And Here We Are

http://www.and-here-we-are.blogspot.com

Stories and images of discovery as a young family embraces the joys and challenges of building an expat life in Europe, and the thrill of living unconventionally. Special emphasis on European aesthetic, culture and food, and simple

In what ways is your home town unique from other places you've lived or traveled?

What do your kids love most about living in the European Union?

What outdoor activity do you enjoy doing most with your kids?

What's a great present under $30 for an elementary school aged child?

Ariana Mullins

A kite! Hopefully, with a promise of a trip to the beach/ park to fly it together soon. I think kids need more time outdoors enjoying simple pleasures and wonders of life, not more "stuff." I know time may feel more difficult than spending money, but it is such a valuable gift, so be sure to take the kid out to fly it! Good for either gender, of course.
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What's the best thing you've done to make your family feel at home in your new community?

Ariana Mullins

I think that the most important thing to think about when uprooting your family and moving to a new place is the fact that most of the security and "at home" feeling comes from within the family itself. We went through an incredible amount of transition this year, and the thing that helped keep my daughter feeling secure was structure and familiarity of family life. Her bedtimes, routine, family meetings, and general rules were more or less at the same wherever we were. I made a huge effort to get her good nutrition and good sleep, knowing that these things make a huge difference on behavior and outlook on life. Now that we are through the major transition and making our home in a new country, we have all of those things more firmly in place, and can do more. When we found out we were moving to England, my husband found videos books at the library about England, and we studied up on our new country together. This really helped to build excitement about our future. We have a running list of all the places we'd like to visit here (Buckingham Palace is on the top of her list) and the British things we'd like to try out. We take lots of family outings, frequently pointing out what is cool/new/different/interesting about what is going on around us. On a more domestic note, when we have moved into our new homes, I have made a point of getting my daughter's room set up first, indulging her with some new bedding and things that make her feel at home in her new space as we settle into unfamiliar territory. This is also exactly what we did when we moved to Germany, and I have to say that my daughter has been able to keep a really positive and excited attitude about living in both countries.
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What is your best tip for not losing your temper with children?

Ariana Mullins

When I feel really frustrated or personally affronted by my daughter, I try to imagine what the situation is from her perspective. Does she feel that she is being violated, somehow? Is she lacking in sleep, food, daily routine or some other essential that helps her stay balanced? Often times, I realize that I have been tense or frustrated, that I have been short with her, and she is feeling insecure. I try to put myself in her shoes, and usually I do not feel angry any more. She is usually trying her best, as am I. We are human. I try to be honest about where I am at, and this often opens the conversation to see what is happening on her end of the equation. When these more mature, diplomatic methods still leave me angry, my husband lets me punch him in the arm for a minute, and I feel better.
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What's your kids' favorite backyard game?

Ariana Mullins

Well, I don't know if you would call it a "game" exactly, but we just put raised beds into our yard, and put an extra one in especially for my daughter. We call it her "learning garden," since she is only five and is still learning about growing plants. We have given her free reign over it, and let her plant whatever she wants, including anything I might dig up for her from mature plantings elsewhere in the yard. As she plays outside, she waters her sprouts (mostly radishes and garlic right now) and plants things, including twigs and leaves into her garden bed.
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What do you feed kids who can't eat gluten?

Ariana Mullins

Our family also does no grains/ legumes, and we eat very well! We eat meats, veggies, fruits and nuts. We focus on main meals, and snacks can come from the garden, or the farmer's market. We have found recipes for pancakes and muffins that we make on the weekend, using coconut flour. Typical breakfasts are eggs and fruit, or bacon and fruit. Lunch is something like meatballs, carrot sticks, olives and an apple. And dinners are some kind of meat, and a couple different vegetable dishes. We use plenty of butter and indulge in dark chocolate. We're all very happy eating this way!
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We're looking for decorating inspiration! Please share a link to a photo of your child's room.

Ariana Mullins

Here's a picture of my little mouse's room: http://and-here-we-are.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/into-mouse-hole.html
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What's a great finger food that your kids love? Please include a link.

Ariana Mullins

A really great healthy snack to have on hand is babaganoush. It can be served with so many different finger foods-- from cut up veggies, to chips, to pita bread. It's not hard to make, and can be a project for little ones to help with, as well. Here is my recipe: http://and-here-we-are.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/summer-staple-babaganoush.html
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What's your best tip for teaching a gradeschooler about money?

Ariana Mullins

Let the child earn money for herself! Teach her about saving it, counting it, and using it for something she really wants. Do this in a very practical way. We did a lemonade stand this summer when my daughter kept asking us for a play house. We told her how much they cost, and worked out with her how much lemonade she would have to sell to earn it. We also had her pay for her own supplies, to learn about spending when necessary to make a profit. I am really happy to say that she worked hard all summer, selling that lemonade, and actually earned enough to buy the play house! It was extremely gratifying, and I think she learned a lot about money through the experience.
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If you prefer your livingroom to look like it's for grown-ups, how do you keep your kids' toys under wraps? Please share a link to a photo and tell us where in the living room the toys are hiding!

Ariana Mullins

Now that my daughter is six, a whole lot of toys are no longer a problem, but I do reserve a spot in the living room for her. She has her own shelf in our bookcase where she can keep her books and activities, with a little chair next to them-- a special little reading nook, so she feels like she has a special place there. When we were still in the baby and toddler-toy stage, I kept a basket in each room, where I could toss all of the toys and books, and clean-up was easy.
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Spring is almost here! What's an activity you love to do with your kids in the springtime? Please include a link to a picture if you have one!

Ariana Mullins

In the spring, we like to visit local farms during lambing season, to see all of the new life! Not only do we get to see baby lambs with their proud mamas, but there are bulbs blooming everywhere, and many signs of life and future harvest around the farms. Last year, we had fun celebrating eastern at a local farm.
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What's a light, Springtime meal your kids like to eat? Please share a link to your recipe.

Ariana Mullins

Egg dishes are always great, and good for any time of the day. Our most recent favorite is Shakshukah-- a wonderful, aromatic tomato sauce with eggs and greens poached within. It's great with bread to dip into the sauce, and in our case (with gluten allergies) we use slices of grilled eggplant to sop up the tomato-ey goodness.
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