Tag Archives: FMs4Ms

Dominique Coindre: Working Mom Stories

Dominique Coindre, a French Canadian with many degrees, chose to change careers so she could start a family by adopting her beautiful daughter. She wanted to explore the world and travel, giving her now 10-year-old daughter opportunities she could cherish. Being a translator and a single mom has given her the bases to pursue this dream of travel.  At times, it can be tough being a single mom in a new country, but she takes this with determination and passion. She continues to show her daughter that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. Dominique’s story is an inspiration to many single moms out there who are trying to live their dream of building a life in Italy.

At the age of 44, Dominique became a single mom when she adopted her “snow girl”, from Kazakhstan, in 2009. Her life with her daughter is made of the usual child raising difficulties, as for all mothers out there, but “Seeing her smile, seeing her becoming her own person, how she is starting to think on her own with the right values, makes me proud of her, and what I have accomplished so far with her.” Dominique had always envisioned “”to share” the world with her daughter, and living in Italy became of the plan”. They arrived in Italy, with their two cats and entire household, two years ago, when her daughter was 8 years old.

Dominique states, “It is not easy to be a single mom, because the burden lies on just one pair of shoulders, being in Italy does not change that reality”.  She has no break from parenting and no network to help in raising her child, as many others have with parents and close family members.  “Between work and being a mother, there is not much space for being a woman. I sometimes long to have more time to nurture old interests and develop new ones, but at the same time, I know this is our only time together and is short-lived. Soon enough, perhaps even too soon, she will go off on her own path”.  It is a constant struggle to balance being a single mom, but there is a positive aspect: nothing gets in the way of Dominique’s own version of how to raise her daughter.

When Dominique moved here, she did not have the Italian husband or family to help with settling into life here. She recounts, “I was psychologically prepared for the bureaucratic hurdles, but still found it all very daunting. The language barrier, of course, did not help, though I had some proficiency with Italian prior to moving. Simple things such as transferring the phone line, water supply, electricity, gas, to my name, getting the Internet, became protracted exercises in patience (and in  frustration…)”  The astounding amount of paperwork to get permission for her and her daughter to stay in Italy was confounding.  She recalls, “It was very tiring, if not exhausting” and this tortuous bureaucracy might well be a major factor in her future decision on whether to stay or leave Italy.

However, because of the Italians’ love of children, Dominique and her daughter found it relatively easy to adapt to the way of life here in Italy. Her daughter goes to the International School of Florence, where her main schooling is in English, and learns Italian as a second language. However, the school does not really provide for a social network, and not being able to rely on one certainly would make it harder to adapt. She says this is because of the fact she works from home and lives outside of Florence and therefore it restricts their ability to make closer friends. However, this is well satisfied, by the pleasures of living in the Tuscan hills, among the olive trees, and enjoying that oh so priceless cool breeze in the summer!  No matter what, both mother and daughter are so very happy to discover the country and to learn about the “Italian way of life”.  “That is why we do these things: to learn other ways, see how other people live and think, and this way we broaden our experience and understanding of the world we live in.”

In order to succeed in being a single mom and provide an income, Dominique changed her career from tax lawyer to translator, this way gaining flexibility with her working hours for raising her daughter. She acquired a University degree in translation and slowly started to build her practice. She was fully self-employed by the time she adopted her daughter. “I am bilingual in French and English. I had always done some translation work at various work places, so it sort of fell into place. I started with technical and creative writing, and then naturally moved to translating, which proved to be the more practical way of earning a decent living. This is what I did, and still do, which allows me to have the lifestyle I want (that is, working from anywhere in the world).”

Dominique’s practice, which is still in Canada, is her main source of income while living here in Italy. She first got her clients through networking. “I leverage my previous training and experience, that is being a tax lawyer, and therefore specialize in financial, legal, tax, etc. translation. I research the market, finding potential clients both in Canada and internationally, by sending my CV, sometimes having an introduction, most of the times not. There is fortunately a lot of work out there for good translators. Especially in Canada, where French and English are both official languages.” In the near future, Dominique plans to develop her European clientele, enabling her to earn Euros instead of Canadian dollars.  This would help sustain the cost of living here. “I am not sure if it is the living in Italy as much as the living in Tuscany/Florence which makes it harder, financially. It might be easier in other parts of Italy, where the cost of living is not so high.”

Because of Dominique’s schedule being flexible, she is able to participate more in her daughter’s life. She is able to go to school meetings, pick her up and drop her off at school, go to afterschool events, medical visits etc. In order to do so, she has to work longer hours at night, which does limit the time she can interact with other adults.  Because of the conversion from Canadian dollars to Euros, she has to work harder and longer hours to obtain the financial support needed to stay in Italy.  At times, this has “led to overworking, lack of sleep and having very little time to devote to my daughter.  Achieving the opposite effect of my desired outcome. It is at those times that I reconsider this whole decision of self-employment: getting a “regular” job, with stable hours, medical insurance and a retirement fund would have its pluses!”

I asked if she plans to stay here in Italy. She responded, “I don’t think we will stay here for as long as I had initially thought. I wanted to stay here for the rest of my daughter’s primary and secondary schooling but I do not think this will happen. We are going to stay one more year for sure, until she gets to middle school. Then, we shall see. I do like it here, and consider ourselves very lucky indeed to be here. I am not prepared to leave yet. Work opportunities will likely dictate our next move, but I am not there yet. I am not done with Italy. Will I ever leave? Is one really ever ready to leave?”

Homemade Sour Cream

Sour Cream used a lot in many American foods can be hard to find here in Italy.  The Italian name is Panna Acida. I have found it in the COOP grocery store in Firenze, but recently they changed the brand and I really do not like the texture and taste. So now, I have decided to try to make it. I make my own sourdough starter, so this should not be hard.  Right? It is not hard at all just follow the recipe below. Soon you too will have Sour Cream to use in your favorite recipes.

Now many recipes will call for buttermilk and heavy cream. This seems to be the ingredients used for Crème Fraiche.  That is not what I am trying to make here. You can do the same technique with my recipe, adding 1 cup buttermilk to 2 cups cream, and get Crème Fraiche if that is what you are looking to make.

It is simple get a liter size sterile mason jar. The jars need to be sterile because you only want to grow the bacteria needed for making sour cream.  You can sterilize it in your dishwasher hot cycle or boil water and put the jar and lid in the boiling water for 10 minutes.  Look at this video if you are going to use the boil water method.

Video for sterilizing jars

Next, get your ingredients:

  • Sour cream from store (if you cannot find sour cream then lemon for juicing)
  • Whipping Cream in the refrigerated section (panna fresca) ** do not get anything with UHT it will not work.

That is it. Take 2 cups whipping Cream in to the jar, and then add 4 tsp of lemon juice or 1/2 cup of sour cream.  Stir the mixture well and cover with paper towel or cheesecloth secure with rubber band. Place on your counter and let it sit for 24 hours. This time changes if the temperature in the house is too cold or too hot.

You can check on it and give it a stir.  You will see that it will start to thicken.  I also give it a taste and see how sour it tastes. If you want it, sourer you can add a little more lemon.  You can even add a little Total Brand full fat Greek yogurt, which is, what I did and it gave me the right taste I was looking to get.  When you decide it is the texture and taste you like just place in the refrigerator and use.  It lasts 2 weeks.

ENJOY!!!

Please Help Support the FMs4Ms Network

As renewal time comes for all the Network essentials for keeping moms connected with other moms and giving out information for living an expatriate life in Italy, I am forced to realize how much financial obligation out of my personal account this Network entails. I feel this Network is an asset for the many moms and their families moving here to live in Firenze and the surrounding areas. Which is why I am asking for your help to keep all this alive. A small donation could go a long way.  Here is the GoFundMe link that will take you to the page of where you can donate. Thank you in advance for your help.

https://www.gofundme.com/FMs4Ms-Network

 

 

The Florentine is doing a Kid’s issue for February

This Thursday either get your free hard copy or check it out online. The Florentine is doing a Kid’s issue for their February edition.

Where to get your FREE copy in Florence: theflr.net/pickup
Subscribe (print and digital subscriptions available worldwide: theflr.net/subscribe

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Florence Flood

81bb47f3-da61-42bd-ad7b-10fdabf7bb4fAnnouncing Special Event:  November 4, 8:00 p.m. – Candlelight Procession Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Florence Flood!  This historic candlelight procession on Friday, November 4 will commemorate the Mud Angels – the young volunteers, many of whom were Americans – who flocked to Florence to help save the city’s precious artworks in the wake of the Flood of 1966.  The city of Florence wants to engage as many members of the local community as possible (students, too!) in the candlelight procession.  Please come out and join us for this extraordinary anniversary event!

8:00 p.m.             Meet at the Church of San Minato a Monte (near Piazzale Michelangelo) – candles will be distributed to participants
8:30 p.m.             Candlelight procession on foot, walking through the city
9:30 p.m.             Arrive at Piazza Santa Croce

*For those in need of public transport to Piazza San Miniato:  Take the ATAF Bus # 12 from Porta Romana or the Bus # 13 from Lungarno Pecori Giraldi.

For more information:  http://toscana.firenze2016.it/dal-fango-gli-angeli-nella-luce-del-futuro/

 

English teacher in Prato NEEDED

Hi mums, I’m trying to help a local school in Prato find an English teacher. I’ve put the word out on English teaching sites, but if any of you know someone looking for work, it these are the details:

Opportunity:
A wonderful English school in the centro storico of Prato (20 mins by train from Florence) is searching for a teacher to prepare school students, of different levels, to sit Cambridge exams. The contract will be a minimum of 20 hours a week, Monday to Friday, early afternoons, starting within the next two weeks. The contract will finish mid 2017 when the exams are completed.
Candidates must have all documents to legally work in Italy and experience in teaching English.
The English school has a young, dynamic team. It could be a great opportunity for the right person.

Send your CV and any further questions to Marco:

info@labottegadellelingue.com

Portale Giovani Firenze

I wanted to remind everyone about this site. It is a Firenze Comune portal site for teens and college students 15 and up.  They have topics of interest, events, and so much more.  Check it out. http://portalegiovani.comune.fi.it/  (site is in Italian, but a great way to get your teen to interact in the community)

What to do with your children’s drawings

wp_20161006_11_20_50_pro-2Children love to draw; there is no doubt about that.  The amount of drawings can become overwhelming.  Possibly the outside of your refrigerator is filled, possibly even your walls.  Your children love all their drawings. So what to do?  I am going to post some possible solutions for you.

The easiest thing to do nowadays is go through the pictures and select a few to keep and photograph the rest.  The photos are used in many of the suggestions below.

A simple suggestion is to put in a picture frame the drawings.  You can put many drawings in the frame one behind the other on each week or day whichever you both decide, you have your child switch the pictures.  Digital frames is another great way to display those adorable drawings. You just put the snap shot of the drawings on the digital frame where it automatically rotates through them. wp_20161006_11_20_39_pro-2

Creating a scrapbook where you can use the picture itself or even photographs of them. This is a great project for you to sit with your child. You would be creating a wonderful book that they can look at when they are older.

Having your child use their drawings as wrapping paper for gifts for the family.  Just a side note: if your child is very sensitive to their picture being destroyed, when the paper is ripped off the gift, stay away from this idea.

String a clothesline across their bedroom at their height and put clothespins on it for them to hang their pictures and rotate when they want.

This site, which came out not to long ago, which I love is to have your child’s drawings on clothes.  They do ship to Italy. The site is called Picture this Clothing.  Basically, your child would design their dress or t-shirt.  It is a great way to display their favorite drawing.

What to do with those extra drawings that are not on display? Putting them in Plastic Bin.  I did this one when my children were older.  Each child would have a bin and would put their drawings in them.  When the bin gets full, you and your child would go through and remove one they did not need anymore and put in the ones they wanted to store.  This helps the child also realize that not everything can be kept and to decide which is really their favorite drawing or craft they really want to keep.  With younger children, you might need to weed out the ones that they really are not really attached to and put those in paper recycle outside the house.  Most likely, they will not remember those and will not even know they are gone.

I hope this helps in clearing up some of those lovely drawings that your children are making and help to get rid of the clutter they can happen with the accumulation of them.  If you have any other great suggestions just comment below.

A Group of House Plants Hard at Work

The beneficial effects of houseplants in home and office

house-plants

Houseplants can clean your air, eliminating chemicals, mould and bacteria; they produce oxygen and moisture. On your desk, they can create a personal breathing zone filtering chemicals emitted by computer screens, in your bedroom succulents, orchids and bromeliads provide oxygen at night.

Last century NASA, after finding a hazardous build-up of toxins in spacecraft, discovered that houseplants were able to remove toxic chemicals in sealed chambers. This lead to a series of detailed studies on the filtering capacity of plants in relation to the most common chemicals found in indoor environments.

Indoor pollutants include the chemicals found in modern products, electronics and furnishings, particularly formaldehyde, xylene and toluene, ammonia found in cleaning products, moulds and bacteria and the 150 bio-effluents emitted by the human body.

The poisonous nature of these substances has been highlighted recently in the sick building syndrome where energy efficient buildings seal in the toxins and the people living in them get ill.

What some house plants are good at:

While all houseplants filter and clean the air, two of the best for:

Formaldehyde which enters our homes in  refuse sacks, paper products, fabrics, plywood, chipboard, resins, gas ovens  are the Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ and the Rubber plant Ficus Robusta.

Xylene and toluene – in adhesives, printers, computer screens, photocopiers – the Areca palm Chrysalidocarpus lutescens and the Moth orchid Phalaenopsis sp.

Ammonia – cleaning products and bio effluents -the Lady palm Rhapis excelsa and the King of Hearts Homalomena wallisii

Author and photo by Kate Parenti
http://www.gardendesign.bio/