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A tale of two tongues: raising a bilingual child

Reading this piece, I’m struck by the similarities in behavior between my own multilingual 4 year old and Kathryn’s Lucas. Particularly when I misunderstand something V has said, hurt expression on her face, she throws up her arms and says, “NOOO, Mama! I MEEEEEEEANNNNN….!” and gives a big sigh, looking around as if the right words will pop out of thin air. Our bi/multilingual children are growing up with amazing elastic minds with the ability to move between languages. It doesn’t mean, however, that communication is smooth from the start. How many of you can relate? Join us as Kathryn Roscoe shares some of her own amusing observations raising a bilingual child.  

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Blasts from the past: revisiting the DMM blog’s gems

On April 18, 2016, Tarja van Veldhoven and Agnès Battlori Benet posted the very first post of the Delft MaMa blog. This April we’re celebrating the blog’s 3rd blogiversary!

I talked with some of our past editors about their experiences working with the blog and if they wanted to share some memorable posts for your reading pleasure. As I tried to map a timeline of people who helped run the blog, I quickly realized that while Tarja and later Marie were major coordinators of the blog, there were MANY contributors that helped keep the blog running smoothly. While I haven’t been able to track you all down, know that we appreciate you! Happy reading…

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Making your home in Delft: the results of the housing poll

When brainstorming blog post topics related to living in Delft, Delft Mama Xenia Gabriel and I quickly realized that there are so many aspects of the housing situation in Delft (and the Netherlands) that one post clearly wasn’t going to be enough. Xenia’s post in October provided the start of the housing series, giving an overview of finding a home as an expat family in Delft. In order to get a sense of more experiences of the Delft Mama community, I set up a very short poll for people to respond to. Read on as I summarize the results of the housing poll.
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Memories and Blackberries

Blackberries and Memories

Yesterday, I took my daughters blackberry picking. To someone else this may sound like just another day out, but for me it was special. It was special because it enabled me to re-live one of my favourite childhood memories and to share it with my own children.

When I think of it now, it seems a little strange, a teenage girl voluntarily taking her little brother out to pick blackberries. Remember though that this was in the time before iPads, and we had two months of summer holidays to fill!

This particular memory takes place towards the end of the summer break when we had already spent days at the beach, in the park, hung out with friends, set out crab traps, wandered around the house doing nothing in particular and were feeling rested, relaxed, and superbly content. Suddenly it was the end of August, and what had started as an endless vacation was *gasp* almost over. The race was on to make the most of those last sun filled days. I grabbed a few buckets and shouted to my little brother, “come on! We are going blackberry picking.”

Vancouver Island, where we lived, is a magical island of spectacular natural beauty (but that’s another story). It is also covered with wild blackberry bushes that ripen in late summer. Out we walked into the hot sun carrying our buckets like little soldiers on a mission to the nearest patch. After sizing up the bushes to find the juiciest specimens we dropped our buckets and started picking. We worked in companionable silence broken only by the occasional “ouch!” as one of us scratched ourselves or ‘mmmm’ when we were unable to resist a taste. Occasionally, disaster would strike in the form of accidentally kicking over a nearly full bucket or, particularly painful, falling into the bushes. Much to the hilarity of the other sibling.

If I let my mind travel back there now I can still smell the warm, ripe berry smell, part fermented fruit and part earthy leaves that would soon be turning brown. The hot sun burning the back of my neck, the scratches on my hands and the relaxing monotony of picking. Concentrated as we were on our efforts to find the biggest, juiciest berries, we lost all track of time.

Buckets finally full we trudged home with the fruits of our labour. Tired and hot we competed to see who had the most scratches or whose fingers were the purplest, stained from the dark juice.

Back in the kitchen, I made the pastry and, together with my little brother, we rolled it out to fit the pie tins. Then we cooked the berries, adding lots and lots of sugar. By the time we’d assembled the pies and baked them in the oven, the kitchen was a disaster of flour and squashed berries. At about this time, my Mum arrived home from work to find two children who had made a disaster of her kitchen proudly displaying fresh blackberry pies.

The childhood experiences that my daughters have in Holland are very different from my own back in rural Canada. Sometimes this is part of the fun. We get to experience things for the first time together. But other times it can make it hard to relate to each other. Memories that friends back home hold on to because they are triggered by their familiar surroundings have faded into the recesses of my memory. It’s amazing how a simple activity like this can bring those memories rushing back, filling my heart with a warm glow.

Vancouver Island is too far and too expensive to travel back to regularly. However, I am doing my best to bring a little bit of my life in Canada here to share with my family. When I do and when it works, the distance between here and home closes just a little and the effort is so very worth it.

I would love to hear about traditions from home that you are sharing here with your children?

And of course about any good spots for blackberry picking!

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Delft MaMa 10th Anniversary Picnic

Every year, Delft MaMa organizes a summer potluck event for local families together with food, fun, and friendship. 

The 2017 edition was even more special, as it marked the first in a series of celebrations of Delft MaMa’s ten year anniversary. More than 50 adults and even more children joined us for last Sunday for this event.

10-year Anniversary Picnic Delft MaMa with Delft MaMa Founder Lucie, Delft MaMa Chairwoman Anna, and one of our youngest members

Over a dozen nationalities were represented from Argentina to Australia and back again. The resulting cuisine was much more impressive than your usual picnic fare.

There was a tasty rice salad from Italy prepared by Delft MaMa Luisa prepared an Italian rice salad with boiled rice, cheese cubes, tuna fish, boiled eggs, grilled courgette and other mixed grilled veggies, and olive oil for dressing.

Photo courtesy of Renée Veldman-Tentori

Delft PaPa Eelco provided a Dutch touch with his herring salad. To recreate this dish at home, you need smoked herring, pickled onions, small pickled cucumbers, peas, roasted paprika and dressing (mayonnaise, kwark, orange juice, salt, pepper, olive oil, sambal).

Photo courtesy of Renée Veldman-Tentori

Delft MaMa Zsofia and Delft PaPa Anish made a Middle Eastern couscous salad of bulgur, fresh herbs, chopped vegetables and buttery chickpeas. You can find the full recipe here.

Photo courtesy of Renée Veldman-Tentori

Delft MaMa Zsofia added, “every year we enjoy taking part in DelftMaMa’s summer event. It is a great opportunity to catch up with Delft MaMa families we know and even meet new ones. From a culinary point of view, we do learn and get to taste lovely dishes of different cultures.”

Photo courtesy of Hellen Chandra-Boortman

In addition to the delicious fare, the picnic included fun activities for the entire family. The children took advantage of the sunny weather at the Bomenwijk playground. There were also games and the opportunity to contribute to the ten year mosaic project.

Delft MaMa Nan hosted a special edition of the mosaic workshop! Participants worked on small tree designs and Delft blue detail pieces that will add a bit of sparkle to the final product. As Delft MaMa Shadi shows in the following photos, making a mosaic is an ideal way to spend a Sunday afternoon. 

Photo courtesy of Shadi Parsa
Photo courtesy of Shadi Parsa
Photo courtesy of Shadi Parsa

According to Nan, “the workshops for the mosaics have been mainly attended by Delft MaMas, so the picnic was a chance for the children to participate. They made small sections of mosaic for the arching base of the bridge in blue and white.  Delft blue shards are definitely a MUST this mural since it features very Dutch scenery. The children were enthusiastic about leaving a beautiful mark on Delft!”

Photo courtesy of Renée Veldman-Tentori

Hosting such a successful picnic was only possible thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers.

Delft MaMa Hellen headed the project, and her hard work and leadership skills were much appreciated. She was supported by Delft MaMas Shadi, Luisa and Tatjana. Delft MaMa heartily thanks these ladies and all our volunteers for their time and efforts.  

For Delft MaMa Hellen, “it was really nice to share a wonderful day with some of the Delft MaMa’s members, especially the one I’d never met before. Despite our different cultural backgrounds, we just blended in and enjoyed the lovely atmosphere. Both parents and children seem to have a good time. I’m also very happy to have been given an opportunity to organise the event. I’m looking forward to attending more events in the future.”

We look forward to welcoming everyone to the 2018 picnic, but, in the meantime, be on the lookout for upcoming events that will bring together the Delft MaMa community.  As always, the Tuesday, Thursday and Friday playgroups will welcome the youngest members of our community and their parents.

On September 12th, Delft MaMa Nareen will host the next edition of our monthly Mom’s Night Out. September 17th will be the second annual Delft MaMa Walk at Delftse Hout. All members of our community are welcomed to walk together to keep keep Delft MaMa running.

There will also be mosaic making sessions regularly throughout the month of September on the following days: 

Tuesdays 19:30  – 5, 12, 19, 26

Thursdays 19:30 – 7, 14, 21, 28

Saturdays 10:00 – 9, 16, 23, 30

We will start with the installation of the mosaic at the Achtertuin Playgroup towards the end of September. More updates will be announced soon on the Delft MaMa blog. Depending on the weather, the unveiling ceremony will take place on October 21st or 28th. Please mark your calendars for this momentous (all pun intended) occasion.  

Delft MaMa also hosts an annual Halloween Party, but are actively looking for one or two volunteers for this event on October 29. If you are interesting in helping to make this event possible, please contact info@delftmama.com.

And then it will be on to our fall and winter events. If you are an early planner, you can even put a reminder on your calendar for the 2018 summer picnic, who knows what weekend will bring the sun and fun needed for the picnic.

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6 Weird Travel Finds Near Delft

You’re browsing through Pinterest  and you think “I have to go there.” As it turns out quite a few of these incredible sights are easy to reach from Delft. Here are a few I’ve had the chance to visit and how you can visit them too.

Walkable Rollercoaster : Duisburg, Germany (~2 hours by car)

This piece of public art is officially called ‘Tiger and Turtle Magic Mountain.” You can walk all but the loop, which is gated off. At night it is lit by LED lights in the structure. Walking the structure is incredibly cool as your mind wonders about which way the path will take you. Find out more here.

Moses Bridge : Halsteren, Netherlands (~1 hour by car)

 

The sunken bridge was put in place as part of the renovation of Fort De Roovere. The bridge allows access to the fort without changing the view or design. When you are on the bridge you are below the waterline, yet you stay completely dry. There is plenty to do hiking around the fort in addition to the bridge which makes it worth the visit. Find out more here.

Upside Down Railway : Wuppertal, Germany (~3 by car)

The Wuppertal Electric Elevated Railway hangs from its tracks as a space saving design. It runs right down the river meaning it took up none of the city’s precious riverside land. It is the oldest of its kind in the world. It is Wuppertal’s public transportation system so hopping a ride is incredibly easy and super fun. There is even an audio guide you can download and listen to on your ride. Find out more here.

 

The Town With No Roads: Geithoorn, Netherlands (~2 hours by car)

Geithoorn Netherlands is a small town largely without roads. Instead a system of canals and bridges connects the village. If you go in the off-season you can rent an electric boat (no license required, ~ 25 Euros/hour) and enjoy the pristine quiet of this village. If however, you go any day with nice weather you will find yourself surrounded by incompetent boaters. Start out early and head out into the lake for a lovely view and more space. Walking the bridges can be equally as picturesque if you don’t want to take to the water. Find out more here.

The Star Fort Town: Bourtange, Netherlands (~3 hours by car)

The star shaped Fort Bourtange sits on the German border. Inside remains a small town complete with hotel, restaurants, museums and shops. Crowded during the day it is virtually empty in the evening. You can walk the fort walls and look over the land. Cannons, a windmill and even toilets that dump into the moat have all been preserved. It’s incredible to walk the walls while following yourself on Google Maps.

Find out more here.

Book Store In Old Church: Maastricht, Netherlands (~2 hours by car)

 

The Dominicanen Bookstore is built inside a 700 year old Dominican Church. The bookstore has a cafe and a variety of exhibitions. It’s worth popping in to see books stacked to the ceiling of this former church. It’s the sort of place you’ll want to browse and hang out a bit. It certainly kicked off my love of weird European bookstores. Find out more here.

Share your Pinterest travel finds with DelftMama here.

You can also see more crazy Pinterest travel finds on my travel blog,  Dutch, Dutch Goose!

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The Womanhood Studio

The Womanhood Studio in Delft is moving to a new location and will be filling a hole in Delft’s current offerings for families. Tami, the Womanhood Studio’s creator and owner, has been serving women in the Delft community as a doula. She opened the Womanhood Studio two years ago, expanding her services to offer massages and classes for pregnant women and new moms. Now Tami’s moving her studio to a new home at 28 Schoolstraat in Delft, bringing the studio closer to Delft’s public transportation connections.

The Womanhood Studio was a centerpoint for my pregnancy in Delft. I was able to enjoy several massages with Tami and discuss the best way to alleviate my aches and pains. Tami was there for me when I was overdue, worrying about an induction. Once my little one arrived, we returned to the Womanhood Studio for baby massage classes. The studio also offers baby sign language classes. At the previous small space on Vlamingstraat, the studio services often ended there – then came news that Tami had found a new, larger location and would be able to expand her offerings.

My experience is not unique. Jules, who used Tami as her doula had wonderful things to say about her experience. “The Womanhood Studio is a unique concept that celebrates women ,and I feel fortunate that I had the support and care of Tami during my pregnancy and labour. Tami was our doula – her calm spirit, cheerful personality, positive affirmations and can-do attitude gave us a lot of confidence as first-time parents. My birth was filled with laughter and Tami’s presence really empowered me to have the birthing experience that I had dreamed of. I am so excited to see that the Womanhood team under Tami’s guidance is going from strength to strength and moving to a bigger historic Delft location. Tami’s big smile and hospitality will welcome you. Make sure you check out the Womanhood Studio. You won’t regret it.”

If you have never been lucky enough to meet Tami, you should rectify that right away. Her mere presence puts you at ease. She has a particular soft spot for expat parents and classes at the studio are often taught in English. (I can promise you she will make sure you feel comfortable no matter what your language or home country.) She encourages everyone to stop in and say hello to see what the Womanhood Studio has to offer for you! I am lucky enough to be Tami’s neighbor. I invited her over for tea to chat all about the exciting changes and what it means for families in Delft.

The name Womanhood Studio came from her desire to serve women in the community at all stages. Although many classes focus on children or pregnancy, the studio is designed to be welcoming to all. The new studio space will even enable Tami to offer Pilates classes for men or mixed classes.

All the classes at the Womanhood Studio are small, usually under 10 participants, so that they can have an intimate feel. These gatherings are designed to provide community and connection. Tami encourages participants to come early and hang around afterwards to chat up with her and other participants.

Photo Credit: Womanhood Studio

The new space means an expanded range of options. I don’t want to spoil all the surprises she has planned, but Tami was off to be certified to teach Arial Yoga after our chat. She’s also ordered some lovely swings for a special class for children and plans to offer other classes that help older children with body, mind and emotional connections. I cannot wait to have my kids try out these classes. Previously you would have needed to head to Rotterdam or The Hague for offerings like these, but now they will be available in Delft center.

If you still think the Womanhood Studio has nothing to offer stop by, meet Tami and let her know what you would like to see. The Womanhood Studio is a service to the community and wants to be responsive to the community’s needs. Feedback on classes, be it times or format, is heard and adjustments are made. If you have a group that is looking for something specific, say Pilates for moms with young babies, stop by and she will see if she can make it work. Since classes are small, it’s often feasible to start a class with enough interest.

The studio will also be available for other gatherings. If your group is looking for a place to gather and meets the mission of the studio, get in touch with Tami. This lovely new space can be a gathering place for the community.

Make sure you follow the Womanhood Studio on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on all the exciting changes. I hope to see you there!

 

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5 Easy Weekend Trips from Delft

With busy schedules it can be difficult to find time for a big trip. Work and school schedules often mean travel is limited to peak times. Luckily, from Delft, there are many places you can escape for a quick weekend trip. Here are five ideas that allow you to leave Saturday morning, spend one night and come home on Sunday. Obviously if you can get away on Friday afternoon you’ll have more time to enjoy your getaway.

Texel, Netherlands

Texel is the largest of the Netherlands barrier islands. It is a 2-hour drive by car or a 4-hour trip by public transport, which includes the ferry ride to the island. Although Texel is popular for a summer visit, a shoulder season visit gives you a quiet island if you don’t mind wearing your coat on the beach. Once you’re on the island rent bikes and enjoy the sheep and pristine nature.

Stay at the Grand Hotel Opduin to be engulfed by the Dunes of Texel National Park. Visit Ecomare to learn about the seal rescue and protection the island plays a huge role in. The Shipwreck Museum has a playground and treasure hunt for kids. Make the short hike to Texel’s Lighthouse and enjoy the strand below. You won’t want to miss a visit to the Sheep Farm where, after visiting the sheep,  you can delight in some cheese fondue and sheep’s milk ice cream. A visit and tour of the Texels Brewery is a must.  The island has many restaurants, beaches and bars so you won’t go hungry during your visit. Bring your bike along or rent one on the island to really take advantage of the scenery.

Brussels, Belgium 

The capitol of Belgium is full of fun for the whole family. Two hours by car or train will put you in the city for the night. Stay at the Train Hostel for a fun night. Next door, Train World will captivate children and adults alike with fun displays of trains throughout history. Visit Atomium and climb to the top for views of Brussels. Mini-Europe is a fun day out and easily combined with Atomium and the water park Oceade. Children delight in the Manneken Pis statue. You can also enjoy the Comic Strip Center, Museum of Natural Sciences, Musical Instrument Museum and the Children’s Museum.

 

Cologne, Germany 

A 3-hour drive or 3.5 hours on public transportation (NS to Utrecht, ICE to Cologne) will land you in Cologne, Germany. Enjoy the city by climbing to the top of the Cologne Cathedral. Visit the Museum Ludwig where kids can check out suitcases to explore different elements of art. In good weather visit the botanical gardens or the zoo. Ride the Cologne Cable Car over the river for great views. The Lindt Chocolate Museum is a must for all visits to Cologne. In the summer you can rent bikes or cruise the river and in the winter the vast squares are turned into Christmas markets with a skating rink that runs the length of one of the streets.

Maastricht, Netherlands

Maastricht is 2-hours by car or 2.5 hours by public transportation. The funky Town House Hotel is our favorite place to say although the Kruisherenhotel, built into an old church is also a good bet. Maastricht is full of things to explore from the bookstore inside an old church to caves below the city.  There are river cruises of varying lengths, which our little ones loved. We’ve found a few great playgrounds like Frans van Speeltuin and Speeltuin Fort Willem. You can also head over to Valkenburg, which is a bit touristy but has a fun alpine slide and a few other great kids activities.

Center Parks, De Vossemeren

This campground in Belgium has everything you need for a weekend of fun. Unlike other camping setups, Center Parks, De Vossemeren allows you to book just a few nights so you can do a one or two night stay instead of a full week. The cabins are arranged around several lakes. The campground has pools, mini-golf, bowling, playgrounds. . .basically everything you need for a weekend away. There are restaurants on site or you can cook up food in your cabin. It is an easy get away and they often offer “last minute” deals  The campground is a 2-hour drive from Delft.

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