Tag Archives: A Kid’s Life

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 : 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.

3-girlsLondon

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: 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.

01

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!

05

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

A Kid’s Life: Germany

11 Dec

Time for another interview in my A Kid’s Life series.  This series is a way for all of us to see how families from other countries and cultures live their daily life.  It’s surprising how similar some of our daily habits are around the world!

This time we chat with Petra who lives with her family in Germany.  Petra is one of my all time favorite people .  We met in university a long time ago and have kept in touch all these years.  She’s kind, down to earth and so hilarious.  And the fact we both ended up in Europe is such a bonus.  We’ve caught up in person a few times over the years and it was wonderful.  When together we revert back to our young (and slightly immature) selves.  Petra is super creative and spends lots of time doing amazing crafts and art with her kids.  I have many fond memories of sewing evenings with her in snowy Quebec City during our university days.

After reading Petra’s interview I’m in shock at one particular aspect of German culture.  People, school ENDS for the day  at 11:50am.  How do parents manage? And it’s amazing to think that the German kids get only 6 weeks of summer vacation while the Italian kids get 12 weeks of summer vacation.

Petra talks about her multi-lingual and multi-cultural household with such humor and let’s us in on daily life in Germany.  Enjoy!

What country do you live in?

We live in southern Germany, near the French border.

Are you and your husband the same nationality?

No, I am Canadian and my husband is French. We found each other in Germany.

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

We both work. My husband works full time and I work part time in a kindergarten. I work mornings 4 days a week and one afternoon; that way I can be home for the kids in the afternoon.

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

I speak to the kids in English and my husband speaks to them in French. My husband and I speak French with each other because, well, his English is just not as good as my French. The kids speak mostly English with each other, but German is becoming more and more used. We all speak German fluently.

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

We have 2 kids. Alexis, our son, is 7 and Nellie is 5.

At what age do kids start school in your country?

Kids start school at 6. Kindergarten is not obligatory, but most kids start going at the age of 3. In the state where we live, kindergarten is free of charge starting when the child is 2 but in other states, such as in the one where I work, one must pay the kindergarten fees.

During the school year what time do your kids usually wake up?

The kids get up at 6:30 and then the race begins. Usually they are fed, dressed and their teeth have been brushed by the time I shove them out the door at 7:20. There is, however, no extra time for such frivolities such as fancy hairdos nor last minute homework corrections with this schedule.

What do your kids typically eat for breakfast?

Alexis normally eats about a half a loaf of bread (good, grainy, German bread) with butter and jam in the morning and drinks cold milk (Germans don’t like the cold drink thing, but I’m Canadian, eh, and grew up drinking stuff cold). Nellie always starts off by trying to get some candy (yeah right) and when that doesn’t pan out she ends up eating a piece of cheese, a piece of fruit and drinking cold water. There is a morning snack at both kindergarten and school (prepared by yours truly) so there she gets some bread (who are we kidding, it comes back with the jam licked off and I can see where she scraped the butter off with her teeth) and Alexis eats another 2 pieces of bread and probably eats the leftovers from any classmates who are not big eaters.

Click to read the rest of the interview…

Continue reading

A Kid’s Life: Holland

1 Nov

Time for another interview from my A Kid’s Life series.  Over the past months I’ve absolutely loved doing these interviews and learning about what families from around the world are up to on a daily basis.

Today’s family lives in Holland but is by no means the “average Dutch family”.  Both parents are from Colombia and have lived all over the world over the last 20 years.  Giova (the Mama) told me that she has adopted traditions and customs from all these different cultures and integrated them into their daily life.  I can relate to that!

Giova is one of the writers behind the charming blog One Bunting Away (the other is her sister who lives on the other side of the ocean).  She’s a creative soul and sweet as can be.  The sisters write about their lives and what they find beautiful and inspiring.

Giova is the also the proud mama of two boys of very different ages.  As you’ll see from her photos that there is nothing cuter than a big brother holding his little baby brother’s hand.  Heart melting really.

Now let’s hear a little about their daily life….

What country do you live in?

We live in Holland, but we are not Dutch.

Are you and your husband the same nationality?

Yes, we were both born in Colombia. We left 20 years ago.

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

We both work from home

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

Spanish is what we speak between us, but we all speak English, even the little one has started.

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

Two. One is 11, and the other is 2

Continue reading

A Kid’s Life: New Zealand

8 Oct

Time for another post in my A Kid’s Life series.  This series is a great way to learn about other countries and cultures by looking at families and their daily routines and traditions.  I love hearing about what people from a different country eat, how they spend their free time, what sort of activities the kids do and about the local school systems.

Today we are visiting with Hana from New Zealand.  Hana is a self proclaimed eternal optimist and dreamer.  She has the blog A Happy Adventure  where she writes about parenting and making her daughters lives as magical as possible.  I absolutely adore her Little World series!  I’ve never met Hana but I just know she’s one of those cheerful, positive,creative and witty people that we could all benefit from spending time with.

I’ve always been interested in New Zealand and I loved reading about Hana and her family’s daily life there.  She talks about Christmas in such a different way than I’m used to (camping and beach!) and now I’m curious about what pikelets and kumara are!

So let’s meet Hana and her family…

What country do you live in?

New Zealand

Are you and your husband the same nationality?

Yep – we are both kiwis – in fact we both grew up in the same part of NZ, meeting at High School.

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

My husband, Barry, works outside the home, and I stay at home with our girls.

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

One – English.

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

We have three girls – Ava will be five next week, Lola is three and Belle is 21 months.

At what age do kids start school in your country?

Children in New Zealand generally start school on their 5th birthday.  Although, oddly, it isn’t a legal requirement to be at school until they are 6.

Continue reading

A Kid’s Life: Belgium

18 Sep

In my life I have ties to three countries.  Italy, Canada and Belgium.  I’ve already done an interview with a Canadian and an Italian family and now it’s time to hear about daily family life in Belgium.  These three countries mean a lot to me and have three very different cultures.  Like I’ve said in the past, we’ve adopted different aspects of all three cultures into our daily routine and it really seems to work for us.  My kids eat dinner relatively early like in Canada, eat chocolate for breakfast like in Belgium and they eat gelato every day in summer like in Italy.

For my Belgian interview I immediately called my sister-in-law Julie.  Julie and I have a lot in common and have known each other for more than 15 years.  We met as young and innocent (!) university students and now we have 6 kids between us and have both opted for the stay-at-home-mother route in family life.

Julie lives in a beautiful house that is full of colour and style.  They’ve slowly renovated it over the years and they were even on a house make-over show in Belgium showcasing their kid’s room in the attic (gorgeous!).  They just welcomed their third child a few weeks ago so they’re busy to say the least (this interview was before little Billie arrived).  And can I just say that Julie and Michael’s kids are absolutely gorgeous?  And I’m not just saying that as a proud aunt…they’re seriously beautiful (and funny)!  Let’s take a look at what their life is like…

What country do you live in?

Belgium.

Are you and your husband the same nationality?

Yes.

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

One, Dutch.

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

Two and a half.  Corneel is 4, Rosalie is 1 and there is a little one coming up in August.{Jillian: Little daughter Billie was born on August 29th!}

At what age do kids start school in your country?

At 2,5, but we only send them when they are  3.

During the school year what time do your kids usually wake up?

Around 8 o’clock.  Rosalie wakes up around half past 7.

What do your kids typically eat for breakfast?

Toast and jam or breakfast cereals and  Rosalie still has a bottle of milk.  On Sundays Corneeltje eats some slices of sugar bread with raisins … his favourite! {Jillian: I have to add here that most Belgians start their day with chocolate.  Whether it’s a chocolate spread, chocolate sprinkles or actual pieces of chocolate on bread…it’s a Belgium custom that wasn’t too hard for me to adopt!}

What time does school start?  What time does it finish?  What is the weekly school schedule? 

It starts at 8.45 and finishes at 4 every day except for Wednesday, then it also starts at 8.45 but it ends at 12. On Saturday and Sunday they have the day off.

Do your kids learn a second/third language at school?  From what age?

Yes, they learn French from the age of 9 years old.

Continue reading

A Kid’s Life: Canada

6 Sep

Another installment of A Kid’s Life is ready!  As I’ve said in previous posts, I absolutely love doing this series and reading about all the differences from families from around the globe.  You learn a lot about a culture by what they do on a daily routine basis.  I now know that they eat miso soup for breakfast in Japan, the school bus arrives at 6:45am in the Philippines, in Italy they have 3 1/2 months of summer holidays from school, some kids are “red shirted” in America and in Tasmania your kids can choose to study Japanese, Chinese or Italian (among other languages) at school.  I adore learning all these little tidbits about the daily grind from other countries and cultures!

And this time it’s…….Canada!  I’m obviously really excited for this interview due to the fact  I spent the first 25 years of my life in Canada.  Just reading this interview brought back lots of lovely memories of my childhood.  I loved reading that they eat dinner at 5pm.  They don’t believe me here in Italy that I used to eat that early. 5pm is snack-time over here.

Sandra is part of this amazing network of bloggers that I’ve come into contact with and I really admire her outlook and enthusiasm on life.  Her blog Raincoast Cottage is one of those sites that I blame my messy house on.  I end up on that site for ages almost every time I pop over.  Her recipes are amazingly diverse, her links are always so interesting and her love for photography is a shared passion that I can really relate to.  Her posts are honest, frank and down-to-earth.  I really appreciate that in a blog (and in a person actually).

So let’s take a little peek into the life of this Canadian family…

 What country do you live in?

I live in Canada – specifically, on the west coast of Canada in a medium-sized city called Vancouver. It’s a large country and defined very much by geography. Where I live is very rain forest-like. Lots of rain most of the year and lush and very little snow in the winter. Not what you usually think of when you think of Canada!

And although we are next to the US, we are very much strongly influenced by our founding countries, France and England. Also, being part of the Commonwealth provides strong ties to the United Kingdom as well as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, etc.

Are you and your husband the same nationality?

We are both Canadian. Canada is a nation of immigrants and we tend to think of ourselves as hyphenated – Our original nationality PLUS Canadian. It’s a mosaic rather than a melting pot. You don’t leave your origins behind when you become Canadian.

My husband is a second generation Canadian while I am a first generation Canadian whose parents immigrated from Eastern Europe.

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

We both work but the paid work is primarily done by my husband. He has a corporate-y job. By training I am a marriage & family therapist but have the luxury to choose to stay home with our six year old daughter.

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

English primarily. We’re a bilingual country so we all know French too.

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

We have one daughter who is six and ¾ (as she would say) and just started grade 2.

At what age do kids start school in your country?

Grade 1 is the first year of formal school and kids tend to start in the calendar year that they turn six. Most children also go to kindergarten when they are five. Many also do a few hours a day of nursery school when they are 3-4 years of age.

To be honest, I think we start too early! The Finns begin formal schooling at age 7 and have spectacular outcomes.

 During the school year what time do your kid(s)usually wake up?

My daughter is a morning person and luckily so are we as she tends to wake up between 6am and 7am no matter when she goes to bed. We all hit the ground running, so to speak.

What do your kid(s) typically eat for breakfast?

She usually starts with some fresh fruit – whatever is in season. Then lately it’s a toasted bagel with some butter. This past weekend we made crepes together.

 What time does school start?  What time does it finish?  What is the weekly school schedule? 

Her school starts at 8:30am. It’s a 20 minute walk each way through our neighbourhood and I love it! We have the most delightful conversations on the way to and from school.

She finishes at 3:30pm.

In addition to the academic subjects she has gym three times a week, three recesses daily, art, drama, and music.

Do your kids learn a second/third language at school?  From what age?

Being a bilingual country, everyone learns French and English. Here in the English speaking part of Canada you can also choose to go to a public French immersion school from grade 1 onward.

So when it starts depends upon the type of school – public or private, French immersion or not. And on top of that you can take an additional language in high school.

Do your kids eat lunch at school or home? What is a typical lunch for your kids?

She eats lunch at school and I can either make one for her to take along or order a hot lunch. I go through the menu with her and order two months ahead. Pasta, salads, hamburger, etc. The usual.

This fall she’ll do the hot lunch three days a week and I’ll make her a lunch two days a week.

For the packed lunch I make pasta or a vegetable soup. Some fresh vegetables like bell peppers, cucumber, snow peas, carrots, or tomatoes. Fresh fruit like apples or berries. Snacks for one of three recesses like crackers or a cookie or pretzels.

Do your kids do any after-school activities?

It depends upon the season. I don’t want to overload her with after-school activities but she’s a pretty active girl. There’s a dojang in the neighbourhood that we walk to where she takes karate. And we live two blocks from a park where she is on a soccer team. Finally, there’s usually an art class or a drama/improv class. Some of this is on the weekend of course! I try and leave enough time to hang out and have some play dates with friends.

What time do you eat dinner?  What’s a typical dinner you would eat?

We eat around 5pm. She’s starving after school and snacks on fruit and vegetables til supper.

A typical dinner would be pasta or some grilled chicken with steamed vegetables. Dessert perhaps once a week. Meat probably three times a week. I’ll make stew in the winter. And we often go out for sushi.

How much television/computer time do your kid(s) have on a daily basis? 

We limit it to an hour of screen time a day. She can choose whether it’s a favourite tv show that we tape ahead of time or playing Plants vs. Zombies. In addition to minimizing it, I like her having to make a choice. Sometimes you make a lesser choice but you learn!

What time do your kid(s) go to bed?

She is “full on” once she is up and needs still about 11 hours a night. In the summer she’s up til 8 but during the school year she’s in bed ready to sleep by 7:30pm.

 What are some typical family week-end activities?

This is an outdoors and sporty city. Hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, sailing, running, yoga  – all are a priority for those who live here. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!

In the summer we’ll go walk/bike along the beach. Go to a farmer’s market. Play in the playground. Jump on the trampoline.

Winter – swim, ski and snowboard (we live 45 minutes away from a number of local ski hills and 1½ hours away from Whistler). Play board games. Watch a movie together. Read books. Do crafts and art projects. Skating – we’re a big hockey nation so every kids learns to ice skate.

We might have some friends around for brunch or dinner. We try and see live music and go to museums as well.

When do your kids have vacation from school?

Summer vacation starts the last week of June and goes til the first week in September. Each month has a three day weekend (that’s for everyone, not just school kids). Two weeks at Christmas and a couple of weeks in the spring as well.

We love to travel – the winter break usually finds us in Hawaii and spring break this past year we went to Disneyland. My parents live 1½ hours away by plane so we fly there a few times a year. And an annual NYC fix for theatre and galleries and museums.

My husband has an extended leave coming up in the next few years and we are considering spending it overseas – most likely Europe.

What do your kid(s) do during the summer vacation?

Most kids go to day camp and then eventually an overnight camp. This past summer she’s gone to a bike camp (biking is very big here), soccer camp, karate camp, and an art camp.

July tends to be camps and August we rent a cottage on a lake and spend the time water skiing and wakeboarding and swimming.

 What are the typical “first foods” for a baby to eat in your country?

Solids usually aren’t introduced til 6 months and it’s usually rice cereal. We get a year of paid maternity leave so it’s much easier to breastfeed for longer too.

A Big thank you to Sandra for doing this interview.  I really loved reading it.  Previous posts in this series…Italy, Japan, America, The Philippines and Tasmania.

A Kid’s Life: Tasmania

31 Aug

Oh how I love this A Kid’s Life series!  I’ve had so much fun interviewing families from around the world and learning about their daily rhythms and traditions.  It’s so interesting to see what people from other cultures do differently and eye-opening to realise that sometimes a family from the other side of the world does the exact same things that we do.

This interview is with Jen who lives in Tasmania.  Jen and I were introduced through a fellow blogger friend (one of the many great things about blogging!) and she was so warm, friendly and willing to participate in this little series.  I love how she answered all the questions with so much honesty and humor.  Jen talks about the famous “witching hour”, the “mom guilt” and the Lego marathons with her adorable sons.

Other than being a mom and working part time at a small bookshop Jen also owns Dish Pig which is a business that designs and sells stylish, vintage inspired souvenirs for Tasmania.  Using modern typography they offer tea towels and aprons that are beautiful enough to be framed or made into cushions and not only used for drying dishes.

Jen is also the author of The Brother’s Trimm blog where she posts about great products for families, arts and crafts and kid’s fashion and literature.  She’s also a contributor to several other blogs and has recently started writing for Anorak magazine.  Like with many of my past interviewees I’m in awe at the amount Jen does.  Please let me in on the secret on how you make it all work!

Let’s hear what Jen has to say about her and her family’s daily life…

What country do you live in?

We live on an island called Tasmania, it’s the southern most state in Australia. I like to think of it as the Hawaii of the Antipodes…without the pretty lei’s, awesome surf and tropical hot climate!

Are you and your husband the same nationality?

No, my husband is from New Zealand and I am Irish.

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

My husband is an executive sous chef, while I am a Jack of all trades. I’m a children’s bookseller, blogger, children’s event organiser and small business owner, running a little homewares business called Dish Pig. I work at a lovely local indie bookshop 3 days a week, otherwise I work at night when the kids are in bed.

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

English and a few chosen words in Irish when I’ve run out of patience with the kids.

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

We have two boys, Jack is a thoughtful 5 year old while Charlie boasts a rambunctious 3.5 years.

At what age do kids start school in your country?

In Tasmania, kids start kindergarten the year they turn 5. In other states around the country it differs. Ridiculous I know. Our boys attend(ed) an early learning centre which introduces kindergarten methods from an early age. This really helped Jack in his transition to ‘big school’ and Charlie is chomping at the bit to get started.

During the school year what time do your kids usually wake up?

Without fail, our youngest is awake and nestling into our bed just after 6. He knows the silent drill until the alarm goes off not long after. Our eldest will usually wake up around 6.30am

What do your kids typically eat for breakfast?

Porridge,weetbix or muesli with a yoghurt, honey and berry topping are on high rotation.

What time does school start?  What time does it finish?  What is the weekly school schedule?

I drop off Jack at 8.30 for a 9am start with Charlie arriving at his preschool just before 9. Kindergarten differs to regular school, they only attend 3 days from 9am til 3pm with a half day on Wednesdays. From prep upwards it’s 5 days a week, 9-3pm for primary school. After school care is offered at Jack’s school which is a lifesaver for someone like me. I collect them at 5 and 5.15 pm respectively and we are home by 5.30pm

Do your kids learn a second/third language at school?  From what age?

Not yet, but French, German, Italian, Indonesian, Japanese and Chinese are all offered in primary schools as part of the curriculum. Not all schools offer all 6 languages. It usually differs from school to school.

Do your kids eat lunch at school or home? What is a typical lunch for your kids?

The boys both eat lunch at school and preschool. They’ll have a sandwich, crackers, yoghurt, fruit (fresh or dried), a mini salad and a bottle of water.

Do your kids do any after-school activities?

Not at the moment while they are still young, but the school offers karate, soccer, film and book clubs. There’ll also be the future guitar lessons I’m sure I’ll be nagged for…

What time do you eat dinner?  What’s a typical dinner you would eat?

During the week, we try to eat at 6.30pm, perhaps a little later at the weekend. A typical weekly menu would include meatballs, fried rice, a pasta something or other, sausages with lots of veggies, roast chicken and the friday night obligatory home made pizza.

How much television/computer time do your kids have on a daily basis?

No computer time yet, but TV is usually allowed during the witching hour while I cook dinner. We are a little more relaxed on Saturday mornings.

What time do your kids go to bed?

I have them in bed at 7. Depending on their day and mood, they’ll be asleep in 5 minutes or still be ”reading” at 8.

What are some typical family week-end activities?

Unfortunately Daddy is often working at weekends so I tend to fly solo. We catch up with pals or enjoy a bush walk (we have a stunning selection of native forest and walking trails here). The aim is to  get out as much as possible really and burn off the boys unending supply of energy. If the weather isn’t great, we  might head to the local museum, visit a market or stay home for a lego marathon.

When do your kids have vacation from school?

This is our first year experiencing school holidays and it seems Jack has vacation time every other week! There are 3 terms here so apart from summer holidays (Christmas – February), there is a couple of weeks break at Easter, June and September.

What do your kids do during the summer vacation?

I hate answering this question as I’m riddled with guilt. Having no family here means we are really stuck when it comes to summer vacation. It’s the busiest time of the year for my husband and I too have to work, so 3 days a week the boys either attend daycare of vacation care. This summer will be our first year trialling vacation care for Jack. My saving grace is that they’re not away from home 5 days a week, otherwise the poor kids would never have a rest. Next year we’re planning a special family holiday overseas during the Tasmanian winter to make up for our summer non-vacation.

What are the typical “first foods” for a baby to eat in your country?

Rice porridge is the norm followed by stewed pear and apple. Then it’s pumpkin time and the palate slowly develops from there.

Many thanks to Jen for this great interview.  Check out previous interviews from Italy, Japan, America and The Philippines.

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