The Holidays 2019

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As 2019 is coming to an end, I’m taking some time to reflect on our 2019 Christmas season. It was a time of ups and downs for me, but in general a happy holiday this year. Even while I was in the thick of things, I thought to myself— why am I doing this?! Because doing more “Christmassy” activities throughout December make me happier? Because I’m trying to make special holiday memories with my children? Perhaps I planned too much. I realized that less is more. Even though I made a deliberate effort to schedule less, plan fewer things with friends, plan fewer family activities, it still felt like a little too much at time. At the same time, December is always one of the busiest times of year at work for me, so that doesn’t help either. In the end, it was a joyful time for us. There are some holiday traditions that I just can’t let go of. Even if it feels like too much at certain moments, I need these things to make me feel like I’m home. Especially at this magical age for my children.

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In random order some of the things we did this Christmas season:

Decorating gingerbread cookies from Ikea, family day trip to the Aachen Christmas market, ice skating (!?) & rides at the Maastricht Christmas market, Christmas brunch with the Jansens in Gorinchem, lots of cookie (and brownie) baking, Flora’s Christmas market at school, movies with Flora & friends for Frozen II, Thanksgiving at Ann’s, lots of naps on the couch for Thibault, reading Christmas books at bedtime, singing the 12 days of Christmas and Thibault’s 5 golden rings solo, decorating the Christmas tree, baking cookies with Ann, hosting Christmas Eve with friends & colleagues, watching Elf and Home Alone as a family, Flora losing two more  teeth, holiday caroling & Talent Show at work, getting the flu (again!?)…the list goes on a little bit more, but I realize how insane this looks now.

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Despite the busyness, there were many magical moments. Flora has the Christmas spirit. She loves everything about the holidays and is not obsessed with gifts. I’m so grateful for that. She asks Sinterklaas for 3 toys and wants the rest as a surprise. I just love that.

Some other moments to remember: Flora telling us how much she loves Sint and Santa, Thibault knowing who Santa is and that he brings present, reading the Christmas story with them at bedtime, watching Flora play with her Lego gifts for hours on end, Thibault wanting to learn how to ride his new bike that’s too big for him..I really feel like this is a magical age for us. With all of this, I also want the story of giving and kindness that surrounds the Christmas story to also be a part of our family. I have memories of my father sharing with us what the real meaning of Christmas is. Even though he is not a religious man, he made sure the true spirit of Christmas was central. I hope that these two grow up with that same feeling.

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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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Yikes! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

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Thibault enjoying a Snickerdoodle

The first snowfall of the year (that lasted 3 hours), the annual Christmas cookie baking party, and lots of things happening in our household. I read today that there are only 6 days until Christmas. Yikes. How does this month always go so fast?

I am enjoying a moment of zen right now. Sitting in my house enjoying a hot chocolate from my Secret Santa, admiring the lit candles, Thibault is taking a nap, and Flora is at school. 45 minutes of zen right here! Let’s celebrate it!

I will admit we have had a difficult month. We found out two weeks ago that Thibault is suffering from some hearing loss. I was initially very upset and emotional. Almost immediately we learned that the hearing loss is most likely due to fluid in his middle ear. The good news is his inner ear hearing is apparently fine. However, he needs to have tubes put in his ears to release the fluid. The ENT doctors believe that his hearing will improve immediately after the surgery. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that my little man is going to be alright. My heart breaks for him. He doesn’t know the difference, but he does not hear nearly as much as we thought he did. The audiologist says it’s like he’s wearing soft earplugs all the time. Ugh. It’s been hard learning this. I just want him to be happy and healthy. We see that he is frustrated, cannot always communicate with us, and for us— he is extremely loud. Sometimes I have to plug my ears while I’m holding him because he is so loud.

Well— moving forward. His next appointment at the hospital is mid- January and we  will take things step by step. In the meantime, we are trying to enjoy a cozy Christmas together. Cooking baking party with friends, a trip to the theatre coming up this weekend, and hopefully a trip to the market in Maastricht. This month is flying by!

Weekend Fun: Aachen Christmas Market

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What a fabulous weekend. Two nights at home, no where to go, no one to see, nothing planned except 100% quality family time with my cuties.

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I love creating these traditions. It’s now our third visit to the market since Thibault’s birth. Is it a tradition? I think it’s official. Not to mention, the thrill of living so close to different countries will never fade for me. 30 minutes in the car and we’re at a beautiful, authentic German Christmas market in Aachen. This market is very special. And a little gluhwein buzz at 12:00 noon is always a good idea on a busy holiday outing!

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On Sunday, Flora and I whipped up a batch of these during Thibault’s super long nap.  How cute are these cookies? I love Christmastime and naptime!

 

 

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.