Weekend Calm

This weekend was full of rest, relaxation, fresh air, and tidying up around the house. I was never a person who needed the weekends to look forward to. But now, I need them to survive. Judith describes are job now as soul crushing, mega boring, and unrewarding. Exactly. I used to love going into work and now I hate remote teaching. It’s so physically draining. It’s hard to cope. I’m SO GRATEFUL our kids can go to the noodopvang 2X per week. Thank God. In the meantime, I’m trying to breathe deep, stretch a lot, keep up with my daily meditations, and just keep on going. Hugs to myself.

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

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Pompoen Parade

Some traditions are surviving the pandemic. Autumn walks, outdoor dining (well not anymore), and the Pompoen Parade in Aalbeek.

When we’re able to continue the fun through this pandemic—it brings us joy. The pompoen parade is always a highlight. This year I chose a glass of wine instead of pumpkin taart. Good switch! And this little beer garden at the brewery in Gulpen is so gezellig. Delicious cheese! In fact I can’t stop thinking about it.

Local brews in Gulpen

A Rondje in Stevensweert

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We had a fantastic day yesterday and discovered a new gem in Zuid Limburg. I LOVE exploring new nature walks. We went with my friend Laura and her family. These kids walked 5,8 kilometres! After the first 1.5 hours of consistent complaining, things went well!

I read about this Rondje Molenplas in our quarterly Natuurmonumenten magazine. Not far from Thorn around a little lake in Stevensweert. It looks like OERR and Natuurmonumenten sponsor the building of the “Speelnatuur” playground outside the brasserie.

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The hike was beautiful. Lots of horses and cows along the way, ducks and swans on the little pebble “beach” on the far side of the lake. Crossing the pond over big boulders and nice lookout points all along. The sun was shining (Thibault was very content and Flora was pretty happy). They both waked a long way and I was super proud of them. 5,8 kilometres is quite the stretch for young children, but we were rewarded nicely with a great play area complete with water pump and sand. I think we could have stayed there another 2 hours!

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The Annual Pumpkin Parade

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The annual Pompoen Parade! I love this day. There is a lavender nursery in Aalbeek that hosts a “pumpkin parade” weekend every year. It’s a nice family activity to do on the weekend. I find the whole place aesthetically pleasing. The entire property wafts the scent of lavender, beautiful multi-colored and weird shaped pumpkins are scattered about and there is a tiny play area for kids. Throw in a piece of poempoentaart and the afternoon is complete.

Flora had done some exploring of her own and was excited to show a little quiet place she said was a nice place to sit and relax. 🙂

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Dinant, Belgium with Family

 

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Hugging the mermaid saxophone in Dinant

Dinant is the perfect weekend getaway from Maastricht. I have wanted to travel here for a long time. I always thought we would make it a day trip, but with two little ones, it’s too far from Maastricht because there are so many great activities and sights to see.

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So, in no particular order– here are my top 10 favorite memories in Dinant.

1. Saxophones on Charles-de-Gaulle Bridge. 

Flora and I both agreed. The best saxophone on this bridge was the mermaid sax from Denmark. What a unique and modern twist to this city. Very nice to stroll and look at all the saxophones from different countries. And also cool to be in the birthplace of the saxophone.

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2. Dinner by the water on Rue Adolphe Sax

A friend of mine gave us a recommendation for a “cheap and cheerful” pizzeria on the main street next to the water. Yummy eats and rosé wine! We were happy customers and the view was great.

3. Cable car ride up to the Citadel 

Just one of the many reasons I thought this city was child friendly—the cable car. It was a family hit and the views are really stunning. The top of the cathedral is so unique. This was special. It reminded Jaap and I of the Roosevelt Island days in NYC.

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4. Beer & a Speeltuin at the Citadel

We walked around the Citadel a little bit. You have to take a guided tour (which is included in the cable car ride price) to see most of the Citadel, but sometimes when traveling with little tots—the guided tours are just not possible. So we walked around parts of the Citadel, learned a little bit more about Dinant’s history during WWI, and headed to the speeltuin. Of course, this was the highlight. And what better way to enjoy a playground than drinking a beer and watching your kids play. The Leffe Abbey & brewery is right in Dinant, so we were drinking local. 🙂

5. Marsedsous Brewery

Another great place to go with kids. We took a stroll through the church, enjoyed their large playground, sat outside for a bit, and enjoyed dinner and a beer flight at the cafeteria. Ordering our meal was a nightmare (nobody spoke Dutch or English), but we still had a good meal. Another beer and speeltuin recommendation!

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6. Learning about Adolphe Sax

Dinant has a free, one room museum about Adolphe Sax and how he invented a new family of instruments. A museum that only takes 5 minutes to see. Another win for small children!

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7. Côte Sax Tea Room 

This cute little tea room was a great place for us to grab a cup of coffee, some ice cream, and an late afternoon snack. We enjoyed some yummy crêpes and they were very welcoming with children. And everyone was fluent in Dutch and English.

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8. Railbikes in Warnant

This was my favorite part of the trip! This was a huge family hit. We did an 8K route from Warnant, which was only 10 minutes from our house. The weather was perfect, the views were beautiful, and everyone had a great time. After our coffee break at the turn around point, Thibault fell asleep on Mom all the way back. It was hilarious. Cycling there Jaap and I didn’t realize we were on a small incline because on the way back, we pretty much coasted the whole way.

9. Dinant Cathedral

The top of this cathedral is quite unique. Of course, we had to light a candle. 🙂

10. Château de Frëyr and a picnic lunch

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Jaap’s favorite meal of the trip was our lunch at Château de Frëyr. Bread and Nutella is the way to this man’s heart. There is no food on site, but the cashier suggested us making a picnic lunch. Perfect. This was a fun place for us to walk around the grounds. The large hedges were fun to walk through. Another bonus were the rock climbers across the river leading up to the castle. It was fun to try and find them on the rocks.

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Another successful family trip. I absolutely fell in love with this little city and continue to fall more in love with Belgium. What a beautiful and delicious country! I just felt so happy the entire weekend. Maybe it was the beer, being with all my favorite people, I’m not sure. Whatever it was— I will always have great memories of this trip to Dinant.

 

The Goat Whisperer

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Thibault is an animal lover. His new favorite book is First 100 Animals, which has just taken over Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? He just loves pictures of animals and making animal sounds. Just recently (within the last few days) he has started making more than one animal sound. I just love how enthusiastic he is when he is around animals. My father-in-law told me we should buy a dog because he walked around our neighbourhood playground following  a dog for about 30 minutes last week. 🙂

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We took my mom to the Gaia Zoo two weeks ago. I knew she would love it as much as the kids. It was a great day. Thibault has no fear, which is scary as hell. He tried to jump into the Reindeer and monkey quarters just to get a closer look. I love his spirit and “anything is possible” attitude. I have to remind myself to live more like Thibault everyday. A little less dangerous, but without second guessing anything.

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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