Saturday, January 30, 2016

How was school today?

When I ask my kids "How was school today?" The answer is monosyllable: "good" or "interesting" are usually the words used to keep me happy but this does not tell me a lot.

I want to KNOW!

So here is a list of more engaging questions to ask about school. They aren’t perfect but they allow for conversation openers and some might lead to interesting dialogues OR hilarious answers. I definitely catch a few insights into how my kids think and feel about their time at school.

These questions are designed to give kids a non-threatening way to express their thoughts and open the door for you to have a discussion to ask why, potentially uncovering issues you didn’t know about before. The answers you get can be really surprising.

Sometimes we just need to figure out the right kind of questions to ask our children. Remember, some questions may work better than others for your kids .

1.  What was the best thing that happened at school today?  (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)

2.  Tell me something that made you laugh today?

3.  If you could choose who would you like to sit by in class?  (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class?  Why?)

4.  Where is the coolest place at the school?

5.  Tell me a weird word that you heard today.  (Or something weird that someone said.)

6.  If I called your teacher tonight what would she tell me about you?

7.  How did you help somebody today?

8.  How did somebody help you today?

9.  Tell me one thing that you learned today.

10.  When were you the happiest today?

11.  When were you bored today?

12.  If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed up someone who would you want them to take?

13.  Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?

14.  Tell me something good that happened today.

15.  What word did your teacher say most today?

16.  What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?

17.  What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?

18.  Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?

19.  Where do you play the most at recess?

20.  Who is the funniest person in your class?  Why is he/she so funny?

21.  What was your favorite part of lunch?

22.  If you got to be the teacher tomorrow what would you do?

23.  Is there anyone in your class that needs a time out?

24.  If you could switch seats with anyone in the class who would you trade with?  Why?

25.  Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

English Movie night at Cinema Lux

Did you know there is an English Film Club in Lugano and that they are into their 36th season?

They offer a programme of films at the Cinema LUX in Massagno and hope the selection of different genres will appeal to the long-standing members as well as new ones.

The English Film Club usually tries to include some lesser known films along with the usual box-office successes. The films are all shown in English.

The price for a season ticket is CHF 60.- which covers the viewing of 10 films. The films usually  begin at 6:15 P.M

For more information contact them here via mail or to buy tickets call the Cinema LUX directly at 091/967'30'39.

Tomorrow's featured film is called Still Alice directed by Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland
Drama | USA, France | 2014 | 101'
With Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart

Alice Howland is a renowned linguistics professor happily married with three grown children. All that begins to change when she strangely starts to forget words and then more. When her doctor diagnoses her with Early-onset Alzheimer's Disease, Alice and her family's lives face a harrowing challenge as this terminal degenerative neurological ailment slowly progresses to an inevitable conclusion they all dread. Along the way, Alice struggles to not only to fight the inner decay, but to make the most of her remaining time to find the love and peace to make simply living worthwhile.

A movie definitely worth watching!

Venue: English Film Club featuring the film "Still Alice"
Where: Cinema Lux, Via Giuseppe Motta 61, 6900 Lugano
Date: Friday, January 29th, 2016
Time: 18:15

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ticino and the Mystery of Swiss Identity

Renowned historian Jonathan Steinberg is coming to Franklin University to present the revised and completely updated third edition of "Why Switzerland?", his classic account of Switzerland's unique political and economic system.

This third edition tries to test the flexibility of the Swiss way of politics in the globalized world, social media, the huge expansion of money in world circulation and the vast tsunamis of capital which threaten to swamp it. Can the complex machinery that has maintained Swiss institutions for centuries survive globalization, neo-liberalism and mass migration from poor countries to rich ones?

Prof Steinberg's lecture will focus specifically on Ticino and why the Canton has always chosen to remain Swiss whenever it has been tempted by events around it - especially in Northern Italy.

This is an opportunity not to be missed. A reception and a book signing will follow after the lecture.

Venue: "Ticino and the Mystery of Swiss Identity" by Johan Steinberg
Where: Franklin University Switzerland, Nielsen Auditorium, Via Ponte Tresa 29, 6924 Sorengo
Date: Tuesday, February 2, 2015
Time: 7:00pm

Monday, January 25, 2016

Spaghetti and Meatball muffins recipe

How about turning an Italian dish into an American treat that your kids will love? My Neapolitan husband claims the idea of spaghetti and meatballs in itself is an American invention therefore... at this point... anything goes. YEHAY!

Follow this simple recipe for super-cool Spaghetti & Meatball muffins:

170g spaghetti
1½ tablespoon olive oil
1½ cups parmesan cheese, grated
1½ cups tomato based pasta sauce
12 cooked meatballs
½ cup basil, roughly chopped
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 190C.
1.) Cook spaghetti NOT following packet directions, drain when very AL DENTE and allow to cool.
2.) Spray 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
3.) Pour 1 cup cheese into spaghetti pan and toss.
3b) You might wish to add an egg for the nests to better stick together.
4.) Divide spaghetti between the 12 muffin cups, arranging spaghetti to make a nest.
5.) Top each nest with 1 tablespoon of pasta sauce, a meatball, another tablespoon pasta sauce.
6.) Sprinkle each with parmesan cheese.
7.) Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes or until cheese has melted.
8.) Cool slightly before eating, garnish with a chopped basil.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Swiss Welcome!

This is your chance to welcome visitors from around the world to Switzerland!

Show them your favourite side of Switzerland and, as one of 20 hosts, win plane tickets for up to 4 people to an international destination of your choice plus CHF 1000 spending money.

Tell Swiss - yes, the airline company - why you want to show your favourite side of Switzerland to guests from around the world.

Swiss will be welcoming some very special visitors in March – winners of the SWISS Welcome competition, coming from 17 different countries. Not only could you get to show these visitors your wonderful country and your own favourite side of Switzerland, but you will also have a chance of winning a holiday package.

How would you welcome visitors to Switzerland, and which part of the country would you show them over a weekend?

Go ahead and submit your entry right now with photos, text and – if you want to – a short film lasting approx. one minute.

Please send any queries about the competition to or apply online here:

Don't forget: try to get as many votes as possible before the voting phase closes at 11.59 pm on the 31st of January 2016 by making friends aware of your profile.

Good luck and keep us posted so we can vote for you!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Manifesto of a DOER

The idea is a simple one. That people who Do things, can inspire the rest of us to go and Do things too. So each year, the DO Lectures invite a set of people to come and tell them what they Do.

In 2008, The DO Lectures was born, in an inexplicable cross section between a festival and a conference. There were no name badges, no bad coffee and impersonal, draughty lecture halls. Instead, an intimate number of speakers and attendees gathered under canvas on the west coast of Wales and shared the whole three day experience as a community. They ate together, camped together, shared a beer around a fire as the sun went down together.

Every year since, DO has stuck to the same formula: ideas + energy = change.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Workshop: Turning the Gears of Confidence

Confidence is a skill.

Feeling inspired? Interested in a workshop? Maria-José Horstkamp, Ambassador of InterNations, offers a workshop with specific, concrete steps to build self confidence and raise self-esteem.

Just visualize entering 2016 in the right mindset, empowered to reach your potential and make powerful positive changes in your life. No more hiding, no more insecurities, no more excuses.

Well, this is your opportunity. Join Maria-José for an interesting evening at the Franklin University with the following agenda:

- The Foundation of Confidence
- Mindset
- Group Activities
- Light refreshment

Venue: Turning the gears of Confidence workshop
Place: Franklin University Switzerland, Via Ponte Tresa 29, Sorengo
Date: Monday, January 25, 2016
Time: 6:45 PM to 9:00 PM
Price: CHF 35.-
Price includes Course, material + light refreshments

Please confirm attendance with Maria-José Horstkamp by e-mailing:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

You could be Switzerland's face abroad!

To all the Swiss abroad, listen up!

In 2013, there were 730'000 Swiss nationals living abroad. Referred to as the ‘Fifth Switzerland’, the expatriate community makes up around one-tenth of the total Swiss population. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) - who are in charge of promoting Switzerland's image abroad - wish to show the world who our country's ambassadors are. Indeed, you might be the face of Switzerland abroad.

The FDFA ,in collaboration with the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad, will publish a book showcasing 101 Swiss nationals who live or have lived abroad. The aim is to highlight the importance of the Swiss community abroad, its variety and the role its members play in the life of our country and of their countries of adoption.

They need you to help them create this book. If you would like to participate, please refer to this factsheet and reply (in the language of your choice) to four of the six questions. Please also send in four passport photos of yourself, which they will use to illustrate the book.

Deadline is January 31st, 2016 if you would like to participate.

For further information, please contact Daniel Menichini at

Let's make this project a success!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Kids talking politics

Jimmy Kimmel is an American television host, producer, writer, comedian, voice actor, musician and radio personality. He is the host of a late-night talk show.

In this video introduction he states our best hope for more equality is our next generation, and children are our future, whether we like it or not. Jimmy wondered if they might have a more even-handed take on gender discrimination, so he assembled a small group of youngsters to sit down for a chat about gender and politics featuring a special appearance. Here is how it went...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fun Fact Calendar 2016

Here is a calendar I print out for my kids every year. We pick and choose the events and traditions that we like and decide how to celebrate them. Popcorn Day is a big hit as is International Childrens' book Day. Did you know there was a Jelly Bean Day in April? And a Doughnut Day in June? We go from World Ocean Day to World Population Day. Personally, I love International Blog Day on August 31st. Too bad the Nutella Day is not included but we know when THAT is: February 5th!

To discover an interactive version click here: 


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

An interpretation of La Befana

The Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated January 6th with a national holiday in Italy as well as Ticino, and the tradition of La Befana are a big part of Christmas celebrations. Epiphany commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing gifts for Baby Jesus.

La Befana has been an Italian tradition since the XIII century and comes from Christian legend rather than popular culture. It is the tale of a witch known as La Befana who arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5 and fills the stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones.

According to the legend, the night before the Wise Men arrived at the manger they stopped at the shack of an old woman to ask directions. They invited her to come along but she replied that she was too busy. Then a shepherd asked her to join him but again she refused. Later that night, she saw a great light in the sky and decided to join the Wise Men and the shepherd bearing gifts that had belonged to her child who had died.

She got lost and never found the manger.

Now La Befana flies around on her broomstick each year on the 11th night, bringing gifts to children in hopes that she might find the Baby Jesus. Children hang their stockings on the evening of January 5 awaiting the visit of La Befana.

So what did La Befana bring you this year? Sweeties or Coal?

La Befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
col vestito alla romana:
Viva viva la Befana!
La befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
porta un sacco pien di doni
da regalare ai bimbi buoni
La befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
viene e bussa alla tua porta
sai tu dirmi che ti porta?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

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