Weekend Fun: Leuven, Belgium

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It’s really winter here! Temperatures have dropped and it’s been pretty cold here the last week. We even got a little bit of snow on Monday morning. Sunday was our family activity day and set off to explore Leuven, Belgium. What cute little university city.

It wasn’t a day full of activities, just walking, coffee and beer drinking, and admiring the old architecture. The gothic city hall in the city center is quite impressive. Very ornate and stunning. Set against that blue sky—ahhhh! We had lunch in a tavern, drank some beer, saw the church, and walked to the Grote Begijnhof. Leuven’s university is the oldest in Belgium (15th century) and has so many beautiful buildings throughout the city.

Panic set in at one point when Flora realized we weren’t going to a playground. This seems to be her definition of fun, whether it be indoors or outdoors. But, she is such a happy little traveler, we knew she would come around and find the fun or beauty in something we were seeing. She can still be redirected with a game of tag or “I Spy”. This seems to be her new favorite walking game. I love it. We both take the time to see the things around us and really look at what is in front of us.

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And a bonus— we scored some free drinks at the university because they were hosting an open day. I’m happy we took a little adventure out of our region. Spring feels so far away. We’ll see how we keep warm this weekend!

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Rainy day fun

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Flora is now a proud Museumkaart holder. I didn’t realize kids could also get museum cards in NL and after calculating in my head how many museums she went to last year, it was worth it for her to get a card this year.

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We made a trip to Hoensbroek castle and it was a family hit. Flora loved (and Jaap) loved completing the scavenger hunt the castle provides for it’s young visitors. It was a fun way to get us to explore all the rooms. She loved climbing the tower, playing the old games in the cellar, and thinking about all the princesses who have lived here before. It was a great day. A little history, a little culture—happy kids and parents!

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Pompoen Parade

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What a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Pumpkins!!!!! Autumn is officially here. There is a nursery in Aalbeek (Nuth) called Kwekerij Bastin that hosts a “Pumpkin Parade” every year. This is the second time we have gone and I think we have solidified it as a family tradition.

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This place is just stunning. I find the entire experience to be aesthetically pleasing. That can be tricky when looking for a fun family activity. Of course for Flora, the best part was the tiny playground, but for myself I love these brightly coloured pumpkins. It reminds me of home. The nursery specialises in lavender and the entire kwekerij gives off this aroma anywhere you stand. It’s just perfect.

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Both kids had a great time, Flora got to pick out a big pumpkin, Thibault climbed around a pile of pumpkins, we had pumpkin cake and tea, and the sun was shining. XOXO

Appelplukdag

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What a beautiful weekend. The sun came out and we were able to enjoy some Autumn outdoor activities. Saturday was Landelijke Appelplukdag in the Netherlands. We visited an orchard in Puth and picked some delicious apples.

It’s not exactly the upstate New York apple experience I remember. I realize now that my outdoor and nature experiences as a child have completely spoiled me as an adult. Let’s just say apple picking in the Hudson Valley is a lot more rustic, less crowded, and vast. I still have vivid memories of the smell of apples and apple cider at Smith’s Farm. It’s something I will never forget. Nonetheless, we are making our own apple picking memories as a family now. Still beautiful, delicious, and fun.

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And in other news—we have a swing set! Yay! I love that we have this right in our backyard now. Thibault loves his little baby swing and the swing and slide are enough o entertain Flora. It’s so great just to pop outside for a few minutes of fun. Even if it’s a rainy day–there’s always a pocket of sunshine to hop on!

Family Fun at Landmarkt Mesch

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Yesterday was our fourth time visiting Limburgs Landmarkt Mesch and I think we have solidified it as a family tradition. We have gone the last two years with Flora and once the first year we lived in Maastricht (before children), but this was the first time that she will remember it. It was a day full of sunshine and joy.

Who knew sitting on a stationary tractor could be so much fun? Thibault loved it and I didn’t think Flora would be that into, but she was. A nice change of pace from our normal fun of playing dress up with princess dresses and Disney Princess Barbies.

Landmarkt Mesch brings back memories of visiting the Dutchess County Fair and it really reminds me that I am a country girl at heart. I loved seeing Flora fascinated by bulldozers and old farm equipment, petting the animals at the kinderboerderij, and watching the equestrian horse shows. It was super fun and at the end of the day she didn’t want to leave.

It also signals that summer is officially over. I was clinging to the warm weather and we officially had to break out the fall vests and jackets this week. Summer is over and we’re moving on. Sometimes I wish I could just freeze this moment in time. Flora is so in love with everything we do as a family and it’s even more fun with a four year old! And then I remember how much we miss sleep. 🙂

Our Week in France–A day for the kids

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A first for Flora– pony ride!

This vacation could not have been planned better. Luckily we only had one day of rain and the rest was filled with relaxing  days, a little history, French architecture, and of course, a day for the kids. The owner of the gite recommended this zoo park and it was the perfect activity. So, if you’re ever in the Burgundy region looking for kids activities, this place was great!

Here’s a link: Parc de l’ Auxois

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Thibault and his cone

I have very few pictures from this day, which probably means I was having too much fun to check my phone. I had so much fun watching Flora have fun with her cousins. I love this age. We saw lions, zebras, camels, and more—but the kids were most excited about the playground and carousel rides. Flora had her first pony ride, Thibault had some good naps, and everyone was happy.

Perhaps my favorite part of the day was our outdoor BBQ. Back at the gîte, the kids were swimming in the pool and Jaap was behind the grill. I love this photo of Jaap. It was the perfect ending to a fab day. Another win for the Jansen family!

Our Week in France—Family Time

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Exploring Chateau Bussy-Rabutin

We visited Château de Bussy-Rabutin as a family day trip during our Burgundy trip. We enjoyed a cozy family lunch at a local cafe complete with local cheeses, meats, and wine from the region. We had packed a big picnic lunch, but forget half of it back at the gîte. Ooops. At least we were able to laugh about it and we made the cafe owner very happy with our visit.

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The chateau turned out to be a fun family activity. Exploring the interior and running around the grounds. The sun was shining, Flora was exploring with her cousins, and Thibault slept on Jaap most of the time. It was a successful family day trip.

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