Tag Archives: kids

Moroccan Snapshots *2*

19 Mar

A few more snapshots from our trip to Morocco…

IMG_4913Our favourite Moroccan cat sleeping on the outdoor terrace of our favourite Moroccan guesthouse.

IMG_4995 Almond blossoms with abandoned Kasbah in the background.

IMG_4971Oasis.

IMG_5038After a 5 hour hike to an isolated Berber village we were invited to have lunch in a local family’s home.  They made us the best tasting meal of our lives using this simple gas fire and metal tagine.

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Moroccan chicken.  Without the delicious spices. Yet.
IMG_5166A great way to sit back and relax after a 10 hour hike in the mountains.

Moroccan Snapshots *1*

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Gratefully Grateful *4*

31 Jan

Oh this Gratefully Grateful series is working wonders for my psyche.  I spend my days really looking for things that I’m grateful for and that make me feel good and positive and all warm and fuzzy inside.  I often find myself making mental notes of beautiful things that I see, kind people I spend time with, new things learned and ways that I can possibly change my life and my family’s for the better.  Guys, I have become Pollyanna and I am so happy about it!  Yeah, there are still those difficult and stressful moments but I let them pass quickly and get on with the good parts of my life.  And I’ll be honest about the fact that I am so fortunate to have so much good in my life.  I know not everyone does.

This week I am grateful for…

DSC_0137-001…the fact that my daughter has no fear of bright colours and patterns and mixing the two as she pleases.  Even if she ends up looking different than anyone else around.

IMG_3922…our new family hobby geocaching and how it has made our week-ends so much more fun.  Check out our homemade ‘calling cards’ that we leave in the caches we find (and our corny tag-line too!).CTCNEWLOGO…that I won a space in Xanthe Berkeley‘s online course Creating Time Capsules.  I’ve been eyeing this course for ages and still can’t believe that I WON SOMETHING!  Many thanks to Xanthe (who is one of my favourite photographers).

Gratefully Grateful *1*, *2*, *3*

I’d love to hear what you’re grateful for this week.

Enjoy your week-end!

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!

Gratefully Grateful °1°

7 Jan

Hello and Happy New Year to you all!  I still can’t believe it’s 2014.  Wasn’t it just 1986 and we were all hanging out listening to Manic Monday by The Bangles in our Benetton rugby shirts, teased bangs and frosted pink lipstick?

Sometimes I still can’t believe I am a wife, a mother of three and….a grown up.  An almost 40 year old grown up.  Almost.  I’m going to enjoy my last months of my 30s like you wouldn’t believe.  Then I’m going to enter my 40s with flair and enthusiasm and a positive attitude about ageing.  Hold me to it.

I’ve been pretty much off the grid the last months (except on IG – I love that community so much) and I’ve really missed writing and posting here in this little space of mine. As I mentioned in my last post we went through a hard time this past fall.  My daughters lost a very good friend to cancer.  It was so deeply sad for us all.  Seeing and helping my daughters grieve while trying to deal with my own grief was one of the hardest things I’ve been through. I was in survival mode and there were moments when I thought I was going to crash.  But we made it through.  And although we miss our little friend every single day and think about her often life has continued.  We have so many beautiful memories of her and those memories are making the pain of losing her feel a little bit softer every day.

So to get a positive start on the New Year and to motivate myself to get back to this space I’ve decided to start a new  project.  I’m going write a weekly post about things I’m grateful for.  After everything we’ve been through that’s what has touched me the most.  The fact that I have so much to be grateful for (I know it sounds cliche and cheesy but it’s true!).  And to go a bit deeper, I’m really grateful for being grateful.  There were moments in the last months that I couldn’t get past the low feelings and emotions to see all those wonderful things I have in my life.

So here’s to picking up my neglected (but much loved) camera again.  And to seeing the world through rose coloured glasses.  If you want to join me in this project I would be ecstatic.  Just leave a comment with a link to a post or photo or whatever else you’re grateful for.  And hey, why don’t we even create a hashtag as well!  #gratefullygrateful14 would be perfect.  So here we go!

I’m grateful for…IMG_3014-002

…my kid’s artwork.  It just makes me smile a lot.


…the coloured houses on the island of Burano.
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…people who paint multicoloured chairs.DSC_0126-001

…kids who photo bomb my shots of decrepit walls.IMG_3177

…fountains such as this and seeing my kid’s reaction when they figure out where the water comes out.

Enjoy your day everyone!

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

Snail Mail Booklet Letters

6 Sep

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It’s Friday and we all survived the first hectic week back to school.  The kids returned home from their first days at secondary school actually relieved.  Which means Mama was relieved.  They love the new schedules and running back and forth between classes and the fact that they are being treated more and more grown up.  It seems as though they’re ready for all this so I guess I have to be too.  Wish me luck.

As you may know my kids and I are big fans of snail-mailing our friends and family from around the world.  Snail-mailing is something that I have been doing for years (you should see my Japanese stationary collection that I started in my teens!) and my kids have definitely adopted my love for writing letters the old fashioned way.

For us it’s also an ideal way for my kids who are schooled in Dutch and French to practice writing English in an interesting and engaging way.  You should see those early letters that they wrote to their grandmother!  Sweet and almost impossible to understand.  Luckily they’ve come a long way since then in the spelling department.

A few months ago we participated in Giova‘s Flat Project with some little handmade fabric embellished cards.  We all loved this project so much that we’ve been busy thinking of new ways to make our own letters and cards for our penpals.  Here’s our latest idea.

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Materials Needed:

Patterned and solid coloured thin cardboard (or even heavy paper)
Scissors
Small hole punch
Brads
shapes for tracing (cookie cutters, bowls, boxes, wooden shapes etc)IMG_0809

One day my daughter and I were rummaging through one of my (beloved) drawers full of crafty goodness and we came across a little box full of brads that I had received from my mother years ago.  We took them out and admired all the little coloured metal and cloth embellished brads and decided we needed to use them immediatly (I love it that my daughter enjoys these things as much as I do).
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So seeing as we had a long list of penpals to write we decided to make little books in various shapes using our favourite patterned and solid coloured papers.  We searched the house for any possible object that we could trace  for interesting shapes (cookie cutters worked the best) and my daughter  hand drew a few shapes that she had in mind as well (unfortunately we don’t have a hot air balloon cookie cutter!).

IMG_0823We made books with anywhere from 3 pages to 8 pages and either alternated with solid and patterned paper or just did a patterned cover with all solid pages.

This is a great and simple paper project to do with kids of just about any age and ability.  My kids (who are 11,11,9 years old) are experimenting with more and more complicated shapes now as well  (airplanes, windmills, various pieces of clothing and maybe even a James Bond gun).

One daughter decided to start a back-and-forth letter with one of her pen-pals using one of the books.  She wrote her letter on the first page and her pen-pal will respond on the second and send it back.  She has dreams of this little book going back and forth over the ocean for years to come.  That’s my kind of dream!

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Happy Week-End!

Traveling With Kids: Paris

25 Jul

My new Traveling With Kids column over on Classic Play today.  This time I write about some great Parisian kid-friendly activities, restaurants, workshops and events.  Paris is a great city full of so many beautiful must-see sights but when traveling with kids you need to include some special kid centered moments during the day to keep everyone happy (and sane).  There’s everything from a kid’s music festival to personalized family bike tours to Cordon Bleu cooking workshops.  Pop on over!paris_2

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