing about their big plans to all meet in person one day in the future.  In this technologically focused world these little things make a huge impression on our kids.

A few weeks ago Jen and Dave asked me if I would help them with the new episode of their PBS Adventures in Learning series and when I heard the topic was Pen Pals I jumped at the opportunity.  It was so much fun to help make (with lots of help from my better half who has the patience to figure out how the video feature on my dslr works).  Take a peek and let me know what you think!

A Kid’s Life: Melbourne, Australia

14 Jan

Hello everyone.  Time for a new interview in my A Kid’s Life series.  I have to admit that I’m really proud of this series and all of the great interviews I’ve had over the past few years.  I’ve loved “virtually meeting” every single one of these families and luckily enough I’ve kept in touch with them all.  These families have been warm, friendly and open to share the details of their daily family grind.  I have big plans to meet them all in their native countries in the coming years (don’t worry, I won’t show up unexpected on your doorsteps!).  But what a great excuse to travel around the world!  Here are the previous interviews in case you missed them: Italy, Japan, USA, The Philippines, Tasmania, Canada, BelgiumNew Zealand, Holland, Germany, Colombia, France, Switzerland, South Africa, India.

Today we get to hear from Bron and her family who live in Melbourne, Australia.  I thought it would be interesting to hear from a family living on mainland Australia after reading all about family life in Tasmania in a previous interview.  I was curious to see if there were differences between the two.  So far I’ve noticed that more languages are offered in Tasmanian schools, both love to eat Weetbix for breakfast and dinner is eaten at about the same time that Italian kids eat their afternoon snack!

Bron contacted me last week about participating in the interview and after hearing her family’s story and feeling her energetic and positive energy just by reading her email I was excited to read all about their life.  Bron and her husband Andrew have three kids.  Their oldest son, Cooper, has Cerebral Palsy (Dystonic Quadriplegia) as he received a brain injury due to lack of oxygen during the birthing process (read more here).  What this means is the damaged parts of his brain can’t communicate properly with the muscles all over his body.  His whole body is affected including his arms, legs, trunk and mouth.  He is cognitively a typical 8 year old boy who loves cricket and Lego though!

Last year Cooper started a fundraiser which involved him walking for 1km using his walker.  He ended up raising $15, 000 AUD to help build a kindergarten in Cambodia.  The family visited the school several times and were overwhelmed with the reception and gratitude that they were shown (especially Cooper).  

Is this not an amazingly inspiring family?

Bron writes a blog about her family life in Melbourne, Cooper’s developmental accomplishments and their travel adventures.

And now let’s hear what they have to say about daily life in Melbourne, Australia…

Sihanoukeville in Cambodia

Sihanoukeville in Cambodia

What country do you live in?

We live in Australia, in the state of Victoria.

Are you and your husband the same nationality?

Yes we are both Australian born in different cities/states.image-4

Do you both work. Or does someone stay home?

Andrew works as an arborist and I’m a stay at home mum.

How many languages are spoken in your house?  Which one(s)?

We speak English.  We also learnt a lot of sign language and gestures before our son began to verbally communicate.

How many kids do you have? What are their ages?

We have three kids.  Cooper is 8, Pepper is 5 and Elwood is 2. Continue reading

A Kid’s Life: India

22 Nov

Hello all.  I’m still here (after over a month’s absence on Jillian In Italy).  We’ve had a difficult month but things are slowly starting to get back to normal.  Thankfully.  All I can say at the moment is that I’m so grateful for my family and our good health.  So so grateful.

Today I wanted to share a new interview in my A Kid’s Life series.  Learning about regular family life and traditions from around the world is one of my favourite things and since I started this series a few years ago I’ve learned so much about different cultures around the world.  And as much as I love to hear about how different a culture is from the other side of the world I also find it so fascinating that there are so many similarities between all of our daily grinds.

Today we’re going to hear from Kanchan and her family who live in Dehli in Northern India.  I actually “met” Kanchan on Instagram (follow her here) and I was immediately in awe of her colourful photos of their life and surroundings (not to mention the gorgeous colourful fabrics that she sometimes photographs!).  I’ve been fascinated with India for years and we’re actually in the midst of seriously contemplating a family trip there in the near future.

From the beginning Kanchan was warm and friendly and so open to share her family’s daily life and culture with us here on Jillian In Italy.  Kanchan, who lived for over 20 years in Dubai, decided to return to India so that her two daughters would be close to family and friends and learn and appreciate all that Indian culture has to offer.

So let’s hear all about their life in Delhi.

A temple in Delhi

A temple in Delhi

What country do you live in?

We live in India

How many kids do you have?  What are their ages?

We have two girls.  Diya is 12 and Naina is 10.  And we have two beloved daschunds.

At the Amer Fort, Jaipur

At the Amer Fort, Jaipur

Are you and your husband the same nationality?
Yes, we are both Indian

Do you both work?  Or does someone stay at home?

I used to work for an airline in Dubai (Emirates).  Now I am mostly at home with my girls.  My husband does financial consultancy from home.

How many languages are spoken in your house?  What one(s)?

English and Hindi.

At what age do kids start school in your country?

Most kids that we know start school at two and half years old.  By three and a half they go to Kindergarten in a proper school.  Our schools are mostly English medium and the curriculum is 10+2.

Continue reading

A Kid’s Life: South Africa

14 Jun

Time for a new A Kid’s Life interview.  This series shows us how families from different cultures and countries around the world live their daily lives.  We learn about everything from what they eat to the local school system to what sort of extracurricular activities are popular.  Last week we heard from Elisa and her family who are living in Zurich, Switzerland and today we hear from a super interesting (and inspiring) family living in a seaside town south of Cape Town in South Africa.

I met Se7en (as the Mama is known online) on Instagram and I’ve been faithfully following her ever since.  I’m just so enthralled and curious about how this woman manages to mother (and homeschool) a family of 8 kids plus write a blog (called Se7en) that chronicles their life in South Africa, arts and crafts projects, outings and recipes.  This is one busy woman to say the least.  As you can see, I’m a fan.  Where does she get the energy to do it all?

After reading this interview and seeing the photos I’ve decided South Africa will definitely be one of our future travel destinations.  It seems like a pretty idyllic place to bring up a family.  I loved hearing about their second language Afrikaans (especially since we understand quite a bit knowing Dutch) and about how their school year starts in January instead of September like we’re used to. And of course, I’ve decided that sometime in our lives we’ll have to enjoy a good traditional South African braai.

So let’s hear about what family life is like in South Africa…


What country do you live in?
We live in South Africa, in a beach town south of the city of Cape Town, called Fish Hoek. We live on the slopes of a mountain over looking a beautiful beach.

Are you and your husband the same nationality?
My husband and I are both South African – born and raised, while we love traveling we have spent most of our lives under African skies.


Do you both work? Or does someone stay at home?
My husband works out of the house and goes into the city each day. My work is to stay home with the kids, taking care of the house and home and teaching the kids, because we homeschool.

How many languages are spoken in your house? What one(s)?
My husband and I both speak English and Afrikaans. Afrikaans is a Dutch based language that evolved when Dutch Settlers began to arrive at the Cape a few hundred years ago. We both studied a foreign language at University, and so my husband has a little French and I have a little Italian. Our country is a country of many different people groups with eleven official languages. Almost everyone speaks English and all children are taught Afrikaans at school. Then their is the local African language in each area, and children who have an African language as their first language learn that as hoek

How many kids do you have? What are their ages?
We have eight children, five boys and three girls. Two teenage boys age fifteen and fourteen, then a girl age 12, then two more boys age 10 and 9, two girls age 7 and 5 and finally a little boy age 3 and a half.

Continue reading

A Kid’s Life : Switzerland

5 Jun

I’m really excited to have a new interview for my A Kid’s Life series on the blog today.  Over the last  months I’ve been busy looking for interesting families from around the world and I’ve found a few great ones that I’ll be interviewing in the coming weeks.  I was recently reading back through the previous interviews from Italy, Japan, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, The Philippines, Colombia, Germany, Belgium, France and The Netherlands and I still love to hear what family life is like in all these countries and cultures.  Learning about all the little differences in our daily lives is fascinating and I’ve discovered that my kids absolutely love reading these interviews as well. They get a huge kick out of learning things like a baby’s first food in Japan (fish paste!), that school starts really early in Colombia and The Philippines (7:30am), the fact you can learn Chinese as a 2nd or 3rd language in Tasmania and that kids in Germany only go to school for half days (they thought that one was quite unfair).

Today we’ll be hearing from a family living in Switzerland.  I met the super dynamic Elisa at The Hive blogging conference a few weeks back and I immediately Ioved her energy and positive personality.  I just wish I’d met her at the beginning of the week-end and not 5 minutes before I was leaving to catch my plane!  Elisa lives with her family in Zurich, Switzerland and has a great blog called Globetrotting In Heels where she writes all about fashion, travel and much more (she’s really funny!).  I loved her candid interview and am now craving a good Swiss roesti and raclette dinner.

So, let’s hear what family life is like in Switzerland…

What country do you live in?

We currently live in Zurich, Switzerland.

Are you and your husband the same nationality?
No, my husband is Swiss, I’m Italian. Ok, technically I should probably say yes, since I am a naturalized Swiss citizen and now have a Swiss passport, but really, it’s purely a burocratic thing. I’m no more Swiss now than I was a few years ago – but don’t tell the Immigration Office, ok? 😉

Do you both work? Or does someone stay at home?
Right now my husband Sascha works and I mostly do the mom thing, do some volunteer work and the occasional freelance assignment. I’ve also recently gone back to school, so I am studying for an international diploma.

How many languages are spoken in your house? What one(s)?
Three: Italian, German (mostly of the Swiss variety) and English.

How many kids do you have? What are their ages?
I have two girls: Sarah is 13 and Stella is 7.


At what age do kids start school in your country?
Kids start school at 7 but both my daughters started at 6. When they are ready they are ready. I never would have pushed if they weren’t but when kids aren’t challenged they get bored, and when they get bored they get in trouble! Best to avoid that by keeping a child occupied and give him enough new things to keep him/her interested and engaged.

Click to continue reading all about family life in Switzerland!

Continue reading

A Kid’s Life: France

31 Jan

Time for another A Kid’s Life interview.   Over the last year I’ve interviewed families about from Italy, Japan, America,  The Philippines, Australia (Tasmania), New Zealand, Canada, Holland, Germany, Colombia and Belgium about their daily life and family routines.  They have all been really interesting and quite eye-opening.  I’m still thinking about the fact that school starts at 7:20 am in Colombia, that they eat fish for breakfast in Japan and that you have the option to learn Chinese in Tasmanian schools.

For this interview I talk with a family who is living in France.  I stumbled upon Nicola’s blog ages ago and became enthralled with her gorgeous photography and stories about life in France.  Nicola has 4 lovely daughters including twins.  Being a mother of twins myself, I always have an instant connection with other mothers of multiples.  Nicola is also a sewer and crafter and expert Lady Gaga hair-bow maker.  Go check out her blog cover photo…absolutely gorgeous and self made!

I love Nicola’s comment, “so far our philosophy is to educate rather than restrict”  in regards to their children and the amount of screen time they get.  I think we could use that philosophy in so many areas of our parenting..  And I relate to the month of May being “Swiss Cheese Month”.  We have the same problem here.

So, let’s meet Nicola and hear about her family and French style of life!


What country do you live in?

We’re currently living in France in the western suburbs of Paris, not far from the famous Château de Versailles. Before being posted to Paris, we spent ten years living in California. We love living in France, but our experience here is definitely that of expats. We are not a typical French family.

Are you and your husband the same nationality?

Yes, we’re both British born and raised. Our eldest daughter was born in London but the younger girls were born in the USA which entitles them to dual nationality. We always travel with a ‘tower’ of passports!

Do you both work? Or does someone stay at home?

My husband works very hard outside of the home and has to travel a lot for work. I work less hard inside the home and try not to feel too guilty when I get to go into Paris for a museum visit and a long lunch. It doesn’t happen that often!


How many languages are spoken in your house? What one(s)?

English; my husband and I with a British accent and the girls with an American accent! However, our two year old is learning English and French simultaneously which is fascinating to watch. I still can’t figure out what kind of accent she has!

How many kids do you have? What are their ages?

We have four girls. India is almost twelve, Georgia and Savannah are nine and Florence is two and – the all important – three quarters.

At what age do kids start school in your country?

The older girls are enrolled in an international school which begins with a preschool class at four and Kindergarten at five which is the same as the United States. Florence currently goes to a French Halte Garderie (non-compulsory nursery school) two full days a week and will start Maternelle (the formal and free beginning of a French school career) when she is three.


Click to read more of interview… Continue reading

A Kid’s Life: Colombia

15 Jan

I’m really excited to have a new A Kid’s Life interview on the blog today.  As I’ve mentioned before, this is a great way to see how families from around the world live their daily life.  We get a peek into a different culture by seeing what an average family’s daily grind is like.  So far we’ve had interviews with families from Italy, Japan, America, The Philippines, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Holland, New Zealand and Australia (Tasmania).  I’ve loved all the families I’ve interviewed and I hope to meet some in person in the future. Today we have a visit from a wonderful Colombian family.  I was put into contact with Andrea through Giova who did our Holland interview.  Andrea lives with her family in Bogota, Colombia.  She’s an architect who is currently at home with her daughter and an avid and passionate crafter (check out her hair accessory line here on Facebook).  Andrea is a hands-on mother who spends every afternoon with her daughter and beloved dog Niebla going to parks, playdates or doing something artistic. After reading the interview I am in shock at what time school starts at Andrea’s daughter’s school.  I won’t be complaining about our 6:45 am wake-ups anymore.  And I can relate to the birthday parties that she talks about attending so often. We also seem to have one every other week.  Oh the joys of having popular and well liked kids! So read on and find out what life is like for this Colombian family.


What country do you live in? We live in Colombia, in Bogotá, the capital city. Bogotá is huge, and it´s hectic and beautiful at the same time. Are you and your husband the same nationality?  Yes, we are both Colombian, and we are also Spanish.  Do you both work? Or does someone stay at home?  I stay at home and sometimes work from home. How many languages are spoken in your house? What one(s)?  We speak Spanish. My husband and I also know English. And my husband knows German because he attended a German school as a kid. Now our daughter is attending that same school and is starting to learn German too. I wish I spoke German, but I’ve tried and it’s not easy at all!


How many kids do you have? What are their ages?  We have one girl, Gabriela. She is 5 “and a half”, as she would say. Click to continue reading interview! Continue reading

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