Three weeks of Christmas

December 4th, 2013 → 10:50 am @

Children dressed in costumes, singing songs at the top of their lungs, line the dock of the harbor in our small village in the Netherlands on the afternoon of November 16. A steamboat purportedly from Spain putters in carrying the group that the kids have waited nearly a year to see again: the Sint and his helpers.

As the ship arrives at the dock and the occupants disembark, the singing transforms into a high-pitched frenzy. With his red coat and long white beard, Sinterklaas looks an awful lot like Santa, but the similarities end there. He’s tall and skinny; he wears a white cassock with a red cape, holds a staff, and his tall red hat has a yellow cross on it. His boat arrives from his home in “Spain” at this time every year.1

He brings his Zwarte Piets (“Black Petes”), the local equivalent of Santa’s elvish helpers, although we never use that word; they’re always called by name. There’s no North Pole and no snow for this bearded guy and his friends.

—– This article was written for The Magazine. To continue reading follow this link!

http://the-magazine.org/30/sints-abilities#.Up8Ie2RDvDU

 

Blog &Daily Life &My kids

Flying with kids… part of the deal of living abroad

June 25th, 2012 → 7:46 am @

I really struggled with the idea that I was going to have a baby far away from Canada and everything I knew.

I debated flying home to have my baby, then realized that would not work as my husband couldn’t just come and hang out for 6-8 weeks while we waited. So I accepted that I would be having my baby here in Amsterdam, without my family and booked a ticket for 6 weeks after his “official” due date.

Lots of time right? Little did I know that he would be 3 weeks late.

Adam (my son) and I flew to Canada when he was less than 3 weeks old, 20 days to be exact. I packed light, wrapped him up into a tight little ball against my chest and left for the airport.

That was my first flight with a child. I have had many since then with my 2, 3 and then 4 kids. I always travel to Canada alone, and my husband meets us later. I have traveled with newborns, while pregnant, with toddlers, crawlers, restless kids and sick ones. I’ve been spit on, thrown up on, dropped food on, slept on – and yet to this day I never bring a spare shirt for myself…

You can read the rest of this blog post at Amsterdam mamas

 

 

 

Babies 0-6 months &Blog &Daily Life

Raising bilingual kids

May 16th, 2012 → 9:37 am @

My kids speak “D’English”, a twist on the word “Franglais” that we used to describe speaking French and English at the same time, when I grew up. D’English is our word for Dutch and English bilingualism.

I was raised in French and English. My mother is the English Canadian, my father the French one. We went to school in French, spoke to my dad in French, TV was English, Mom was English, friends were both. It happened without effort. We lived in a bilingual city. Every one we knew was bilingual.

Now I live in Holland. I’ve mastered the Dutch language (yes, congratulations are in order…) but I am and will always be Canadian, which means we are raising our kids in English and in Dutch. But it’s a bit trickier than it was where I grew up – here, everyone only speaks Dutch; schools are Dutch, friends are Dutch, daily life is Dutch.

Read the rest of the article @amotherworld 

Blog &Daily Life &My kids

A week in the dandelions

May 10th, 2012 → 11:36 am @

We just came back from a week in the dandelions. We ran threw them, rolled in them and even ate them. We made necklaces, clipped them in our hair and even made dandelion syrop. Our shoes got stained, our eyes are still seeing visions of yellow.

Imagine this: great friends, amazing food appearing every night, rolling hills of yellow and green, trees in full blossom, kids taking care of kids…  That’s exactly what our week was like.  I was going to say the best part was: xxx but actually it was all “the best part”.  How great is it to be somewhere where the kids entertain themselves all day outside. The bigger kids took care of the little ones, not because anyone asked but because they wanted to.  My youngest hardly put any feet on the ground as she was carried from place to place by the “teens” and had a new hair-style every hour.   In fact, one day when I actually thought about making lunch for my kids, she looked at my and said: “Mo-om, I already HAD a picnic…”. Oh…

Every night someone took charge of cooking & cocktails. Do you know that there are some people that actually love to cook? I was happy to chop and help and was usually provided with a glass of something to sweeten the deal.  For 6 nights, we ate amazing food that I didn’t make myself.  How great is that?

Now we are back and I’m cooking my regular weekly repertoire longing already for next year’s feast…

 

 

 

Daughter Francesca and I walking a 3 hour gig…

 

Olivia and Julia walking…

Blog &Daily Life &My kids

Mom: The First Weeks

April 16th, 2012 → 9:20 am @

Those first weeks.  I remember receiving a box of “goodies” from our insurance company. Well they weren’t exactly goodies, they actually freaked me out.  Pads the size of pillows, cleaning alcohol, stretch underpants, plastic bed cover (many Dutch women give birth at home so that was for them, i figured) plus a whole lot of other, what I felt, were useless things. Oh and there was also a small teddy bear.  Thanks.  Though I didn’t imagine using anything in the box, I kept it anyway. I mean, one never really knows if something will come in handy. Figured the pads the size of pillows could have some other use (pillow), plastic bed cover handy for changing baby outside, and the underpant things – well i just didn’t understand that one at all.

Then my baby was born. And then I got it. Once again, I hadn’t been exactly prepared for the “after” the birth part of having a baby. Isn’t it enough that we are dealing with a newborn for the first time in our life? Isn’t it enough that we don’t get any sleep? No it’s not. We also get to have an extended “menstruation”. Thanks, whoever came up with that one…  And yes, I made use of mostly everything in that box!

 

Here is what I wrote about it in my book Babies 0-6 months.

Why do I have so much blood discharge?

Ah the joys of having a newborn. This is not one of them… Lochia is the blood discharge that you will experience after birth and is part of your recovery. Remember that you have gained almost 50% more blood during your pregnancy and it is coming out now plus there are some ot

her leftovers (such as mucus and placenta tissue).   This blood discharge can last up to a month but can also be over much more quickly.  During the first few days you will have to use heavy duty pads and change them regularly.  As the week progresses you should be able to use smaller ones: however, don’t use tampons because they can introduce bacteria into your uterus and vagina causing infection.  It’s important to note that this is not your first “menstruation” but only looks like it. If you are breastfeeding full time you will not likely have a menstruation until you start weaning.

 

Babies 0-6 months &Blog

No time to eat…

April 5th, 2012 → 12:23 pm @

During those first weeks, I remember feeling completely overwhelmed sitting at home with my newborn.  I couldn’t even manage to make a sandwich, and if I did, I sure didn’t have time to eat it.

I remember so clearly sitting on the couch while breastfeeding my son and looking at my lunch waiting for me at the table. The table that at the moment, was so incredibly far away. Somehow I had found time to make myself a feta salad with some thick slices of fresh bread (It was a hot summer!).  My lunch had made itself to the table but never made it into my stomach.

My son on the other hand -ate all the time (and I do mean all the time) and if he wasn’t eating, I was changing his diaper or his clothes, bathing him or letting him suck on my baby finger while he fell asleep. And when a newborn is sucking on your finger, half asleep, it’s hard to use a fork.  When I tried to transfer him to his crib, he woke up immediately and cried.  Being my first born – I picked him up, gave him my pinky and sat there until he woke up from his nap, ready for more food.

Needless to say, this was a great way to loose weight – but it for sure wasn’t the idea and not in any way a good one either.  Good nutrition is so important for a breast-feeding mom (or any other new mom for that matter).  Luckily my husband did the cooking at night and I slowly got the hang of our new daily routine, including how to eat with a newborn.

By #4, I was cooking for 5 and breastfeeding at the same time (well not exactly but you get the picture). It  became  second nature and it was a lot easier for me to put her down and let her cry (luckily she hardly ever did this) to get other things done than it had been when my first was born.

 

Here is the “short” answer from my book Babies 0-6 months

Tip# 21 Mom, the first weeks: I’m so tired and busy with my newborn that I don’t even have time to eat..

It can be overwhelming to care for a newborn and the learning curve is steep. However eating properly is key to feeling less tired so it can be a vicious circle. If you are really unable to prepare meals then think about investing a little money in some of the “prepared” nutritious meals from the grocery stores or ask family and friends to help you through those first weeks. Most people are only too happy to help if you ask.

Babies 0-6 months &Blog

I had no idea I would be so tired…

March 29th, 2012 → 10:47 am @

I remember the first days thinking “I’m not that tired, in fact I’m not really tired at all”.  Everyone had told me I would be tired and I wasn’t. I was pretty excited that I would be an exception… Then it hit me. Ka-bang! One can only sustain so many night time wake ups and restless sleeping. I was also breast-feeding, what felt like, all the time. And boy, was I tired. I did try and sleep in the afternoons, tried to get to bed ‘early’ but the nights – well it’s just not a good thing to be woken up 3-4 times a night. It’s one of the few things that just doesn’t make sense in the development of a baby.

Fast forward to #4 and I can tell you that the tired I thought I felt was nothing compared to the tiredness after my 4th was born. I was used to living in a constant flow of exhaustion so figured I’d already hit the bottom. Wrong.  I made it through the days in large part, due to my body’s adrenaline and second, because we all slept every single afternoon. All 5 of us (me and the 4 kids), from 1-3pm (4pm) if I was lucky.

Today, while all of the kids sleep through the night, I still haven’t caught up on my sleep. I still feel tired all the time but it’s all relative now. I’m much less tired than I was a couple of years ago…

Here is the “short” answer from my book Babies 0-6 months

Tip# 20 Mom, the first weeks:

Funny that despite the fact that everyone and their dogs tell us that we will be exhausted, we can’t actually imagine how we will feel until we are in it. If this is your first child, then sleep (or rest) when the baby sleeps.. If you are breastfeeding, increase your food intake because you are now really eating for two, so good nutrition is very important. The production of breast milk and feeding can be exhausting on its own. Getting your baby into a night rhythm will also help.

Babies 0-6 months &Blog &Daily Life

How do I teach my newborn to breastfeed?

March 25th, 2012 → 9:16 pm @

I breastfed my kids. I didn’t know if it would work, if I would like it, how long I would try etc. Then there I was, minutes after birth, with a newborn that seemed to know a lot more about it than I did.  It was a strange feeling that over time became almost unnoticeable (except for the copious amounts of water I had to drink) but it sure took some time before I really got the hang of it.

Here is the answers found in my book Babies 0-6 months.

This is pure animal instinct but it does take some time and energy for both you and your baby to find a rhythm… Babies are born with the instinct to latch on and suckle. In fact the only natural reflexes they are born with is crying and sucking. When placed close to your nipple, she will know exactly what to do. You will have to guide your baby’s mouth a bit and make sure that she is latched on properly and abracadabra, out comes a drink.  The first days something called colostrum (for some thick and yellow, for others thin and watery) comes out of your nipples which is followed by actual breast milk. The sucking kicks in your hormones and sends a message to produce breast milk. But also know that most images you see in books and on TV make it look like a magical and easy experience but it’s not for many mom’s at first… Magical yes, easy, not always…

Babies 0-6 months &Blog &My kids

Co-ed Naked Saunas…

March 18th, 2012 → 9:21 am @

Imagine this: steam rooms, dry saunas, baths, a huge indoor/outdoor pool, jacuzzis, warm temperatures, water beds for relaxing, color rooms, silent rooms, salt rooms, massages, scrubs, perfect showers and no kids… bliss.

Now imagine this 100% naked with men and women. A lot of them. Still feel relaxing?

Read the rest of this blog post at amotherworld.com http://bit.ly/yVtFWF 

Balance &Blog &Daily Life

Skating Fever

January 31st, 2012 → 11:32 am @

We have had 2 days of below zero here in NL. That is cause enough for people to get their skates sharpened and to develop a crazy level of skate frenzy stress that you’d have to see to believe.

There is no ice yet – ok – actually there is a very thin layer of ice developing over the canals and ponds in the countryside. A very thin layer right now. But it’s ice.

There is such a hope for skating that they have turned off some of the wind turbines that pump water through the canals to give it more chance of freezing and I read in the paper this morning that they have banned boats from cruising out on certain ponds. The “ice men” are frequently checking for new mm’s (millimeters, not m&m chocolate…), getting rid of any debris they see floating in the water.

The official amount of mm’s (see above…) for skating is 7cm ( i think). From a Canadian’s standpoint – that sure doesn’t sound like a lot – but I must admit I have been out there – and on occasion, as one of the first.  We go out with a rope and pick in case we go through the ice. The idea being that you can throw the rope out to someone and/or use the pick (looks like a screwdriver – in fact, my husband sometimes brings a screwdriver…) to give you grip to get out of the ice.  I’ve never fallen through though I have gotten a wet foot – but we have seem people fall through – even offered one guy a hot shower once. The water is cold after all…

The ice can be so thin that it moves when you are skating. You can hear it cracking and re-adjusting.  It rarely freeze under the many bridges so the ice-men make smaller wooden bridges to get over the water.

I must also say that almost everywhere that we are likely to skate, the water depth is no more than 2m – in many case even less… so that helps put the 7cm in perspective – right?

People will not go to work in order to skate – and it will be ok as the boss will also be skating. They will cancel vacations, meetings, find babysitters, let go of all other responsibility. There will be impromptu hot chocolate stalls set up on the ice (we did that one year and made a killing!), and everyone everywhere will be happy.  I mean, really really Happy.

Our friends will flock in droves. The emails and tweets about the ice are already starting. My husband (as well as many of our neighbors) has his own skate sharpener which he’ll be using this week to get everyones skates ready.

I love to skate. Speed skating that is. With the long blades and leather boots. Skating over the ponds, through the grassy swamplands, rosy cheeks and cold feet, huge smiles on everyone I see – it’s up there in my favorite things to do.

So. Let There Be Ice!!!

 

 

Blog &Daily Life