Nature Adventure Kletterpark -Beilngries

One of a kind climbing experience in the forest

Last Sunday we went to the Adventure Kletterpark ( Climbing Obstacle Course) in Beilngries,in the vicinity of Altmühltal.It´s half an hour drive away from Ingolstadt and located in between the lush forest and nature also near to the Dinopark which we visited last Tuesday. Here we celebrate again the 6th birthday of my daughter ,together with her friends from Kindergarten .It came out really a great surprise and fun- filled day for all of us and here´s why;

Thrilled kids and parents climbing together in the Beginner´s Yellow Parcours

My daughter is super active and love many fun activities and climbing is definitely her thing. She has no adrenalin limits and no fear of heights at all.She really knows what she wants and climbing with her friends is one of the things she wished for her birthday.They happened to share same Birthday so I think it was a great idea to have one group activity , playdate and fun day all in one!

Because of Corona restrictions, we haven´t made a party for her, a simple cake at home and we headed to see Giant Dinosaurs in Dinopark, then on the weekend we let her enjoy her time with friends. We avoid big crowds, closed spaces and contacts, that is why outdoors in nature is our top choice. This Kletterpark in Beilngries is great because of its location and offers varied fun activities for all ages . From 6 years of age, they allowed children to climb with assistance of an adult. For security reasons, they only allow people weighing up to 120 kgs max.Even I myself haven´t experienced this in my life, its actually my first time doing Obstacle course nature climbing and it was really cool, plus the Flying fox and everything!

The very efficient security system CouDuo , the reason why you can never fall!

The climbing park offers different Obstacle course for every age and levels of difficulty. Our group consists of 7 children and 6 adults so we stick to the beginner course for a start.The park itself is away from the city and its like a hideaway where we experience nature´s healing and invigorated.The trails are made of steel ropes and cables connected from tree to tree! Everywhere I looked, I see green and more greens so definitely climbing under the cool shade of the trees is a win -win situation. I sweat a lot because of the challenges and obstacles but then its really all worth it!This exercise is really necessary!

Nature climbing adventure Park in Beilngries, Altmühltal, Bavaria

Getting lost in the shades of giant trees and forests where man commune with nature and enjoy adrenalin packed activity. I thought it would be an easy task but then I was mistaken! I almost wanted to quit and go back!

We can do this!

We already booked online because its a Birthday party package but then we still need to wait for our turn for the Orientation and Safety instructions.We brought along our helmets and hygienic handgloves as well. It was 30+ degrees when we visited so it was pretty warm, but under the trees is cool. The orientation is about 30 minutes , we gathered wearing masks and we are instructed how to do our special safety equipments such as full harness, helmets, & CouDuo system. the guides were very helpful and professional and the instructions were clear and easy to follow!

In the briefing, we are informed of its 100% safety guarantee, thanks to the CouDuo Pro System.With this system, the freedom of movement is completely retained during climbing. You don´t really need to worry about falling because you are tighly secured to the rope. This is because of the highest safety standard according to DIN EN 15567 and the easy operation of the system. The accidental unhooking of the carabiner is impossible!You can´t really beat a German technology where they make everything efficient and trustworthy!

The kids are doing the sample CouDuo harness system. The guide is checking that all of us know how it works and operates.

I think it really needs time to get acquainted and familiar with it.The rest is nothing, your greatest abstacle is finding your balance and conquer your fear of heights!

Nature climbing is a great family bonding activity!

This briefing is really essential and you are not allowed to climb unless you participated in this security briefing. This is done every half an hour and 2,5 hours before the park closes. If you don´t have helmets and gloves with you, you can also rent but we preffered to bring our own to avoid contact.

Tying to have a grip of myself in between screaming and dealing with balance and of course, the essential carabiner!

After we had the briefing, we get into climbing! We grouped ourselves to assists the kids and then we were lost in adventure. While waiting, the kids also enjoyed twirling and sliding in the playground . Bringing food and beverages is allowed in the park but you need to take care of your own things. So for us, we always made sure that one of us is watching our backpacks and cooler while the others are climbing. After we had eaten, we returned our stuff in the car and go back again to climbing.

Father and daughter having fun together!
Happy Birthday nature climbing Girl!
While waiting for our turn for the security briefing.

The adventures of nature climbing with kids!

This activity really challenges me with fitness and I would absolutely love to do it again. I find the whole adventure very safe and a half day is actually not enough. I find the entrance fees quite pricey but the park itself is really great. There is an ample ( some shaded) parking areas located at the bottom of the park, a clean bathrooms with disinfections and toilets and a separate outdoor areas to book your special events like Children birthday parties or others. Climbing to the top may be a challenge for old people but then you should consider this before booking your activity.

All smiles while suspended above the trees!

The entire climbing area and the climbing equipment are regularly checked by specially trained staff. In addition, a main inspection of the adventure park takes place once a year. A detailed test is done by a certified external company.

Fun fun and more fun!
Unforgettable climbing adventure!
Little Monkeys

This summer for us is quite special despite the Corona scare and restrictions. Fear of the virus can´t stop us from having safe fun under the sun as long as we observe more precautions about contact and more washing of the hands. I hope that the future still holds a safe and secure place for our kids without the scare of the virus.

I guess we just make the most of the opportunity of having these days with warm rays and sunshine!

Until then and stay safe ! Tschüss…

Hochgebirgsstauseen : Kaprun Alpine reservoirs

High altitude reservoirs in Kaprun, Austria

Last few days ago, I had a wonderful discovery in our trip to Austria and I can’t wait to share with you, but this time, it is without the winter wonderland ! In Summer, Austria is ever more grand! Imagine, over 2,040 meters of altitude, I was not prepared to see an incredible mixture of nature and great engineering! For Asians like me, the sight of a dam or water reservoirs up there in between three thousand meters Alpine peaks is not so ordinary, i thought for a minute, how did they ever built that in the mountains?!With my own eyes, I was able to see that it is a masterpiece and a modern technical wonder. It is like walking into a different world surrounded with different inter layers of glaciers, mountain peaks, blue calm waters, green pastures and beautiful rock formations, plus the highly engineered tunnels and reservoirs. Kaprun have it , it’s there in the Hochgebirgsstauseen ( or simply translated as high mountain reservoirs ) in the quaint village of Kaprun in Austria.

Kaprun Hochgebirgsstauseen: A blend of nature and Technology
A paradise in between three thousand meters mountain peaks

I think Austrians are crazy for building a dam up there in the mountains, but indeed they are brilliant! This place is a blend of nature and technology. Kaprun is not only famous for the Kitzsteinhorn- or the THE Glacier and the Grossglockner High Alpine road– which is the best panoramic road in Europe. It has so much more to offer for adventure-seeking individuals, nature lovers, families and for people who are looking for new experience, and that includes me.

We started our journey after having breakfast and packing our day’s essentials especially for our 5- year old daughter. The trip going there is enough thrill.We drove to Kessellfallstrasse up to the leveled parking area and there we’ve got tickets to go up the Hochgebirgssteuseen. One important tip – park on the highest possible floor, the way out is at the parking roof and there are no lifts, only tiny stairs. But the big bonus is that there is no parking fee!

Small , winding roads leads to bigger discoveries. I am so amazed that mountains as high as this can be reached in minutes!
The largest diagonal lift in Europe !

There are also public buses ( Bus 660) which can bring you up to this place and to the Kassa (or Ticket center). Don’t forget to bring your Guest/ Summer cards because you can get reasonable discounts if you show it to the cashier.From there, we took the 1st Bus ( approx. 6 minutes) leading to the Furnicular ( or an inclined lift which is not for the faint hearted!) and another bus ride through the tunnels up to the dam.The well-known Lärchwand inclined lift is one of the highlights of our trip to the high mountain reservoirs. It is Europe’s largest open elevator and overcomes a 431 meter steep step on the way up before continuing on the higher road towards the reservoirs. It feels like riding an escalator without the steps and what is best- you feel the fresh air on your face!

Beautiful layers of Glacier and mountain ranges

It was quite a very tranquil ride. I am totally impressed of the road construction and the ride going up! I never felt a bump and the scenery of going up is an adventure itself.Another attraction that you pass by on your journey is the herb trail from the Mooserboden mountain restaurant to the Fürthermoaralm. In about 45 min. Walking time and over 237 vertical meters, you will learn a lot about local herbs and enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding peaks of the Hohe Tauern. At the Fürthermoaralm you should take a break before you take the bus back to Mooserboden. This pasture has an exciting story to tell as it had to be relocated during the construction of the reservoir. The original Alm lies at the bottom of the lake. Among other things, the new alpine pasture was used to host construction workers on the high-alpine construction sites, which is regarded as the cornerstone of today’s commercial alpine pasture in Pinzgau.

A hidden paradise is no longer a myth

The two dams- the Mooserboden and the Wasserfallboden are like Fjords sandwiched in between the Alps mountain ranges and the way the reservoirs was built is really impressive. The views that awaits you on top is really wonderful. There are a couple of restaurants on top, an exhibition center of the Hydroelectric power system. The Moosersperre dam towers 107 meters almost straight up and at the same time curves across a width of 494 meters between the rocks .A walk through the dam is really great and my daughter enjoyed it as well. There is a beautiful playground just beside the restaurant and endless picturesque panoramic views for nature photography. The best way to enjoy this place is stay a bit longer, explore, wander and linger a bit longer.

An easy hike for the families and little children!
Lovely little flowers along the banks of the dam

We enjoyed a hearty lunch in the restaurant, the Bergrestaurant Mooserboden ( at 2,040 meters) and tried their regional dishes and delicacies like “Kaiserschmarren” , chicken schnitzel and Rind Gulash all at reasonable price. The service was fast,the restaurant has great ambiance, cozy and quiet despite the volume of costumers and they have clean bathrooms! This unique location on the Mooserboden reservoir offers us wonderful views of about 3,000 m mountain peaks while eating and enjoying our drinks. We had luck because we had a wonderful weather during our visit. On one note, this place is only open from June up to October and closes in Winter.

This place offers lots of hiking paths and nature wander tours.What I’ve enjoyed the most is really watching how the mountains envelops this place, its like a painting came alive. The colors, the symmetry and the way the Glacier on top spreads is simply mesmerizing. I was totally blown away of this beauty. Honestly, this is one of the most beautiful nature I have ever seen. The water changes from different colors from the levels where I’m standing. From emerald green, blue, seafoam green and torquoise. This place reminds me that we can leverage nature by not destroying it. I think this is one of the reasons we love Austria– it is really a nature jewel.

View of the day in Kaprun, Austria
A lovely view from the Restaurant Mooserboden 2,040 meters high

If you are visiting around Kaprun, Zell am Zee or nearby to Höhe Tauerns, make sure to drop by and see this place.You will not regret. It is very kid-friendly and you can even bring your pets up. I have seen a couple of families with their dogs with them as well as strollers for babies.It is unbelievable when I see almost newborns already being brought to this heights! One thing more– I gained high respect for the bus drivers and their route plans in the mountains—simply impeccable!

If you want to learn more about how this structure was built and how the inner system of the dam works, then you can join the tours they offer. It takes every 45 mins and meets directly at the Mooserboden kiosk from 10 a.m up to 3 p.m.

Admiring the rock formations

I think for many people who have never been to Austria and to Kaprun, this place may mean a MYTH. Kaprun means one thing above all: the birthplace of a myth. High above the Kaprun valley, a world of wonders of technology emerged in the post-war period, which was already ahead of its time and has lost nothing of its myth even today. The two high mountain reservoirs in Kaprun are almost like fjords. Especially when snow melts in spring, then they are bulging and the turbines, hidden behind the mighty dam walls, are running at full speed. In the mountains above Kaprun, electricity is generated at 2,040 m above sea level, a lot of electricity. It is not just for touristic purposes, it is really built with purpose. This is promoted throughout the year and for many decades. You have to see it by your own eyes.

Hiking adventure for the whole family

When visiting in Summer, make sure to wear appropriate clothes and shoes. I am glad we all wear hiking shoes as it is a must for hiking especially through rocks and steep areas, plus it is safer for your feet. This is not a place for your sandals or open shoes. It is better to always bring a summer jacket or something to protect you from winds. It is always great to check the weather before going as this place needs a clear blue skies. Other activities you might want to try while visiting this place are as follows ;

  • Walking and learning with children – there are 6 adventure stations that will allow young and old visitors to find out more about nature and technology in a playful manner.At the cash desk, children are handed a leaflet with a plan and directions on how to experience the kids trail. A great surprise awaits at the “Electricity Adventure World“.
  • Enter the depths of the Interior of the Mooser Dam – how was the gigantic dams built in the middle of the Alps?
  • Explore the Electricity Adventure World-this is a wonderful exhibition showing young and old can immerse themselves in the world of hydropower and the myth of Kaprun.
  • Last but not the least — lie down in the wooden benches along the dam, close your eyes and breathe in nature! Don’t forget—Take really nice photos!
Adventure hiking in Hochgebigsstauseen in Kaprun, Austria

Want to learn more how to visit this place? I have posted here some helpful links that can help you with your trip.

Kaprun High Mountain Reservoirs

Family Summer holidays in Kaprun Zell am Zee

Until next time ! Tschüss!

One fine day in Utrecht

Livin’the Dutch Life

Last Easter we had the chance once again to visit the Netherlands !It’s been two years in a row now that we’ve spent our Easter break in our second home in Europe, the bike capital of the world, the place where Tulips are goddess of beauty and pancakes are eaten for dinner! See, I always look forward going to Holland in Springtime for so many reasons. One, I’m still over the moon by the colors of Spring which I can only see in the Netherlands. Last year we have visited the Keukenhof in Lisse and I must say it again that it is really the most beautiful Spring garden in the world! If you won’t agree with me then you must see it by your own eyes to believe. Actually, we went to Holland right after we visited Berlin which is just 4 hours away by train on a direct Intercity train. I am glad that we made the right choice for this place because it turned out to be an amazing place add to the fact that we are having a wonderful spring weather in the spring capital of Europe!

Looking down on Manholes in Utrecht, Netherlands

We arrived in Utrecht at around 11 a.m . First thing I did was to look down for some manholes to ponder. I didn’t see much but I found some. Most of the shops are already open from 10 a.m on Maundy Thursday. Utrecht is the 4th largest city in the Netherlands, located 50 km southeast of Amsterdam and only takes about half an hour by train. Netherlands has a great train network so Utrecht is easily accessible from Schiphol central station. Trains runs very frequently so the ride is really quick.What I find unique in the Netherlands is their scanning gate system in the train station which is really impressive and have better control of the passengers.

One fine day in Utrecht, Netherlands
Dutch gable houses: Every angle is different wherever you look

Feels like Amsterdam

For me, Utrecht is a mini version of Amsterdam, less chaotic, trendy but less crazy, but can also be full of frantic crowds, and also very touristy. It’s a great family get-away because it has everything for young and old. The crowds can be so diversed and multi-cultural. Along the canal areas I saw rows of coffee shops and you know that they don’t sell the ordinary Cappucino or Latte! Looking very “Dutch” is Oudegracht’s full of “Fiets” or bicycles. Only in Holland you can see this bicycle fever (ever!). Netherlands is really the country of bicycles. In Germany, people also cycle a lot but I’ve never seen the same amount of bicycles than in Holland! Of course, with the unique “Gezellig ” flair of the two major canals that runs through the city center, the Oudegracht and Nieuwegracht, a daytrip in Utrecht is a great escape from big cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam. It’s Easter break so the whole canal area was full of people, relaxing,chilling, and basking in the sun.There was so much activity going on around. Never a dull moment and time really flies so fast. But be warned though, if you’ve never been to the Netherlands,brave yourself when cycling and watch out for other cyclists! Aside from the fact that the roads are smaller, most streets in the city center is one-way.

Traditional Dutch gable houses along the canals of Utrecht


Canals of Utrecht

I am really looking forward to spend time exploring the canals of Utrecht. While walking, I was taken back to the time when we are in Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht and the Red light District areas. With the long rows of cafes, shops, boutiques and restaurants along the canals, visitors can have a nice walk. Time flies so fast and it’s really cozy strolling around. This is a feature that is unique for the city of Utrecht. Utrecht is a small city and compact so exploring it doesn’t take that long and walking is the best way to explore it so make sure that you wear comfortable shoes. But because we had a toddler with us, we took our time going with her phase. I just realized that my daughter walked as much as we did even from our days in Berlin. The stone boulders and poles became her jump poles and playground. My daughter was fascinated by the ducks along the canal banks and she wanted to feed them with coins!

Utrecht, Netherlands
Bikes and even more bikes
Oudegracht on a fine Spring sunny afternoon

It is never boring to walk along Oudegracht with rows of houses because everywhere I look is so pretty! I took so many photos because every angle is just different, and as usual, they are never aligned!

Wandering along the canals of Utrecht

Domtoren ( or Dom Tower)

As soon as we exited the mall, ( I totally forgot its name..) which was adjacent to the the Utrecht central station we follow the crowds leading further to the canal area which directly led as to the iconic Domtoren (or Dom Tower).Built of design by John of Hainaut and is the tallest church tower (112.5 meters) in the Netherlands. It was completed in 1382 and the tallest belfry in the country. I’ve heard about this church before but seeing it for real is really great.The exterior of the church tower is heavily renovated from the time of our visit but still on operations so its still accessible for visitors. I’ve heard that renovations are expected to be completed by 2022.

Domkerk, Utrecht’s landmark

The Tower contains 14 bells that weigh 32 tons and what makes it unique is that its still rung by a group of dedicated ringers or the Utrecht Klokkenluiders Gilde. There are two chapels in the tower; the Egmond chapel and the St. Michael’s chapel. Take note that you can only visit the Dom on a one hour tour. If you are in a hurry, you can still enjoy its exterior facade.

Eye- catching statues in Utrecht
Lush labyrinth garden in Domkerk

Website : http://www.domkerk.nl/

Welcome to Miffy Museum !

Nijntje Museum ( or Miffy Museum) and Centraal Museum

Actually, the main reasons why we visited Utrecht is to see the Nijntje Museum ( or Miffy Museum) .I’ve been longing to see this museum for a long time because of my four year old daughter.She had a blast in Berlin in the Legoland Discovery Center, going crazy over lego and the indoor playground, but inside Miffy Museum she had a total world of fun and interactive learning. Miffy Museum is the pride of the Netherlands in memory of its creator Dick Bruna. Seeing the museum, I can say that this place is definitely true to his words–” I create a world that children fill with their own imagination”. For once, I think the Netherlands has the most wonderful museum for young children and adults.

Adjacent to Miffy Museum is the Centraal Museum which houses the great works of local artists such as Joachim Wtewael and Gerard Van Honthorst. Another interesting feature is the “Utrecht ship” located in the cellar of the museum.It’s located in front of Miffy museum. There was a cozy Cafe in the corner of the Museum which you can enjoy a quick bite and enjoy the beautiful gardens.The souvenir shop can be found in the main entrance of the Museum.

Website : https://nijntjemuseum.nl

St. Martin’s Cathedral (Domkerk)

We walked a bit further and we discovered the beautiful Labyrinth gardens in St.Martin’s Cathedral (Domkerk) .St.Martin’s cathedral is the main cathedral in Utrecht and once connected to the Dom Tower but due to the collapse of its nave from the Tornado in 1674, the two building have been separated.This church was once the largest church in the Netherlands.What remains of the interior is still of high quality and extremely ornate with many vaulted arches and colorful stained glass windows. This is the lone church in the Netherlands that has a close resemblance to the style of the Gothic architecture.The building has a sole 367 ft tower named Dom tower which is Utrecht’s landmark. I was rather surprised to see the serene green surroundings inside the square of the cathedral. It has a fountain in the middle and the naves creates a remarkable shadow from the afternoon sun that creates a very relaxing atmosphere. Unlike the other Dom that we’ve visited, the garden has no graves, only a Labyrinth that my daughter loves.

Nice wall art found in the streets of Utrecht

As we are getting tired from walking around 2 o’clock afternoon, we decided to look for a place to sit down and have a drink. We followed the train back to the canal areas and wander through the narrow streets. The crowds are still on frenzy and there were now street musicians playing along the canals. Super ” Gezellig “!

I don’t know its name but it looks yummy!

Grabbing an ice cream, we sat by the benches facing the canal and just enjoyed the view, languishing on the coziness of Dutch life. People of different skin enjoying every single moment of leisure and I know, I am not the only one who became a storyteller after visiting this wonderful little city in the Netherlands.

Indeed, it was one fine day in Utrecht.

Kindergeld : My 3- year old’s basic income in Germany

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A Third Culture Kid enjoying the cold Autumn walks

It has been revealed by Internations, and there’s no denying that Germany is probably one of the best place on earth to raise a family. I am a first- time parent and raising my child in a culture totally different from where I grew up with, has been the focal point of our expat move. Of course I know that all parents ,in general, desires the best for their child, and this is the reason why I wanted to share my personal experience why despite of the crazy weather and difficulty to learn the language, I think Germany is a better place to raise a kid and be a child!

You might be surprised, having a child is Germany seems more of a blessing, an enjoyable reason to defray the first-world country problems that weighs every family on a daily basis. With its excellent health benefits and support to parents, both financially & socially, raising a child here can be rewarding!

Raising an Expat child, which has windows to multiculturalism or rather, raising a  Third Culture-Kid child in Germany is a privilege . Aside from the extensive leisure activities, safe environment, a more play-based educational system in the early years, every child has their own allowance up until they reached the age of 18.

My three-year old daughter has a monthly income of 192 Euros that goes to our German  bank account paid by the German government. So simple as it sounds and yet so generous. When we came to live here in Germany and heard about this, we are extremely happy. Happy in a way that as parents, we all know that every single Euro matters when you are raising a child. Kindergeld is a great help to our family budget.It is granted as a tax refund, primarily to meet the constitutional rule that income is untaxable up to a child’s subsistence level.I am not talking about the amount itself, but as an expatriate parent like me, this amount is really something tangible, with this I can feel that the government “cares” about my child, and to every single child living here.

I am sure that I’m not the only one who is grateful for this. Although it seems to me that this country is an advocate of  “Ordnung“( or order) and everything seems to be ruled by rules, I see that hard work really pays off. All taxpaying expatriate residents of Germany are, like Germans, entitled to Kindergeld if they have children. Also called as” Child Benefit“,  the German government give all families, expats included, to help defray some of the cost of raising children. It can run from €190 to €221 per child per month, and is usually made by a fund transfer into a German bank account. We all know that raising a child is expensive. From diapers to milk, Kindergarten expenses and other essentials, plus the never-ending cycle of buying toys!

Just about any taxpayer living in Germany with children can get the Kindergeld, whether employed, self-employed or independent. You get it as a rule that until the children turn 18, though it can continue until they are 25 if they are still in school or meet other requirements for an extension.

This amount also varies depending on where region in Germany you are living.

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Kindergeld amount 2017 (standard amount):

Child benefit for the first child: 192 Euros per month
Child benefit for the second child: 192 Euros per month
Child benefit for the third child: 198 Euros per month
Child benefit from the fourth child: 223 Euros per month
The child benefit amount will be increased by 2 euros per child compared to the end of 2016 for 2017.

If you are a parent and planning to move to Germany or living here and about to have a baby, then this is good news for you! If you’re interested to know more about this, you can check it Here.  I will share to you the steps we took for us to avail of this benefit. It was easy, smooth and practical in all sense. The child benefit application must be submitted in writing and signed. Note that all the forms will be in German . Applications may also be submitted by an authorized representative, who must submit a written power of attorney (for example by members of the tax-consulting professions). An oral application, for example by telephone, is not possible

Official details in English are given Here.

Here’s how to apply :

  1. Anmeldung ( Application) – Open to all family members. This is to prove that the family is living in Germany.
  2. Birth Certificate : translations of them if they are not in English / German. If child is born in Germany, a birth certificate is issued separately to apply for Kindergeld, which should be attached in original. We translated my daughter’s Arabic birth certificate into Dutch & German languages because her nationality is Dutch. We also brought along  the originals with the attestations showing it was legalized both from the German embassy in Kuwait and the Netherlands embassy there.
  3. Your passport
  4. Forms to fill up are listed Here.Haushaltbescheinigung (KG3a) – A proof with your address (This has to be certified as per procedure below)
    • Tax identification Number ( both parents & child)
    • German Bank account ( where the transfer will be made)

Procedure:

  1. Fill in following Forms:
  2. Take the Haushaltbescheinigung, and your passport to your local KVR/Rathaus (The place where did you registration/anmeldung)
    • Officer will verify the form and  pay the applicable fee. You will be issued stamped Haushaltbescheinigung.
  3. Put in the envelope:
    • Stamped Haushaltbescheinigung 
    • Antrag auf Kindergeld (filled in)
    • Birth certificate
    • Residence permit copy (Aufenhaltstitel)
  4. Post it to the office of Familienkasse belonging to the city you live in !

That’s it. You will now get your Kindergeld in 3-4 weeks. Keep the letters from Finanzamt safely for future references.

Natalie 4
Can’t make up her mind: Aspiring to become a Doctor today, tomorrow a Gardener, and next week will be a Veterinarian!

More than the benefit itself, I am really grateful that my child is growing up in a place where the family oriented lifestyle is very high.When I am writing this post, I am not actually surprised that Germany is considered a great place to raise a child and live abroad. Generally speaking, Germany is an economically strong nation, it’s a hard-working nation, and it’s a nation where the people feel a strong pride in their country. Right from the beginning, from childhood, they feel important !

Back in my home country, we don’t have such things as  child benefit. You as a parent is responsible to allot savings for your child. I grew up in a culture where there is an endless pressure on “getting rich” to be able to afford everything, seeing money as an achievement or a social standing. As a child, I don’t have such as this “benefit“. I have other siblings who, along with me, strive for all our needs to be met along with all other basic necessities.

I saw both the joys and misery of raising multiple kids and I realize the effect of poverty and the support from government, or the lack of it. Families with more children  struggles to meet both ends.I think that beyond the cost, it is also the reason of advocating Family planning.

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My Third Culture Kid

Kindergeld is a form of love. There’s so much love for children here in Germany that I cannot sum up in this post. I will try to write more in my next post about this. Anyhow, Children are special gift, with tantrums and all their screaming, and Yes, they deserved to be raised in the best way that we can give to them.

Have you ever had a “child allowance”when you were a child? How did it make you feel?

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keukenhof, the most beautiful Spring garden in the whole world!

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Welcome to Keukenhof Gardens, a Dutch pride!

Woowww!” This is my daughter’s word when we saw the bright, bursting colors of tulips last Monday in the Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, in the Netherlands.

Visiting  Keukenhof on the second day of Easter was totally overwhelming, but yes, for me, it is probably the most beautiful garden in spring in the whole world! I have been looking forward for this trip this Spring and I am so glad we had a great weather to witness this place. This year was the 68th time that the Keukenhof gardens ( literally translates as kitchen garden) wows approximately millions of tourists and even locals. My husband, who is a Dutch native, but a first-timer to see the flower-mania inside the Keukenhof gardens was surprisingly impressed by the beautiful landscapes. He thought only old people and tourists go there, but then he was mistaken.Seeing tulips grow as normal as weeds during spring in almost every backyard all over Holland, he saw the other side of its beauty.He was greatly enamored by the flower power as I did. He hates crowds but I must say that the traffic flow inside the park was still controlled and manageable, even with a 2.5 year old toddler with us. Since our visit falls on a holiday, we’ve seen visitors from all over the globe,different nationalities.Totally chaotic but then also so much fun!

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Tulipa…in bright dark red blossoming in Springtime in Keukenhof.

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A chaotic, crowded garden on the second day of Easter in Lisse, the Netherlands.

We took the trip with Arriva tours and it was very pleasant, on time and smooth all the way.  I won’t be surprised if visitors this year would surpass last year’s  2016 recorded 1.1 million visitors! As one of the highlight of our Holland trip, my feet was itching from the moment we book our tickets and kept on hoping that we had a great weather or else we will definitely cancel the trip.The time that I come face to face with the gazillions of around 800 varieties of tulips, I fell in love!

There is beauty everywhere I look! Have you ever heard of Tulips coma? There is never enough Tulips to see, and of course, to photograph!

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This year’s theme in Keukenhof Gardens is the “Dutch Design”, or also known as Mondriaan. This is a landscape created to depict the artistic dutch design in red, blue, yellow and white frames.

I think this is how I’ve felt when I saw the bright tulips fields, the tripartite layers of colors, gorgeous landscape filled with different colors, unique artwork, inspirational gardens and flower exhibitions!

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This year’s theme is “Dutch Design“. Dutch Design is characterized by Dutch sobriety combined with innovative solutions.The Mondriaan Garden with its primary square color patches was crowded and so as the Roses flower show in the Oranje Nassau pavillion was a great crowd pleaser. Surprisingly, my daughter had a blast in the petting zoo, in the Miffy house ,spacious playpark and running around the garden. The restaurants were crowded but there were plenty to choose from.You will have something to eat and drink depending on what you want.Don’t forget to  try the Dutch , Bitterballen, and yes, the Kroket sandwich to have a taste of Dutch foods.

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Orange crown tulips

Personally, seeing this garden up close and personal  was a dream come true!

Gazing at the tulips made me appreciate nature even more and I was just overwhelmed by how beautiful the flowers are.From this, the Dutch people should be very proud because they have this heritage. It’s no wonder people travel across the world just to see flowers, especially  this Tulpen-Mania!

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Beauty everuwhere…Tulipas in dark pink and yellow.

This spring,we are lucky to see the new amenities of the park, like its beautiful grand entrance hall, with geometric design ceiling, visitors luggage deposit area, restaurants, souvenir shops, and a car park where 4,500 cars and 1,000 coaches can park. If you like to gaze at the Tulips fields, you can walk a few meters from the park and just be amazed by horizons painted in red, yellow, violets, and pink tulips!

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I am so glad that I had the chance to see this place in person. It was totally worth it. This place fueled my love for nature even more, flowers and the inspiration behind the art. I think its not just the tulips but there’s really a creative art behind these landscapes.

Here are some interesting facts I’ve learned while researching about this amazing garden.

1. 2017 is Keukenhof’s 68th opening to the public.

2. Keukenhof is only open eight weeks each year and, in that time, welcomes 1.1 million visitors ( as of 2016 records).

3. Nearly 50 million people have visited Keukenhof since it first opened and, nowadays, 75% come from more than 100 countries abroad.

4. More than 7 million bulbs are planted in Keukenhof’s 32 hectares (79 acres), which are supplied, for free, by 100 bulb growers.

5. The gardeners dig out these bulbs, at the end of each open season, and destroy them (by order of the growers). Most are used as food for livestock.

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Pretty in Orange ( Orannje Tulipas Double Blooms)

6. There are about 30 full-time gardeners, who work year-round at Keukenhof.

7. Each autumn, the gardeners plant the bulbs, by hand, in a completely new design. It takes about 3 months. The bulbs are selected to bloom throughout the eight-week opening period.

8. The bright green grass, around the park, is a special quick-growing variety, needed to cope with the shady trees. It is reseeded each year.

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A garden full of colors!

9. In addition to the tulip gardens, Keukenhof also hosts a Japanese garden, an English landscape garden, a spring meadow, a natural garden, a historic garden, a garden maze, and seven inspiration gardens that are different each year.

10. Although known for tulips, Keukenhof is home to the world’s largest lily show, during the last ten days of the opening season.

11. Keukenhof began, in 1857, as an English landscape garden, designed by the Zocher firm, who also designed Vondelpark in Amsterdam.

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12. Keukenhof’s name has even older origins. Countess Jacoba van Beieren owned the land in the 15thcentury. The uncultivated land was used for hunting and gathering herbs for the castle’s kitchen, hence Keukenhof, or Kitchen Garden.

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Fringed Tulipas…a rare breed!

13. The striped tulips, so popular in the 17th century, got their colouring from a virus, transferred by aphids, only discovered in 1931. These days, multi-coloured tulips are bred to look that way.

14. Growing 4.2 million bulbs a year, the Netherlands is the world’s largest producer of tulip bulbs. Half of which are exported.

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The Kissing Couple , famous Delft figurine from Holland

15. The main bulb-growing region of Holland stretches from Leiden to Haarlem. The number of hectares for bulb production has increased from 10,000 hectares in 1960 to more than 23,500 hectares in 2007. However, the number of growers is decreasing, from 13,000 in 1960 to only 2000, in 2007.

16.The website travel guide, Lonely Planet, opens with a feature on Keukenhof. Wikipedia has just one photograph of the Netherlands: of Keukenhof. More recently Keukenhof was awarded the Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor

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If you have the chance, you need to give it a go to visit this amazing garden, you won’t regret it. Keukenhof is  definitely a family & kid friendly place and there’s so much events and activities inside Keukenhof for all ages!

 

Did you enjoy this post? If so, you might want to see Keukenhof in Pink and The National Tulips Day in Amsterdam .

If you are planning to explore the off beaten attractions in Holland, you might want to check out why Dutch clouds, especially the Cumulus clouds are long time inspiration from artists and depicted in famous paintings. Read more in Holland, as I see It!

Walking in the Red Light District with a Baby

Now who among you parents out there would bring out your little ones in the Red Light District or locally known as “De Wallen ” in Amsterdam?

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Red Light District in Amsterdam or locally known as De Wallen

Nope, it’s not the Disneyland of Amsterdam, and if its your first time to see Amsterdam sure thing it has many attractions  that might catch you off guard! I have written before how to enjoy the free things in Amsterdam but this one is totally different. Different in a way that the Netherlands is a country more than sex & drugs! You really need to see the country for you to have an impression since what you read in the internet is not always true. This country is totally laid back and relaxed, highly tolerant and the Dutch people are very liberal. No wonder that Dutch Teen pregnancy rates the lowest in world standing, and as what the experts and studies shows,  Dutch kids are the happiest kids in the world.

Okay, I’m sure most of you who have traveled in the Netherlands specifically in Amsterdam knows the “Red Light District “that I am talking about. But for those of you who are clueless, here’s a brief description of what Red Light District is all about. Before I had our trip, my vision of the Netherlands is mainly of Tulips, clogs, cheese, canals, and beautiful architecture of the leaning gabled houses. Even the taste of Poffertjes and Stroofwafels are unknown to my taste buds so imagine my surprise when my husband & I with our 1 year -old daughter took a walk along the streets near the Zeedijk up to the Oudekerksplein.My husband is Dutch and visited Amsterdam frequently but He rarely went to the Red Light District. So for people who think that Dutch people are fond of taking drugs and fooling around in the RLD, on any given day, then you are completely  wrong!  I noticed that this place really thrives on tourists and visitors and not the locals!

We decided to pass by the streets of the Red Light District in the morning, where there are less crowds. We had previously explored the city and thought of having a break from the Museums since my daughter easily gets bored and in dire need of playtime.So then we found ourselves strolling through the alleys where its best known to be a public display of prostitutes and marijuana! Yes, prostitution and drugs is legal in the Netherlands! It is also came as a surprise to me knowing that the Netherlands is the first country to legalize gay marriages. The red-light district in Amsterdam  consists of a network of alleys containing approximately  three hundred one-room cabins rented by prostitutes who display their goods and offer their services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights. These “kamers” are the most visible and typical kind of red light district sex work in Amsterdam and are a large tourist attraction. I have read about it but seeing these girls , totally made up as early as 10am in the morning  still gives me a different experience. In the broad daylight,they all looked bored and there’s so much in their stares, some are just playing with their phones and fidgeting with their shiny underwear.

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Street sightings in Amsterdam

De Wallen, together with the prostitution areas Singelgebied and Ruysdaelkade, form the Rosse Buurt (red light areas) of Amsterdam. Of these, De Wallen is the oldest and largest area.The area also has a number of sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, a sex museum,brothels, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops that sell marijuana, legally. My 1-year-old  certainly had no idea what these are all about and doesn’t pick up anything about what is in the billboards and signage. Taking photos of the ladies is highly prohibited and the whole area is on surveillance of camera so every visitor is expected to be discreet.

So, am I a bad mother for dragging my innocent daughter into this place?

After we’ve seen the Miffy  (or Nijntje ) exhibition in Museumplein, then we took her into a place full of things she doesn’t even have an idea of what it is. Well, as shocking as it may look to the world that a toddler can have a glimpse of ladies parading their almost naked bodies, I find the whole experience normal.Just like in other cities. Of course we didn’t get inside of those Sex museums or lounge in the Coffee shops, we merely passed by to take a look. Strolling around the Red Light District with a toddler was peaceful, calm, and safe. The only disturbance we’ve had is my toddler’s whining and wanting to run all over the place.

Although the Red Light District is for adults, its  only after dark that there are throngs of people just walking around to soak up the atmosphere, I too, as a visiting tourist have spent some good times just watching the world go by.Most of the tourists there are actually not there to indulge in those activities,they’re just there simply to watch. I found it a very  relaxed friendly place. Although I don’t recommend to go in there at night , and yes, not even with a baby with me.

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Street art in Amsterdam

Amsterdam city centre has a romantic image. I truly enjoyed the cozy strolls along the city center and now I know why Amsterdam is such a vibrant city. The city is gorgeous and a place for kids to enjoy. Sure it has its seedy and naughty parts of the city but its a beautiful place to explore and I am even grateful that my daughter experience the benefits of traveling at such a young age. The neighborhood is full of interesting shops, pubs, fantastic restaurants, leaning gabled houses and the city’s most charming canals. It is the same location of the Nieuwmarktsquare, the gothic Oude Kerk  and just a stones throw away,you will be in Amsterdam’s Chinatown, the Zeedijk (also home to an impressive Buddhist temple). It is unbelievable that after a few minutes strolling along the RLD, you will be in another place, a totally different atmosphere.

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Dutch Gezelligheid

Our trip to Amsterdam became a memorable one, and not because of the things we’ve seen in the Red Light District, but because, it is a beautiful city that is rich in culture. More than the bike culture, Amsterdam will always be special for us. It was our first trip as a family and I am sure, I can tell stories to my little girl that during the first year of her life, she had been there…through the secrets of the Red Light District!

If you want to visit Amsterdam and have a look in the RLD, this page might give you some interesting information.

Would you stroll along the Red Light District with your baby if given the chance?

 

 

The Dutch life: Habitual Element of Surprise

Do you like surprises?

If there’s any inspiring quality out of being married into a Dutch family that  I could share here with you, it is the Dutch’s habitual element of surprises.You might wonder why,  but aside from their lifestyle full of ‘Gezelligheid,up to their unbelievable generosity despite of the infamous Going Dutch‘. I found Dutch people, particularly the family I’ve married into, to be very good in making surprises.

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My Dutch Parents-in-law enjoying the busy stalls in Souk Mubarakiya in Kuwait. They were surprised to see the famous kissing Dutch figurine here.

Even here in my own Blogging community , I have met  Dutchies who are worth mentioning. When I was a newbie in Blogging (Still I am..!) here and made my first 5 posts, Frank Jansen of Dutch goes the Photo is  very supportive through his meaningful comments. He took time to comment and give me encouragement, even boost my confidence by giving me my very first Blog award– the Liebster which I really find to be a kind gesture. His Yoga tree photos are total stunner and if you love fine photography in your own wall, check it out Here. There is also my good friend Ann, of Grubbs ‘n Critters , a fellow Expat-Mama, who is actually married also to a Dutchman.She made a wonderful surprise to me when she sent over a box full of spices! How cool was that? Now everytime I cook, I remember her. It was just purely coincidental that we have met here and shared common parenting stories and  I often steal her luscious recipes! Finally, I was really thrilled when  Diana,a total congenial person, a Book Author by heart, and the soul behind Myths of the Mirror became one of my reader,we’ve beautifully connected and eventually  I felt I belonged, to the right circle in internet. I love the fact that I have these people in my life. All of them came also by surprise, along with all my friends here, as fate leads me to know them through their Blogs. If you have time,make sure to check out their Blogs and if you are a bookworm and still thinking of a gift to give to someone you love, you should check out Diana’s books  that will leave you in trance!

Now back to my subject, who doesn’t like surprises, I guess everybody does. I am talking about a good kind of surprise, not the prank type, obviously a good kind of surprise is always great, personal, always unforgettable and lastly,  full of fun.

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FIL enjoying the beautiful sunset along the Arabian Gulf in Kuwait

On the side note, I can only talk about my own experience with my own Dutch family. I don’t know how is it with other Dutch interracial marriages  so this post really doesn’t intend to do a rationalization of Dutch people.

“Surprises are beautiful because they come without waiting! “

My Parents in Law (PIL) are really unique and one of a kind individuals. First, my FIL (Father-in-Law) subscribed and reads my Blog so obviously He will read this post and how cool is that?! They are two people who loves to plan out surprises for us, without giving us the hassle of waiting.

There’s something about having a surprise from unexpected people and time. It is the element of surprise that keeps me on high and really appreciate the thought of it. Since I was married into this Dutch family, my life was full of surprises that made me fall in love with them even more, each day. Here I wanna share with you why my Dutch family are people who have a thing with habitual surprises  and their surprises keep on blowing my mind away each time they do it. Call me old fashioned, but I find this a rarity.

“Surprise them once in a while and let them know how special

they are!”

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A beautiful surprise with a unique Dutch Baby tradition – Beschuit met Muisjes

My PIL surely knows how to let us feel loved. They gave us special surprises on their visits while we are still living in Kuwait. I find it special when they surprised us in coming over to our wedding with such a very short notice from us. Once we came back from our short stay in our hotel, we found out that our flat was fully decorated with colorful buntings and balloons! Something that I never expected because I wondered how they got the key. Later on, they gave us a photo book of our wedding photos which came from all the photos which my MIL took. She really loved taking photos and  wrapped up  a beautiful surprise and of course, a film made by my FIL.

 

Then again, they brought another strange yet  unique Dutch tradition of Beschuit met Muisjes  when my daughter was born. Far away from Holland, they have made us so close to home. They are not that young anymore, but they are full of vigor, strength and vitality. They have brought 2 suitcases full of gifts for my daughter, they have collected cards from our relatives in the Netherlands prior to going to Kuwait. I was amazed with their organization skills when they lay out all the gifts that fit the whole couch ! Their effort was worthy of appreciation.

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My MIL wearing an Abaya during our visit in the Grand Mosque in Kuwait

“Surprises are better than promises ! “

When my daughter celebrated her 2nd Birthday here in Germany, they came for a week- long visit. The surprise came in later when they asked us to check out the door and my face was full of delight to see my husband’s sister and her whole family came by to join my daughter’s birthday!It was totally unexpected,even my husband is clueless. It was such a crazy surprise for me because we don’t even have enough plates for more than 5 people, I haven’t even prepared enough food to feed them ! Despite the frenzy preparations, in the end, it turned out a great day because indeed, surprises are better than promises!

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Trying out Indian food in Germany where we reminisce the grilled foods ,kebabs, flat bread and Hummus in Kuwait.

 

Last week, we were planning to go to Nuremberg to visit the Christmas Market, also to have a weekend trip to celebrate my husband’s birthday. It was planned from last month but was postponed when my daughter got sick. We were still having second thoughts  because my daughter still had a bad cough and the weather is always grey, and gloomy, it’s not just the mood to do some sightseeing. While taking a walk before we do our grocery shopping, a car pulled down in front of us and there they are again–my PIL smiling and waving at us! They did it once again. Totally out of the blue, they came to join us to celebrate the weekend with us for my husband’s birthday. We spent a great time in the Christkindlmarkt ,drank Glühwein, visited the Nativity or the Krippenweg, and devoured Schnitzels and curry wurst with delight.

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It was their turn to be surprised and get mesmerized by Kuwaiti food !

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Now I know that a couple who  travels together, stays together.

“Expect Nothing. Live Frugally on Surprises! “~Alice Walker

Again, they filled our home with their sunshine and made everything better.I know that they can always come over to our place from 6-7 hours drive from the Netherlands but still, they do it in a beautiful surprise. When I saw the face of my husband and the delight in my daughter’s face, I couldn’t agree no more because I am, too, was overwhelmed. They know how to bring us cheer, and they are so good at it.Also, every time they bring tons of goodies which we all enjoyed, then who am I to complain?

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Enjoying the waves of the Arabian Gulf, my PIL finds it Gezelling despite the winds!

The surprise continues when they brought Sinterklaas to my daughter in line of her celebrating  her first St. Nicholas here in Germany. My MIL packed a handful of my favorite spices like Gehakt and Spekulaas which I really find it sweet. We are so overwhelmed with the Sinterklaas goodies they’ve brought like the Chocolate letters,Kruidnoten, Stroofwafels,Gevuldekoeken, so much more. They know that my husband adores these things and I am a convert now myself. At the end of their visit, I was surprised again to see another ornaments in our little tree. I was so busy that I didn’t notice it hanging in there. They adorned it with their love. Another lovely surprise.

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Airport moments while leaving Kuwait

Near or far, they  always try to bridge the gap and cross the distance to let us feel loved. Habit or not, my Dutch family has certainly a trait that I’ve learned to appreciate. Beyond gifts and everything, it’s their thoughts behind it that really matters. I have learned to appreciate surprises but right now, I am enjoying the Dutch’s life habitual element of surprises!

And how sweet that this post falls as my 200th post here ! Surprising that I have made it this far, Thank you my friends for following and reading my posts!

How about you, when was the last time you’ve made a surprise ? Or the last time you’ve been surprised?

How was your experience?

 

Little Expats and Grandparents

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My daughter at 2 months old with her Oma

I am one of the kids who had normal‘ childhood spent with Grandparents. My Lolo & Lola (grandparents in Tagalog) live just a few kilometers from us and we often visit them especially on weekends.On special occasions, they were always present.Being in a big family,we grew up messing up their house together with my cousins, having sleepover and dipping in the nearby fish pond. Being clannish is a  norm in Philippines and extended families are living close-by.Grandparents normally fill-in during the times where both parents are unable to attend to the kids.In Philippines, there’s a high percentage that kids grow up close to their grandparents.

As an Expat living miles & miles away from my home country, I reflect on the life of my daughter not having this kind of “normal “childhood that I had. Announcing the birth of my daughter to my mother is coupled with ‘sadness‘ knowing that my mother lives so far away from us. My daughter was born in Kuwait while her grandparents are in the  Philippines and in the Netherlands.Now that we’re living in Germany, closer to one, and yet, still separated by distance . Both worlds are far, but totally embraceable. Seeing the fantasy-reality of an Expat Life, I realized that Grand-Parenting is a luxury that Expat kids doesn’t have naturally due to the distance factor. It needs to be worked on.

 Grand-parenting is the second important family role you could teach your child, most especially to an Expat Child.It is your responsibility as a parent to bridge this gap, or else, their Grandparents will become a stranger in their eyes.

Does your child knows her Grandparents?

What is special about the relationship of Expat child and their Grandparents?

Their best gift is : LOVE

When I become a parent, I realized just how vital the Grandparent-child interaction is in the early years of a child development. It is truly a special bond. You can’t really appreciate how big the hearts of Grandparents for their Grandchildren unless you have a child of your own.If you don’t grow up having this relationship or your Grandparents are gone before you were born then this feeling might be totally unknown to you. Grandparents could be the best caregivers, and often times, provides genuine parenting support for busy parents, and usually without a cost. If you are a parent & you have your parents living close by and giving you constant support on parenting, then you must be lucky.Very lucky. Not everyone have this privilege.

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Handmade shirt from my Oma.

There is something about the love that only an Oma & Opa  ( Gransparents in Dutch) can give to their Grandchildren.Their presence transmits to their grandchildren that security and protection is all theirs, right in their loving arms.

My daughter’s Oma & Opa flew to Kuwait when she was born and was too excited to see their first interracial grand-daughter.They are not the youngest anymore but they are very keen in having a healthy relationship with all their grandchildren.But with my daughter,I find it is quite special since we live far away from them.

I remember the first time my parents in law saw their grandchild.It was a special time. Along with their big hearts, they brought 2 suitcases filled with gifts. I really don’t know how did they managed to do that. They were really clever in Packing. But I am not talking here about the amount of gifts they’ve brought with their flight. I’m talking about their effort to bring the best gift that they could give to their grandchild.

Their presence is the best present.

They have brought the walking bike that belongs to my husband since He was 1.Now my daughter rides it.Such an important “Toy”for her. I find this truly heart warming because they transmit such positive values on Family attachment.I am sure that when my daughter learned about this story when she grew up, it would certainly have an impact for her. That her Oma & Opa cared about her.

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I love my Papa’s bicycle!

They’re passing on Family heritage

The moment you introduce your child to her Grandparents, you create the connection and letting them into the path of Family Heritage. Who else can be their role models? Who else can tell better stories about you to your sons & daughters more than your own parents ?

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Postcards from Philippines: In the loving arms of her Lola

There is something about interaction both with young & old that is very important.Both young & old have an impact  to each other. I almost cried when my mother carried and hugged my daughter for the first time when we visited Philippines last May.. Looking back at this moment, all I wanted to say to my mother was : Thank You.

I knew that those moments for a Grandmother is precious, a priceless one. With the whole time that we’ve stayed with her, my daughter felt her love, her same  caring nature that nurture her other 5 grandchildren. A Grandmother’s love is endless and has no boundaries.Many times when my daughter is sick, the first thing I ask  for advice is my Mother. Grandparents have wisdom that has been gained through time and reliable.

With today’s modern technology and ease of travelling, living far away from Grandparents is no longer an excuse for this connection to be not established. Distance is the only factor that makes this relationship difficult, but then, there are ways to bridge the gap.There are so much fun  ways for Expat kids to learn to connect & build this relationship with their far away Grandparents. With internet,it’s as simple as  Whatsapp or Kakaotalk away, or more often, a Skype call could do wonders since sending letters is so-old fashioned nowadays. For Expat Kids, the physical gap can be bridged with constant visits, but then, constant contact will solidify the bond.

I just knew that hopefully, someday, I would also have this special role…of being a parent again, to my future Grandchild. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a visit or through internet, as long as it is a real connection.

When was the last time you call your Grandma? or your Opa?