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!


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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

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

One of those precious moments…

March 5th, 2012 → 5:00 am @

Yesterday my kids all wanted to walk to school – it’s only a five minute walk from our house but we usually bike because as you know, every extra morning minute is like gold – at least in our house. Those actual three minutes saved by biking ensure that all of the kids teeth get brushed or that I get everyone’s hair done, not just the first person I happen to start with.

So off they went, out the back door and towards the path that leads to school. As I finished packing my bag for the day and getting my bike key (which I needed to get to the bus stop after the school drop off), I noticed that they had all left their backpacks on the floor. So I changed my plan of taking the “normal” bike and threw everything into my Bicycle Built for six and sped off after them.

Read the rest of this blog post @ohbabymagazine

Blog &Daily Life &My kids

Jaundice and Newborns

February 22nd, 2012 → 5:01 am @

Two of my kids had jaundice. My firstborn was diagnosed while we were in the hospital and he wasn’t “too” yellow. The doctors put a light blanket under his sleeper and a couple of days later he was “pink” again. I wasn’t worried, as no one else seemed to be.

My third was a different story…

Read the rest of this post

Babies 0-6 months &Blog &My kids

Advantage of having all of the kids at school!

February 20th, 2012 → 5:02 am @

One of the first great advantages of having all of my kids at school occurred during this last week: Skating.

The tiny country of Holland froze completely, every water way, canal, pond, creek, lake – totally and completely frozen, which meant – skating, skating and more skating. And when I say skating – I mean on those long skates that you can speed with. There is more water than road here so hundreds of kilometers of skate-able ice. Bliss. I love to skate.

To see the rest of the blog have a look at

Balance &Blog &Daily Life &My kids

Tip #15 Is it possible to spoil my newborn by holding her too much?

January 26th, 2012 → 11:36 am @

In light of my 4 year old starting school and me not being ready to let go of our now useless buggy – I thought it was appropriate to continue with this next tip/question.

Is it possible to spoil my newborn by holding her too much?

Someone described the first 3 months after birth as being like the 4th trimester.  It’s a great way to look at it.  Your baby is learning to live outside of your tummy – she needs time, comfort, you.

These first months were my favorite – I loved holding my newborns, loved carrying them close to me in my wrap, loved having them fall asleep on my chest while I was laying on the couch. I don’t believe that you can spoil a newborn. We still have very huggable kids. Even our 8 year old boy loves to cuddle And the kids love to hug each other.  Maybe due to all of that cuddling they got as newborns?  Or maybe we are just really really lucky.

Here’s the answer that I wrote in my book:

No. Remember that your baby has just spent 9 months in a very comfortable, warm and safe place. It’s natural to hold your baby a lot and keep her close to you. I do not believe that it’s a good thing to let your baby cry for long periods so that she can get used to being away from you.  Your baby is used to hearing your heartbeat and to smelling you. Enjoy these first months – before you know it you’ll be begging your child for a hug…

Babies 0-6 months &Blog &My kids

Thought I was ready…

January 21st, 2012 → 11:38 am @

As I’ve mentioned, my youngest has started school. I have been waiting for the tears and they haven’t come. So I guess that makes me ready for the next phase right?

However, knowing myself a bit, I find this suspicious. I usually have to cry when I make transitions, and a lot.

Tonight. There I was.  A friend of my husband’s was visiting with her 2 year old son. We were just ending diner when she mentioned that she needed a small buggy. I spontaneously said: You can have ours. We don’t need it anymore.

So I went to get the buggy and as I was taking it down from the hook, I could feel the tears starting. I pushed them away thinking – great – I can give it to someone that can really use it.  I put on a smile, showed her how it worked, how small it was, and to always tell the airlines that it fit in any overhead bin (really does!). She kept asking me if I was sure. I kept saying that I was.

All of my buggy memories started coming back. It’s been everywhere with us.

Then they came. The tears. They came and came. I hid in the kitchen trying to get a grip. Didn’t help. I could hear that she was getting ready to leave so I called for my youngest daughter.  I asked her (through my tears) if we could give the buggy to the little boy. She’s usually really happy to give away things if it’s to someone she knows. Of course, she picked up on my tears and started crying and said no. It was still her buggy. (I’m sure if I hadn’t been crying that this conversation would have been different)…

My husband came into the kitchen to see what was going on and found us together.  I told him that I wasn’t ready. Then I told his friend the same thing and she hugged me for it. Said it was so beautiful to see me crying over the buggy (???) and told me to promise to keep it forever.

Now, I may not do that, after all –  it’s a 10$ buggy from Zellers – in fact it’s my second, as the first one broke.  But I will wait.

I’m actually not ready yet.

(pic of The Buggy coming soon…)

Blog &Daily Life &My kids

Tip #14 What is Colic?

January 19th, 2012 → 11:39 am @

My son cried every night from about 10pm to midnight for no apparent reason. I can’t actually remember when it started and ended but it was about for the first 3 months.

We decided to call it “colic” as we couldn’t find any other reason for his crying. He was fed, burped, in our arms – the rest of the day and night he was ok. I could not handle this at all. Luckily, my husband was able to take over at this time of day – he held him, walked with him, let his son know he was safe and not alone. I, on the other hand, had earplugs in and was under my covers feeling extremely helpless and guilty for not being able to “fix” this.

Then one day it stopped.

Here is the answer found in my book:

Colic is a kind of cramp like thing that about 20% of all newborns get.  Some experts think it has to do with the digestive system (gut is immature) not being fully developed but it’s only a theory. Colicky babies can cry suddenly for minutes or for much longer (hours), usually at the same time of day and often in the evening.  There is very little to do for this but staying calm is very important.  Babies can feel our stress.  There are some “anti-colic” remedies on the market that you can look into that sometimes help but generally you’ll have to wait it out with patience.  As long as your baby is eating and sleeping enough you shouldn’t need to worry. It can be hard for a new mother to deal with excessive crying so ask your partner to take over. Colic is usually gone by 3 months of age.

Babies 0-6 months &Blog &My kids