Tschüss Kindergarten, Hallo Schultüte!

Tchüss Kindergarten, Hallo Schultüte!

Today is the first day of School here in Bavaria, the southern part of Germany and my daughter finally said Tschüss (Goodbye) to Kindergaten and said “Hallo to her Schultüte”…Sie ist endlich ein Schulkind, finally now that she turned 6, she is finally starting School…

As a parent, this whole new experience is bringing us mixed emotions. Schools are finally reopening—with masks, Abstand ( or distance of min. 1.5 Meters) and strict hygienic concepts and many more other restrictions. For the first time , this is all happening, children are finally back to school, as we also all gone back to work, right on the verge of Corona virus chaos.On the other hand, we are proud parents that our child is having her new milestone, new challenge and definitely making big leaps of growth.But then for the same scary virus, part of me always have this fear and a bag full of worries. Fear of the unknown, because we all know that as long as the virus is still out there, we can never feel safe enough.

But then for most of us, especially in the eyes of the little children…life must go on…

Starting school in Germany with a big “Schultüte” or School cone

As an Expat mama, I am sharing this special post because here in Germany, I have seen something else. Something unique, something worthy of sharing . Something that I have never seen in my homeland or in any parts of Europe. Here, children starts school with a “Schultüte” or simply a School cone! This is totally German, and every single child here who enters the first grade in school must bring one on his/her first day of school. That is why this day is so special and celebrated !

What is a ” Schultüte” ?

Schultüte is actually a “Zuckertüte” or sweetbag ,or rather cone. A paper cone full of sweet surprises, like a big fat Christmas socks that is stuff with gifts! I have read that Shultüte is an old German tradition way back since 1810. First stories about Schultüte starts in Jena, Leipzig and Dresden so mainly on the Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia areas in Germany.But then nowadays, this nationwide tradition is widely celebrated by all children whoare about to start school in Germany.

The school normally starts on the 1st week of September, right after a long Summer break. On the first day, you will notice that the streets is filled with children (along with their parents) carrying this huge cone and their trendy Schulranzen (Backpacks). That is really a lovely sight to watch. Most of the time, parents are as excited as their kids!

Why German Schulranzen is Unique?

The Backpack and the School cone (Schultüte)

Here in Germany, Backpacks or Schulranzen says it all. I never imagined that Backpacks were that important here.I remember when I was young, many children does not need to have new things for school, but here…forget it, Schulranzen is very important, let alone expensive! Every child needs to have a decent Schulranzen. It´s like their weapon for their next battle.

But it looks to bulky and heavy…and how can they carry it while riding their bikes? “

Schulranzen is an important matter for every first grade children here in Germany.The backpack must be for functional use, compact, stable ,and will not hurt their backs ! ( Very important!) It is an important factor when buying one is that papers don´t get bent, and snacks dont get squished! Think about German mentality and perfection in every single thing. To give you an idea what children needs on their first grade, take a look at the photos below. This will give you an idea what you need to prepare aside from the Schultüte on the first day of school! This is the list that we´ve got from the School and bought!

With this, you might have an idea that starting school means you will spend probably hundreds and hundreds of Euros, all for a good start.My daughter chose her own design for her Schultüte, which happened to match her Schulranzen.

For me persoally ,the start of school in Germany is quite special. Yesterday we had a simple mass in the church for the first graders to be blessed, and today, they are rewarded with their own Schültute.They have the whole day to enjoy it. Schultüte is filled with many things that brings every 6 year old child loves. Normally it is filled with things that they can use at school like pencils, small stickers, notebooks, or stickers and so much more.It can be filled with small toys, sweets and many other “wished items”. The list are endless.

Since she adores Lego and Ninjago, we´ve had plenty of ideas what to put in her Schultüte!

The thing is, what I love about it is that it really creates that element of excitement and surprise to children.You can really see their eyes get wide full of excitement! My daughter cannot even wait to unpack it all! I think this is very important on their first day in school, a good start is always better than pressure. Instead of directly going to lessons, the children can still enjoy a relaxed first day of school, and of course, enjoying their hard earned sweet threats from their Schultüte.

Here in Germany, months before the school starts, many shops already sells different kinds of Schultüte. You can also make and decorate your own, just like we did. Many schultüte can also be ordered online especially now because of Corona Virus.For us, I just ordered the materials and we did it together with my daughter.

Personalized Schultüte is far by the best!It is far memorable…

Today I have seen that this event is really celebrated by the whole family.Not only parents are present in school but I saw Grandparents and other relatives who were there to celebrate with their child.It is indeed a big thing here.

Starting elementary school in Germany leaves me quite an impression.This is totally non -existent way back in our times where we started Grade 1.I must say that here, it looks like a birthday, or a big family reunion since parents invest so much on this special day. Most parents even take this day as a day off to be with their child on their first day in school.My daughter already spent 3 years in the Kindergarten alone, but then I know, starting school is a big adjustment to her.

Maybe that is why Schultüte signals a new phase–a new life full of surprises!

A Day to remember

This day is really a day to remember.In other parts of the world, people are starting school virtually, and online learning is the solution, a safer way to learn. But here in Germany, we are moving slowly to make things normal, but with strict caution, especially to not stop children from getting into school, the real way.Many children I see posed on their first day wearing a headset and in front of a computer, well, I am not against it. In the end, we all want the best for our children…

“Kinder Malen sich Selbst ” Exhibition in Schloss Blutenberg, Münich

One of the best thing that happened to us during Corona Lockdown was that my daughter´s painting was selected to be inluded in the Exhibit for ” Kinder Malen sich Selbst” ( Children, paint yourselves!) exhibition in Münich. I am a proud parent of a 5 year old kid that is inclined to arts at a young age as this! I am wondering what am I doing when I was 5 years old?She is really an epitome´ of an international expat kid–born in Kuwait, of Dutch & Asian origins, and raised in Germany and now, she just had her own drawing escapade!

From March, right at the beginning of the Corona virus global outbreak, the Library began to asks children around the world to participate to draw themselves what they feel about Corona.At first it was a virtual collection of drawings of children how do they feel during the tough times of Corona Pandemic then they began to collect the drawings as well.These are gorgeous collection of children´s talent, thoughts, visions, and feelings which travelled from different countries to Germany. This exhibit was arranged by the International Youth Library ( Internationale Jugendbibliothek, IJB ) in the Herrenhaus Foyer of Schloss Blutenberg.

Of course I am the most excited for everything! Like an overreacting stage mother, we were all ecstatic to see finally the Exhibit. We are still in Summer break so decided to go to Munich to see it.For my daughter who was only 5 years old when she did the drawing, I think the whole experience was also great.To think that she almost tore away the drawing and I was able to save it. She was so happy to know that her drawing was selected among many others, and it is now displayed there up until September 9,2020. With Corona restrictions, the exhibitions follows strict hygienic controls, with masks and reduction of visitors inside the halls.

Because of Corona, children cannot go out and play outside. She wanted to play football so she draw a portrait saying she wants to play Football, but then scared of the threats of the Corona Virus.

From the beginning, Ms. Weber , who was the one coordinating with me of the drawing submission was very kind and helpful. I was even glad that finally I can write an email in English and not in German !Aside from the helpful assistance in the exhibition, we were ushered to see the amazing Libray archives which really took our breath away. The underground cellar beneath the castle courtyard is the place of extensive collection of books from different times, era, period, languages and countries. It is really an international place.No wonder most of the staff are speaking different languages! From the reception in the entrance of the castle, I heard someone speaking in Hindi, and many guests came from Asia, including Japan and Korea. Even the featured children´s stories were of Japanese origins!It is really a great feeling to belong to such a friendly multi-cultural community like this here in Germany. It was nice to see Asian mothers for a change. 🙂

The Library have accumulated a total of 650,000 children & adult books from different times and periods from 240 languages and covering 4 centuries! I think this is the biggest & extensive Library I ahve ever been to. There are so many different ” Mark Twain´s ” books in different versions and languages in one single shelf that I have ever seen in my whole life. I don´t even know where to start.Also, the Library possesed 30,000 volumes of Scholarly Literature and about 130 current subscriptions to specialized literary journals. If you love Literature and children´s books—this is the best place to be!

We were told that the Internationale Jugendbibliothek in Münich is the biggest International Library for Youth and children´s literature in the world! It´s setting is like a fairytale castle—the Schloss Blutenberg.

These 2 paintings draws my attention, one from Iran and one from the Philippines. I am sure these children would love to see their artwork personally as well if given the chance considering the travel restrictions due to Corona. I have read that the Library also grants scholarships to Foreign scholars with the objective of supporting research in the areas of international children and youth´s literature, illustration and promoting scientific exchange and international cooperation.

Aside from the Exhibition, the castle itself and its courtyard is beautiful. Founded in 1949 by a German Journalist, Author and Translator Jella Lepman, this Library has a vision to build bridges for children with books and open windows to the world.

Surrounded with lush greens, lake, and the flowing river makes the castle an idyllic setting.There are different Summer programs , Open Air concerts in the castle´s courtyards and a nice quaint Restaurant with a view of the lake. There was even a wedding in the time of our visit.

We enjoyed the story telling stations, the other exhibitions like the Internationale Wimmelbücher, ” Die Ganze Welt auf einer Seite” ( also collected from different parts of the world!) and the Illustrations of letter Postal envelopes “ Oh wie Bezaubernd Schön !” by the amazing Binette Schroeder. There was huge collection of her illustrated books, objects, mementos,and children toys that are really captivating! My daughter found a little door, I never thought of it as a cabinet! Then she asked me ” Mama, can I open the little door?” .I never thought there was something in there but then to our surprise, there it was…the jewel of the palace, the Binette Schroeder-Kabinett!” There was a little world inside there that captures every child´s heart.

Absorbed in this small, yet wonderful world of Binette Schroeder-Kabinett.
Thank you International Youth Library!!

It was a wonderful experience and I am so glad that my kid loves to read and appreciates reading at a young age. It was really a great experience and we will be back for sure to Schloss Blutenberg. I did not expect that during Corona times, we will discover another world of love for reading and children´s literature.

As an expat Mama here in Germany, I certainly commend that we have the opportunity for great Libraries and children´s learning mediums!

Ladies Run Germany 2020

One of my Bucket list is doing a Marathon Run. Yes, I wanted to earn something like that, I wanted to do running, but then I know it takes guts and sweat. I think I would drop at the first kilometer or so. And nope, I am not looking for a new Hobby because I think I have too many already…but anyway, why run?

Then one day I just decided to do it…

The goal is to run and finish it…

I think it´s just human nature to dream about something, or putting something into a goal, even if its scary. I have a fast metabolism and I can say that I´m a very active person. I can only count the days where I feel sluggish or couching.But I´ve always felt that despite of this, I don´t feel physically fit, I feel tired, exhausted and though I don´t have too much cellulite to loose, I felt like something is missing in my stamina. I read a lot about running and it really strikes to me as something radical.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a numbers person, there’s no way you can ignore the stats on daily running and reduced cancer risk. According to medical science, if you run a mile every day, you have: 42% lower risk of esophageal cancer, 27% lower risk of liver cancer, 26% lower risk of lung cancer, 23% lower risk of kidney cancer, 16% lower risk of colon cancer, and 10% lower risk of breast cancer. Amazing, right?

I didn´t know that running can make me feel so good like this…

Running after all is not all about winning a race. It´s all about taking care of yourself, of finding the inner peace and doing good to your muscles and health being. There are also many cons about it but then it doess more good to your body. I love the fact that it elevates the happiness-induced chemicals in our bodies.

“When you run, your brain pumps out two powerful feel-good chemicals, endorphins and endocannabinoids. “

Besides, who can complain when you are running with a view like these?

I´ve always admire people who are into Sports, esp. runners. Those slim, lithe, strong ladies who run fast as fast as lightning and have beautiful athletic legs.they are invincible! For me, they are like gods, they are resilient and STRONG.I know it requires training, but then I know that what they are doing scares and challenging me at the same time…I´ve always asked myself If I can also do it?How far could I go, 3 km, 5 km, 15km, or 25km?

Running on a sunny day with the view of the River Danube

But that is a good kind of scare.

I actually did not expect my first run to be a virtual run! Of course because of Corona virus. Running with a goal alone is totally different against competing with others. As a beginner, It is a real struggle and no joke.It´s not actually about winning, its about doing something that you have never done before, and this is something that I have never done befogre. I was always hesitant and giving in to that small voice inside me that tells me to quit and don´t do it.

Is cycling better than running?

But then because of the Corona Virus Pandemic, marathon and sport running like this comes with restrictions! Running without the great crowds is also not that bad, in fact, it works for me the best. No distraction, no contact with others. It doesn´t matter where you are, with your friends or alone, Ladies Run Germany is definitely a good cause. This event is only for ladies who wants to run and do Nordic Walking for at least 5km as a start!

Nevertheless, it was a great experience and I absolutely will do it again and again.I think I got addicted to the end feeling when I am purged with sweat, plustered, worn out and stomach- empty! I can´t explain it but it´s a great feeling.When my muscles aches, it´s a kind of hurt that I am proud of. When I saw my dirty shoes and my wet sport clothes goes into the laundry, I know I got rid of something that I never like. It´s kind of getting addictive and I really look forward to run because my body feels better , stronger and healthier!

My Ladies Run Finisher Medal

I know that I finally found what sport I really love to do for the rest of my life. Now that I can still run, then I am going to do it.If I don´t run now, then when ? I am very grateful that I live in a neighborhood that people loves to run and we have great nature to enjoy. There are plenty of running paths to choose from. Aside from my usual leisure walkings, now I have more stamina to do long runs. I run almost 5 times a week, which I did mostly in the morning hours, sometimes late in the afternoon . It actually varies depending when I am free. Running on late afternoon is also great especially when I avoid too much heat from the sun.

Ladies Run Germany is a virtual run organized by Hikimus Events.Once I saw the advertisement about this event, I immediately registered to join the run on July 13, 2020. I only paid 25 Euros for the “Gold” Packet which includes a T-shirt, finisher medal, a certificate, and a chance to win the Event Game. It was an easy transaction and I received my packet on time before the event. I absolutely think that It´s a great idea to have something like this during this hard times.We need to be reminded that our health is our number one priority nowadays and we should do whatever it takes to protect us from Corona and staying fit.It´s great seeing all the other ladies all over Germany doing the same as I did, in fact they did more!

I admit that it was never easy. My muscles ache and my feet hurts. I gasped for air and I felt like giving up on the first days of my running routine.. They say that it takes at least 28 days for you to pick up a habit and It´s true.Everyday I desire for motivation and put back myself together to get it done. What helps me is also doing cardio exercises at home.

I run together with a friend and it was really fun.It helps to use a running App to track your distance goal and your progress each day. I realize that running for a daily mile is something doable–its not always because you want to lose weight. For me, it paves more for more time spent outdoors and staying fit.

You must do the things that you think you can´t do….

I know that for busy mothers like me, adapting anew sport and schedule can be challenging. But then, we need to be healthy as well to take care our kids.That’s an extra advantage for busy women who can’t seem to make other workouts or classes fit their lifestyle.” And remember: The best workout is the one you’ll actually do.

What´s the last thing that you have done that challenged you?

Isolation. Children, paint yourselves! (Self-portrait of children in Corona Times)

I want to play Football outside and not in the garden! This is my daughter´s entry for this drawing exhibition hosted by the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany.

I am sure I am not alone in this dilemma.We don´t know yet until when will this all be over, but as long as it is not yet safe outside, children needs to stay at home.Here in Germany, the lockdown measures were relaxed, some shops are allowed to open, wearing mask is enforced, and some schools will open soon next week.But daycares and Kindergarten remains closed. I know personally that staying at home, confined and can´t visit playgrounds and play areas can be tough and is never easy, it is messy, chaotic,sometimes out of control and dramatic. But our times together these days become so meaningful, I guess there´s so much difference when we all take things slowly.

How does she feel about the isolation?
She said her inspiration for her Portrait is that she wanted to play Football and run in the field freely .She wanted to go back again to the Kindergarten and see her friends.

For those who are staying at home with kids during this Pandemic, what have you´ve been doing with your kids lately?

I love to paint and it´s one of my favourite things to do during this lockdown.I think I can paint the whole day and every single day. I just love to create something creative, whether it is with watercolors or Acrylics. Nowadays, I spent more time with my daughter painting, drawing and creating something. I created a journal of my daughter´s drawings so she can have an album of what she created.We even paint stones and joined the creative art here in our neighborhood.Here are some of her doodles and

Another interesting Art exhibition which we are joining is the Isolation, Children Paint yourselves! launched by the International Youth Library Foundation in Munich,Germany .This is an online exhibition of submitted images of children which depics their mood and how they are feeling against this terrible, dire times of Pandemic. I have talked to my daughter many times about Corona virus, especially when we are on the push of frequent hand washing and social distancing. It is very interesting to find and learn from little children about their feelings about isolation and being in restriction .Sometimes they cannot express themselves verbally, but with visuals, we can learn so much more.

The moment that I showed to her that her drawing was in the Gallery, she was thrilled and so happy. She is only 5 years old!

Paint anywhere, everywhere!

I really find this online exhibition super cool and my daughter is proud of what she have done.It´s amazing to see different entries already from different countries submitted and available in their online portal for public viewing wherever you are. I heard that they have received over 800 drawings from 42 different countries! Some portraits with paintings listed are from Mexico,South Korea,Venezuela,Sweden,Great Britain, Japan, France, Iran, Slovenia,Germany, and even the hard hit countries like USA, Italy and Spain! I think seeing another children´s artwork is also a great tool for encouraging the potential of your child to be creative since they can see it as a relatable issue and not just something to kill boredom. Difficult images of people who are sick and death toll are not easily digested in small children´s mind so we, as parents needs to guide them and be careful of the information we feed them. In this way, let them express themselves through their imagination through their hands, the explosion of colored pencils, paints, crayons and doodles.

Let them be absorbed with ART.

The founder of the International Youth Library, Jella Lepman, had already asked for such self-portraits since 1952 and showed them in an exhibition. By that time, it´s still very difficult to create a digital or online exhibition. Nowadays, it´s all handy and accessible for all, even most museums opened their exhibitions online for others to view while staying at home.If you are interested and want to create something different and has a global impact, start painting, start contributing, and start it now!

If your child is 3 to 13 years of age and wants to participate, you can send your child´s portrait or drawing as a scanned copy (with first name, age and country) to direktion @ ijb. de. The online gallery exhibition can be seen in here.

#StayatHome #wirBleibenzuHause

More artworks and creative Crafts we do while we stay at home during this Pandemic crisis.

Here she is when she finally visits the Exhibition in Münich where her own drawing was chosen!

View of some of the children´s drawing from different countries in the Exhibition Center in Schloss Blutenberg, in Munich.
Feeling proud of my daughter´s first ever artwork in display !

The exhibition “Kids, draw themselves” ( Malen sich Selbst) is displayed in the International Youth Library in Schloss Blutenberg, from July 15th up to 9th of September 2020, located in Foyer im Herrenhaus and is free entrance fee. The Library is open from Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 Pm and on weekends from 12 pm to 5pm.

Feel free to share this to your friends!

To all parents out there who are taking care of their kids at home, I salute you. You are doing great and you deserved to have a big hug and pat on the back!

Stay safe and see you again next time!

Seven hues of Blue Paintings

Abstract Painting ” Turquoise Dreams” 25 x 30 cm

Finally Autumn had arrived in Germany. Long enough, the “Goldener Oktober”( or Golden October) becomes November rain. Everyday here in Germany , or at least here in Bavaria, it seems that the skies loves to hibernate, clothed in dark clouds and keeps on raining! It’s official : The sun is on vacation and cold Rainy days are doing his massive work.

Funny because I am often daydreaming of warm sunny days. More of Spring actually! While the cold reality is biting me to the bones, I opt to do things that I love. Which is— being productive! Day by day, I try to do what I think I can’t do. I feel lazy many times, procastinating and giving in to excuses, or I am just totally exhausted from daily chores and demands from work. The colorful trees and foliage outside are standing still , braving the creepy cold and probably dreading for the dark Winter to clothed them. Many trees are already bald, but few ones are still holding on, with two to three leaves holding on tight. It seems like letting go for the last phase of seasonal changes takes time.The gush of winds and the mainstay of “regenwetter” {rain weather } and November rains, fog and short days are my constant company, but then, I have suddenly created my series of “Seven hues of Blues ” acrylic abstract paintings. So you see, something positive came out from this gloomy weather.

With my paintings– they are all bright sunny blue! Full of tropical hues, Carribean-sea-foamy textured layers of Turquiose shades, and full of love affair with waves and sea is the mood of these pieces.

It’s been quite always busy nowadays. Juggling family, work and life really makes everyday a rolling ball of energy. This year had been quite a productive year for me, in all aspects! Honestly, at the end of the day I feel so tired that when I sit in front of my laptop, I barely can’t think. Sleep was my daily dose of medicine. When my free days comes, I managed to paint. I still loved to paint my dreams and I am not letting go of it. I was talking with a colleague about my painting and then he asked me “Why do you need to paint and make those?” I just said,” Because it’s what I loved to do.”

What do you loved to do?

The long wait of drying time…

I’ve been listening lately to Queen’s music, rediscovering their classics. I have always loved classic rock and during the time that I am doing large paintings, these music have helped me, inspired me in a way. Queen’s songs are stuck in my head for days, and weeks. It’s funny because my little daughter is already humming and singing “Don’t stop me now..”or “Another one bites the Dust, and “I want to ride my bike ..”! Similar to music, abstract paintings do not have clear, expressible meanings by words. Actually, as a painter, I couldn’t explain it quite well. It’s always been an enigma to me. So its really up to you to found its meaning.

For me, the process of creating it from the base paint to the series of layers are the most memorable part. I am always excited to what would it look like in the end. In my mind I have an image that I wanted to convey in my painting, sometimes I managed to bring it out, sometimes it takes a long time to express it.
Each piece of painting is a memory, inspired by a specific day, describing my moods and feelings like diary notes.

Each piece carries a bit of me, of my feelings and my emotions that’s why its priceless and special to me.


Seven seas of blues

As of this time, I am still in the process of updating my listings in my shop. It will take quite some time but these pieces will soon be available for you to view in my online Gallery. I have made many new paintings and I am excited to share it all with you.

Feel free to comment below what do you think of these pieces! I would really appreciate it.

Thank you once again and until next time. Tschüss!

The Art of Handwritten Mails

When was the last time you’ve received a handwritten mail or a card? or a postcard with a distinct handwriting of the one who send it to you? Doesn’t it feels great, your eyes are wide with wonder as you gaze to an envelop addressed with your own name on it, a mix of wonder and surprise…

You deserved to feel special once in a while
We all could use a little bit of Snail Mails

Few days before Christmas I received a surprise mail (snail mail) from a dear friend from Finland.One of my favorite Blogger, thesnowmeltssomewhere sent me a little surprise which turned out to have a “big love” inside it, she shared her traditional Finnish “Little Christmas” with us. I was feeling ecstatic and grateful that I felt special. It feels good to be thought of, especially from a person who lives across the miles. We haven’t met personally but we shared thousands of messages about life, babies, worries, and laughs! Last year, my other good friend ,Ann, from Grubbs n’Critters sent me handwritten mail together with a box of different spices, which up to now lies in my kitchen and is a daily addition to my cooking!It’s hard not to remember her whenever I cook something with cardamon or fennels! We seemed to be modern-day-Penpals or Penfriends, minus the videocalling.

Handmade and self-crafted cards for all occasions!

Personally, I am a huge fan of snail mail and I totally love it! In High School, i remembered that our class have this Penfriends around the World and we’ve got the chance to have a Penfriend from different countries. It was totally snail mail long time ago. I think I received a mail once a month. I had Penpal from Germany and Finland. Through time I lost in touch because I moved to different places but then the whole experience lingered.

Last year I have also shared about my project to make Handmade Christmas cards to be sent to friends and families during the holidays. This year, I think I’ve sent 40+ cars to 3 different continents and approximately 10 different countries! I worked on this project normally 3 weeks before Christmas. I dedicate 2 weekends to paint and to craft the cards and personally sealed them and post. That is how far I’ve remembered the process. I painted them one by one, and write on each of them personally. I write to each one of them personal message and it really boost my creativity. A simple card becomes so meaningful, so treasured. here’s a snap of the cards and letters we received by post this Christmas. Totally a whole lotta love!

Love in an envelop: Schneckenpost or snail mail

I think that when we write things personally by hand, and not by typing, we retain the original information better. It boost our self-worth and creativity. I even got a new calligraphy pen to enhance my handwriting skills! Just like holding a brush (Pinsel) while painting, you give something from yourself out of what you’ve written.Nowadays that we often used our fingers to tip and swipe on our smartphones, writing manually becomes a whole new experience! I am always impressed with a person who has a unique handwriting. It’s a distinguished character and totally unforgettable.

It’s a whole lotta LOVE!

I am sharing this post to tell you about my personal experience about snail mails. Schneckenpost as we called it here in Germany or snail mail (Post) has totally become vintage compared to the high technology gadgets that we are having now especially with smartphones, iPads and computers. The young people today maybe are totally oblivious of using it or people only knew Post because of Online shopping.I read an interesting article about this and if you have time to kill, you can read it Here.

I have no problem having all these instant technology that we have.In fact, this new millenium of E-commerce and its benefits are one of the technological advances we all enjoy. I value its benefits since I live so far away from my family in Philippines and I’ve lived almost a decade as a “foreigner”in other lands. Emails, money transfers, voice mail recordings, chats via Whatsapp, Kakao and Viber are such a convenient way to get in touch! But there’s something totally different from snail mail. It’s more on the sentiments and personal feelings. From the time that you write your letter, lick the envelop , put stamps and go to Post Office to send it—it’s both a tedious but an exciting journey! The thrill of opening your mailbox and finding a square envelop with stamps and you search where it came from is like opening a present. A journey of wonder.It’s more fun!

From the Little One with Love

When we write to someone, I must say that it increases our levels of happiness and feelings of gratitude. When we think about a person, we search in our memory , the link that bonds us and the gratefulness that we want to rekindle, or to give with this process. Just imagine the same feeling you have the very first time you’ve ever received a “Love letter”from your sweetheart or a letter from your partner that is far away from you, or a surprise letter from someone you’ve never seen for a long time. Snailmail letters bridges the distance!The connection and meaning is far deeper than any mbps from Internet! Handwritten letters and cards spreads love and definitely makes you smile.If you want to let someone know you care—send them a handwritten card, letter or even a simple note.

Give it a thought, don’t you think that simple gestures—done randomly–adds more excitement to a dull moments? Last month, as I was rushing to go to work I found out that our basement storage had a pipe leak and I hurried up to inform my husband to call and inform the “Hausverwaltung/meister” who will fix the leak. By the time I got home, I found a handwritten note from my next door neighbor writing and informing me that he also had seen the leak and called the Hausmeister. His simple gesture really showed that He cares. Aside from the random gifts for the little one which he left on our door, I find his gesture a very valuable one.

It’s the care that comes out from our actions that signals love.

One day we received a handwritten letter from my 4-year old daughter! Yes, she already sent us a letter with a stamp! In the Kindergarten, they make small trips and one of it is to visit the Postal Office. The children are asked to draw and write something to their parents and sent the letter by post. I kept this letter up to this day. When my daughter was born in Kuwait, where we don’t have any relatives, we were totally on our own. My parents-in-law collected handwritten cards from relatives in Holland and sent all the letters to us in Kuwait ( not to mention all their loving gifts for the baby). I was totally speechless.My mother-in-law makes very beautiful handcrafted cards for all occasions, stenciled and crafted by hand. I think that’s beyond hobby—it is a way to show her love. I think she is successful in her craft because she transmit this through her cards!

Crafting for Mother’s Day

We all feel the rush and we have all the excuse to say we are busy. Our schedules are packed, full and noted. Just like when we rushed to checked all our emails everyday and check Facebook, Instagram and chats. We spend time, we decide on how to spend it actually, the way we want it. We all have our errands to do and time flies when we are on the go. I know it’s not that easy to sit and gather our thoughts to write something, compose a letter or to even create something for a special person. I have this stress to create a letter in German ( a challenge in fact!). I try to find the right words.But come to think of it—isn’t it awesome to discover how someone thought of every single detail, just to make someone feel good.The more frequent you do it, the less you think it’s hard, it only takes a little effort.

So how am I doing it?

If it’s not your hobby or you think that “I don’t have the talent to do it!” then you don’t need to panic. Snail mail writing should not come as a stress. For me, I avoid buying the overpriced ready made cards that are really overpriced. I look for craft materials, nude and classic papers, stamps, unique decorating materials that I usually find it art shops, or in flea markets. I even used traditional materials as recycled papers, dried leaves, pins and clippers etc to add more personal touch. I love motif papers or paperDeco that can easily folded into your base for a card. I invested in a good calligraphy pen of different shades and some trendy stickers.Getting started is not as hard as you think!

I have a challenge for you:

Do you want to start and participate in a “Gratitude project”?

Think of someone you want to give a surprise. Someone that you love, or someone that you really thought of. You can start to gather their mailing addresses and create your handmade, handwritten letters, cards or just a simple thank you note and send it. It doesn’t even need a special occasion to send a letter to someone you missed, loved or to a new friend . You will see by your own eyes the result and impact of your action.A snail mail is slow, ( maybe if it crosses continents!) or slower than a click and swoosh from electronic mails, but you must know that it is more memorable than other things.

Once you’ve done this, tell me how does it made you feel.

We are on the countdown to Silvester, few more hours and we approach New Year’s Eve. It’s time to reflect on doing something radical or out from ordinary in 2019. Happy New Year everyone!

Until then, Tschüss!

Young, Wild & Three !

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Young, Wild and Three Birthday Party!

Would you believe it, my daughter turned THREE last Saturday!

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Water fun !

Yes, my only daughter, is officially  Young, Wild, and now THREE!

For those of you who have been following my Blog and my posts about “Raising Natalie“, you must have been known her one-of-a kind personality, with all of her adventures as an Expat baby born in Kuwait, spent her first year of life in the oil-rich Muslim country, and now creating a free-spirited toddler hood as “kleine mädchen” in Germany.  Time really flies. I can’t stop her from talking now. She’s a talker, runner, and a rolling ball of energy. She’s crazy about books, cars, dinosaurs, doing puzzles for 6 years old, and read. Imagine the chaos, and the fun she brings !

She’s growing up so fast, and surprising us with her witty character everyday!

Here I wanted to share with you how we create a simple “Rainbow party” for her. I didn’t know where did she get the idea of a rainbow party but when I asked her what she wants for her birthday, she kept on saying “Rainbow Cake”! She indeed has a mind of her own!

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Never Stop Dreaming : The Birthday Girl

We invited few of her friends and since its summer, we decided to make a pool party –right there in our garden. I am so glad that the weather came perfect. Sunny, bright, and lots of sun to keep the kids swirling and playing around. They have enough space to run, dip in the waters, and slide.

I am so delighted that here in Germany ( as same as most European countries) , I don’t have the pressure to throw a big party for my daughter. Birthday parties here are surely a real thing— practical, and much more chill. Shared mostly with family and close friends, and without the fuss of grand, expensive details. I can’t even be more happy how it turned out. Everyone had a great time , especially the parents as well. Almost everything that we did were all hand-made, simple and personalized. If you are planning to throw a kid’s party with Rainbow theme, these things might inspire you.

 

Natalie’s 3rd Birthday Party : YOUNG, WILD & THREE!

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Rainbow Cake  I have baked for the Birthday Girl !

The Cake : Colorful as the Rainbow!

We all know it, A child’s  birthday won’t be complete without a cake!

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Rainbow Cake topped with fresh roses

When your 3- year old daughter demands for a rainbow cake topped with flowers, what can a mother do? I managed to re-create my previous recipe of my Rainbow Cake and enhanced it with fresh flowers as a cake topper covered with yummy decadent vanilla buttercream frosting. It turned out so DE-LISH and just the way I like it. Not too sweet, and not too big.

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It’s all in the layers…

Rainbow Theme Decor

I made these simple rainbow backdrop made of Crepe papers, with colorful tied-dyed balloons  which I hung on the wall of our dining area. It’s so colorful, bright and really make the whole room so funky. I put some balloons in the garden as well, and simple backdrop for  the garden table.We laid down a pump boat, baby pool , slide, tent, and scattered lots of toys for the children to play. Another simple trick was just let the  water sprinkler in the garden run for a few minutes, just enough for the children to shriek with glee.

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Rainbow Party decor made from scratch

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Addicting: Home made marshmallow pops!

Rainbow marshmallow pops

This colorful threats were inspired once again by my daughter. She love marshmallows and I have some left over sprinkles  so I thought its a great  for the kids. I dipped them into melted chocolate and decorating options were endless. This one is super simple, colorful, and best of all, yummy!

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Spell delicious!

Fresh  Rainbow vegetable bowl

Cut some yellow, green & red paprika, carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes,olives and some home-made dips. Arranged them in a serving plate and that’s it!

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Something fresh…

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Birthday spread

Canapes and finger foods

This one is my favorite and definitely a proven crowd pleaser!

I got the idea from my parent’s in law in Holland from our family dinner last Spring .They were kind enough to send me some tart cups since I cannot find them here in Germany. Diced some cucumber and lettuce, topped with salami, bacon, and salmon. I have made some thousand island dressing and arranged them in a layered platter. Looks so good , delectable and taste good as well. I love to munch on these especially with white wine, beer, cheeses, crackers , pretzels, baguette slices and spanish olives.

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Canapes : always a crowd pleaser

 Rainbow Fruit Skewers

In Philippines, we always have fruit skewers topped with marshmallows and hotdogs. Here in Germany,we opt to make it with only fresh grapes, melons, watermelon, and marshmallows. I brought a couple of dozen of them to one of my friend’s daughter’s birthday party and it was also a hit. You can never go wrong with these.

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Fun hitting the Pinata!

Handmade Pinata

I managed to make a Pinata, also using recycled materials of old boxes, cartons and the crepe papers. My daughter loves fishes so I’ve made a figure of a fish and filled it with some gummy bears, candies and confetti.The children had so much fun hitting the pinata!

 

It was a wonderful day all in all. What makes it even special is that my parents in law once again join us so we had some quality family time. Birthdays in Germany are really something and how I appreciate more the fact that you can really have a children’s party without ruining your budget, stressing yourself and the pressure to give a party better than the others, here, it’s all about enjoyment, relationships, and of course, a time to share good food with love ones.

What is important that my daughter had a blast. She got wonderful gifts and I can see that great memories were created from this occasion. For almost 3 hours, she’s running around in her wet swimsuit, having fun, all smiles, wild and free!

She was totally living a Wild, Young & Three moment!

Until then and off we go to our next milestone next month: First Day in Kindergarten!

 

 

How do you celebrate  your child’s Birthday Party ?

Do you splurge or you prefer the simple celebration?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flower Art therapy

 

 

 

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My First attempt to do some Flower Art Theraphy
Who doesn’t love flowers? I’m sure most of you does, just like I am.Flowers and Art can go very well together! I admit I can go crazy over a simple bouquet of spring flowers! The allure of Spring is so into me that I think I cannot get over with my recent Tulip coma and bicycling over and over again through the Rapeseed fields! Everytime I visit the Fresh market, I can’t resist getting some new blooms to add to our little garden as well.

When I check my feed, I always see posts about flowers, and different images of nature. There has never been a day that I don’t see photos of nature, especially now that Spring season is in full bloom. For me, there’s no such thing as too much flowers, or “ green nature overload “.  Every single one of it  has its own enigma.

If you are following me in this Blog then you must know that I love painting. The other day, I have tried experimenting  doing some water-color Flower Art. I admit that I’m not very good in making flower patterns , let alone sculpting the petals and leaves.  I guess my curiosity is the one that drives me to create something and I personally want to immerse myself in some kind of flower art therapy.

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What is Flower Art therapy?

“Art therapy is an incredibly basic, yet effective way to calm your emotions and thoughts.”

Just start drawing and painting. There are certain types of art therapy that can address certain feelings and needs. Give them a try!

When you’re tired, draw flowers. Drawing flowers helps re-energize your mind and clear brain fog.

Some people loves Adult Colouring, some are into gardening. Some just collect and design bouquets! You can even visit the garden houses and flower shops nearby your area to get some inspiration.I opt to do the watercolor fun part.

Combined with some rugged lettering, I experiment making some more flower art.This time, I tried making some floral patterns into cards. Now that Mother’s Day is coming up, I created some free patterns. I’m telling you, it can be addicting, at the same time, it helps me to learn some basic flower art styles.

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Want some ideas about what to give to your dear friends & family this Mother’s Day? Try doing some Watercolor Flower Art!
Here are some of the sample of cards that I’ve made by using flower art. What do you think of them?

If you have a paint, ink or a simple watercolor palette, you might want to try it for yourself. Who knows, it could turn out to be a hobby. I used some watercolor paper and cut them into the sizes that I desired. If you don’t have an artist’s grade paper, it doesn’t matter, but if you wanted to create a card that you wanted to give away to your friends and family, you can consider getting a good quality so it won’t warp or cringe once you painted on it.

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Creative Flower Art cards

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My framed Flower art 
You can make a simple ornament out of your creative flower Art.If you need some inspiration, try browsing some samples in Pinterest or this great piece for example.

If you have the materials then it’s so easy and fun to do. The options are limitless, you can create as many flowers as long as you want in any media that you use.Try it with colored pencils, pastels, acrylic, or even a simple ink pens.

You can create a single wreath, or just a frame full of spring flowers! The photo above is the first one I’ve made and I put it into the white frame and I love the way it creates a ‘Spring feel‘ inside our home!

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Are you looking for a DIY ( Do it Yourself) creative project which you can share with your kids or just for an outlet of your creative self? Why don’t you try doing some watercolor Flower Art therapy and you won’t regret it!

This projects is one of my Spring Bucket List, to create something inspired by Spring! Remember, anything personalised and hand-made is always special, so if you have the time, give it a go!

What’s in your Spring Bucket List?

 

If you like this post, make sure to check out my Instagram to see some of my Artwork!

 

 

 

One at A Time : Lesson from the Daffodils

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Yellow Daffodils from our garden

“She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head..and whisper to her neighbor, Winter is dead…”

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Dancing Daffodils : Standing yellow and proud. The brave soul who was not afraid to bloom despite the ugliness around her.

I know from the early signs of Spring that it can’t be far behind if there are Daffodils and today, my heart is filled with warm thoughts seeing the mass of Daffodils in our garden,  in full bloom. There are still so many bulbs sprouting from the other bed.This is a new sight for me, since its also my first time to experience Spring here in Germany. Excuse my delight, but yes,I love these pretty yellow thing! What about you?

Nature always have a way to remind me that I am now living in seasons. That just like any wild flower,I must allow myself to grow in all the places  that I never thought to be.My sight seems to have the ability to meet my every day need with effortless perfection. I find that when life gets to be too much heavy and everyday troubles bubble up and over, a time to relax the mind  is much-needed, accompanied by a walk in the fresh air, can in an instant, calm…no matter what the season.

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The first bloom of Daffodils from our garden  brighten up our home.

To tell you, I think there’s just something about Spring. I remember months ago, I planted some bulbs in the garden. I’m no experience gardener but I hoped that it will grow , and hopefully, bloom. After the snow melted from our garden and I saw the budding sprouts pushed themselves slowly, their baby leaves are winding up, greeting the warm sunshine.

I thought it will never come out. I almost give up.

But then one bulb sprout after one another, one at a time.

Two months ago,  I was heavily  burdened with anxiety, with a deep anguish. My feeling like the gloominess of cold winter.As a parent, I don’t know what to do. My daughter have a speech delay and did not say a thing or two in her 2.5 years. Whenever people would ask me if she is talking already, I don’t know anymore what to say. I was in the brink of having her checked-up and getting a professional opinion. She is one happy, very active fireball of energy, a tiny Goblin. She is so active and yet, when it comes to talking, she was lagging behind. The thing is, she perfectly understands English & Deutsch, follows instructions in both language, but no talking. My friends say that for children who were born with multiple languages surrounding them, speech can come late. I used to believe in this too.

But the anxiety continues.It robs my joy every single day. I kept on asking why…and When?

Two weeks ago, she surprised me and my husband when all of a sudden, she just blurted out “Mama“! I couldn’t believe it! Did she just say whaaattt? Then “Papa“follows, and many other words, she sings and reads the alphabet now bilingually, recites the numbers, even perfected the spelling for her favorite animals and colors. Her favorite word so far is “Rot” ( German for Red) . Her vocabulary has grown so much in a span of 2 weeks. I find it so great when she replies now whenever I am asking her simple questions.

I have learned so much from this experience.As a parent, it humbled me knowing that I almost lost my faith in my child.That I need to wait patiently. Raising a child indeed comes One at a time.

Happiness came in when I witnessed this milestone in my daughter’s life.There have been millions of times we have sung the same song, read dozens of books, and talking day after day. But then,milestones doesn’t come in an instant. It’s always One at a Time, one baby steps at A Time.

Spring will come and so will Happiness.

So I’m holding on. I know life will get warmer. The yellow Daffodils in my garden  reminded me to keep the faith. Just as their petals turned up towards the sun, I need to move toward my goal and desires one step at a time-often just baby steps and learning to use the accumulation of time.That when we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things.

My daughter is talking now. Talking too much. It’s music to my ears.

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The Daffodils in my garden are dancing. Swinging when the wind blows.

Fresh beginnings.

New life.

Rebirth.

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Who could ever imagine that out of these wild flower comes a great wisdom.

The Daffodils and other wild flowers, the delicate, intricate, unassuming flowers. Especially the early spring flowers who find themselves among the first to brave the unstable elements. The ones who have the quiet strength to weather the cold winds and last few spits of icy snow as they tenderly open themselves for all to admire.

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No matter what you ask of the Daffodil, it will still wait until Spring to bloom. From this I learned we all open up when the time is right…

Do you like Daffodils?

What do you look forward this coming Spring? Share your comments below.

 

 

The law of reversed effort

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The Law of Reversed Effort 

A personal post about what I’m experiencing for the past days.There were days where my mind is like a muddy puddle, unclear and chaotic, and desperately in need of clarity.

The truth is, a struggle  creates struggle and  my life as an expat  is not all  bed of roses.Let’s face it, everyday, more often, it’s bleak and grey ,you are  faced with the hard realities, instead of the fairy-tale fantasies of living in a world of different culture and language. I don’t know, maybe I need to blame the weather, the cold, the situations or my attitude and the way that I reacted to events.

I needed clarity but it is so elusive, the harder I tried to figure it out, the less output I get,  it only gives me all the blurry ones.I’ve felt like I’m in a rat hole that I couldn’t get out.I can’t say what I wanted to say in exact words that I wanted to say. I feel helpless.

I wanted to do things but it doesn’t work the way I wanted it to be.It felt awkward.I felt like my effort were all wasted.I even tried to paint my emotions but I ended up making a mess.

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C’mon Spring, do your thing!

I heard you, I know you might say; isn’t it should be “Try and try until you succeed? ”

So I decided to take a walk in the park one day and just sit there and wait for clarity. At best, I am hoping to just stop fighting myself. As usual, the sun is elusive, hiding behind the clouds.I gazed upon the buds in the branches and the sprouting leaves in the bushes. The grounds start to get greener once again. I saw signs of new beginnings, new chances. A rebirth.Spring is definitely on the way.

How odd but sometimes I felt like I am a plant who wants to grow in the middle of cold winter. I realized that my negative thoughts are apt to be more effective than the positive because the negative usually has more feeling with it.

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A budding signaling a rebirth

“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone”. – Alan Watts

Like a muddy puddle, it’s best to leave it alone to clear.I let my mind rest and my body to just do nothing. Literally nothing. Like my daughter in tantrums, I let her sort her own emotions by staying calm, just watching how things naturally sort themselves out without my constant “interventions “.

Today,the clarity that I needed came.Along the way,and out of my stubbornness, I discovered something beautiful about the law of reversed effort.This came like a wake up call. Many times, things in life only sort themselves out only when we don’t do anything, taking the concept of the Law of Reversed Effort a bit further, it sometimes refers instead to a state of mind, a state of  mind of ‘not doing’, perhaps this is akin to a flow state of automatic action, a mindset of effortless concentration that only resides when we are present and ‘in the now’, because if we try to mentally push things too far in this mindset we just get the opposite result.

Isn’t this also the truth when writing a blog post? Or finishing a project? Our deep need for a clear slate to write down our thoughts? A state of mental relaxation is the only way for clarity to be achieved. Easier said than done but yes, it’s the only way to get things done, naturally, without causing stress in my mind.

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The Law of reversed effort

Like these buds which reminds me that nature has its own course to follow. It’s an autopilot that only nature comprehends.Nobody can intervene. I can’t hurry up the seasons or mold the people around me the way I wanted them to be.Nature has its own way, and it’s definitely not My way.

Here is the original quote from Huxley about the Law of Reversed effort.

“The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed. Proficiency and the results of proficiency come only to those who have learned the paradoxical art of doing and not doing, or combining relaxation with activity, of letting go as a person in order that the immanent and transcendent unknown quantity may take hold. We cannot make ourselves understand; the most we can do is to foster a state of mind, in which understanding may come to us”. Aldous Huxley (The Law of Reversed Effort).

Any thoughts ?

Have you ever felt like this? How did you overcome it?

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