Category Archives: Childhood

Back to school. Oh dear

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The School year restarted. So did a myriad of complaints. Parents complaints. And then we are surprised kids complain. And by the way “they have no reason to complain”, the parents say in one voice.

After hearing so many parents complain, I remembered about the wonderful book What All Children Want Their Parents to know: 12 Keys to raising a Happy Child by Diana Loomans. One these keys is “Leave your Values”.book

If there would be a championship of complaining, I would probably also get a prize, if not a medal of some sort. It is so much easier to complain then to acknowledge and appreciate for the human brain. We still can:

Appreciate that kids can go to school (I’ll not bring in the numbers of children around the world who do not attend school as they become family providers very early in life).

Acknowledge that a person invested in career of a school teacher, which is fun, if you are high everyday.

Appreciate the neural connections that form in the child’s brain, even if we know the mantra “the school prepares the kids for the jobs of yesterday and not tomorrow”.

Acknowledge your kid’s efforts and aspirations, struggles and successes, friendships and relationships ups and downs, etc.

Appreciate your role as a parent, who lives his/her values.

Acknowledge that school is important, but more important and life lasting is your relationship with your child, when the results on the evaluation sheets perhaps do not meet your expectations.

And have a slice of cake, or two, together to celebrate every school week 🙂 It works like magic.

A birthday experience: cakes and more.

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For my birthday this year I wanted a new family experience around something we all love. And that is easy to choose. We are all into cakes and making a cake by learning from a French pâtissier in France sounded just right.

I chose Atelier de Yann in Colmar, Alsace. It is a multi concept store: boutique factory, tea time, ateliers de patisserie, opened in 2015 by Yann Navarro, maitre pâtissier, chocolatier. And it was a perfect choice. The first word which came to my mind to describe this place and the service is i m p e c a b l e from the registration to the class to the unboxing of the products of our hands at home. I am very happy to note how client-oriented are the owner and staff, something of a gem in France. I notice it when I encounter it. I am grateful that they adapted to the presence of my kid, in a workshop otherwise designed for adults. In fairness, she has better self-management and dexterity than many adults I know.

The class was conducted by Yann, the owner of the place. We navigated through the stages of the Succès Pistache & Framboises, under his patient and humble guidance. We all felt at ease with maneuvering, matching and spoiling, tasting and mixing, taste and quantity balancing, regardless of the age and level of baking skills. Now the pastry bag has no more secrets from me. I also loved that we could each manifest our own creativity at the decorating stage without being bound by French pastry rigors. And there are many.

We left with a sense of great satisfaction as all our questions were answered with the clarity of a great master and the generosity of the host manifested tiny yet significant details of the true hospitality.

It inspired us to share the experience with friends over a cup of coffee. No that we could not devour the three cakes at once.

We will no doubt come back for more and warmly recommend this temple of nurturing the love for French pastry, with our best wishes of success and prosperity to Yann and his team! If I would award Michelin stars, one would certainly go to Atelier de Yann.

Clafoutis – a summer story

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When the cherry season starts, I take it as a sign to slow down and enjoy a slice of clafoutis. With a scoop of ice cream. Or a sip of coffee. It is my kid’ s childhood dessert and a culinary joy to our inner child. I would not say the same about our grown-ups waist line though :).

This year I tried a Guy Savoy recipe. I managed to take one pic before the last piece was gone straight from the baking pan.

I noticed that baking a cherry clafoutis when outside France, it makes you feel as in France. Guy Savoy says it all: “Selon moi, le clafoutis aux cerises fait partie des desserts repères incontournables de notre culture française. Et que le premier qui n’a jamais mangĂŠ un clafoutis me jette la première queue de cerise !” https://www.allmychefs.com/recipes/cherry-clafoutis_998_2

“Tom Gates” by Liz Pichon

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I was looking for something hilarious to read. Tried “The Royal Treatment (The Crown Jewels Romantic Comedy Series Book 1)” by Melanie Summers. It was quite good but not really the thing I needed.

My kid chose from the Scholastic book club “Tom Gates” by Liz Pichon. And that was it! The hilarious reading I looked for. She devored the 12 books of the series in no time. It was contagious so I started reading it out loud for a laugth together. It is the best wake up book. No need for an alarm clock in the morning.

Each book has stories of a boy told by a boy, with all the glory of family, school and social life one has at the age of eight. And each page has very funny drawings. For lots of inspiration. Now I know how to convey the message in the next project report 😉

“Winston Churchill” by Katie Daynes

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I loved to read the book my kid picked last week from the school library. Actually, she read it. And I re-readed with her.

The author did a very good job with explaining in plain language the life of one of the most fascinating personalities of the last century. The pages with the story of Churchil’s life from age five to his last days are filled with pictures of his life’s events.

Kids and adults alike can learn lessons of resilience from the man who hold jobs which required decisions that impacted millions of lives. Next time I would get bugged by a trivial matter at work, I’ll gently remind myself about it.

We also learned that Churchil’s hobby was painting. Another take away from the book: balance your professional/school demands with something which makes you happy. Balance your brain hyperactivity with works of hand, as my grandmother would say.

How Haut Koenigsbourg fortress lost it to Monkeys Mountain

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Not literally, of course.

1 May. Labour Day. France. Family trip plan to one of most famous fortresses in Alsace: Haut Koenigsbourg. Incited by 1 May invitations “all – to the fortresses” which invaded Facebook, I bought the train tickets Strasbourg-Selestat on-line the evening before. They are polite, the French railway: tickets for itineraries offered on line are guaranteed strike-free.

The next morning, Labour Day lesson 1: no buses or trams. They expect you to know that. Especially, after some years one lives in France. So, we do some “kilomètres de solidaritĂŠ” to the railway station. Some celebrate the Labour Day. Some have to labour it.

The train is on time and we get to Selestat. Labour Day lesson 2: read the small script. The navette driver announces that of all castles only Haut Koenigsbourg is closed today, as he heard himself this morning on radio. I open the facebook event on Alsace castles, click couple of pop-up sites to finally get to the text in small letters: Haut Koenigsbourg is closed today. Merci beaucoup!

The driver’s entrepreneurial spirit comes to rescue. He tells us about La Montagne des Singes on the same itinerary and offers not to charge the kid for the trip.

20 minutes latter we are there, meeting the loveliest creatures. Sorry, Haut Koenigsbourg you lost it to monkeys this time. Without even a battle 😉

Time spent there was lovely: we fed them with pop corn distributed by the park’s employees

watched baby monkeys playing

witnessed a love story

and learned how to stay zen even when surrounded by hoards of curios visitors