Sunshine at St. Gerlach

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We just got back from a refreshing morning outside at St. Gerlach. We spent our time walking the grounds, enjoying the scenery, and taking in the beautiful landscape and sculptures. What an aesthetically pleasing place to visit.

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It feels like spring here. Lots of the sunshine and warmer temps this week. This is climate change I suppose. I’m happy with cold weather in February, but I’ll take the sunshine!

My friend Laura suggested coming here this weekend. So we met up, walked around with the kids, got to see some horses and huge furry cows up close, sat outside in the sun for a couple of hours, and just enjoyed the peace and serenity of this place. We were talking about the joy of doing family activities that don’t involve large, screaming playgrounds. This is fun for the kids, but also nice for us.

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And of course— our little outing had to end with some coffee, vlaai, and some lavender madeleine cookies for myself. A lovely Sunday outing with good friends.

 

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Self-Care Weekend

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A simple writing on the wall became an anthem for an incredible weekend full of self-care. I’m full of gratitude for two nights (child-free) with my friends in the Belgian Ardennes. As much as I love my two little humans, I also LOVE being without them sometimes.

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This is our 2nd annual Mama-Girls-Weekend-Getaway in the Ardennes and I’m considering this an official tradition. It was a weekend full of late dinners, lazy mornings, uninterrupted conversations, long walks in the woods, snow (!), relaxing in the sauna, and best of all—- not having to take care of others. How refreshing! We probably consumed too much alcohol, but again—nobody to take care of! These lazy mornings were the best. Just being able to lie in bed and not have to get up to take care of anybody. I had time to read, watch Netflix, and meditate.

And sometimes there were these moments of silence. Nobody felt the need to chat or share something. Just sit there in silence. The whole weekend was just pure joy from start to finish.

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I feel so grateful that Jaap is willing, able, and completely confident in taking care of the kids while I’m away. But mostly, I’m grateful for the friendships I have with these women. God only knows what my mental state would be without their support. Amen for good friends.

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!

 

 

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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Our Barefoot Walk

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A couple weeks ago we went on the Barefoot Walk in Zutendaal, Belgium. I had done it twice before (years ago with work), so I knew Flora would be able to do it. Jaap and I were both shocked that we finished it within the estimated time the park suggested. I was impressed with how much of the trail Thibault was able to walk. He’s a sporty fellow. It was the perfect family activity for one of our last weekends of summer together. We had so much fun. I was so proud of my brave little hikers and nature lovers.

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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.

 

Spring has sprung!

 

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Our best toy purchase ever!

What a fantastic weekend. 20+ degree weather, sunshine, short sleeves, outdoor play. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Our weekend was off to a good start. The kids and I went to Gulpen Friday morning to pick a child safety harness that I purchased second hand from someone. We’re traveling to Ireland in three weeks and I having these visions of Thibault running away from us and jumping off the Cliffs of Moher. It probably sounds ridiculous and a little bit paranoid, but then I saw a toddler wearing one when Flora and I were in Amsterdam. I wanted to high five the mom. I just can’t keep up with T all the time. He gets away quickly and I need some more security with him at the airport and such. Well— turned out to be a nice little trip. Gulpen has a great bakery! Flora and I each had a Berliner bol and Thibault had this delicious homemade pretzel. We’re going back! I can’t stop thinking about the Berliner bol!

Thibault had a great week. He slept through the night several times! It was a miracle. The miracle has now ended. Back to waking up multiple times a night, but fingers crossed that he is trending in the right direction! I think the good weather and allowing us to play outside for pretty much three days straight also helped. The funny thing is— I was still tired! Probably because he was waking up between 5:00-5:45. Here you can see him playing with our aromatherapy diffuser at 5:30 a.m. He loves this, but loves destroying it most of all. My little man is active, active, active! Good for him. I’m seeing toddlerhood in another light this time around. He’s not afraid of anything, which makes me twice as afraid of everything! I love his adventurous spirit. Sometimes I just want to sit down and cuddle. Thankfully— Flora is still a big snuggler. Happy spring!