Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The last day of school...

The classroom looks barren.  Gone are the animal prints they painted, gone are the life size self portrait posters, gone are the airplanes, boats, pet store, butterflies and other miscellaneous projects that kept the little hands busy and gave KG2A such color and excitement.  The only board left shows the days left until school is out.

The plain beige walls are now reminiscent of the first day.  That day back in September when we first met Ms. Lopez and Ms. Hayatte.  The day that my head and heart was filled with fear and worry.  I didn't know then how amazing these two women were.  I had no idea what they had planned.  How they would care for him, how they would push him to be the best he could be, that they would say no when needed, that each day would be a lesson in respect and responsibility, that when dancing and singing was needed it was done, that they would give him the foundation for math, reading and writing.  I simply had no idea what could be accomplished in one school year.

Ms. Lopez and Ms. Hayatte

As the school year ends our family prepares for another lesson in our expat life.  Very few people and things are permanent. Our friends, teachers and loved ones will come and go. While some of us are packing for summer holiday, some of our friends and teachers are packing to go home for good. Some are getting married, some are starting new projects and some are on to their next adventure.  Many students and teachers at international schools are like us, here for a moment in time. We are learning that good-byes do not need to be sad. We are learning... it is just part of the cycle in our expat life.

Thank you, merci beaucoup, vielen dank, shukran and maraming salamat for a wonderful year.


There are mysteries that will never be solved and questions that will never be answered.  One such question is why aren't limes available in Marrakech?  The land is flush with lemon trees, meyer lemon trees, bitter oranges, naval oranges, juicy juice oranges for that perfect glass of orange juice and even clementines.  So why oh why no limes?

Thankfully for us lime lovers, for two short months you can get imported limes.  They are expensive, come in small batches and can be found at just one store (luckily for me, said store is right next to the boys school).  Such a treat when they are here that calls and text messages are sent out to notify friends of their availability.

Today as I saw my stockpile of limes gleaming next to the last of this seasons strawberries it seemed the perfect time to make Basil Infused Strawberry Limeade.

The perfect accompanying tablecloth, no?
It is the ideal summer quencher for a family cocktail hour.  The children and non-drinkers can drink it straight up and if an adult is so inclined, they can spike it with vodka, gin or tequila.

Juice of 6-8 Persian Limes
3 Cups of Water (still or sparkling depending on your preference)
6-8 Strawberries
Basil Simple Syrup (see below recipe)

Combine the lime juice and water in a pitcher. Slowly add the basil simple syrup while tasting until you find your desired balance of sweet/sour.  Hull and slice the strawberries.  Add Strawberries to pitcher and stir.  The limeade will soon turn to a pretty shade of pink.  You may either chill in the refrigerator or add ice and serve.

Basil Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Handful of Basil Leaves
Boil the sugar and water until clear, turn the heat off and add the basil leaves.  Allow the basil to steep in simple syrup for 15 minutes. Remove the basil and cool syrup.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A birthday wish...

Many wishes I have made in 38 years...

Wishes for my prince charming while blowing dandelion weeds.

Wishes for travel to far away lands on shooting stars.

Wishes for healthy children while tossing pennies into fountains.

Last weekend I was surrounded by my loving husband, my sweet boys and the friends, boys and dogs that took a weekend and traveled to the coast of Morocco to celebrate. We laughed, gorged on lobster, crab and fish, played in the sand, toasted with champagne, watched a kite soar in the sky, admired the magnificent gardens of the hotel and even saw wild flamingos. When the time came for me to blow out the candles, I knew there was only one wish left to make...

More days just like these.

A beautiful weekend with beautiful friends!
Crab, crab and crab!
Lobster grilled on a rock
The boys playing in the sand

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Holger called me up one day this past fall and asked, "What are we doing the weekend of the 14th?" We had no plans, but he had a surprise for me. "Want to go to Milan?  By yourself..."

Two weeks later I was on a plane to Milan for 3 nights and 4 days of...

A room all to myself, to sleep as long as I wish...

Four Seasons Milan

Delicious food and wine...

Squash Blossoms with Ricotta and Olive Dust,  Four Seasons Milan

Spectacular sights...

Duomo di Milano

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci

A performance at Teatro alla Scala...                                                  

Teatro alla Scala
Leisurely walks...

Via Della Spiga

Beautiful clothes, bags and shoes...

Prada Flagship Store at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
Four glorious days all to myself in a beautiful city.

Hope you can take 15 minutes, an hour or a weekend to do as you wish...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Je suis Mommy...

A couple months ago, Florence (my French Tutor) and I were practicing conversation.  In French she asked me "What do you do?" and I answered, "Je suis Mommy".  She laughed and said, "That is sweet".  We went on to finish our conversation and class, but this exchange has stayed with me and has made me think...

Being a full-time Mommy is somewhat new territory for me.  A year and half ago my answer might have been catering manager. I think back to all the titles I have held... daughter, sister, wife, friend, student, teammate, catering manager.  I realize, how each title has defined me at different times of my life and perhaps closed me off to other experiences. I feel so blessed to have this full time job of being an Ex-Pat Mommy and being able to experience foreign lands and all that it brings to me with my Sons. To take Max on our crazy drive to school each morning, to be a class mom, to attempt potty training Alex a la Marrakechi, to riding Camels in the dessert. Mommy is truly the most glorious title I have ever had.

Happy Mother's Day to all the other Mommies in my life, my Mom, Sister, Mother in Law, Sisters in Law and friends!!!  

xx from Berlin where we are celebrating with the newest Mommy in our family!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pancakes for dinner...

When I was a little girl, every so often my mom would serve us breakfast for dinner.  Sometimes it was eggs, grits and bacon.  Sometimes it was blintzes with ricotta cheese and blueberries.  What was on the menu didn't matter as much as the idea.  It was fun and a change from the normal routine. So tonight, when Max asked for Pancakes I was happy to oblige...

I made the pancake mix.  Pulled out the ridiculously expensive, but mediocre maple syrup I bought in Paris (maple syrup is not available in Marrakech).  Heated up the pan and started cooking the pancakes.  After just two pancakes were finished, I heard the sound.  That little hiss signifying that the gas is going out. Oh no, please not now.  Then poof! The flame was gone...

Gas stoves work a bit different here then they do in most places.  Here, portable gas tanks are hooked up to our stoves, so when the tank is empty, it must be replaced.  Replacing the tank is no quick exercise. The whole process normally takes an hour or two. First, the assistance of a guardian is enlisted. The guardian will then come to the kitchen to unhook the tank, carry it outside to his motorbike where he balances it on the top of his handlebars and goes zooming off in search of a replacement.  The hanout across the street seems to carry them, but based on the hour or so the guardian is normally gone, he must not be purchasing locally.  A knock at the door signifies the return of a full tank.  The guardian will hook it up, I pay him 40 dirhams (about 4 euros) and we are good to go for another 2 or 3 months.

The empty tank under our stove
It was already 7:00PM.  A new tank to finish the pancakes was not going to arrive until well after the boys should be in bed asleep.  Going next door to finish the pancakes didn't seem reasonable.  Dreading the disappointment, I did the best I could.  I took out two plates, put one pancake on each, sliced some nectarines, opened yogurts, poured milk, removed the cap off the maple syrup, set the table and hoped for the best as I called the boys to dinner. 

The boys cheered in joy when they saw the table and sat down.  Maple syrup was enthusiastically poured and pancakes devoured.  Now the moment I feared... they asked for more.  I explained the situation, offered seconds of nectarines and held my breath.  To my great surprise, there was no melt down, no fit, just a thank you when the second helpings came to the table.
Tonight the boys reminded me... sometimes, just a little bit is all you need. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Last weekend, (while much of the international sports community was discussing whether or not the Bahrain Grand Prix was going to happen) Marrakech, under the high patronage of the His Majesty, The King Mohammed VI, was busy hosting the Race of Morocco.


As soon as the track walls went up Max recognized them as race walls from Cars 2 and asked to go.  Lucky him because Daddy was given passes that allowed us access to the sights and sounds of the boys first auto race.

So much fun... we are already planning a viewing party for next year!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easter Eggs...

While exploring this new and different culture is fascinating, celebrating our own holidays and traditions is important.  So, as Easter rolled around, we made sure to set aside some time to color eggs in anticipation of our Sunday Easter Egg Hunt at our dear friends home.

So, out we went to search the local farmers markets to gather as many Beldi Eggs as possible (Beldi Eggs are so good that I believe they deserve their own post soon), dug out the food dye brought from the US, invited our buddies over and got to work.

After sipping tea, basil lemonade and juice, nibbling on lemon tart and yogurt cake, our team of 11 children and 5 mommies colored 60+ eggs.

The morning of Easter Sunday, we dressed for the occasion and headed out for a day of fun!

Luckily, the Easter Bunny found our decorated eggs and transported them to Dar Menebhi and along with chocolates from Italy, Germany and Belgium hid them for a good ole fashioned Easter Sunday Egg Hunt.

Hope your Easter was just as nice.  Happy Easter from Marrakech  xx...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Where is Alex?

Hmmm... it seems quiet.  Where is Alex?

Moved the kitchen chair over, crawled up on the
counter and helped himself to the box of Jeff de Bruges Chocolates
I received as a hostess gift the night prior. 

Oops! Busted...

Thank goodness he didn't find where the Easter Bunny was hiding the bunnies and eggs!


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mazagan Beach Resort, El Jadida (Spring Break part 3)...

Oualidia to El Jadida... Just 70 kilometers and we would be to our next destination, Mazagan Beach Resort.  

Mazagan Beach Resort is part of the Kerzner International (One & Only Resorts and the Atlantis Properties). It is a large resort directly on El Jadida Beach with 18 Holes of Golf, Spa, 2 Pools, Kids Clubs, Tennis, 6 Restaurants and a Casino.  We visited back in October for a quick weekend, and were looking forward to a longer stay this time.

Arriving just before sundown, we were warmly welcomed and escorted to our suite.

Lucky us! Champagne, cakes, cookies and raspberries!!!

The resort is perfect for families and had everything we needed to relax and recharge. The boys enjoyed the kids club while we adults enjoyed the spa, golf ,

and quiet time enjoying the view, 

In the afternoon together as a family we would take a quick swim in the family pool then walk to the beach to fly the kite,

wiggle our toes in the sand,

and of course slide down the sand dunes.

But all too soon our 5 nights were up and it was time to pack our bags and return to Marrakech for week 2 of our Spring Break.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lunch at the beach...

At first glance there are no signs that a meal at one of Oualida's finest restaurants awaits you.

Instead of valet,  boats are parked haphazardly around the beach.  The very boats that have been working all morning to catch the days specials.

Instead of professionally placed decor and piped in Muzak, the view is the vast Atlantic and the background music is waves crashing onto the beach.

Bright plastic tapis in place of starched white linen.

That's right, no printed menus with listed prices here... instead you are welcomed to check the nets yourself and negotiate a fair price.

On the beach of Oualidia, the fishermen eagerly await to show you the days catches, bargain a price with you, grill and serve you with a smile.

We couldn't pass a chance to have a lunch on the beach al a marocaine. Crabs, langostine and sole were washed, grilled and served with nothing more than lemons. Wine and Beer not included in the meal, but available to purchase around the corner or BYOB.  If listed on Tripadvisor we would give them 5 stars.  

Many thanks to Tanja, Eben, Barnaby and Inigo for showing us a wonderful time in Oualidia.  Looking forward to many more trips back!