Monday, November 30, 2015

The Kindness Advent calendar

Even if my kids' favourite Advent calendars are the chocolate ones from Coop supermarket, this doesn't mean I can't add another one this December. She Lives Free has posted a lovely Acts of Kindness countdown to Christmas printable calendar.

Ideally, you'll be holding the door open to a stranger or giving out free hugs more than once a month but maybe doing these acts of kindness consciously might spark the impulse to do more.

And don't forget, you can always modify the acts that don't feel right and replace them with your own. So, go ahead and start making some space on your kitchen fridge to hang up this very sweet Advent calendar.

Happy Advent!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fun facts for Thanksgiving

When it comes to festivities, Thanksgiving is about as American as it gets. Three words – family, food, and football (the US version, that is) sum up the entire celebration.

But while the US famously embraces the holiday today, it might not exist at all had it not been for a group of English separatists who decided to set sail for the New World.

Here are some fun facts about the First Thanksgiving:
- The Plymouth Pilgrims were the first to celebrate the Thanksgiving.
- The Pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to reach North America.
- They sailed on the ship, which was known by the name of 'Mayflower'.
- They celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day at Plymouth, Massachusetts.
- The Wampanoag Indians were the people who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land.
- The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621. - He invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians to the feast.
- The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days.
- Mashed potatoes, pumpkin pies, popcorn, milk, corn on the cob, and cranberries were not foods present on the first Thanksgiving's feast table.
- Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast.
- The pilgrims didn't use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers.

Fun Facts about Thanksgiving today:
- In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations.
- Each year, the average American eats somewhere between 16 - 18 pounds of turkey.
- Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.
- Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States.
- Although, Thanksgiving is widely considered an American holiday, it is also celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada.
- Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, where it is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Teaching my kids about peace

Over the past few days I have found myself having conversations with my children about peace and violence. But just sitting down with a child and explaining the importance of peace is not enough. It’s already a complicated concept to explain, made more difficult by recent happenings of violence and conflict. It is all over TV and social media, yet I'd like to think that the next generation will find a path to a more peaceful future hoping that, as adults, they will be able to change the world step by step.

I wish to share this list I found on the internet about cultivating values to promote the notion of peace in children. Although it seems like a long list, each point is important and we all know the best way to teach our kids is to show them how to do it:

Make sure you set a great example by forgiving them for their own missteps. Teach them the importance of not holding grudges.
Discuss tales of compassion from real life experiences, and demonstrate acts of compassion, for animals and fellow humans.
Help them see the importance of helping those who are at a disadvantage.
Show them that even when they go through a rough patch, tomorrow will be better.
Promote kindness at every opportunity. Explain that acts of kindness feel just as good for the giver as for the recipient.
When they get into trouble, show them understanding. Teach them to understand and have patience with you as well. You all make mistakes, and you love them and they love you, regardless.
Encourage them to nurture friendships with other children from different races, religions, and backgrounds.
Teach them how to work together to reach a common goal. Help them understand that people working together can often create better results than individuals working alone.
Unconditional Love:
As a parent you already love them unconditionally. But make sure they know they are loved and accepted, no matter what—whether they are gay, straight or want to be a rock star for a living someday.
Be open enough with them so they can come to you, trusting they can confide in you completely without getting in trouble. This way, they will grow up believing in people and themselves. Be as honest with them as possible and they will emulate that.
Teach them the importance of sharing the same space, the same room, the same toys, as well as the same planet.
At every chance, show them how respecting others will bring them respect too. Always respect your children in order to set a good example.
Children have to learn early on that every action has a consequence. They must learn to be responsible for their actions and foresee what negative results might develop should they shirk their obligations.
Teach them to try and understand other people’s point of view. Ask them how they’d feel if they were in such circumstances.
Just because they are angry doesn’t mean they should act on it. Talk it out, understand the problem and help them understand that they shouldn’t act on impulse or anger. Violence is not the answer.
Make it a habit to show your children how lucky they are. Teach them to be grateful for their possessions, circumstances, and loved ones.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

IGNITE YOUR FEMALE POWER (Women only seminar)

Join the IWCL Evening group for a talk with American Guest Speaker Erin Marie Godin!

Erin is a leadership and motivational coach who has the ambition to inspire greatness in your life, relationships and business. She is a certified member of the John Maxwell team and will help you cultivate and maintain success through her energetic influence!

She will be covering topics such as:
1. Embracing change and honoring the struggle/progress cycle in life.
2. Tapping into your bravery when faced with “quantum leap” decisions, either big opportunities or situations where you need to choose – stay or leave.
3. Infusing HOPE for a brighter future so women feel empowered and confident in the path they chose. Her mission is to motivate women to intentionally find their strength before a tragedy forces it out of them.

Where: Franklin University, Kalestch Campus, Classroom 1 Via Ponte Tresa 29, 6924 Sorengo
When: Monday, November 30, 2015
Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm            
The seminar is free!

Please write to IWCL Evening Group ( if you wish to join.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Climat change lecture in Lugano

Is the Earth’s atmosphere is changing? Are we are responsible for these changes? What are the consequences of these changes, and what should we do about them? Drawing on materials developed for a course Dr. Reimer teaches at Berkeley, he will be in Lugano at the Franklin University to share  his answers to these questions. This special lecture is entitled "Benvolio Knew It, and Now We Live It: Our Changing Climate".

Dr. Reimer received his bachelor’s degree (with honors) from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and his doctorate from the California Institute of Technology.  In addition to his 170 research publications, Professor Reimer is co-author (with T.M. Duncan) of the introductory text "Chemical Engineering Design and Analysis" (Cambridge University Press, 1998), and the text "Carbon Capture and Sequestration" (with Berend Smit, Curt Oldenburg, Ian Bourg, World Scientific Press, 2013)

Don't miss it!

Venue: Benvolio Knew It, and Now We Live It: Our Changing Climate
Where: Franklin University, Nielsen Auditorium, Via Ponte Tresa 29, 6924 Sorengo
When: Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Time: 6:30pm - 7:30pm
For further info click here: FUS, Lugano

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Never could they have imagined!

posted on Expat with Kids in Paris on Nov 18th, 2015:

Over the past four days there has been an unprecedented outpouring of solidarity coming from all parts of the world. The entire globe has caught the French fever it seems. Our family - as did many Parisian and Expat friends - received heartwarming messages and phone calls from loved ones in the Americas, Europe, and Asia all looking for reassurance that we are well. Never have I experienced such a human outreach where people are trying to connect in order to feel reassured and protected. The Paris attacks have hit very close to home for many people. The world seems to be bonding.

Lugano as well as Madrid's city halls are dressed in blue, white and red, the colours of the French national flag are projected onto the Jet d'Eau fountain in Geneva, the tricolours lit up the Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, the Milanese stepped out in force in a demonstration of solidarity on Saturday afternoon. These are all cities that are close to our hearts since we have called them home over the past 20 years. They have all proven their support by lighting their landmarks and showing they share the country’s defiance.

For the first time, I actually shed a tear listening to an emotional and powerful rendition of  La Marseillaise being sung during a friendly football match between England and France. The Wembley stadium had turned into what seemed "Le Stade de France" for an evening. The French anthem has become the ultimate symbol of solidarity, a way for everyone in the world, no matter whether they speak French or not, to express their unity with Paris.

I bet the Parisian never knew how much the world cares about them! I follow the news on Swiss, US, British and French national channels to better understand the image as well as the message the International media is projecting outside of these National borders. As I let the information sink in, I ask myself: "Did the Parisians ever think the world would reach out to them in such an unconditional, compassionate way?"  

However, this is not about a country it is about humanity. All of a sudden, our daily routine has come to a grinding halt and we have been forced to reflect hard and deep about the freedom we enjoy, to think about the rights and the values we live by. It is time to reclaim these beliefs but it has become a great deal harder as we realize that they are no longer to be taken for granted. The French are the first to defend these rights today with the reassurance that the world is standing right behind them.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Peace for Paris but what do I tell my kids?

The evening started with a lovely dinner at a friend's house. We were enjoying our wine and were happy to reunite as old friends do on a Friday night in Paris. While we are licking our fingers over a Strawberry Pavlova one of our teenage boys comes into the dining room looking very worried. He had received a twitter... a twitter and a second later... and the world had taken a drastic change for the worse.

We turned on the TV to discover that confusion reigns. One, two, three or more attacks had happened the other side of the city. There was talk of hostages and we are all thinking... please, not again! Scenes of the January attack come flooding back immediately.

A phone call home to check on the kids and to confirm that they are safe.  Another minute for the situation to sink in. It seems surreal as a creeping, familiar feeling of having lived though this anguish not so long ago overcomes me.

Terrible attacks have hit our city. It is a very, very sad day for Paris. The uncertainty and the feeling of helplessness to defend ourselves leads to fear. Now, you can either give in to this fear or defy it. It depends on your personality, culture and attitude, I suppose. Everyone reacts as best they can.

However, the media are producing headlines that can't be helping the current situation of nationwide emotional instability. I have turned the TV off for a while. We cannot let ourselves descend onto the assailant's level. We are not at war! We are a civilized country. We have values, believes and a constitution that prevents us from descending into chaos.

Going for my morning run, I find the ho-bos sitting on their usual corner, the cafés are open as are the local supermarkets. There is less traffic but I am queuing at the boulangerie just like every Saturday morning. Life goes on. People are exchanging knowing looks but the Parisian who ventured out of the house today are sending a message. A devastating tragedy has occurred but we need to "faire face" and stand united and strong against this threat.

As I walk home carrying my shopping, I can hear a familiar tune and I turn my head. All the way down the road a four year old boy is singing "La Marseillaise" at the top of his lungs for everyone to hear while his Dad is pushing his stroller. That is what I will tell my kids: Stand up for your rights and show solidarity. Sing "La Marseillaise".

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Lugano's biggest Family Fun Fair 2015

It will be the biggest family fun fair ever organised in Lugano. No matter if you are expat, local or just visiting the area. This is an event NOT to be missed. Meet new people, make new contacts, discover new tastes and sounds, encounter coaches, teachers, artists, writers and entrepreneurs of all sorts. Who knows you might make a new friend or two? Spread the word and bring your friends along too.

On the day be entertained by: 
International School of Ticino ongoing activities
Kids' Klub offering ongoing face painting, bouncing castle and the possibility to discover and try
instruments under the supervision of wonderful music teachers
Daniela Puggioni kids craft:
Kelly Fisher

Meet, Sample or Buy:
Egle Berruti Photography
JEUNESSE Sparkling:
All For Kids Catalog
Nice Jewerly
Benefit: Jewelry
ACCD IWCL charity 2015

Check out the food court: 
Indulge in Asian Fusion delights ( Ogle over
Columbian food & Cupcakes and sweet ( Enjoy homemade sandwiches & more by St. Edwards Church ( and take home some Indian food.

Last minute tip:
If you contact Norma from Taste of America and order beforehand, they'll bring the products to the fair. You'll have cans of Pumpkin Pie Mix and bags of Cranberries just in time for Thanksgiving!

Generously the International School of Ticino and many exhibitors are offering special discounts to IWCL members.

Venue: Family Fun Fair 2015
Where: Hotel Pestalozzi, Piazza Indipendenza 9, 6900 Lugano
When: Sunday, November 22nd, 2015
Time: 11:00 to 17:00

If you want to know more please write to

Monday, November 9, 2015

Raising bilingual children infogram

I love infograms and I am a strong supporter of bilingualism, trilingualism even quadrilingualism! (Never had to write that word before!?!)

This infographic from ULearn is aimed at increasing awareness on the benefits of raising bilingual children, and looks at some of the tried and tested methods used by many families. Improving language skills at any stage in life is always a good idea, wouldn't you agree?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A family day at the EXPO 2015

The Universal Exhibition in Milano was reason enough for me to take the kids out of school for a day and travel to Italy hoping we'd enjoy an unforgettable experience. It sure was memorable but not entirely as expected.

Having bought the tickets online a year ago, reserved a place in the parking garage, even booked entry vouchers for the Swiss stand, I felt I was ready to face the humongous site showcasing more than 140 participating countries. Each pavilion was asked to present - through some mind-googling technology at times - a concrete answer to a vital need: being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium.

I might be biased but I do feel the Swiss managed to visually and emotional defend their case. They were by the way, the first country to join the Expo Milano 2015.

Its pavilion was made up of four towers, full of local food products which the visitor could take away. But there was a limit to the resources available, to exceed that limit meant depriving other visitors of the same opportunities.

Thanks to the modularity of the structure, the platform on which the towers stand is lowered as they are emptied, allowing everyone to see for themselves their own habits of consumption. The project, which focuses on the availability and distribution of food resources in the world, invites visitors to reflect on their behavior as consumers.

Apart from curing our home-sickness, however, we had to fight the hoards of visitors. It started at the parking house where we queued to find a place, despite the reservation. We were asked to take the shuttle to the main exhibition entrance, walked across some bridges for another 10 minutes, stood patiently though the security check and when the finally the gates opened in front of us (about 50 minutes after having driven onto the site) we felt like we had entered an International Disney Land!

Where to start? Argentina was Expat boys natural answer, he was born there. 50 minutes of queuing for a very disappointing slide show. Spain's slideshow was slightly more entertaining and only 20 minutes of waiting in line. Guess what? Haiti, Venezuela and Kenya had no queues. We skipped Japan's stunning pavilion, apparently 6 hours of patience was required for that visit. No way!

The US contingency which was trying to sell placemats, mugs and t-shirts was very disappointing, especially since their entrance looked to be the grandest one of all. The kids could not even get excited about the food trucks out the back given we were - after all - in Italy!

Qatar's building tempted us with images of 1001 Nights and after standing in line under the pouring rain for 40 minutes the presentation of a typical local feast made out of some sort of plastic did not live up to our expectations.

So, the message about respecting the planet and its food sustainability did get lost in whirlwind of country-hoping. Tourist promotion would be a more adapt term. The crowds were un-imaginable. Picture Heathrow airport at Christmas then imagine it 10 times worse. The day we visited the Expo we were 4 of 178'000 battling our way through the crowds from 12:00 to 21:00! The next day, the event hit a record number of 272'000 visitors!!!!

The best part in the kids opinion was the food! We enjoyed many different regional delicacies and despite the queues for drink and food, once we found a little spot in the sun, we had a smashing time eating our way through the continents!

It's a challenge!

Going with the flow...

Argentina's pavilion looked very promising.

Spanish creativity

Guess what? The auditorium is PiNk!

Casa de Italia: 3 hours of queue. Not happening!

Impressive architecture...

... everywhere you turn.

American Food 2.0 ???

Welcome to Switzerland

It's all about sharing

Quantities are calculated to last for the entire 6 month of the exhibit...
... IF every visitor only helps himself to one portion!?!

The last two cartons of dried apples...

... which are rapidly diminishing!

 If I share with my daughter, the portion of apples might last another 52 days. 
Sadly, the apples lasted only additional two days!

Switzerland is rich in natural water thanks to its many mountain springs.

Expat girl was inspired by the Swiss pavillon

 Hitting the crowds AGAIN!!!

A well kept secret: Haiti!

Qatar from the outside looked much more promising than...

... from the inside!

The French pavilion was a nice surprise: creative and welcoming. 

The Dutch had no budget for a pavilion so a backstreet food market was mounted
which totally felt like Little Amsterdam: good job!

The tree of life granted a well deserved break from all the chaos.

 We ended the day with a well deserved Neapolitan dessert: la sfogliatella!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Origins of All Saint's Day

"Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower, We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind."
William Wordsworth

November comes from the Latin word "novem" which means nine. It was originally the ninth month of the year in the Roman calendar which began with March. When January and February were added to the Roman calendar, November became the eleventh month of the Gregorian calendar. November is one of the four months that has thirty days.

All Saints' Day, often shortened to All Saints, is a solemnity celebrated on November 1st by parts of Western Christianity, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity, in honour of all the saints, known and unknown.

All Saints Day, the day on which Catholics celebrate all the saints, known and unknown, is a surprisingly old feast. It arose out of the Christian tradition of celebrating the martyrdom of saints on the anniversary of their martyrdom. When martyrdoms increased during the persecutions of the late Roman Empire, local dioceses instituted a common feast day in order to ensure that all martyrs were properly honoured.

The current date of November 1 was instituted by Pope Gregory III (731-741), when he consecrated a chapel to all the martyrs in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and ordered an annual celebration. This celebration was originally confined to the diocese of Rome, but Pope Gregory IV (827-844) extended the feast to the entire Church and ordered it to be celebrated on November 1.

The vigil or eve of the feast, October 31, is commonly known as All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. Despite concerns among some Christians (including some Catholics) in recent years about the "pagan origins" of Halloween, the vigil was celebrated from the beginning—long before Irish practices, stripped of their pagan origins (just as the Christmas tree was stripped of similar connotations), were incorporated into popular celebrations of the feast.
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