Tag Archives: daily life

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.

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Bits and Bobs

1 Oct

I’m in a state of shock that it’s already October.  Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was lazing at the lake in 40 degree heat with the kids?  Or popping by the local gelateria two times a day for ice cream?  Or picking beautiful tomatoes from my lush and over-growing veggie patch?

But I do so love the fall as well.  I love the golden autumn light in the late afternoon.  I love seeing old men in tweed hats with baskets scouring the woods for funghi.  I love digging out the wool sweaters and leather boots.  I love the smell of roasting chestnuts.  And I really love the fact that the mosquitoes will soon all be dead and leave us in peace for a few months.

Here are a few shots of our September:

Our yearly visit to La Festa Della Zucca (Pumpkin Festival)

Care package.

I’m so happy my daughters didn’t inherit my intense fear of touching bugs of any kind.Listening to scary stories around the bonfire with their ears plugged.  All three of them!

Cupcakes.  Or as the locals say “cap-keeks”.

Walk to the lake on a warm and sunny September Sunday.

Delicious savory mini pretzel buns.  Recipe to follow soon.

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?


Are you and your husband the same nationality?


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.

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A Kid’s Life: The Philippines

24 Aug

I’m really excited to present the newest in my A Kid’s Life series.  This series is a way for all of us to learn a little bit about different family daily routines, traditions and culture from countries all over the world.  I’ve really loved doing all the previous interviews from Italy , Japan and America.

Today’s interview is with Audrey.  I met Audrey through a fellow blogging friend (thanks Deepa!) and from our first e-mail exchange I knew she was a kindred spirit.  Audrey is warm and friendly.  And busy!   This woman has three children, runs  and owns an amazing kid’s clothing company and apparently is just about to open a restaurant.  And on top of all these things and the fact she was living through some pretty horrific weather conditions in The Philippines she was more than willing to take the time to do this interview.

First I would like to talk a little about their clothing company.  I love it that Audrey and her husband decided they wanted to build a family together and agreed on needing the independence of working for themselves.  They felt taking the entrepreneur route would make their lives more open and free to having a healthy family life.

Their kid’s clothing company is called googoo&gaga and they describe it as a quirky clothing company for kookie kids.   On their website they write that they want to spread good tidings and cheer, a little bit of fancy and a little bit of crazy with each wearable art piece.  And they are indeed pieces of art.  You simply shop through their collection of designs and  have it printed on your choice of onesie, lap shirt, baby dress or toddler t-shirt.

I love Audrey’s warmth that comes through in her interview and her love for her family shines through.  Some things that surprised me in the interview?  In The Philippines they eat Spam and the school bus picks up the kids at 6:45am!  

Let’s see what Audrey has to say about their daily life and routines…

What country do you live in?

The Philippines

Are you and your husband the same nationality?

Yes we are (Filipino)

Do you both work or does someone stay at home?

We both work from home.

How many languages are spoken in your house?

Two, English and Filipino.

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

Three.  Gabe is 11, Gia is 2 years and 4 months and Giorgia is 1 year old this Friday!

At what age do kids start school in your country?

It used to be five years old for 1st grade but younger kids are now going into playschool at 2 years of age.

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

Gabe, our eldest, is the only one who goes to school.  He wakes up at 6am so he can finish his breakfast and get ready for school.  The school bus comes at 6:45am.

What do your kids typically eat for breakfast?

Gabe has a wider range of food choices now. He’s a growing boy and can eat more than I do!  He likes Spam, bacon, eggs, with rice!  The girls, since they are younger, can STILL be imposed on. So we serve them healthier options like fruits, cereals, pancakes, bread, yogurt, etc.

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

School starts at 730am and ends at 330pm. Fridays are Club Days so they end at 430pm on those days.

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

English is the medium of instruction in most big schools here. Filipino is taught as a subject.

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

Gabe has lunch at school.  We talked to the school’s lunch mistress so he can just choose what he wants to have for lunch daily.  The girls both eat table food already, which means they eat what we eat.  I make sure each meal includes at least one meat dish and one vegetable dish plus rice.

Do your kids do any after-school activities?

Gabe isn’t allowed playtime on school days. After school, his time is devoted to doing homework or doing advanced reading.

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

Around 8pm. Dinner is the same as lunch — rice, one meat dish, one vegetable dish, fruits or ice cream if we have it. The family loves fried chicken, yakiniku steak, beef or pork stew, adobo (pork or chicken marinated and cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, bay leaves — a popular Filipino dish!).

What time do your kids go to bed?

Everyone’s out by 10pm!

What are some typical family week-end activities?

We make sure we visit one set of grandparents every weekend. We do it alternately, so if this weekend finds us in my parents’ house, next weekend we’re at my husband’s parents’.  Since my husband and I both work from home, we can readily bring the two younger ones to the supermarket or the mall for short breaks on weekdays. We make sure we are home before the eldest is back from school.

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

The younger girls, Gia and Georgia, are only allowed a maximum of 2-3hours of TV a day, spread out at different periods. I make them choose which kid-friendly programs they like best. I try to have different activities for them during the day, including quiet time when they can choose whatever they feel like doing, whether it is to craft and paint (for Gia) or walk and explore (for Georgia). My husband and I do not watch a lot of TV ourselves, so we let Gabe sit with us when we do. He’s only 11 and still needs parental supervision.

When do your kids have vacation from school?

Summer in the Philippines starts in March and ends early June.

What do your kids do during the summer vacation?

We try our best to go out of town or out of country trips during the summer. It’s great to bring the kids to new places where bonding time is doubly fun! The eldest also enrols in summer activities like basketball camp, swimming sessions, or little chef’s classes.

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

Always vegetables and fruits. 🙂

Many thanks to Audrey for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions.  And best of luck to her in all her wonderful projects!  Stay tuned for upcoming interviews from Tasmania and Canada!

If you’re interested in being interviewed for this series please contact me at jillianinitaly@hotmail.com.

A Kid’s Life: Japan

23 Jul

A while back I published my first post in my A Kid’s Life series.  I give a short interview with families from around the world about their daily traditions and routines.  I thought it would be a great way to see how other people pass a regular day in their life and see how it differs from ours.

For this A Kid’s Life post I decided to contact my friend Kumi who lives in Japan.  Kumi and I studied French together many years ago and she is one of those gentle, generous souls.  We’ve kept in touch on and off over the years via snail mail and we recently got to see each other again in person on our recent trip to Japan.  We met as young single women and are now both happily married mamas.  How times have changed.

After spending time with Kumi and her family we realized that although we live in different countries with different cultures and daily rhythms, some things about life with kids are universal.  Such as ice cream and skip rope!

Here’s Kumi’s interview accompanied by a few photos that I took while staying with them.  Enjoy!

Where do you live?

We live in Japan.

Are both you and your husband the same nationality?

Yes, we are both Japanese.

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

We have one daughter who is 7 years old.

Do you both work or does someone stay at home?

My husband works full time and I work only 2 days per week.

How many languages do you speak at home?

We speak Japanese together.  Sometimes we speak some English as a sort of game.

At what age do kids start school in your country?

In Japan kids start school at 6 or 7 years old.

During the school year, what time do you wake up?

We wake up at 6:30am.

What is a typical breakfast for your family?

We eat rice balls and miso soup.

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

My daughter is in the second grade and starts school at 8:40 and finishes at 2:20pm.  In the higher grades the kids finish at 3:15pm.  In second grade the kids learn Japanese, arithmetic, drawing, manual arts, physical training, calligraphy, music and life studies.

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

In Japan they learn English from the second grade.  They learn English games and songs…not too hard!

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

Usually kids eat lunch at school.  They mainly eat rice or bread and milk but sometimes also Chinese, Italian, Korean and Mexican food.

Do your kids do any after-school activities?

My daughter doesn’t do any after-school activities but this is VERY rare in Japan.  Usually almost all kids do dance, swimming, calligraphy, English, abacus etc etc.

What time do you eat dinner?  What is a typical dinner you would eat?

We usually eat around 7pm.  A favorite dinner of my husband is okonomiyake (Japanese pizza).

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

Usually 2 hours.

What’s bed time in your house?

My daughter goes to bed around 9:30pm.

What are some typical family week-end activities?

In the mornings my daughter watches cartoons and then we do some shopping and go anywhere my daughter wants!

When is the school vacation?

In the summer there is the 44 days of summer vacation from late July to late August.  Then there are a few weeks in December and in March/April.

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

A vegetable soup made with white radish or cabbage and boiled fish or meat paste.

Do you notice any big differences between Kumi and her family’s life and yours?  I personally love the breakfasts they eat and the fact that school ends so early in the afternoon.  Any other questions that you think might be interesting to ask?  Check out the last A Kid’s Life:Italia here.


11 May

Recipe here.

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