Archive for October, 2007

Halloween

Old Navy CostumeAs an American living in London, I don’t usually cling defiantly to my roots and flaunt my “American-ness”.  It’s not that I’m ashamed. It’s more like I’m trying to fit in among the general (more reserved) British public.

But today is an exception.  Today is Halloween! The fantastic American (Hallmark) Holiday where every American child dresses up and goes out “trick-or-treating”.   (Yes, the Brits have made a respectable go of catching on to the American tradition, but it’s simply not the same here). 

In America, you don’t have to ask where the trick-or-treating neighborhood is; every neighborhood is a trick-or-treater’s paradise: houses decorated, pumpkins lit, bowls of candy waiting for little hands to dig in.

But alas, it is Halloween and we are NOT in America! We are in London. So, what do you do with your two children on this fine day?

First: You order your costumes from the states. (I spent hours searching on-line for something decent in this country, and I simply can’t find anything).  The best costumes (for children under 5) are found at www.oldnavy.com.  They are cheap (especially if you get them in September for surprisingly huge discounts) and they are well-made, cozy, and oh-so cute! (See photo above).

Secondly: You take your children over to the lovely Kensington neighborhoods where the Americans (and obliging British) live.  Head to Palace Gardens Terrace (and the surrounding streets) or Upper Phillimore Gardens (and the surrounding neighborhood).  Nearly every house will have their lights on and decorations up!

My two boys both have terrible head-colds, and what they DON’T need is to spend two hours out in the cold.  But we are American, after all, and we will be there tonight!

Happy Halloween!

Courtney’s Icon -Courtney in London

October 31, 2007 at 3:54 pm 2 comments

Albert.

We all know it: supermarket shopping in London is GREAT because, well, you don’t have to leave the house to do it! 

Sitting on the couch in sweatpants, without make-up or hair-do, but with top-secret glasses (-5.5), drinking red wine, white beer, or whatever I fancy, I could surf (don’t you love that word-sounds like you’re burning calories on the go!) to www.ocado.com and order everything our little family needs and more, comme-il-faut organic, delivered by handsome men right to the kitchen and seemingly without cost.
(The system remembered our Amex number, so not only is there no need to go through the hassle of paying – just press next-next-next and it’s done! – but hurray, halfway the year hubby congratulates me on spending the colossal amount needed for that free flight with BA! A reward for grocery shopping! Ain’t we clever! NY here we come! All shopping half price across the ocean! Pay with Amex! Earn free flights!)

Alas, after London bankrupted us, we decided to try our luck back in hometown Amsterdam. It’s been seven years since we last lived in the Netherlands. And… things have changed. Upscale supermarket ‘Albert Hein’ now does the Ocado thing. Yes, delivery right to your kitchen! OK, there is a small delivery fee (around 6 euros), but how much would driving to the supermarket be in gas (hypothetically spoken of course, since we haven’t bought a car yet).

So, after three live trips to the supermarket last week, where, besides going crazy over the amount of great cheese, Zwitsal, Drop, cute Miffy cookies etc., I also went insane from my two screaming children in the Phil&Ted (and so did the rest of Albert Hein). So I decided last Saturday to try out Albert (www.albert.nl).

And today he came… (more…)

October 31, 2007 at 10:38 am Leave a comment

Different country, different medical treatments…

I spent the morning at the hospital where I’ll give birth in about 4 weeks. I went because I had to do the pre-partum plus pre-surgery routine. This involved many blood tests, swabs and an ecg!

When I tell them that I have previously given birth by caesarian without doing any of this stuff, they don’t believe me. After I add that I gave birth in England, they seem relieved, as if it assured them that the Italian system is somehow better.

The fact that I gave birth in one of the best private hospitals in the UK (the Portland Hospital) should remove any suspicion that the hospital was trying to save money.  (My insurance and I were paying everything they deemed necessary). So why such a big difference?

Another curious difference between UK practice and Italian (or French or Belgian … ) is the need for internal examination. Here, every medical appointment involves one, but in London, I gave birth without having any at all!

-Michela in Milan

Michela’s Icon

October 31, 2007 at 10:24 am 2 comments

birth announcement

I normally do not go to the office on friday and work from home… but today I met up with one of my best friends who is an architect and we sat down and designed the birth announcement for the second one! (by the way, she’ll be here in a month time… scary and exciting)!

I’m really happy with the outcome, but you’ll have to wait to see it!

We got inspired (a lot) from metrobabycards which is a v.cool American website for all sorts of baby cards.

Why don’t we get these sort of nice things in Italy?

-Michela in Milan

Michela’s Icon

October 26, 2007 at 9:11 pm Leave a comment

Amsterdam! Dah… Dishwashing!

Can you believe it? This morning I spent at least 30 minutes of my very valuable 2KAAT time (2 kids are asleep time) on typing this/our first blog entry ever, and, of course, to make a long story short – I lost everything when I tried to include a hyperlink in the post. So far for trying to be a nerd!

Anyway, this was my first day alone (well, as far as alone goes with an 8-month-old baby boy and a 2 1/2 year-old daughter). Meaning – it was hubby’s first day at work here in Amsterdam. (He’s now sitting on his favourite spot playing with his new blackberry and laptop – thank god it’s a laptop – I keep hearing ringtones from that little room)!

I spent most of the day cleaning up our (well, Frank and Silke’s) little flat – kids in front of Baby Einstein – which is why I initially wanted to write something about a product I dearly miss (besides my dishwasher): my Dishmatique Scourer Washing Up Liquid Dispenser. It’s a truly brilliant invention Courtney got me hooked on about 2 years ago, and for some strange reason it can only be purchased in the UK. And mine is at the moment tucked away in one of our many moving boxes waiting for our new Dutch p(a)lace! Aaargh!
dishmatique.jpg

What it is? OK, it’s basically just a dishwashing sponge. But it has a reservoir that holds the dishwashing liquid and dispenses it as you wash! Brilliant! You can buy replacement heads that come in green and white – I prefer the green ones.

My mum is hooked as well, she has brought them with her to France and Belgium and has given them to all her sisters here in Holland. Because, as I said, it doesn’t seem to exist on the continent!

So I was nearly going to ask one of my London based girlfriends to send over a Dishmatique with a life supply of replacement heads, until I found this site:
British Sweet Shop
WoW! Michela, isn’t this GREAT? Not only do these people sell Dishmatique, they also sell our favourite organic baby food like Plum Baby, Hipp, even Ella’s Kitchen! For only 8 pounds you can shop for up to 30 kilo’s of British food and they will send it right to my doorstep here in Amsterdam!! Hurr(a)y!!!

-Esther in Amsterdam

Esther’s Icon

October 25, 2007 at 8:47 am 2 comments


Kids and the City

Four girls in 4 cities. Here they hold an online conversation about life in their city, products they love, and how to balance motherhood and a stylish lifestyle...

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