“No fuss” Mothers day

A cup of tea, an apple and a banana, served as ‘breakfast in bed’ at 7 am.

Handmade little gifts and  a crushed chocolate heart we shared together.

Sweet notes found at random places throughout the house.

Sisterly quarrels, as usual. Today is just another day.

Sunshine, kids playing out in the park.

Two bruised knees, one torn pair of pants. Red cheeks and shiny eyes.

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Time to read a while, Dave Eggers “Heroes of the Frontier” it is.

Daydreaming a little of packing up my bunch and travelling through Alaska in a Camper too.

Early dinner, kids helped to clean up and ran off to play some more in the evening sun.

Not so bad, not so bad at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who needs overcrowded airports, traffic jams and endless flights to find that perfect holiday, when all this is just a train – and ferry ride away?

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*An evening beach, that is all yours*

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*A boat, to take you to the seals*

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*Seals, actually, on a sandbank in the Waddenzee*

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*A place to roam*

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*A deserted forrest to cycle through*

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*cycling trips under a grey sky, seawind in your  hair, open space all around*

And that, really, isn’t even half of it……….

Why travel far when happiness really lies just around that corner?

The single parent’s survival guide to dinner

Do you know the feeling…it’s been a long day and yet you’ve tried to make the most of dinner. Some vitamins, some colour, nothing extraordinary, just, you know something healthy…

The food isn’t even on the table yet before number one claims she has a headache and therefore…no appetite…number two is tired and iritated, and number three starts screaming as if you try to feed her poison:  ‘what’s this?! Oh no, I can’t eat that!’

All you can think is ‘why did I even bother? ‘ and….. ‘Now why isn’t there another adult at this table to  tell me ‘well, honey this is just delicious, kids, don’t fuss, eat your dinner!’? ‘

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Some nights, you’ve just got to do what makes everybody happy: feed ‘m pancakes and ice cream…………… with hidden vitamins….

For your pancakes, just make your usual batter, then add a grated zucchini (use these light green ones if you can, they’re perfect camouflage. If you use the darker green ones, be prepared to answer questions  such as ‘Mom, what are these green spots in my pancake?!?’…now try to answer that without using the V-word!

Bake and serve as you normally would…..then sit and watch them eat their veggies and smile…..

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Since we’re in a good mood, why not add some ice cream? Blend 2 chopped banana’s (frozen) and a large mango (cut into small pieces)  with the juice of one lemon. Serve, watch ‘m eat, enjoy……

Don’t feel like eating pancakes? Make yourself some soup! Chop another zucchini, boil in a little vegetable stock, throw in a handful of kale, add some cumin, coriander and black pepper, blend. Serve with some (vegan) cream, and a good swirl of ground red pepper. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

DIY playdough

When the kids where younger, I often made their own playdough.

Now they are older, they play with playdough less often, but it’s still a success during the holidays! This time I made a cinnamon scented pink batch. Fun ( and a few quiet moments for me) guaranteed!

 

You will need: one cup of salt, 2 large cups of flour, 2 large cups of water, 5 tablespoons of sunflower oil, 1,5 teaspoon cream of tartar, a large pan and a wooden spoon. Optional: foodcolouring, scents).

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Put all ingredients (except the foodcolouring) into the pan, and stirr above medium heat. Stirr well!  Within a minute or two you will see your mixture changing into a playdough-like ball.

Remove from pan and place on your workspace. Allow to cool, kneed thoroughly and add foodcolouring according to taste.

Now, let’s play. When done, store in an airtight container and use again and again.

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You can use this recipe for very young children too. They love to feel, kneed, smell, touch….taste….., and you don’t have to be afraid they put anything poisoness in their mouth if they decide to taste it!

Happy 20 sweet 16!

No better place to spend the first day of a new year, than on the beach!

We didn’t jump into the sea, like so many others do for a real ‘Nieuwjaarsduik’, a dive into the new year, but we did get our shoes and socks wet.

 

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Happy New Year to all of you, let’s make it a good one!

A walk in the woods

No fall holiday is complete without a good walk in the woods.

I’s a 20 minute bike ride out of town, to a forest on the edge of the dunes, where magical wooden creatures live…..

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A good walk, a good ride, hot chocolate and apple pie in the middle of the forrest, rosy cheeks, bright eyes and early to bed! A walk through  Panbos is very, very good way of spending your Fall Sunday!

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Growing up in Leiden #1

I’m planning to write a series of blogposts on things to do with kids in Leiden. I want to share with you some suggestions for nice outings, aswell as some of the surprises we’ve stumbled upon ourselves, and enjoyed very much.

Leiden I think is a wonderful place to grow up. It’s a very old town, not too big to feel lost, not too small to feel trapped. It is situated in a beautiful part of the country, and is surrounded by some really lovely nature worth enjoying and exploring. In Leiden itself there is always a lot to see and do.

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Like today, for example. While walking throug town on our way to our favorite icecream man, we stumbled upon a bride and groom on the bridge behind the city hall. They were surrounded by kids holding little radios, listening to directions and all running off at once. It turned out the bride and groom were taking part in what is said to be the largerst ‘foxhunt’ in The Netherlands. All over the historical city centre of Leiden, 50 groups of LCKV- volunteers could be found, dressed up, sometimes really putting on an act for the children en encouraging them to participate in singing, dancing, communicating without  words and having their face painted. The challenge was to find all 50 ‘foxes’ and to collect a stamp from all of them. The kids could tune in to Unity FM on the little radios that were handed out to them, to listen for directions.

We decided to join in and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the streets of Leiden, searching for foxes and having  really great time. We came home with painful legs and sore feet, but big smiles on our face. We’d spent the whole afternoon enjoying the sun, the city, the enthusiasm of all the volunteer foxes who were really dedicated to give the kids the time of their life, the sight of 300 kids exploring the streets armed with little radios and purple backpacks, helpful parents giving eachother directions, and in the end, we even came home with a price: entrance tickets to the Museum of Ethnography, won by my youngest daughter, who found 26 foxes!

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The foxhunt took place during OPEN, a cultural event that takes place every last Sunday of the month in the streets of Leiden. I like these kinds of events because they really encourage you to explore your own town and to appreciate all the social and cultural initiatives that take place here.

Oh and back home I baked a really tasty vegan bananabread. I will share the recipe with you later this week. Now the house smells sweet (banana and cinnamon yumm), and the kids have all gone to sleep peacefully…..Sunday evening bliss!