Your Child in English Class


Bilingual children are amazing and children are like sponges that can absorb another language easily.  By having a parent, that speaks another language other than Italian is a wonderful opportunity for your child.  However, what happens when they go to a public school and learn their home language with teachers that really do not have the qualifications of teaching another language?

Here is my story.  I have two children both speak, read, and understand really well, American English (yes it is different then British English).  During their years of Elementary, it was interesting to say the least to watch what would happen in their classes of English.  During this time, the Math teachers having to take over the task of teaching English replaced the English teachers.  From the start, my oldest was very strong in his English.  He got to the point where he was almost teaching the class. The teacher was always checking with him and relying on him for the words she was not sure she was pronouncing correctly or the right word in a sentence she was creating. She did not mind that he was using American words or that he spoke American. She also did not correct him when he would use the American spelling instead of the British spelling.   He did not mind this but other bilingual children might have a problem being singled out to help the teacher.

My second child, born here, did not have such the understanding teacher and at first had to learn English by a cd in class.  The teacher wanted the children to repeat the words exactly with the British accent (an Italian speaking British on the cd) that was being heard.  I have horror flash backs when I had to learn Spanish in High school that way.  It was horrible trying to follow the speaker on a cd and not being able to stop it or repeat it to follow. One day he came home in tears because the teacher said he was not pronouncing “blue jeans” correctly.  The “u” in British has a different accent then in American English.   Unfortunately, we had to tell him that he needs to try his best and to follow what the teacher is teaching.  In other words if she wants British he needs to do it in British.  That teacher left and another teacher came that taught more like my first child’s teacher.  She was more understanding to the American and British differences, yet both are English. Now in middle school and the teacher is teaching the British “u” again.  She is telling the children that the British “u” is pronounced like the Italian “a” and that the word “us” is pronounced like “ass”.  Now my child came home telling me that he needs to say “ass” for “us”.  Now I am envisioning my child in the US going around saying that and being laughed at.  I know that there is an accent on the “u” but I do not think it is the sound of “a” in Italian.

What stories do you have of your child learning English or even another home language in their classes at school?

How to Make Vanilla Extract

Look at that lovely color
Look at that lovely color

I love to bake and one thing I need a lot of is Vanilla Extract.  Here you can find vanilla in tiny glass vials but it is just not the same as home.  The powder sugar and baking powder can also have some added vanilla but it is just not like what I was used to using.  So I decided to make my own vanilla extract.  It is so easy and simple I should have done it when I was living at home in the US.

You need 200 ml or so jar, for that size 5 vanilla beans, and alcohol (I used vodka).  Take the beans cut to fit the jar and slice open. Place in the jar.  Then add the alcohol.  Shake well and store in a cool dark place.  Every week for a month shake the jar to mix.  Then after about 2 months you will smell the lovely aroma of vanilla.  You can start using at this point but the longer it sits the better.  You just keep filling the jar with bean pods (left over from using the seeds) and vodka to top off.  You do not have to remove the old beans until it is so filled with pods.  Very easy and the taste of real vanilla extract.

My next to make and see how well it works is vanilla paste.  I am going to try this recipe.

Homemade Vanilla Paste : by

Obstetrician Doctors Here and Weight Gain


So why is it that the Obstetrician doctors here have big issues with weight gain during pregnancy for expat moms?  I am not talking weight gain above the standards of other countries. Here you can find an example of what doctors follow in the US for standards of weight gain during pregnancy. click here  In Firenze, I am finding many expat mothers (myself included) built with a broad structure, because of our genetics, are being treated on a weight scale as some small Italian women.  I am not trying to be stereotypical or racist, but genetics in different cultures do create different size women.  The standards for them are going to be different then an average Italian woman.  I see it already in the cloth sizes, where I have to get many of my clothes from the UK because the sizes here are disproportionately small and short.

I had a healthy pregnancy with my first child. I gained a good amount of weight (40 lbs. (20kg) by the end of my pregnancy) most water and baby (my boy was 10.4lbs (5kgs)) when born. This was 2 weeks after due date.  A very big baby but not because I was gaining weight. My sugar levels were fine with my first and no problems at all during pregnancy.  Now my second, conceived and born here also was a big baby (9.5lbs (4.9kg)). The first doctor I went to in the public system was going off about my weight gain at the end of first trimester.  I was starting my second trimester and I was showing quickly already.  I knew I was doing the same as my first child. I knew that I felt good and my blood work was normal as well.  Therefore, I switched doctors to a private doctor that took into consideration and looked at my levels of weight etc. from my first pregnancy.  As long as I stayed like my first pregnancy and blood work and tests came back normal; then all was OK.  In fact, I delivered a healthy baby without problems.  It was another C-section but that was because my first was born by C-section.  I was not allowed to go natural again after one C-section.

Anyway, did any of you have issues with doctors and weight in pregnancy here?


Chicken in a Pasta Dish in Tuscany

WP_20160527_19_06_52_ProOk, please prove me wrong, but I searched and searched for an authentic Tuscan pasta dish using chicken.  I am not talking more modern dishes because of dietary changes, but more true authentic dishes.  Of course there is roasted chicken, chicken and sage and more,  but not on pasta.  Why was this?  Chicken had to be cheaper then beef in the war.  I must be missing something.  If someone knows the answer or a dish please comment below.

English Speaking Babysitters

I am writing this quick note to mention that our Network is not a babysitting service and we do not organize or give out names for babysitters.   We do not offer this because we are not qualified to screen those saying they want to babysit and for the safety of your child we will not take on that responsibility.  So please do not email asking if we know of an English speaking Babysitter.

A life of an Expat: Identity

An Expat, definition is living in another country where you did not grow up.  Why did I change the definition some, from say Wikipedia?  Because they use the term from where you have citizenship.  An example in disagreement with that definition is; say you were born in one country, but never knew it because you moved at the age of 1 year and never really grew up living enough of your life to feel a sense of home.   That is why I use where you grew up.  The place where you spent most of your life feeling at home before you moved to another country to reside is how I will define expat in my posts.



Being an expat gives many different stresses such as living with a different culture, different language, finding jobs and so much more.  One big stress comes from finding an identity.  The one you had starts to become lost.  Especially if you have lived in the new country for many years.  You start to lose sight as to the person you were and now are.   You search for that balance in identity to continue this new changed life in the new country.

Part of this identity loss comes at not knowing where you are from.  You get this question a lot when out socializing. The author of Writer In Florence states this really well in her article Where are you from?    My favorite quote from this post is:

I don’t know where I’m from. Places have lost meaning somehow and people replaced the meaning of the place. I should probably say I am from my home country, but all my ties have been cut, leaving only a trail of humans whom I care for dearly behind. Or maybe I should say I am from the country where my daughter was born, but again my love for this country, this city, has changed throughout time and again replaced by the humans who are enriching my life. Funny thing is those humans aren’t from here either. So where are we all from? Do we have a country, a city, a street, anything?

Finding your identity is hard and even frustrating, especially when it comes to those horrible things called taxes.  Each country tries to stipulate what each citizen is even if you are living in another country and paying taxes.  If you are a US citizen, you are always a citizen even if living outside and in another country.  You are a citizen even if you were born to an US citizen and never even stepped foot in the US.  Therefore, you are required to pay taxes even if you are paying taxes in the country you are residing.  However, does that make you really an American even if you have citizenship? You have not lived there for 15 years and have adapted a new way of living that is far from what you were used to living in the US.  Visiting a month or so every year, to your country of birth or where you grew up; does not look the same or feel the same as when you spent those years.

You start to look at where you reside as your home.  This is where your friends are that you socialize with, where you feel most comfortable to call your home.  Nevertheless, you will celebrate holidays not recognized by the residing country.  You do this because you believe deeply in those holidays, yet those holidays are confusing to your friends and even some family members.  You try to find that balance of culture you loved from home and incorporating it into your life in the new country.  Leaving you with a mixed culture and a feeling that you do not really belong to one or the other place. This is just one of the many problems expats have trying to keep themselves from one country while residing in another.

So have you found your identity?  Do you know how to answer that question of where are you from?  Better yet, the question of where do you feel is your home?


Paolo Molino Psycotherapist of Gestalt Psychology

Paolo molinoPaolo Molino has been helping the Expat community for years. He is a psychotherapist of Gestalt psychology. He is also a family man with his wife and two children.

What is Gestalt?  According to Wikipedia:

Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws of our ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world.

He expertise covers many areas such as:

  • Affection disorders (depression,emotional dependence )
  • Personality disorders ( borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder , antisocial personality disorders)
  • Parenting Roles (coaching and support)
  • Sexuality related problems (male and female)
  • Relational problems (couple’s or family’s)
  • Family constellations (group or individual session)
  • Eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia)

Ask Paolo logoHe also helps us out with our As Paolo Section which is starting up again.  If you have any questions about different cultural relationships, dealing with being away from family,  children behavior as some examples.  Just click the link  Submit your questions.

If you need to contact him directly for an appointment here is his information:

Dr. Paolo Molino, psychotherapist,
Piazza Cesare Beccaria Area, Firenze.
Cell 331-1064726