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!

Share what you have and care where you can: refugees are welcome here.

Anyone following the news in Europe knows that at the moment thousands and thousands of refugees are arriving in Europe, and something has to be done. To help the people in need, and to come up with sustainable solutions for the future. A challenge, yes, but not one we can close our eyes to.

Where politicians are having a hard time dealing with the current challenges, and waste time talking, it is heartwarming to see how ‘ordinary’ people have opened their hearts and their homes for the refugees arriving at our doorstep.

We blessed Europeans, do we realise how lucky we are? To be able to travel where ever we want to go? No fragile boats, no walking for miles and stumbling upon fences. An overcrowded train in an exotic place is a good story once we’re back home, that’s all……… lucky people we are.

Currently there are several  Dutch initiatives to help refugees: from apealing to politicians to filling little backpacks for kids, to sending boxes full of warm clothes to Greece, collecting welcome packages for refugees arriving in The Netherlands, and inviting refugees into our homes for a shared meal or a roof above their head.

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It’s wonderful to see how welcoming people are and how ready to help. I hope this spirit lasts because after the bags and warm clothes have been distributed, and a welcoming meal has been shared, people have to start building a new life; a new home, a new language, a job…. and deal with the memory of all they’ve left behind.

While all this is going on, I wonder….as a Dutch mother in a safe country, how do you raise kids to be responsible worldcitizens, to care for those in need, to share what they have and to realize they are blessed and to be grateful for that?

I am trying to find that balance between making them aware but not scaring them. Making them care, but not to burden them too much. They are children after all. Caring and compassionate, and with a growing awareness that the world is bigger than their own town and the people who live in it.

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Because I want them to know, and to care and share, I recently tried to involve the children in a few projects. We filled a large box with wintercoats, warm socks and shirts, for the refugees arriving on Lesbos and sent it all the way to Greece. The girls also filled welcoming packages that will be distributed among refugees in the Netherlands.  In a few days, they will participate in a sponsor run, organised by school.

These are all small drops in the sea full of care that is needed, but they are their drops, drops of love and drops that will grow, as my daughters grow up………

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Are their any special initiatives in your area and how do you involve your kids?