Sallandse Heuvelrug & Deventer 2020

I just love this view. This is the Dutch landscape. Overijssel and the Sallandse Heuvelrug is my new favorite area. This national park has so many beautiful spots. Our Landal park was cute. We made the best of it. Rented some bikes, drank gluhwein on the playground while the kids played, the kids got to roast some marshmallows at the tipi, and hiked. I’m happy we decided to go ahead with the trip. Even though the pool was closed, it was good to have a change of scenery.

We took an evening walk in Deventer. It was actually my favorite day of the trip. A refreshing walk in nature in the national park (preceeded by a lot of complaining and crying–of course), cold fresh air, beautiful scenery, a cozy movie afternoon by the fire with coffee, followed by this evening stroll in Deventer, and a late dinner. It was such a fantastic day. I loved it. I have wanted to go to Deventer for some time now. Such a beautiful place. Lots of independent shops (two bookstores!), little eateries and tea rooms, tiny, quiet streets. It was beautiful. We will return sometime when life goes back to normal.

Some moments of our evening walk with all the Kerst lampjes.

Christmas 2020

Our first (and hopefully last) lockdown Christmas. My kids look so grown up when I see this photo. Thankfully we could visit Jaap’s family is small bits. I always love Christmas with the Jansens. No drama, just Christmas. We had a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner, just the four of us. I absolutely loved it. The children sat through a three course, homemade dinner with my holiday stuffed mushrooms, gulash from the slow cooker, and Spanish flan (Flora’s request). It was just a magical evening. Luckily, Santa paid us a visit. Nobody was too anxious or overly excited. Kids were thrilled with his gifts. My mom sent us a lot of presents and it really brightened the morning. I gave Jaap some tips for next Christmas. No more cookbooks. I will leave it at that.

I love these beautiful Christmases with Jaap’s parents. We missed the annual walk to the nativity scenes in Oirschot, but the Chirstmas sing along at the piano was a highlight for me. Meanwhile, I have been completely engrossed in Group by Christie Tate. What a fantastic memoir. I couldn’t put this book down. The second Christmas in a row where I had a book that completed captivated me. It felt warm and fuzzy. Merry Christmas.

Christmas Eve Eve

Look how cute Flora is here. We’ve had a hilarious time rehearsing our Kerst Voorstelling, just some songs we are putting together to sing at Opa and Oma’s house.

A new tradition was born

I have definitely lowered my Christmas time expectations this year. I wish I could tell my 35 year old self, “Just relax and enjoy yourself.” Keeping my Christmas expectations low has actually helped me enjoy everything. Watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with the kids the other day was magical for me. Luckily, Thibault was willing to sit through Charlie Brown Christmas too! These moments just warm my heart. Getting good use out of my winter drinks books! I’ve been focusing more on reading and picking books I enjoy.

Yesterday we built gingerbread houses from Ikea. Last year they were sold out and I was crushed. Jaap and I were in Ikea late October, they were there and I picked some up. My friend Cyrille came over to help us decorate, I made some great royal icing from Tasty and it was a huge family hit. Thibault and Flora loved it! Thibault couldn’t stop talking about his gingerbread house, his beautiful room, the curtains, the smoke out of the chimney. It was so freakn’ cute! Opa said he wants to join this tradition next year. I can’t believe how much sugar my kids are eating each day.

This will be my last post for 2020. I’m going to enjoy the quiet Christmas Eve festivities, be present, meditate, try not to eat to many sweets, continue to exercise, and think about some healthy New Year’s Resolutions. XOXO

Moments of joy through sadness

A photo collection of things that are bringing me joy this holiday season 2020. Monday evening’s press conference regarding the new coronavirus lockdown brought a huge mass of sadness and negativity to my thoughts. This lockdown is serious and in my opinion extreme. Gyms, schools, stores, every possible out of the house activity is canceled or closed. It’s hard not to drink off into dark thoughts, but today was a success. I meditated last night, did yoga this morning, and felt okay-ish the entire day. I wanted to post these Holiday Season 2020 moments to remind me of the beautiful things that are still happening in and around my home through these dark times.

On Saturday we went out for a chilly late morning walk to one of my favorite spots, Eijsden Castle. Afterwards my friends Billy and Cyrille came over to bake Christmas cookies. It’s become my one day of the year for entertaining. Despite living through a pandemic, this didn’t even happen last year because I got the flu. I’m happy that it was able to go ahead this year. More moments of joy— walking around Maastricht with Cyrille while sipping hot gluhwein, baking baking & baking, my winter drinks book I purchased from Book Depository’s “Beautiful Books” section, making homemade chocolate, and watching movies with Jaap on the couch. And I can’t forget to mention our beautiful Christmas tree. I love this tree. I think it’s one of the best we have ever had. Flora picked it out within two minutes and it’s way to big for our living room, but we moved it’s location into the corner by the dining room table. It fit’s perfectly there.

Christmas 2018

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The Christmas wreath pavlova!!!!!

What a gezellig Christmas season we enjoyed this year. It always goes so fast, but I really tried to be present this season, enjoy all the moments, and not stress out too much about the holiday. I love staying in the Netherlands for Christmas. This year was a treat because all of the Jansens were together. Here are some shots from our Christmas in Brabant and the days leading up to it.

Baking adventures, frequent visits to Intratuin to see the winter village display, and lots of family days with Jaap home from work. It was a season full of love.

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Christmas Eve

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Nativity scene in Oirschot

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Tis the season to be tired…

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The holiday season is here and our house is full of love and exhaustion. My kids are kicking my ass. Between waking up multiple times a night, waking up at 5:00 a.m., ear infections, teething, and the need for being held constantly— we are struggling!

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Despite these hard times we are being festive and continue to enjoy being home for the holidays. Yet again we weren’t able to make it to the Cologne Christmas market and not even Aachen with the kids this year, but there is still a lot of joy!

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Sinterklaas & Pakjesavond!

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Making winter villages with Flora

Merry Christmas 2016

Well, my previous post about sick days was premature. Our house experienced a relapse and we weren’t quite in the clear with all the illnesses. As soon as I wrote about us being sick and thinking we made it through the worst of it, the following day was another day where I felt like it was getting worse. Ugh. Regardless of our illnesses, I can now safely say that everyone is feeling better and conditions continue to improve! Thankfully…just in time for Christmas!

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Onze Lieve Vrouweplein lit up!

On Thursday we went into Maastricht to experience the “Winter Wonderland” on the Vrijthof. Flora got to ride the carousel (always a highlight), Rudolph’s train, and the Ferris Wheel with me. We ate olliebollen and had an early dinner at a cafe. It was wonderful. We deserved a little bit of fun after 10+ sick days. It was time to get out and experience Christmas.

This holiday season was a learning experience for me. It was time I learned to keep my “mommy” expectations real. It’s okay that I didn’t get to bake Christmas cookies with Flora, and we didn’t get to visit the Christmas market that I wanted to go to, and there was no time for me to get my Christmas manicure that I was hoping for. Life is just busy right now with a toddler and baby. These fun things and traditions will come again, when we have more time. For now, our time is spent where it matters most. Merry Christmas and cheers to a happy and healthy 2017!

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Mindful Moment: Flora’s Tree

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Trimming the tree is always one of my favorite activities. Now with little Thibault here, I had to accept the fact that I couldn’t come and pick out our Christmas tree this year. A combination of scheduling around breastfeeding a newborn, a toddler’s nap schedule, and the fact that our car is so tiny that we can barely fit in it as a family of four. It made me realize it was probably best if Jaap and Flora picked out the tree without us. I have to hand it to my husband. They picked out a great tree.

Here is a shot of Flora completely enamoured with her tree. She spent the entire day hanging up ornaments and then moving them around the tree. I love this shot of her.

Feeling Festive

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Flora’s winter village

The spirit of Christmas is here. The greatest part of motherhood is sharing the Christmas traditions from my childhood with our children and creating new memories of our own. I realized this week that Flora has the spirit! She’s into it, just as much as I am. The amount of joy that something so simple as a candy cane brought her this week was incredible.

We made some simple winter villages while my in-laws were visiting. A simple DIY holiday decor idea that took less than 10 minutes.