:: stamped nostalgia ::

While Eunice was crossing the country in a very loud way, my husband and I were on a nostalgic trip ever since we discovered my husband’s old stamp collection in one of the boxes that I went through. The beauty of it: my son is very much intrigued too and yesterday his first album finally arrived. He had been asking for it for a while now, often enough to make me believe that he was genuinely interested in building his own collection.

old Belgian stamps
All those stamps in old Belgian francs. I remember each time when postal services upped the price for sending a letter, we had to buy new stamps, or a sheet of very cheap stamps to complement the previous value.

I had a small envelope with international stamps I saved from my last Postcrossing-episode. He was delighted and we spent the day trying to get them off, which worked for almost all of them. When we also found a big batch of Belgian stamps and a box of old letters that were still in stamped envelopes, we decided another album would come in handy.
Good thing too: I got rid of the letters, which were filled with the most impossible adolescent drama. It’s not nice to throw away letters, but I finally cringed at the idea of rereading them, let alone my kids ever reading them, so this was the last little nudge I needed to delete that shoebox from my life.

Watching him arrange the stamps carefully brought back so many fond memories. My grandfather was very proud of his and showed us how it worked. He would always bring us some doubles. I especially liked the bird series, and they were plenty.

stamp european nuthatch
This one was my favorite – a European nuthatch!

My grandfather also checked contest answers of a magazine my uncle worked for. On a regular basis a big box of envelopes found its way to their large dining room table. He and my grandmother were very routinated and worked like a machine to get the forms out, check for stamps on the envelopes, and then sorting the answers into a pile of totally correct ones, a pile with only one mistake and so on. They had a special red pen to do that and whenever I was sleeping there when one of those boxes arrived, I was invited to help. I felt so proud and involved and I almost forgot about it, until a few days ago.

envelopes stamp collection
It took me a while to know what all those weird country names were ūüôā

My mother sent me pictures of our stamp collections (and reclaimed albums), and the gazillion little envelopes with international stamps. On each of them is the name of the country, in my handwriting. I can still feel the pure joy that ran through my veins when I sorted everything out.

It’s a bit harder to fuel the hobby today though. People aren’t exactly writing letters or postcards anymore. Of course, there are some options. I could buy a batch from those sellers who offer them for scrapbooking. But because the slow and steady flow of stamps coming in was part of the fun, I spread the word in the family. And I reactivated my Postcrossing account. That too. So far for my ‘cheaper than Pok√©mon shizzle’ math. But at least it will be way more fun to open the mailbox in the coming weeks!

:: let there be… a mission ::

Something must have clicked, because before I doozed off to sleep, I was allowing myself to make mental pictures of my ideal at home situation – mainly focusing on the kids. I decided to make a list (don’t you love lists) with the things that in my opinion would help make this place a cosy nest, glowing with warmth and solid connections. I focused mainly on what I could do and provide, and tried to incorporate things that are already happening.

homebaked chocolate cookies
Let there always be something homebaked to nibble on

Okay, I admit, that is really my perfectionist side coming through. Let me defend myself: I love cooking. I’ve never really had a thing for baking though, because I’m not that much of a sweet tooth. Enter my kids. Especially when they come home from school and they are hungry. Even with full lunchboxes and snacks they always seem on the edge of starvation the second they run through the front door at 3.30 pm. So I provide snacks. Fruit and a cookie or something similar. And I want that cookie to be homebaked for some reason. It just seems the perfect way to show some love. And they can help me bake in the weekends or on afternoons. And I’ll up my baking game. Nothing but wins here.

Let there always be something to read by someone who wants to read it

That’s a biggie and we are already good at it. My youngest quite often asks me to read alout, totally neglecting the screen. And now that my boy starts to read by himself, he does his own bedtime story just before I tell hem a chapter from a chapter book. But I would love to have more reading time during the day, especially for my son.
I try to model reading as often as I can (doesn’t cost me much of an effort). When you ask my son what his mother likes to do, he’ll answer without hesitation: read books. In peace. There would be a lot more peace in the world if everyone just read instead of bickering.

Let there be games for all of us to play

Game night. I know quite some families who rock the concept. Not ours. Personally, I never really cared about games. But my children like it. The thing is: they can learn a lot from games. Biggest challenge: accepting bad luck or not winning. We have a lot of small games to play, but I have the feeling my 6 year old will be ready soon for some more extended board games. If you know some good board games, especially those that don’t focus on playing against each other, I’ll happily take suggestions.

children in the woods
Let’s go outside

Again: something the kids won’t mind at all. For me, it’s a different story. Especially when weather is bad and you have to put on coats and boots. We have some decent places to walk here, but it already takes the same time to get there by foot. I’m always losing my puff on that part. Two weeks ago I randomly decided to take a walk in the woods and drove 15 minutes to go there. It was rather fun and we came home tired and energized at the same time. I want more of that, but it seems so counterintuitive to drive somewhere to spend time outside. See all the ‘buts’? It’s merely in my mind. I should get over it, especially during the colder months that are coming. My oldest has soccer practice and game, and a weekly youth club where they spend the afternoon outside, so he’s covered. My youngest though… she could use some fresh air!

Let’s say nice things about each other

I’ve never wanted to be a yelling mother (who does), but I have to admit that I’ve totally become one. I try not to be mean, but with my kids, I’m losing my temper rather quickly. I don’t say hurtful things but even then, yelling is not okay. Instead of focusing on stopping the yelling (which I have tried already often times), I’ll try to model the behavior I do want to see in my kids (and hopefully I’m too busy doing that and the yelling will lessen a lot). I’ll make a special effort to double the nice things I say to my kids. To aknowledge they make me happy and to point out what I appreciate in their behavior. The same goes for my husband: I want to focus on all the things I like about him (which is plenty) instead of nagging about where he got it wrong. It’s something I personally want to work on, but I hope this will spread out naturally and reinforce our natural kindness. We are kind people after all!

:: Fallen in love ::

And then, two and a half weeks later, you realize that the one thing you would want the whole world to know, didn’t make it into your blog yet… just because that one thing makes you completely forget about the world every time you look at her.

She was born on the 16th of September, she made the obgyn do a little sprint, let her dad’s soup go cold, and she owns my heart (and, to be honest, at least one of my hands… the things you learn to do one-handedly!)

 

 

:: and things will change forever ::

 

A smile fled over her face when she noticed he had fallen asleep against her arm and she was careful not to move. It didn’t happen all that often anymore that she could feel the soft rising of his chest against her side, despite too many honest attempts at the wee hours of the day, when she tried to get him to sleep again, by curling up around him.

She had enjoyed to read another chapter, just like that, not in the least disturbed by anything that yet had to be done. Unfortunately, a sharp pain in the back and a few rather well-pointed kicks on her bladder helped her remember she couldn’t doze away unpunished in any position she’d like.

It was exactly for that reason she had chosen to stay home today, vaguely bothered by a feeling of guilt, partly because she was actually longing for the moment she really didn’t have to think about school again. This pregnancy had proven to be so different from the other one. The seemingly everlasting morning sickness (that lasted all day) and now that excruciating pain in the back that made her nights a lot less refreshing than they should be. Her daughter already manifested herself as a very lively little lady and she was curious and nervous at the same time to meet her in September.

change_forever_SoH
#tiny #fmsphotoaday

A few days ago she had been crying at the view of a series of images showing mothers saying goodbye to their eldest, just before they gave birth. She thought it was heartbreaking – her son didn’t ask for all of this and even if she felt confident about things turning out just well, she cringed when she thought about how his world would be upside down in only a few months and how things would change forever.

An exercice in letting go. Already.

 

Bucketlist for toddlers #1 – the cookie edition

fun with toddlers
Today me will live in the moment; unless it’s unpleasant, in which case me will eat a cookie – Cookie Monster

  • Eat double layered chocolate cookies by opening them, licking the chocolate and totally ignoring the cookies. Preferably invent this procedure in the car, smearing chocolate all over and being just out of reach of those annoying baby wipes.

 

  • Discover a small carton filled with eggs that mummy thoughtfully put out of your reach in the middle of the kitchen table. Surprise her by reaching them anyway. Be very quiet when you paint the egg yolks all over your face, hands, the floor and whatever strikes your fancy.

 

  • Throw a nice tantrum when your favorite cookies are out of stock. Make your parents feel really guilty and bring a few boxes of them when they go grocery shopping next time. Decide you don’t like them anymore. (Bonus points for choosing a brand even your dad doesn’t like).

 

  • Get punished in daycare for taking toys of your¬†toddler colleagues. When you have to stand in the corner next to the carer’s table, spot the pack of chocolate cookies on it. Be very quiet and hide under the table. Try to eat as many as you can before you get discovered.

 

 

I love these lists (especially when the moment is behind me or when it’s not my child). Please share your¬†stories in the comments!

Little Boy reads

Even if Little Boy is really very tired when I pick him up from daycare, we still like to read at least one book before going to bed. I made sure to pick some books that had a few sentences of text – a nice rhythm, or a hint of a story I could tell. While he loves books with separate words and name giving, in my experience the bedtime books need to have a story, so he can just watch.

For many readers, these will be maybe less usable, a lot of the books is only published in Dutch and therefore maybe a little less interesting in¬†the other end of the world. I’ll give a brief description anyway, because well, you just never know…

 

littleboyreads1

All of the books together and the translated version of ‘Das gross Buch der Bilder und W√∂rter’ by Ole K√∂nneke. It’s the least favorite right now, because the images aren’t fully recognizable yet for Little Boy and there are a lot of things that aren’t yet part of his world.

 

littleboyreads2

Two bedtime books! The first one belongs to our favorite series, Noodles: Noodle loves bedtime, by Marion Billet. He likes the one with the cars and trains better, but this one is nice also. The second one is Het grote slaap-boek, by Guido van Genechten. Only in Dutch as far as I can find. It shows different animals and how they sleep, with a little sentence as a comment. Very funny.

The one below is from the same illustrator/author, Kijk je mee? We have another one in this series with wildlife in our own collection, this one is about domestic and farm animals. Little Boy likes them and the peacock is his new favorite!

littleboyreads3

 

 

He’s very into animals anyway. What I like (and Little Boy agrees) about the next one, is the mix of (shutter stock) pictures and drawings. It’s just called Huisdieren, by Mack, and every page has a comment, that I often play around with.

 

 

littleboyreads4

 

 

But the absolute winner lately must be the last one, it’s a recent buy and it’s a watch- and- look- book. Originally in German (Was machen air auf dem Land/in der Stadt?, by Lila L. Leiber, it once were separate books, but my copy unites both parts), it’s interesting for chidden of very young ages but for older ones too because of the things to look for (like in: why is the woman panicking, who doesn’t like cows, how many ducks can you see,‚Ķ). I handed the book over on a very busy morning where Little Boy was whining, his dad was still in the bathroom and I had to leave for work. He hasn’t even looked at me anymore, that book was an instant success!

littleboyreads5

 

 

 

 

Sharing with 
Kristen @ Yes Works For Me Wednesday

5 things to consider when buying children’s toys

Are you looking for the best advice anyone could ever give you when it comes to toys? Well, here you have it. For free. Because I’m generous like that.

Stop. Buying. Them.

 

toys

 

  • I am not a material girl. I’ll like my share of comfort, but I don’t care too much about stuff. But when it comes to Little Boy, I seem to have lost control. I’m aging completely nuts. Lots of what I buy is second-hand or thrifted, but still I have a problem. That child¬†has way too many toys. And the thing is: give him a set of his old plastic spoons and some empty yoghurt cup and he’s the happiest kid in the world. The best toys seem to be the things that aren’t toys.

 

  • You would be surprised at the quantity of toys that can be created by upcyling. I recently did a post about empty milk tins, but even if I look at my bunch of 17-year old guys at school, I’m stunned with how they make the most fantastic airplanes out of two pencils and a paperclip.

 

  • No toy can beat playing outside. Take walks, watch birds, look for some chickens in the neighborhood (or deer of rabbits or whatever animal can be seen through the neighbor’s fence), let your little one pick up pine cones, gather rocks, hide behind bushes‚Ķ We just recently installed a very cheap sand pit and it’s a hit!

 

 

outsideplay

 

  • Ever bought a toy you really thought your kid would love and then been disappointed when he¬†didn’t even look at it? Once I was very proud to discover a toy he had played with for an entire hour at the doctor’s office. I only paid a few euros for it, but he has never touched it. Apparently there is some rule that states certain toys¬†belong to certain places.

 

  • At numerous occasions, I was planning on taking some of his old toys upstairs to store them, when I discovered Little Boy¬†was finding new ways to play with them, even if he would be ‘too old’. The same toys, when offered at different moments, can be an endless source of fun because the time lapse and the evolution of your little one’s capacities make up for a different perspective.

 

I really should listen to my own advice by the way.

 

 

 

Sharing with
Kathy @ Titus 2 Tuesday linkup
Kirsten @ Works For Me Wednesday
Beth @ Wedded Wednesday

Little Boy reads

Little Boy loves reading. Although there was no forcing him into loving books, he does naturally and I’m glad he does. So we head to the library to pick up some books. While I love the trip, I hate coming back, because Little Boy hates it too, obviously. He could run around there, surrounded by books, for hours.

So I thought I would show you our last ‘harvest’. I was planning on returning them Wednesday, but writing this post made me realize that there’s missing one. Oh lord. No idea where it has gone. But let’s look at the ones I have here with me…

 

book harvest one

 

Noodle loves to drive (Marion Billet) is a real favorite. It’s the second time already we brought this one home, because it’s a book where he also really appreciates the story and the rhythm of the words that come with the images. I will bring it home more often, because that’s the only book he lets me read without flipping the pages on his own pace. And he repeats it in his own way. There are other Noodles books and they are lovely too, but this one is just ‘tha bomb.’

book harvest noodles

Die daar is what we’re currently reading a lot. It’s Dutch and as far as I know it’s not translated, but that doesn’t really seem to matter as it is not about the text. I like this one because it’s useable on so many levels. Right now, Little Boy shows me everything so I can name it. Sometimes he tries to mimic what I say. The images are thrown together by ‘category’, like ‘all things green’, or ‘things that go fast’ or ‘auch’. And on almost every page there is something to play with, r something that moves or,… we love this one and I really love the fact that it’s real life pictures without the matching words.

book harvest die

Piep! een nieuwe dag is also in Dutch (it’s about a mouse named Piep, and how a traditional day looks like). On the left page there’s a simple line of text (love the typography and the solid colors or the pages), on the right there’s the image. I like the style and it’s really close to Little Boy’s world. Not that he seems to care. He’s flipping through the pages and that’s about it.

book harvest piep

And the last one is a ‘lookbook’ by Anne Suess. I love her books. No texts, but drawings that can carry you away forever. So many things to look at, to talk about. My Little Boy loves it and it’s a book he happily plays with and reads aloud all by himself for quite some time (and let me assure you, that’s quite a thing here). I bought another book of hers about fairy tales and while he loves it too, I can’t wait for him to grow a little older so I can all the fairy tales that are hidden in the filled pages. If you have any suggestions on more books of that kind, please do!

book harvest suess