Munich : More than just a Beer and Sausage capital!

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Munich’s new town hall facade {Rathaus} |Marienplatz

So we had our  trip to Munich last Saturday.It’s the first city we explored ever since we’ve moved to Germany. I am writing this post to document our adventures in this  attractive urban gem while taking Little Miss Natalie on another escapade just a day after she had her 2 yrs old shots! She’s such a jetsetter!

You see, there’s so much difference in the way we’ve traveled before compared now  that we had a child. From the things we need to bring,(Goodbye to 1 handbag!) to timings of the trains and trying to fit into her nap times and at same time looking into kid friendly sights.I’m telling you, it’s no joke having an overtired,cranky and whining toddler along in a trip.The thing is now, we don’t felt like a tourist  anymore which is very unlikely than last year when we visited the Mosel Valley & Trier. It’s like we have all the time in the world to go from A to B without the rush. My daughter has been such a great travel buddy and If I could sum up this trip in 3 these words, It is :  Green , Relaxed, and  Fun!

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Alter Botanischer Garten |Munich

 

We wanted to enjoy the city as much as possible as well as letting our Little Miss N enjoys her time as well.For parents, you know what this means—Play yards, playground and more play times! Munich has a lot to offer for all ages. I was even more surprised by the amount of tourists I saw in Munich, but I understand why.It’s packed and why not, It’s a beautiful city.

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Grüss aus München

 

So How did we do it with a toddler tagging along with us?

Do : Make time for Playtime and more Play times. More outdoors and wide spaces, =  Fun!

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Munich is a Green cosmopolitan, with  Kid-Friendly Parks and Gardens

Just a 5- minute walk away from the  Central station we immediately went to a Park, It was a nice one, & of course  with playground for kids. The  Alter Botanischer Garten’s playground is clean, with plenty of space to run around and has plenty of rides, slides, swings and the whole park is dreamy for parents too.It has plenty of benches and greens. I noticed that even their Rockers are made of wood and they have a giant water pump with spacious sand play pit. This park has a beautiful fountain and well-kept.There are more fountains to enjoy as we walked further along the city gate- Karlstor and Stachus  {or  Karlsplatz} . The architecture of the  Rondell buildings around it was impressive. There were already 3 buses lined up full of tourists in front of the Justizpalast  so we’re glad  that we are there early.

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Richard Strauss fountain | Munich

Marvel into the city’s rich Heritage and beautiful Architecture

Anyone visiting Munich could never missed the interesting  fountains along Kreuzviertel ‘s Brunnenbuberl and the Richard Strauss Fountain.Don’t miss the intricate details. It’s so nice just to sit and enjoy the sun while watching the waters splashing and gushing. I had a hard time keeping my daughter away from these fountains because she loved it.

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Brunnenbuberl Fountain | Munich

Do you want to have a real  taste of Bavaria?

Do : Climb the  306 steps of St Peter’s Church does not cost a cent and is well worth it for the views of the city from the top.

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Sitting wild boar  | Hunting & Fishing Museum in Munich

Indulge in the sacred Churches dated from 1180’s.

Then you will be pleased that Munich is more than just Oktoberfest and sausages.Believe it or not but with a very active toddler that we keep chasing around, we managed to visit  ( and was Amazed!)  4 iconic churches within 3 hours or so. We never regretted it because it was all worth to see. You need to see it by your own eyes why St. Michael’s church (Michaelskirche) , which is the largest Renaissance church north of the Alps is one notable piece of architecture. From outside ,the facade is very impressive and the interior altar is even more stunning.

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View of the altar and magnificent ceiling of St.Michael’s church | Munich

 

Then we went to St. Peter’s church (Peterskirche), the oldest inner city church built during the Romanesque period. Just in time that there is an ongoing mass inside so we went inside to listen and lighted some candles. The mass is in German so its quite an experience for me. Outside,the line for the tower of St. Peter is very long since its full of tourists so we skip to climb it but we would love to do it some other time.

Having a toddler along with us didn’t stopped us from going further to view the interior of the famous Cathedral of our Lady (Frauenkirche), or locally also known as “Münchner Dom” which is the city’s most famous  emblem. Frauenkirche is also named  Der Teufelstritt. Have you heard about the old tale of the Devil’s footprint at the porch of this church? It still can be seen as of today and one of its attractions. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the interior of this church, for me there is no ‘Wow’ effect-like I’ve had with the ‘Asamskirche’.Maybe because I have seen a better one, I must say that even the Organ loft  of the Liebefrauenkirche in Ingolstadt is as magnificent as what the Frauenkirche has.

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Close-up detail of the ceiling in Asam’s church |Munich

For a breather we hop on to see the busy ‘Viktualienmarkt’.You can see so much of Bavarian food stalls which sells everything from yummy breads & rolls, hot sausages and cold cuts,cheese, wine, exotic spices, souvenirs, and so on. You will find Bavarian Schweinshax’n (pork knuckle) and Speck (smoked Black Forest ham) and local cheeses on the open-air stalls. We saw families just lounging on the pavement having a quick bite and enjoying the summer sun.

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Marienplatz | Munich

Around 11 am we managed to reached “Marienplatz” ( St. Mary’s square )  which is the heart of Munich. It was busy…and beautiful.The square is far much better than in pictures I’ve seen in internet. The new Town Hall is the center of attention as usual. We looked forward to seeing the  Carillon or the ‘Glockenspiel’ which has a distinct musical of dancing statues . The Schäfferltanz or Cooper’s dance, is originally performed in 1517 at the Marienplatz to commemorate the end of the plague.

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Marienplatz and Glockenspiel | Munich

Being in this square is quite an experience. You’ll see lots of tourists flocked to admire the beautiful architecture of the facade of the both New and Old Town Halls. Visible from the square is the ‘Mariensäule’–the large column of St. Mary  at the center of the square that was erected in 1638 to celebrate the end of the Swedish invasion. The statue is topped by a gilded statue of Virgin Mary which was sculpted earlier, in 1590 by Hubert Gerhard.

 

Do: Get there in time for the Glockenspiel dance make  an infamous selfie in front of the new Townhall . Goodluck in finding a good angle.

Learning from a tainted piece of History in the Olympic Park

 

We had a pit stop to get some things that fancy us while sightseeing then we hop on to U3 to get us to Olympic Park. We booked the tickets for the Sea Life online and opt for an afternoon visit ( its cheaper!) .I was impressed by this huge park. Not only that its beautifully designed along side with the BMW HQ but the fact that it  one of the city’s prime sports for relaxation, sports, dining and entertainment.Think of it as New York’s Central Park — with better buildings.The ‘tent-like’ structures seen above from the Olympic Tower is one of the best views I have ever had in my life from a Tower. The weather was so nice that we even see the Bavarian Alps!

Do : Get into the  Tower. The best views are up there! Don’t miss out the best Rock Museum right up there before the open air lounge of the Tower.

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Sea Life | Olympic Park in Munich

My daughter loved the Sea Life, and so do we. The marine life inside is quite impressive and the whole experience is quite unforgettable for us. You can actually touch the mollusks, shells and other sea creatures. Once we had enough, she had the chance to chase the ducks outside,lounging beside the lake. The whole park is perfect for families, picnics on a sunny day or just learning something new like Zorb waterball maybe? or You can even stop for a dip in the pool where Mark Spitz won a then-record seven medals or jump off the high dive.Half day is not enough to explore this place.

Do : Climb the hill and have a magnificent view of the Olympic Park. It’s tough going but its worth it.Besides, its Free!

In the end,we called it a day. There’s still so much things to see but my daughter is already tired and sleepy and its time to get back.

Tell me, does Munich appeal to you?

Where was the last City you’ve visited? or your summer vacation perhaps? I would love to hear your story in the comments below.

 

The frenzy Toddler Life

Do you have a toddler in the house?

Toddler is an age of wonder, humor and loud meltdowns over palm tree pony tails and spaghetti noodles. In fact, toddler is an age where if you don’t or can’t find the humor in all the little things that can go wrong in a day you will end up crying in the corner before breakfast is over. For me, I only appreciate coffee or tea if its made before my toddler wakes up.

Thankfully ,this stage I believed can be  survived,( As What to expect says so..!)

As I ponder on her toddler days, I can find  wisdom and humor to the generation below her, and hey, I know I am not alone.So, how is your life  been with all the messes?

Have you been bending a lot too?

Who pick-up most of the scattered toys?

For the last 1.5 years, I realized this ; “What is a home without children? ” Quiet. The silence is always golden.

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Natalie trying to ride her Papa’s wooden Bike when He was a Toddler himself. A memento for the 2nd generation.

I can know if a household has a toddler or not. Just listen to the loudness of noise or the total absence of it. When you call someone, the crying, shouting, and loud attention seeking tiny human is breathing out her lungs just for you to cut off that call short.

If you have a toddler, its like  having a blender without a top cap over it.Imagine staring down a blender full of berries and knowing you have to start it without the lid. That’s pretty much how I feel every time I have to take my toddler out amongst the general public even for a short 20 minutes —even to the nearby supermarket, you know it’s going to be terrible, but you don’t really have a choice. I cannot risk to let her loose in the aisles or else we’ll be paying for many broken items. Did I mention that all of a sudden she doesn’t want to sit in her stroller?

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Kissing frog is old school. Now its Kissing the barks of Trees. Very nature-Friendly Kid.

Silence is golden- unless you have a toddler.In that case, silence is very very suspicious.Be quick, be very very quick to check her out. She might be eating something from the floor or licking the window glass and trying to flatten her nose though it.

That exercise looks adorable though.

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It feels great to learn to scribble on my Face !

Toddlers have their own set of rules, and until you can convince them that your way or the highway is really the only set of rules in the house there will be a lot of screaming, yelling and maybe trying to tell you in their own language “HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME GO TO BED AT A DECENT HOUR?”. Spell rebellion. They’re so cute, but they can get SO MEAN. All she wants to do is to run, make a mess, cling to me and repeat the same routine.

She used to loved to devour grapes, but now, she just turn her nose up when she sees it. Has her taste buds suddenly twisted? Toddlers are like mini-versions of drunk people.

 

My daughter is no exception. For the past few months, I’ve been in a constant state of anxiety, worrying that my child may accidentally kill herself. She stumbles through life on unsteady feet, not paying attention to what is in front of her, off to the next adventure, and she never fails to inadvertently stumble (or rather, crash) into danger. We are always waiting to hear the next bang, boom, screech or howl.I cannot forget the sound when she fell out from her crib.It was horrible thug.

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The Frenzy life of a Toddler

I’ve heard many parents of toddlers complain about what a headache they can be. They pee & poop in odd places.  They stumble and fall into things and are basically one giant bruise. They throw tantrums. They refuse to eat their meals. They rip the pages out of their books, Hold on forever to anything that is color blue, eats wood etc.  They won’t sleep in their own beds but rather sleep on the edge! They splash in mud puddles and lick the windows and lick the tires of the stroller & bike. Toddlers are a pain in the ass. It’s just the truth.

As much stress and anxiety as my toddler causes me, most of the time, I can’t help but just laugh… Ahh Toddler Life!

For Mamas & Papas out there who can relate, How’s your  life with a toddler in the house?

 

A tale of the Humble Tree

What do you feel when you see trees?

I truly believe that there is no proper substitute for nature when it comes to its benefits to a growing child and to adults in general, but here in Kuwait, we find ways  and we found one gem right in the middle of Salmiya where you can find this beautiful humble Tree. I called her “Tree of Humility “. Upon spotting her, I immediately transformed into a Zen state of mind. In my daily quest to find beauty in everywhere, I was rewarded with great solitude upon gazing and meditating under this Tree. There’s no other way that I can look at trees the way I find wisdom in nature.

I wanna share with you 4 Life lessons I’ve learned from this “Tree of Humility “.

  1. Bend but don’t break. Be flexible yet firmly rooted.The body & the trunk of this humble tree is  hard and firm and yet her leaves sway gently in the breeze while their trunks stay rooted firmly in the ground below. Their foundation is solid even though they move and sway harmoniously with the harsh winds, sandstorms & dust, never fighting against it. In time, even the strongest wind tires itself out, but this tree remains standing tall and still. A bend-but-don’t-break or go-with-the-natural-flow attitude is one of the secrets for success whether we’re talking about trees, answering tough questions in a Q&A session, or just dealing with the everyday vagaries of life.
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Humility Tree reduce violence -Neighborhood and homes that are barren with nature have shown greater incidence of violence in and out of the home than their greener counterparts.When you see green landscape, your fears are reduced,giving you a sense of security & peace.

 

2.Remember : What looks weak is strong.– Remember the words of a great Jedi Master: “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size do you?” We must be careful not to underestimate others or ourselves based only on old notions of what is weak and what is strong. You may not be from the biggest company or the product of the most famous school, but like this tree, stand tall, believe in your own strengths, and know that you are as strong as you need to be.

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Humility Tree shields children from harmful UV rays.Imagine a park without any shade or trees where children spend hours playing outdoors? She gives refuge to children, to the future.

 

 

3.Find wisdom in Emptiness – It is said that in order to learn, the first step is to empty ourselves of our preconceived notions. One can not fill a cup which is already full. The hollow condition of this tree during the hottest months in Kuwait reminds us that we are often too full of ourselves and our own conclusions; we have no space for anything else. In order to receive knowledge and wisdom from both nature and people, we have to be open to that which is new and different. When you empty your mind of your prejudices and pride and fear, you become open to the possibilities.During the barren months of summer, this tree is humble, yet resilient enough to endure the heat. She understood that spring soon will come and the day she will blossom once again.

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Humility Trees Heals studies have shown that patients with views of trees out their windows heal faster and with less complications. Children with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have access to nature. Exposure to trees aids concentration by reducing mental fatigue.

4.Commit to continuous growth -speaking of Kaizen or continuous improvement that is more steady and incremental, where big leaps and bounds are not necessary. Yet even with a commitment to continuous learning and improvement, our growth — like the growth of this humble tree — can be quite remarkable when we look back at what or where we used to be. Even though this tree is just there in the park, nobody really see its growth everyday. We too, even when we are making progress, may not notice our own improvement

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Trees as Teachers & Playmates-Whether as houses for children or creative spiritual inspiration for adults, The Humility tree have provided the space for human retreat throughout the years.

 

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Most children appreciate this tree because of its beautiful red flowers. Nobody gives compliment to her when she’s dry, leaves falling out & barren.

Most of us respond to the presence of trees beyond simply observing their beauty. We feel serene, peaceful, restful and tranquil in a grove of trees. We are “at home” there.A tree can add music to your life by attracting birds and other animals.Sound waves are absorbed by tree leaves and branches. A belt of trees 100 feet wide and 45 feet high can reduce highway noise by 50 percent. Prolonged exposure to noise can cause hypertension, higher cholesterol levels, irritability and aggressive behavior.

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Teach your child about nature.. let her feel its course, let her hear how she talk.There she will find wisdom.
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How to raise a nature-lover in your child-Be one.

So on your next trip to the park or along the line of trees in your neighborhood, take time to adore, take time to ponder. Take time to be Humble.

Landgoed Singraven : Sun is warm, grass is Green.

The world is better when it is Green.

We found another perfect green paradise and as always, Nature never fails to amaze me. I am a lover of beautiful buildings & modern structures, but nothing compares to a visit to nature. The allure of the sound of the gentle waters slushing from a flowing river, the crisp green plants, the warm and bright sun that touches our cheeks with the gentle breeze.

Its all priceless.

 Do you know that your mood changes the moment you are exposed to green outdoors? It’s a natural  booster.

Or haven’t you realized  that strolling and walking outside can even increase your creativity?

I grew up playing outdoors a lot. My childhood memories are full of  playing & running in the rice fields, catching spiders and spending so much time as if there’s no tomorrow.It was so much fun compared to the modern games of iPad now. Now that I am a mother, I am so concerned about this especially with a wandering, active, feisty toddler who wants to be out, all the time! Studies show that playing in the dirt (soil) outdoors helps kids stay healthy. Bacteria, viruses and other gross things in the soil actually help the immune system, and brain develop. Playing the dirt can also improve a child’s mood and reduce anxiety and stress. There is really a great insight why spending outdoors in green settings can do so much to our overall being. This is also one of the reasons why Dutch kids have a very active & happy childhood. They are so blessed with natural greens.

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The wandering Toddler

We’re so glad that we stumbled into this hidden Green Oasis and a gem tucked in the woods. It”s  a secluded place of imaginary fairies, lotus, and serene river Dinkel tucked away from the busyness of the city life. There we heard only the sound of Nature. Nothing else. Everything is green. Everything is fresh. Even the sun has a special rays. It is gentle. The breeze is cool. We felt instantly at home.

Langoed Singraven estate is beautifully situated along the Dinkel near the village of Denekamp. In here are many special monumental buildings, including the state house Singraven, the rear coach house and the ancient water mill with three wheels. Singraven offers a versatile landscape with woods, alleys, fields, meadows, marshes, and the ever-present Dinkel. If you visit Holland, don’t miss to see this place. It is worth your time.

This place has  fascinating cultural history, soothing and interesting nature, active leisure activities such as cycling or walking and much more. My daughter just simply loved lounging on the greenest grass that we have ever seen! She climbs everywhere and licked the grass, pinch it, and tasted it. I cannot blame her, the place is like an oasis to us. We haven’t had these amazing greens in Kuwait, so we really indulge.

 

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Even the water in the river celebrates nature. A reflection of quiet green bliss.
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The Langoed Singraven  ( Singraven means Large Canal )
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Of Mid Summer Night’s Dream ,with clear River Dinkel on the side.
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Dutch Watermills (Watermolen)

Now one of the fascinating things about Netherlands is their Watermolen (or WaterMills).The Singraven watermills were first mentioned in 1448 and inspired famous 17th century painters like Jacob Ruysdael and Meindert Hobbema.

 This watermill is unique because of its three mill wheels: one oil mill (inactive), a flour mill and a saw mill; both of which are fully functional and still in use. Current buildings date from around 1880. So much beauty &  history on this place.

Singraven has a manor which is sometimes open to the public and a watermill. The watermill has three functions: oil-mill, flour-mill and a sawmill.  Today the oil-mill is a restaurant but the other two are still functioning with the of volunteers.

The first house of Singraven dates back to 1415 but it was demolished and replaced by a new house in 1661. Several different Counts and families lived in the house. Almost all of them made improvements to the house. The last owner is  Willem Frederik Jan Laan donated the estate to a foundation.

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The River Dinkel that flows through Singraven

There so much activity that this place can offer. Its perfect for families with little children who wants to explore and roam.The vast area is perfect for Hiking, cycling, walking, strolling, or just enjoying a quiet meditation. The place has a park, a range of restaurants , Dinkel shop, Watermills, Carriage Houses that can house a function, Dinner or Luncheon meetings. You can even marry in this lovely place. This could be a perfect setting for a romantic garden wedding.This is also the ideal place to learn more about Nature. Estate Singraven participates in the project “Education on Location”, organized by the Foundation Museums in Dinkelland. Other participating institutions and museums are: Huize Keizer, Natura Docet, Mill Foundation Lattrop-Tilligte the Open Air Museum Ootmarsum and Cosmos Observatory. If you want to learn mohre about this place, you can check their website (Dutch ) Here.

Do you enjoy green landscape of Nature like this? What do you appreciate about country living?

Hope you have a chance to visit a green place just like this. Here’s to #theworldneedsmoregreens!

 

Amsterdam for Kids, Why Not?

Have you’ve been to Amsterdam? I mean, with a toddler toddling with you?

Amsterdam is a wonderful city. Full of vibrant and definitely a top Family destination.Whether you are travelling with babies, toddlers or children, this major European city is a hub for adventure and family-friendly sights that would make your stay worthwhile. Now before anyone raised their eyebrows and rant about this city’s tag for lascivious scenic spots , coffee shops & brothels, let me get this straight. We went there not for those reasons.

As for me, Amsterdam is a sure winner for travel destination for kids.Besides that this is my husband’s home country, I can’t argue anymore why this city stands out. Its up to you to discover its charm. You as the parent is the sole responsible for your trip to make it or break it. Period.

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Little Miss N in front of her favorite Ninjtje 

 

On our recent trip to the Netherlands, my daughter had a blast and we can’t wait to be back soon this summer. I want to share with you what I’ve learned from this trip especially from our visit to the newly renovated  Rijksmuseum , but this time with my daughter.

Both me & my husband are excited to explore the Rijksmuseum .We are both lovers of Architecture and Arts  so we thought that this should not be missed from our trip.We booked our tickets online & we managed to squeeze ourselves quickly away  from the rain and morning frenzy in the tram. Finally  we’re at Rijksmuseum. We are excited. My daughter was not. She preferred Ninjtje over Rembrandt.Am I a bad Mama dragging this little toddler to admire the works of Van Gogh & Rembrandt?

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Sculpture at the reception Hall of Rijksmuseum

On the contrary, Rijksmuseum was striking & beautiful . It really exceeded my expectation. But not the busyness inside! It is something that I did not expect since we were  there early. After depositing our things at the baggage deposit counter, we headed to see the Grand Hall. We take our time to adore the famous “Night Watch Galleryin the grand hall of the Great Masters. For the first time in over twenty years, the Rijksmuseum again organized a Rembrandt exhibition, giving every generation the chance to renew its acquaintance with the great Master of the Golden Age.This is something that we don’t wanna miss. We don’t see this everyday so we wanted to make the most of it but unfortunately, it did not happen that easily.

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Shooters district XI under Captain Reynier Reael, known as “Lean Company” Frans Hals and Pieter Codde, 1637

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Shooters district II, led by Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, known as the Night Watch, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, 1642

 

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My daughter was busy biting the leaflet and looking at the crowd. Maybe she was wondering why there is no Winnie the Pooh ? Soon I have noticed that there were quite  a number of visitors with babies tagged along with them, but most of them looks older than her. I felt unsure though that soon she might get bored and start to whine since she doesn’t like to stay in one place.She likes to roam around so we move on. I skipped the crowded areas, especially with so many people coughing! I was really surprised to see so many Koreans inside Rijksmuseum.

One thing that I find difficult is accessing the elevators. They were centrally located but then it was so busy,  its difficult to navigate with a stroller.I find the size so tiny compared to the ample sizes of elevators here in Kuwait.

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Beautiful tainted windows inside Rijksmuseum

Knowing that my daughter is super active, I give her a treat and let her loose in the adjacent hall. She loved the tainted windows, and she had some wooden benches where she climbed on.The sight was new to her. This was also my personal favorite. There were interesting patterns in the floor that kept her occupied, but not that long. Its almost lunchtime so we decided to check out the Museum’s cafe, but as I expected, there was already a long line waiting for a table. Its obvious that we can’t wait that long to be seated. I was not even sure if they have a high chair. I personally needed a breath of fresh air. So we decided to head out and check out Ninjtje Parade in the Museumplein.  

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Museumplein with the Rijksmuseum in the background.

She loved this, who doesn’t? She was actually mesmerized by each sculpture. I just let her ogle on each sculpture. She climbed them, touch them, maybe they had a quick téte-a-téte! Then we let her climb over the I am Amsterdam Letters with delight. She was so thrilled by the huge letters to climbed on. After she got exhausted, we decided to have a picnic , rest for a while and watch the ducks in the pond. Now that’s what I called “We time “.

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Can I take you home Miffy?

So what have I learned from this trip?

I don’t blame my daughter for the short-cut of our visit in Rijksmuseum, in fact, I was grateful to her. She have taught me to take it easy by slowing down & paying attention to what really matters, Afterall, a happy child equals happy parents.

Expat Mama Travel Tip!

  1. Be flexible and make it simple – Don’t complicate your itinerary. You know your child better. You know what makes them cranky. Bring them to destinations where both you & your children can be flexible and relax as much as possible . Amsterdam is surrounded with beautiful green landscapes and sceneries , make the most of the clean oxygen. The best memories are made outdoors! If your child doesn’t like being in crowded indoors, search for the nearby garden or take a stroll in the park.
  2. Don’t forget to have fun-Make sure you are enjoying yourself. If you become stressed out, your child will definitely catch it. Take time to talk to your child while you admire the scenery. Your tone can either set the mood  & soothe her and helps her to calm down.
  3. Do it together- If you are travelling with a family, then allow other members to interact with your child. This can ease the child-overdose you are feeling if your child is constantly clinging on you.

Don’t forget to make lots of memories of your trip!

If you like this post, then maybe you would be interested to know what are the top free things you can enjoy in Amsterdam as a family. Do you have 24hours in Amsterdam? Then click this Link Here to know more.

How about you,what is the unforgettable part of your trip with your children?  Do you enjoy travelling with kids? how do you handle the impromptu changes ?

Safe travels!

 

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What to pack for your Baby travel Bag?

The moment you knew that you’re going to have a trip with your Little one , you’re all smiles & looking forward to spending great moments with her. But all journey starts from packing your baggage. Packing for your Baby Travel bag can be tricky. Depending on your destination , choosing the things to stuff your Baby bag should be carefully done . For newbie Mamas like me , I was really excited to pack my daughter’s things for our first trip to Europe together. Let me share with you the essential things to pack for your child’s first trip. Here it is ;

MY ULTIMATE BABY HANDCARRY-TRAVEL BAG LIST 

  1.  Baby’s Formula and Extra Bottles .
  2. Diapers.Loads of it.Depending on type & availability in your destination.
  3. Hygenic Wipes.And more wipes.
  4. Baby Food or Cereals (2-3 bottles or pouches )
  5. Set of clothes (at least 2 onesies with long sleeves,pyjama,jacket,socks,Hats,plus clothes for her once you arrived )
  6. Small blanket (Could be used as a shield in the Bassinet & stroller)
  7. Favorite Toys,Books and Lovey if your child has one.
  8. Important Medications,including pocket Thermometer,medical prescriptions included.
  9. Pacifier with sling if your child uses one.(Take Extra just in case!)
  10. Baby Carrier or Sling.
  11. Snacks for your Baby like crackers,biscuits or any of her favorite food.
  12. Shoes or Sandals for your child.
  13. Sippy cups.(Extra sippy cup with water or her favorite drink )
  14. Bibs ( washable one is great!)
  15. Baby’s Toiletries (Pocket-sized diaper cream,small soap,lotion )
  16. Changing Pad
  17. Eating Utencils.
  18. Car Seat.
  19. Travel Crib/Cot/Stroller if you wish to bring one.
  20. Your iPad with her favorite nursery rhymes or songs.

I used to travel so light ,but when I had my daughter , it’s totally different . Having her own stuff in a separate luggage especially the bulky ones could totally keep up your sanity . Depending on the length of your travel and destination then you can gauge how much you bring for your child , but starting with the basics are always a good start .

Travel Tip!

  • Babies are different from one another , so what works for me may not always work for you , but it always saves the day when we took extra care about the needs of our Little One. I am so glad that I have brought enough diaper s, milk & our own Baby food because although Emirates gave us baby food , i found out that my daughter doesn’t like to eat it. I brought a small can of formula with complete packaging to saves time in Customs check .The medical prescriptions were placed in ziploc bags,these made easy during our Customs check at AMS where they asked you to take out the medications from the bag.
  • Make sure you have extra ziploc bags kept on side pockets to put on soiled clothings & dirty stuff. I recommend to invest in a good , durable bag with lots of space to fill up, with a wide straps for not to hurt your shoulders when you carry it and could withstand quick movements especially during x-ray scans in Airport.

I have flown with Emirates before and the new experience of flying with my Baby with them did not dissappoint me. With the A380 plane ,my daughter was mesmerized to see her favorite movie in ICE. It’s really a great feature to help entertain toddlers while on board.  They are one  Baby-Friendly airline and i was happy with the Bassinet, Changing tables and Baby stuff & Assistance they have provided to me during our Flight. It was an enjoyable flight.

How was your first trip with your baby?  what’s in your Travel Baby bag?

Hope this helps, Enjoy the trip, Have fun & Safe Travels!

Thank you for reading !

 

10 Things every Mother should know when travelling with Infants & Babies.

I have never imagined  in my whole life that I will be that woman in a plane travelling with a baby. During flights , i never took notice of it , I just brushed it off  , ignored it , especially when i saw that there’s a screaming baby on board .When you are single , you never really care about Kids and stuff.But when you have a child of your own , it is an eye opener , an overwhelming experience.

This becomes a surprising truth to me when I realized that I would be spending almost 10 hours flight with my 11 month old daughter from Kuwait to Amsterdam.Yes,for the first time flight with a baby!The truth is,it scares me.What if she cry all the way?What if she can’t sleep? What if the pressure really hurt her ears? So many questions, besides I would never want to put any  inconvenience on other passengers,or at least received those        bat-eyed stares. Ughh!

So How did I manage to survived it? Remember that it’s only temporary , you will reach your destination in a matter of time.You won’t even see those fellow passengers again in your life. I wanna share to you Mamas out there who will go on your first adventure of flying  these 10 things every Mothers should know while Travelling with Infants & Babies and how to enjoy the experience of flying with your child on board. Here it is;

1.Do your Homework

Start by looking for child Friendly Airlines & Airports ahead of your intended travel date .Choose your flight schedules , timings and seat plan wisely .If possible, get the early morning flights to avoid crowds during Airport check-ins,lines,and weekdays.We choose this schedule because it gives my daughter a chance to nap or sleep through the night even travelling.It always gives you that extra leg room to get the Bulk head seats just in case your toddler wants playtime. Be familiar with the bathrooms , changing rooms locations and play areas inside the terminal.

2.Request and avail of the Bassinet offers from your Airline.

We fly through an Emirates A380 plane from Dubai to AMS so we expected that it’s going to be a full flight , and unfortunately its summer so it’s tourist season in Netherlands and yet we made sure that we reserved & requested the Bassinet functions of each flight .Check with your Airline for this features.Get this done while booking.Emirates Bassinets measure approximately 75 x 33 x 22.3cm (29.5 x 13 x 8.8 inches , l x w x d) and are for babies who weigh up to 11kg (24.2lbs). Emirates even have a complimentary Stroller which you can use during your stop over and transit from gate to gate through the spacious Terminal in Dubai. You need to take out your child from the Bassinet during Take-offs & Landings.

3.Pack that Baby Bag.

We all know that Babies carries a lot of stuff.You can start making a list on what to pack depending on how long is your holiday,duration of the flight & itinerary.I recommend packing as early as 2 weeks before your flight for you to see how much stuff needs to be in that bag.On the last minute,you can just double check for what is missing.This bag should be one of your hand carry luggage.Most airlines allows baggage allowance for babies.Invest in a good bag that could contain your Little one’s essential and won’t be too bulky for you to carry.

See my post   for What to Pack for your Baby Travel Bag  for  essential things to pack for your baby’s Handcarry luggage.

4.Expect the Unexpected.

This is the very reason why we prepare.Expect the unexpected.Sometimes,no matter how we prepared,things doesn’st work out the way we wanted it to be.Delayed flights.Long stop overs.Your Baby cannot sleep and refuse to drink milk.Anything could happen,even losing your cool.This is where you need your mind to be active.When you are under stress,your child will surely catch it so try to maintain your sanity  even when you are sleep-deprived,tired & exhausted .In short word,Expect to be Busy.Really Busy.

5.Have a Buddy-System.

If you are travelling with your Spouse,relative,or partner,then the load can be done easily once shared.It is much more stressful for others who are travelling alone with a child.If possible,having someone to travel with you could give you that assurance that things are manageable and you get the support you need.Having a Buddy System works wonders like alternate holding  the baby while the other goes to bathroom ,eating, going though long lines , pushes the stroller,taking stroll with your child while in the terminal.Believe me,you need each other.On our first trip , I’m so grateful my husband is with me to give a hand. Plus, the memories of your first family trip together makes it all worthwhile.

6.Make sure your child is ready.

Your child doesn’t have any idea what is going on.But the moment she cries and becomes unsettled , you know that she needs to be comforted. New surroundings could either make her hyper or break her.Make sure that you prepare your child in a way that she had a good rest , dressed comfortably , and well-fed on hours before and during your flight.If you are travelling on the same time that disrupts her nap routines,try to get her tired enough to sleep.I let my daughter play along the chairs in the waiting area ,the bright airport lights amuses her.My daughter sits on my lap the whole flight and she becomes cranky during take-offs , I prepared her by offering something to drink, her favourite toy,and lots & lots of cuddles. Parents, protect her ears.

7.Wear your child.

Bringing your sling and wearing your Baby around you works wonders for me.From the moment we check-in her stroller in the gate,i put her in the sling.It always good for your hands to be free while your baby is  snug as a bug in your arms.This is great for walking her through the aisle or when you need to get her to sleep.For going through spacious and far end side of the terminal that we literally need to run after to get there on time,wearing your baby is a smart move. This will prevent any injury or bumping your child’s head or back that might happen inside the aircraft.I really don’t know How could i ever do things without a Sling I highly recommend it.

8.Think Safety.

You must ensure that your child travel with appropriate (CRS) Child Restraint System that enhances flight safety.If your baby is  over 14 days old and under two (2) years of age, not occupying a separate seat,She may be carried free of charge when traveling with an adult (12 years of age or older,with only taxes to be paid). Make sure to ask for the Seatbelt extension for Infants & Babies provided by your aircarft. Most flight attendants will show to you how to put it on with your baby.If you purchased a seat for her,you must make sure that you bring along an FAA- Approved car seat.

9.Take the fine print with you.

Depending on your destination, I recommend to always bring along your child’s Fine printed documents such as copy of Birth Certificate,Medical Prescriptions,Permission to travel/Custody letter from your spouse if you are travelling alone and other related documents that you might need during the course of your trip. I have these documents on the side pockets of my bag so its easily accessible.

10.Create Memories of your First flight

This would be one of the exciting stories you would be telling your kids once they get older.No matter how long the flight,You will reach your destination. It’s the memory of it that will last.For Mamas out there,make sure you smile when you took pictures with your Little One.My daughter became the center of attention by the Flight Attendants, they carried her & she gamely posed for the Polaroid shots given by the staff.We have made friends in the flight and we even met one in the airport lounge . The key-She recognized my baby!

Thank you for reading & Safe Travels !

 

Raising a Book-Lover in your child

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My Third Culture Kid, A book lover, a wide reader at age 3

“Children are made readers on the lap of their parents “-Emily Buchwald

Do you read books to your child?

Being a first time mother, I am ever-curious, almost for everything. From baby care to fun activities with children up to how to raise your child to read and love books! Thanks to the internet that information is just a finger’s tap away. This is the reality of an Expat life without the luxury of having your immediate relatives living nearby. You learned how to deal with almost everything by yourself.  Even when I was still pregnant, I read that reading is one thing that you could do with your child as a special bonding time. I hope for the best in raising my child , which I understand  is a universal wish of every parent. Early habits are formed during the growing years of childhood and this includes the ways we teach them every single day. What happens every single day inside your home is the fundamentals of her early development years. There’s no greater peace you can find from having your child on your lap and exploring the wonderful world of reading.

I set up a goal for myself and my daughter : I want her to love reading. I don’t know how is it going to be in the future but I ma living each day materializing this goal. Books should be an integral part of her childhood and it is my responsibility as a parent to guide her in this.

I’m a firm believer that inside our home is where the first learning starts. Reading to infants and babies at an early stage has a great impact on the receptive and expressive language development, whether it’s for learning, character building or literacy purposes. Be it plain reading ,story-reading, reading -out-Loud, Picture Book Reading, Joint-Reading, Shared Reading, playing while reading ,really , it doesn’t matter. As long as you incorporate books into your child’s  daily routines . Trust me ,it’s proven to have long term results.

There’s no greater joy for me than to see my daughter flipping the pages of her books everyday at the same time eating them! The moment she woke up , she ran up to her basket of books and start “making  messy-reading “.  I dunno why she do it, but she just loves to throw, snuggle, crash, and throw all her books all around her. We started to read to her as soon as she was born. Every single day, every single morning. Does this sound boring to you? Trust me, it will soon pay-off!

Every single moment of her playtime, or anytime we feel like grabbing her books. When we go out, we always stash a book or two for her to read and play. She’s just 17 months old ,and I know that she still cannot read, but the fact that she’s so engrossed with books and shows signs of loving it more than she loved her toys really made me smile.She knows the character of the stories, the sounds, and the pictures. She even have her all time favorites!

I was lucky that my daughter was gifted with a bunch of books. Since then, I tried to make time for her &  set a goal to read aloud to her,  reading the picture-books to her everyday, flipping the pages for her dreamy eyes to enjoy the colorful images and gobble on it eventually. I even put a book on her bath time. With the presence of iPads, iphones & TV nowadays,it’s easy to give in to this threats. The flashy screens are so tempting and attractive for your toddlers, But I tell you, there is no greater gift to your child than to read a book to her while in your lap.

This really made a daily bonding time between us.

So how to raise a book-lover in your child? Here’s how I’m doing it and loving it so far;

  • First, Start early. -There’s never too-early to read to your child.If you let her be exposed to books and the habit of reading at an early stage, the better. Soon she will catch it all by herself. She will have a body clock calling for reading!
  • Make your own Baby-Library. -I put out all her books in one basket that is accessible to her on her tummy time and during the time that she can actually grab it and flip through the pages. Investing on great, classic pieces is always a good idea. I’ve never been so aware about children’s books & stories since I began reading to her. It has been a learning phase for me as well. I had to memorize the characters of the story so I can read a loud better.
  • Make it a habit.- Stick to your routine. Babies picked up fast when you do it in repetition. They will eventually memorize the rhymes, the covers, the texture,the sound, and your voice while you read it with them. Do it before going to bed,after napping, or even while you snuggle with your child.
  • Create a Reading Haven.- In your Home or in a tiny quiet corner in your house.Yes ,create a cozy reading area  or a little corner/nook for you and your Little One.Put on some throws pillows and spread a mat and get those books for you to enjoy and linger on each moment.Soon, she will learn that special  place is place for her to be absorbed with books. This place should be free from distraction.You can even do this while having finger snacks for her too. Sounds absolutely fun!
  • Visit a Library and Bookshop together.- Let your child explore and choose the books she like.In this stage she will for sure play, scatter and bite on those,Just let her let go of her steam. We brought our daughter to a bookstore in Amsterdam once she was just 9 months old and we were quite astonished to see  her delight when she saw the bookshelves filled with books. Of course she plays, throws, rambled on the books but there’s no price in the  gleam in her eyes.
  • Be an Example. -There’s no better way to teach your child good habits than from the way you yourself show. Maybe you’re not a book lover, or you find books boring. But doing this with her won’t let you become a bad parent either. Based on my experience, Whatever works best for you, investing on reading is never wasted.

 

Hope you have wonderful time spent reading  with your kids. Looking forward to hear your own success stories!

Note to myself: I will do a follow-up post on this matter to share with you how is it with my daughter and her road to loving books? Will she love it? or will she hate it? So for those of you whose following my Blog, and the stories I am writing about “Raising Natalie”, stay tuned for the upcoming updates!

Thank you  all for reading!