If you have read my post about “Raising a Book Lover in your Child “ then you might also be interested to know what’s in our bookshelf for books to read. Whether you want to update your selection of books or curious what other books you want to read with your children , then this post is for you. Here’s my daughter’s favorites . We love to read these every single day .
1.The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
One of the greatest Childhood’s classics . This book is renowned Bestseller ! It is story of a caterpillar who eats its way through a wide variety of foodstuffs before turning into a cocoon & eventually turning into a beautiful butterfly . My daughter loves the “holes “in the pages of the eaten food , it’s unique pages ,colorful drawings & simple ,appealing writing. It’s hardbound and compact so it can fit to your tiniest baby bag or purse . This book is a useful tool for you to introduce healthy eating habits to your Little one.
Other book by Eric Carle that has become our favorite was the Touch & Feel Playbook.
We love his books because its full of color and aids your child’s discovery skills.The first concepts in learning are introduced with different textures ,words & pictures.
These are really perfect for Books to play with ,& toys to read to your babies & toddlers.
2. My Friends by Taro Gomi
I love the simple words and bright illustrations of this book. It tells about the wonderful adventure of a little girl’s friendship with animals and learning life skills through them .Our favorite part was the last page where I substitute the word “BABY “from the phrase “I learn to love from a FRIEND like you “. This always signal my daughter to shriek & hug me whenever we finish reading and closing the book .
3.Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
Goonight, Gorilla is a modern classic . Our favorite bedtime cuddle book. A simple picture book that always makes every bedtime stories magical , even humorous .They’re colorful, with the animals drawn in an adorable rotund manner, and simple. I find them very fun to look at and I happen to love the simplicity.
The little details too add a wonderful touch. Look for the mouse faithfully toting around a banana from page to page and a pink balloon that bobs about in the background. Children will have no trouble identifying the animals either, in the giraffe’s cage, there’s a toy giraffe on wheels, in the elephant. Teach your child to point on the subtle things found in the pages like the pacifier ,balls & balloons.
4. That’s not my Lion… by Usborne touchy-Feely books
This is my daughter’s first touchy-feely book before Eric Carle’s playbook.
She loves to run her fingers through the rough paws & the hairy mane of the lion .It carries EU Toy Safety Directive ‘CE’ logo. This is a bold, bright book for babies containing beautifully designed high-contrast images that are easy for newborn babies to focus on as well as touchy-feely patches to bring the pictures to life. In it, each picture contains a tactile element to help very young children develop important sensory skills. This padded ‘soft touch’ hardback is perfect for sharing or can be propped up for babies to see. They have so many series to choose from.
5.Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
My daughter loved the Lift-The Flap pictures on each page.This book has an appealing story with simple,bright animal images .
As you lift the flaps in search of an ideal pet , a host of different zoo animals will be revealed, until the right pet is finally discovered. Simple, stylish and highly interactive, this book invites constant re-reading. The sturdy flaps are perfect for small fingers to lift, and children will still love this book when they are ready to start school.
She also love another book by this author ,“The ABC Zoo “.She always have fun flipping up the Flaps and discover the fun by herself.
6. The Frog prince -by Ulf Stark & Silke Leffler
Written by famed Swedish author ,UlfStark with collaboration with the amazing illustrations of Silke Leffler , my daughter was immediately attracted to its colorful pages .In The Frog Prince, your child can learn about the special bonds of friendship when Prince Karl is turned into a frog and Princess Klara did everything to save her friend.
This is the type of book you really need to read aloud with your child and letting her run her fingers through each character displayed .
Also ,the characters in this book can be found in the soft toys section in Ikea so if she get attached to it ,you can get her the toy itself..what a threat while reading !
7. Gonnie gaat varen by Olivier Dunrea
Gonnie gat varen is a Dutch water book perfect for babies & toddlers fun reading during bath times . I try to encourage fun while reading and this lovely book is her best companion during lazy tub times. This is a story of a Gosling’s adventure while sailing .With his friends Gijsje , Eddie & Teun sailing becomes fun. My daughter loves to munch on the pages as well .
We love to discover new books , what’s in your shelf ? Do you have any favorite set?
Visiting Burg Eltz is like stepping into a fairytale . I have never seen a real castle in my whole life and seeing one for the very first time is a dream come true. I was excited and at the same time thinking if going there would be baby-friendly . I’m so glad we went through with it. This is a great family destination !
A scenic setting
We drove from Osann-Monzel through the quaint towns of Münstermaifeld & picturesque Wierschem . The road trip itself is wonderful , the long & winding road with views of scenic countryside . I always wonder ,”Where is the castle ?” The element of surprise is always there.
We arrived around 4 p.m & we decided to take the shuttle bus from the car park which led us to the castle within 5 minutes. From the steep winding road , it was really a magical experience to finally have a glimpse of Burg Eltz .It was erected in a strategic position along the lower Eltz River, which serves as a tributary of the Moselle. This was a popular trade route linking the Moselle with the Eifel River. The castle was built atop a 70 meter high rock giving it a commanding view of the Elzbach Valley and River Eltz, which flowed around the base of the castle on three sides.
If you want to have a short hiking adventure, (approx. 15 mins. ) starting from the lower car park , the foot path and the private road will both brought you unforgettable views of the castle. We took this road on our way back to the car park since we want to make the most of this adventure . I strongly recommend to wear your baby in a sling for an enjoyable walk through the woods although this footpath can also allow you to have a push chair for your child.
Best Kept Secret Beautiful Architecture
Burg Eltz is simply gorgeous. It is located in the perfect setting , hidden like a gem in the forest . Even though the weather was a bit gray , Burg Eltz still charmed us with its Tudor style buildings & cone-shaped roofs . It’s so striking between the luscious greens of the forest around it.
This castle is one of the most beautiful castle all through out Germany. Burg Eltz is one of the few Rhenish castles that was never destroyed & preserved. As a result of skillful diplomacy, the castle avoided conflict during the 30 years war when most of the Rhine castles were destroyed by the French.The castle consists of eight towers with living quarters grouped around an inner courtyard.
We took the English tour which lasted of about 45 mins. I was really in awe of the interior of the castle . It’s like you are being transported 850 years back. I felt in awe knowing that Me & my daughter is standing at the same floors were the ancient Eltz family stepped on . With baby in a sling around me , i let myself be absorbed through the wonderful journey inside the castle .
A castle with Legacy
Burg Eltz has a distinctive Medieval siege tower at the top of the hill.This is the Trutz-Eltz ,erected by archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg in the mid-14th century.He was trying to take over the entire region between Trier & the Rhine river but the Eltz family & their local allies refused to give in.This was the beginning of the so-called “Eltz-feud” (1331-36), during which Balduin laid siege to Eltz castle. In the courtyard , the stone balls that his men had lobbed at the castle from Trutz-Eltz (also known as Spite-Eltz ) can still be seen.
It’s a wonderful experience that through the tour , you can have an idea what is the living areas of a wealthy noblemen in the late 15th century look like . What’s amazing is how the features like oak beams and fireplaces stayed in place after all these years . The famous Virgin & a child with grapes painting adorns the Lower Hall . It is such an important piece of art . The castle is filled with murals & the ceiling reflect the oriental influence that spread throughout Europe after the crusades. One interesting feature i saw in the Burg Eltz is the built-in toilet . The toilets were flushed using rainwater collected from the roof , through a sewage duct ,and into the valley below . In the middle ages , they use hay & cabbage leaves as toilet paper.The Rodendorf Kitchen is also worth a look .From this ,you can really see what does a 15th century kitchen looks like ,with its built in oven made of volcanic stone ,the huge chopping board , the replicas of food hung on the ceiling to keep out from the reach of rodents.
I highly recommend for you to take the tour in your preferred language to learn more about this castle because it’s amazing. There is a nice Restaurant that you can grab a drink and eat after the tour or just simply enjoy the views surrounding the castle. Clean bathrooms are also present & they also have a souvenir shop.
Travel Tips !
If you’re travelling with babies , babywearing is much better than carrying them since strollers are not allowed inside .The castle has no ramps and steep stairs during the tour is a high concern.
Take advantage of getting into Burg Eltz through the short hike ,the wonderful nature is also not to be missed.
Wear comfortable shoes as the castle grounds is cobbled and climbing the narrow, steep stairs could be a pain .You also need to watch your head during the tour because the ceiling is low in some passageways.
You can find more helpful information in Here if you plan to visit Burg Eltz.
Have you’ve ever been to Burg Eltz ? How was your experience ? Please feel free to share it in the comments.
Last Christmas , my husband & I with our daughter are watching a Walt Disney ‘s animated cartoon movie. I forgot the title but it was all about children from all over the world trying to help Santa Claus in his chores . The children are dressed in their traditional costumes.One of them is Dutch . We recognized him eventually because He is wearing Clogs! He makes so much noise while walking . The other children tried to put anything under his clogs to lessen the noise so Santa Claus will not be waken up. We were laughing out loud of how funny it is .
Clogs or locally known as Klompen are important part of Dutch cultural Heritage . This traditional footwear becomes a national identity of Dutch people . Clogs has been a popular protective footwear for people who work the land , mostly farmers. Because of its durability and ability to withstand sharp & heavy objects and harsh concentrated chemicals. It was even certified by the European Union as Safety shoes with CE mark. The oldest wooden clogs were found in The Netherlands in Nieuwendijk . It was believed to be dated since 1230 and is made of Alder wood . In the old days , it takes a skilled worker to carve & make an identical pair of clogs . Nowadays , clogs which become a popular tourist souvenir and are machine made.
While in Holland , we were lucky to visit a community workshop in Enter in Twente in Eastern Netherlands , about making wooden clogs . It has a charming Museum , named Klompenmuseum Sköpke and a shop gallery of the Artisan Workers who made these beautifully hand-made Clogs. Most of the clogs were made out of Willow and Poplar trees.
It is quite an experience to see a local Artisan demonstrates how to make clogs out of willow clumps. In so many shops in Amsterdam you can see hundreds of displayed Clogs but seeing the manual way of carving it makes you appreciate it even more. One pair of clogs is worth hours of hardwork & genuine skill. We ordered for a size of my daughter who was 1 year old that time . Its amazing how they carefully carved it with perfection to suit her tiny feet.
They can make personalized designs as you wanted just like the way they did to my daughter’s clogs. She loves to walk with it , play with it , even eat it.
Travel Tip !
If you visit The Netherlands ,make it as part of your trip to visit Traditional clog making villages and Tours such as the one in Zaanse Schans .You can bring home a souvenir clogs with design of your choice or even buy a custom-made for yourself. Knowledge about your travels are the best souvenir.
“You know a creative art when you see it. It doesn’t matter what is its form but you know the genuine talent that comes with it. One thing for sure , a masterpiece always come with hardwork..lots of it.” [ Personal Quote ]
I found a gem in Kuwait which i wanna share with you. It’s called the “House of Mirrors”. It is a MUST-SEE for someone who’s in K-town or a visiting tourist. Meeting the Artist itself is a thrilling experience.
Up Close & Personal : Meet the Artist
Lidia Al-Qattan is one of a kind. Like a rose in a desert. She is an Artist , Sculpture , Painter , Jewelry -Maker , Writer & Author , Baker , An Art Enthusiast , and a Mother. She makes the most amazing orange/honey/ginger /cinnamon juice mix to die for . Until now i couldn’t forget the scent , taste & warmth as she opened the glass-adorned doors that allows us to enter her world. She is full of energy and very enthusiastic vibe. You wouldn’t even believe that she’s in her 70’s already. She is a great Host.
Ms.Lidia Al Qattan is an Italian living in Kuwait and widowed since 2003. She’s warm , Lovely ,talented , Outspoken & wonderful person. As soon as she opened the doors of her house , you will be transported into a different realm , into a world of magical House of Mirrors. A myriad of beautifully designed house of small pieces of broken glass panels. Her house and her work is an opt of physical metaphor of her own life and her new found home , Kuwait.
Bad things that turned into something Great
Because of the attack of Termites in her house in Qadsiya, Lidia transformed her house into a Mirror House. ALL BY HERSELF . She showed us her photos in overalls , doing the work. At first it was to repair an ugly scribbling on the wall made by her daughter. She repaired it by covering it with broken pieces of glass panels .But soon termites infest through the walls. It started in her living room , then off to another until the whole household was transformed. She sticked small panels of mirror forming a creative patch over the walls. She incorporate a unique mosaic ,inscriptions and patterns to her work .
Creating with a Vision
Lidia creates with a vision in her mind. Using glass & its reflective properties , she created a reflection of what is close to her heart. She is passionate about what she do. Every patchwork has a story , a significance , a theme , a symbolic image of her life and her interests . The walls are adorned with intricate Arabic writings . She have made one room with Astronomical images and being in that room is so dreamy that I could stay there for hours.In the bathroom is another amazing experience .I did not go there to pee , i just stared at the beauty of it for quite sometime.
Diversity at Large
As she ushered us from one room to another ,we are brought into somewhat different dimension. This house is full of insane creativity , uniqueness & wisdom . She has one room full of her artwork as a painter . She has a gallery of her finest paintings and craft things. In another room is an interactive room she called “Art Theraphy “. I remember the magical chants she played in the “Nucleus of the Galaxy ” and the surreal feeling of the whole experience while we watch the lights images shown in the ceiling. It was awesome.
There’s so much more to say about this lady but my words will not do her justice because she is just a legend & i consider her one of the greatest artist I have ever met in my life. If you want to visit the House of Mirrors , you need to set up an appointment first .
Travel Tips !
Try to go with a bunch of friends to ‘House of Mirrors’ since it’s an experience that should be shared. The more the merrier .There is a small fee for this tour ,It costs 3 KD on weekends and 2 KD per person on weekdays.There is a fine gallery of Mrs. Lidia art on sale, and those who are impressed by her work are free to make a purchase, towards the end of the tour.Try to be game & join her game for you might win one of her beautiful crafts.
I love everything about this place. I highly recommend it !
“You’ve got to see this!” This is what this post all about.If you are thinking of going to Germany & wants a place to have some serious adventure, or maybe a planned escape with friends ,with serene, and yet fulfilling experience away from the hustling city life vibe , then Moselle is the perfect trip for you. Germany is not only famous for its Oktoberfest and castles, It is also renowned for its lovely river Landscape Nature. For my daughter’s first international trip , we brought her here. Who says you can’t have fun with a baby ? Here’s why ,Moselle wine region ranked # 34 for Top Places to go in 2016 .From my personal experience, This should be in your Bucket list.
The Views are simply Breathtaking
Nature at its best. The River landscape of the Moselle is seen as one of the most varied in the whole of central Europe. There is a folk legend that says that the Devil once visited the area with a large sack which He gradually emptied, thus forming the many different castles and fortresses along the area. The Moselle is the largest left-handed tributary of the Rhine River with a length of 544 km. It stretched from West to Northwest in large loops. Below Trier,the most beautiful landscape of Moselle begins. Its bank s are covered with vineyards , quaint houses,small romantic wine growing communities and medieval looking fortress towns.The Mediterranean flair is inescapable.
Hop on a bike , or just spend lazy times walking is the best way to make the most of your Moselle journey.The streets are stroller friendly. You can let your baby nap beside the banks of the river while you admire the calm beauty of the Moselle or simply,feed the ducks.My daughter took a nap during our hike up to the Landshut castle and while enjoying the view above. How many babies napping with a castle view and surrounded with vineyards? You need to make memories in your journey.
Architecture that surround the whole region
There’s so much detail in every structure that I see. One example is the Lieser castle.It was built in the previous century by the Baron of Schlorlemer in a middle of a feudal park.Nowadays this building serves as a luxury hotel.As you step out of it,20 meters away and you can gaze at the banks of the River Moselle.We had a morning walk here,and although the weather is slightly gray, it was worth the stop.
Just Let loose and be charmed in the Market Squares.
Its like being transported into a frenzy Jumanji . History come alive.Everywhere you look, creative pubs,quaint little shops,of beautiful Half-Timbered houses,fountains and Hauptmarkt (Main Market ) makes the city a fascinating metropolis.You can admire the unique,ancient historical monuments that were of significant testament to the importance of this time. Some fountains were adorned with small ogres and mischievous monkeys.My daughter loved the play area near Saint George’s fountain. Children flocked to the area with flowing waters which they could play, stomp their little feet and running around and just shrieking with delight, while their parents are munching on warm pretzels and people watching.
The best glass of Wine
You can always enjoy a good glass of Beer in Germany, but in Moselle, you simply need to try the Riesling wine ! Even if you are not a Wine Enthusiast like me, you will surely love their wine.We have stayed in an apartment which has their own Weingut and from the moment we arrived, we have sampled their wine. It was really good.There’s no better way to enjoy it than just sitting back in the balcony & enjoying the view. Prost!
Don’t forget to try the local food.We love the restaurant along the banks of Moselle in Bernkastel Kues,The Hotel & Restaurant Cafe Rosi.It has a Beer Garden,River Banks, and a Hotel.Imagine feeding your gastronomy delight with a view of the Landshut Castle and feeling the typical air of the region.Well, in Germany,enjoying Eis ( ice cream ) is a typical sight and of course we tried it.But unfortunately I am not so fond of Ice cream with liquor.It tasted too strong for me that the chocolate flavor was overpowered by the liquor.If you have a thing on this,they probably you would enjoy their Eis.
I am already looking forward to go back and explore the other parts of Moselle.There’s so much more to see and explore. All in all,it was a great trip! and of course ,we brought home some fine wine !
For my first post on f Architecture and Beyond, I would like to share with you my personal Glimpse on MuslimRich Islamic Culturethrough the wonderful experience of having my first ever Mosque visit.
Since I was living in a Islamic country where Masjid (or Mosque ) are a common sight, I thought of exploring this in a very conventional way. Everyday I hear the prayer calls,and eventually I got used to it. I was curious at the same time in awe of the culture behind this structure.
It was one fine Saturday morning when I decided to join the Tour and Lecture hosted by Aware Centerfor the Grand Mosque in Kuwait, the locals refers to it as the Masjid Al Kabeer. As a Non-Muslim Expat ,I am always curious and fascinated of the vivid Islamic culture. I have high respect on its teachings and my interest in Architecture and beautiful structures always lead me to amazing discoveries such as this.
A Kuwaiti Symbol of Islamic Heritage
Kuwait Grand Mosque is strategically located overlooking the Arabian Gulf and opposite the magnificent Seif Palaceor the Government Head Quarters. This striking structure is world -renowned Islamic landmark in Kuwait. Almost every year, Kuwait is visited by dignitaries,tourists & students from all over the world . But discovering inside is quite an experience that leaves me breathless. As we all know that Mosques are religious establishment and although it is open for public praying purposes, exploring it in detail requires an appointment & a guide. During the month of Ramadan, The Grand Mosque is attended with approx. 180,000 worshippers.With its courtyards alone, it can accomodate 60,000 worshippers. It is the main host for congregational & annual Eid Prayers as well as various religious ceremonies. The 5 daily prayers are usually held in the Annex Hall that hold 500 worshippers. It has a special Prayer hall for Women with a separate ground floor entrance on the southern side that can hold 1000 worshippers.
The Architecture & Beyond
The design of the Grand Mosque is according to the traditional Islamic Architecture with hints of Kuwaiti & GCC influences. It has the Islamic touch that is in harmony with Kuwait’s pride of architectural distinct features.The combination of modern construction techniques, fully patterned Islamic ornamentation and Arabic calligraphy is imminent on both exterior & interiors of the whole structure.The main structure ,foundations,intricate columns,majestic ceiling & Minaret were built using fortified concrete.As you gaze through the outer courtyards,you will see that the outer walls were coated by natural rocks,while inner ones coated with mixture of marble ,Morrocan gypsum,and other magnificent colorful ceramics.It was so beautiful .The main courtyard on the eastern side of the grand Mosque includes water closets & ablution areas. It has Three Prayer halls and the Grand Mosque has 21 Doors made of Indian hand-carved Teak wood.
The Dome and its ethereal Beauty
This is the nucleus of the Grand Mosque’s design. I was staring at this beauty for long time that leaves me open-mouthed because it was so beautiful. It was so intricate, almost ethereal. Aesthetically, the huge dome was decorated with attributes of Allah in a hand-carved Mosaic. It includes 144 windows to provide natural light.
The Grand Mosque has a special building for Administration,and a 350 sq/mts Library that includes hundreds of Islamic books and references to be used for special researches while doing their research and writings. It has an underground parking that can hold up to 500 vehicles. There is a special entrance and Hall to receive His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and other dignitaries.I was thrilled to see this hall. I gazed,touched and was mesmerized by the beautiful ceramics,intricate Moroccan gypsum geometric wall carvings .There is an enormous chandelier that adorns the Hall.The highlight in this Hall is the replica of the first original Quran traced back to the 7th century A.D.The Amiri Hall was awesome.
Travel Tip :
If you want to have a rewarding experience like this, I highly recommend to check out Aware Center. They can take you into a wonderful experience as they did to me. They hold their personal guided tours for the Grand Mosque which includes Lectures on Islamic Culture, Islam & Historical significance. You can sign up and enjoy a wonderful morning.Children & Non-Muslims expats are welcome. Please be reminded that women should be dressed modestly on this visit. You will be asked to wear an Abaya & cover your head before entering the Mosque.They have a very cozy Diwaniya Hall to receive the guests and welcomed with refreshments, brochures and souvenirs.
If you are in Kuwait, you can check out the Aware Center’s official website to view their schedule of events, normally they hold Grand Mosque Tour every 2nd Saturday of the month. Their representative, Ms. Iman Martin is very knowledgeable and such a great guide.
Have you ever been inside a Mosque as a Non-Muslim? How was your experience?
If you like this post, then you might want to check out my other post on Exploring the Kuwaiti heritage sites in the Kuwait category. Feel free to browse and learn more about fascinating things you can only find in Kuwait.
This is not a romantic love story post, Nope, On serious note , I found myself to be lucky to find & marry a wonderful Dutch guy, & here I share with you my impressions and things I found to be special and so typically Dutch .
When you are in an interracial marriage, habits and your partner’s interests are the top things you notice. Either it’s totally crazy, out of this world , weird, or annoying but then it shows a lot of their personality.
Tell you frankly, I haven’t got any clue about anything Dutch. We were completely from different cultures. I wouldn’t ever know that Hagelslag ( or Sprinkles) could taste so good on toast after I met my ex-boyfriend , now my husband who is Dutch. Hagelslag is chocolate sprinkles that Dutch spread on their toast.It’s quite a moment to watch how they do it. It’s like a magic routine every time we seat together during breakfast .They spread it on a plain bread with butter or margarine. Their love for Hagelslag can never be taken away from them wherever they are right now. We were living in Kuwait but we have Hagelslag during breakfast, And Yes, I gave my In-Laws a big Thank you for bringing it over here during their visits. It’s totally a Dutch thing. This is a staple on every household and kids form some sort of attachment to it because they love it until they become adults. So Yes, I became a convert on this one and I’m sure my daughter will love it too.
When we had our daughter , we had Beschuit met Muisjes. It’s a tradition in the Netherlands once a baby is born. It’s a crispy biscuit with sugar-coated Anise seeds shared with guests. They come in pink & white for girls & blue & white for boys .I love the uniqueness & everything about it. We never have something like this in Philippines or even in Kuwait.
Who loves potatoes the most?
Dutch people are top-notch on this one. They adore potatoes. It’s like rice for Filipinos. They mashed it, fry it, steam, boiled ,baked it but their favorite is the Patat Friet. Patat Friet is a well-known snack , they are usually served in a paper cone, topped with mayonnaise. Different types of toppings are usually available including knoflook (garlic) sauce, tomato ketchup , frietsaus (a less fattier version of mayo) or the peanut sauce. My husband enjoys this on all occasions.
Dutch people have a serious love affair with their bikes (Fietsen) before they were even engaged or got married. Sounds crazy right? but really, I was dumbfounded when i saw how many bicycles in The Netherlands , let alone Amsterdam itself. It’s HUMONGOUS!
The bicycle culture makes Dutch people stand out. I mean,they don’t just bike to kill time, their lives revolves through it. They have one of the best Public transport system and yet people opt to cycle as their #1 preference of transport.You see mothers with their 3 kids on it with their famous Bakfiets (or cargo bikes) plus bags of groceries, cycling to work, exploring the countryside riding their bikes , and many tourists discover Amsterdam and all through out Holland by bikes. The Netherlands is the most-Bicycle friendly country with about 17 million in population and 20 million bikes! Picture that !
An average Dutch rides his bike 2.5km per day. I have cycled with my husband for 25km in one day and it was great. Another thing that I find so interesting is that they have a very active lifestyle with it. I have seen even older people riding their bikes. A typical household owns 3 bikes and children learn to cycle at an early age. I find it really inspiring when I see my in-Laws (already in their 70’s) riding their bikes together for errands or so.
In Netherlands, multi-level parking areas for bicycles is normal sight. It is Huuuggeee. You can see tons of bikes parked in the train station and its amazing how people find their bikes with ease.
My husband loves to makes Lists , schedules and has the most organized Calendar. He really does it especially during grocery shopping. Dutch people are really living by the Diary. Birthdays and other important occasions are carefully noted in their calendars. They even have a Birthday calendar.
YES! you read that right, a calendar for Birthdays. They normally hung it in their guest bathroom. It’s totally Dutch thing. Imagine that you are a guest and while you do your business in the loo, you can be amused by the thoughts and sometimes it even comes with photos in it. Sure thing, they have no excuse to forget birthdays !
One important character of Dutch people is punctuality. This is as per my observation from them. They are also very straightforward and direct. They don’t beat around the bush.Some may even misinterpret this as rudeness,but actually, they are just so direct in speaking their opinions.
Have you heard about Papadag? Dutch men are very involved on parenting. I love the fact that my husband has high standards for family time. Dutch people have high priority on family and quality time spent with it is important more than any leisure activities. In Netherlands, fathers have a certain half-day off during the week to take care of the kids. Isn’t is amazing? In an interracial marriage, it’s very important to have compatible values, especially on family. I’m so happy that my daughter has the privilege of being raised with Dutch values to ensure overall well-being as a child. The Netherlands holds the spot of only country ranked among the top five countries in all dimensions of child well-being . You can see the full report Here. It is very heartwarming that Dutch kids stands as the happiest kids on the world. They have wonderful childhoods.
Prior to the negative implication of the term “Going Dutch “,which is economical,thrifty Dutch way of thinking, I don’t see my husband as cheap, being prudent is not bad, He spends money wisely. Dutch people are very helpful & charitable and this is regarded as great national value. The Netherlands ranked #14 in Top 23 Richest countries around the world based on GDP per capita and its amazing how Dutch people are so involved in helping others, either national and international, who lag behind economically. There is a general kind of sense that “everyone should have the same”; equality in the economic sense is almost a value. During the typhoon Haiyan tragedy in The Philippines, Netherlands donated EUR 36 million as aid to the victims.My parents-in laws are living example, they have been helping a poor Polish family .
Lastly , with Dutch , there is always a feeling of Gezelligheid . Don’t ask me to define this in literal meaning because I can’t. Just picture this : Lovely ,beautiful gardens on each houses, with curtain-less wide windows adorned with most simple ornaments that looks directly to sidewalks , people having picnics & strolls in the park, Saturday morning frenzy at the city centre ‘s wet market,gobbling on delicious Dutch treatssuch as Stroopwafels , those tiny houseboats along the canals in Amsterdam , people walking and talking about the weather , sitting in benches reading the news , and so on. There is total way of cozy conviviality around.
A fun, comfortable way of everything. For foreigners,it could be perceived as slacking off, but really, they just enjoy and take life in a normal way.
I was grabbed at first sight on the experience of all of these. There is this unfamiliar taste that surrounds everywhere. No wonder tourists come back after visits to the Netherlands. They are really more than the windmills,tulips & clogs. There is so much more to learn and to explore with their culture. I have come to embrace Dutch culture, not only because I married one, but because of Dutch’s unique approach in everything . But I excuse myself on liking the Drop & Haring!
At the end of my day, I still groaned and remind myself, “Oh God,my Husband is Dutch !”
Have you’ve had any encounter with Dutch people? or the Netherlands ?Do you have any fascinating impressions about them?
Please feel free to share your views . I would love to hear it.
Thank you for stopping by & reading this…and Doei!
I have never imagined in my whole life that I will get married, get pregnant and gave birth to my daughter in Kuwait— a small oil rich country yet place for mirage diversity. Looking back at our Expat days spent there brought both smiles and fond memories. Kuwait will always be a special place close to our hearts.
Here I wanna share with you 10 Surprising Things About Parenthood inKuwait that I personally experienced. The content of this post is based from my personal encounters as an Expat living in Kuwait for almost 8 years. Being in Kuwait for work is totally different when you have a family and a young child.
Disclaimer : This post does not promote anything for the purpose of advertisement or whatsoever. My views pointed out here are personal & may not be the same as the other Expats living here or Kuwaitis itself.
Pregnancy and Childcare in Kuwait is totally different from the culture that I was raised with. The reality bites of giving birth to my daughter there while working as an OFW with no relatives around to get support really opened my eyes on how is it to become an Expat Mama. You need to be tough.
The choice for private or public hospital in Kuwait for Prenatal care during Pregnancy & giving birth depends on your personal choices, quality of medical services & of course, the cost. There are plenty of private hospitals around and in every area in Kuwait has Public Hospital. You can go there with a very minimal fee (1KD /stamp ) depending where you are registered as a resident. I am 37 yrs old when I got pregnant with Natalie and has a high risk condition from which I found out on the later part of my pregnancy. I opt for a private one during my Prenatal care, I find it really expensive and yet It was also very comprehensive & helpful for a First-time Mother like me.
There’s no Midwife/ Home Birthing here, Doulas are not a common norm .You can only give birth in hospitals since Kuwait is a Muslim country and has strict laws about getting pregnant outside marriage. You cannot be admitted in hospital if you cannot present a Marriage certificate .If you are not married & got pregnant by chance , then at the hospital you will report you to authorities right on the spot. You will end up in jail and face punishment. Unlike in the Philippines or in Holland, formalities in admission to hospital such as this is not much of an issue . Take note also that there is a strict rule that your spouse cannot see you once you were admitted. Yes, ALONE. Only you and your baby in your utero all throughout the labor to birth phase.
Your Husband can call the hospital to check on your status. It was quite an experience being alone and not having your spouse there on your side. I felt so afraid, at the same time excited. While in the private ones , your spouse has the chance to be with you all the way .
2. On Unbelievable cost of Childbirth.
For Mamas out there, how much does it cost you on the birth of your child? Mine’s only 13 KD!
You can call this cheap but this is impeccably practical. You can invest your money on diapers & childcare later !
I gave birth to my daughter in Kuwait through C-section which only costs us of around 13 KD ( or around 43 USD). YES! Unbelievable right? Only this amount. Considering all the medications I had during the induction of labor this amount is really insane! If i did it in a private hospital , my doctor told me it could come around as 850-1500 KD, maybe more. Giving birth thru C-section in Philippines is so costly that is why Natural birth is still encouraged. Such big difference. In Holland, you need to push and push harder in giving birth at home since natural birth is much preferred unless you need medical intervention.
I had complications giving birth and my daughter is in Transverse position. I was induced for labor for almost 3 days but unfortunately did not progress . But then on the last-minute that both me & my baby was stressed ,her heartbeat dropped & I was rushed to O.R for emergency C-section. I was really amazed how fully equipped and good the government Maternity Hospital here. I have rumors before that it could be a daunting experience ,but as far as my experience , I couldn’t complain for anything . Yeah maybe the pain.
Everything about the induction process is bloody painful. My whole body cried out for so much Pitocin and all those other stuff. It’s just too overwhelmingly painful.
The whole experience has taught me how to be tough ,to listen to my body . The Doctors and staff are knowledgeable, helpful and professional enough in taking care of me. I was lucky enough that the staff assigned to me were really kind, & helpful . I’m glad there were Filipina nurses who attended to me immediately. My daughter was admitted to the Special care unit after she was born and I am very glad how they took care of her. She had a medical care from the Neonatal unit up until 1-year-old to track her progress. By the way, It’s totally free!
My postnatal medical care were also covered in this hospital. You only pay a very minimal fee for the prescriptions and medications provided. I was really impressed and happy.
3.On Baby-Friendly facilities and the LACK of it in Kuwait
Breastfeeding is highly commended by all Hospitals from birth of a child. But Breastfeeding in public is considered offensive. There are only limited areas which has a facility for Breastfeeding mothers and changing rooms. In some large Malls and restaurants, there are abundant changing rooms as well as accessibility to it. Some shops doesn’t even have ramps, totally not Stroller-friendly. Since I had a child, I become aware of this and always opt for a Baby-Friendly facilities such as High chairs, changing tables and play areas . I wear my daughter from 4 months until she was 12 months or so. When she got so heavy then I gave up the sling , besides she likes to walk now ! I couldn’t imagine how I go on without it, It was really amazing.Wearing her on a sling causes lots of stares from many people here , i received many comments about it but I ignore it. It’s not a norm here, but you as the parent should make the right choices for the best of your child & yourself. It’s very rare for Kuwaiti women to wear their child,mainly because most of them has nanny to take care of their little ones.
4. On Harsh Weather Worries , Kuwait is a Sandstorm country.
As an Expat , I am constantly worrying about the weather. If you have read my post – Only In Kuwait , where I noted that the sky turns to different colors within 3 hours .This is a place where sandstorms, dust, & heat & harsh winds is prevalent. During Summer, I was on my wits end on how to deal with the heat and humidity. You can’t take out your child for a stroll if it is 50 deg outside and completely dusty . We often take her out early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Sandstorms in Kuwait is another shock that I need to get used to. The sky suddenly turns dark gray and totally hazy because of dust. I had the experience that it totally turns into orange into black . It was a sight! You need to take care when this happens because its unhealthy for you & your child plus it could last for days.
5.On Childcare and Hired Help for Families
A typical Kuwaiti family with 3 children or more has 2 Housemaids ,1 driver and maybe 1 Nanny to focus mainly with the baby. It’s very common to have a hired help to take care of your child. Most children grew up with a Nanny. For Expat parents who are both working full-time , they can put their child on Nursery & Daycare center depending on their choice. Oftentimes, you see a full entourage of babies with their uniformed Nannies in the mall while their Mothers are busy shopping and bumming their asses in the mall drinking coffee or in the salon maybe. Most of the time, if you go on a playgroups, It’s depressing to see only maids with the little ones.
I find it so important to have a network of friends and mothers who have children same age as your child to survive ,especially on hot summers. I am grateful for friends to visit and arrange play dates with my daughter. It is a lifesaver!
6.On lack of Discipline & Public Child Tantrums
I don’t know why but here I often see many child throwing tantrums in Public. In malls, parks , supermarkets, and restaurants.I find it sad to see some children throwing garbage out from their cars, or on the ground as they please. I don’t see much politeness either. Little children seldom say Please or Thank you to waiters or strangers.This is on my personal encounters. But I am always glad whenever I see kids showing good character in public. I remembered that all Filipino children were taught to say “Po” and the Mano po tradition with the ones older than them. This is far by non-existent here.
7.On Easy Access to Beachfront , the beach can be your playground.
Having an access to the beach within 5 minutes from your home is really a treat . I feel lucky that as I open our bedroom window, we have a direct view of the Arabian gulf. This really gives us an opportunity to take our daughter for a spin in her stroller, on having lazy morning walks during weekends and playing in the sand. Kuwait doesn’t have much of beautiful nature to boast, so living near the beach is good if you have kids. I mean it’s healthy . Green lawns are scarce and looking for a convenient playground with lots of greens is like searching for pearls.There are various playgrounds & indoor play areas, you just need to have patience to find them. In every local area,there is a playground so it’s quite easy. But don’t expect much of it.
8.On family Outings during Fridays
Friday is the rest day for all of Kuwait. This is the Ruhetag version of Germany’s Sunday ‘s quiet day. It’s so heartwarming to see the whole family prepping early for a beach trip, picnic in the park or camp in the desert. Kids flocked to playgrounds, during hot summers they mostly stay indoors or spend a day in the Mall. Here, both parents are so involved. I oftentimes saw fathers playing with their kids and totally hands-on. Kuwait boasts of their big Malls. The Avenues is an example of a great family destination especially when its hot outside. It is designed to become a one stop destination for the whole family. It has an astounding beautiful Play areas for kids while you get busy shopping or meeting friends. It has the amazingKidzania, the Magic planet with its minimalist design, Baroue, & Color Me Mine are among others to keep your child entertained and parents as well. It’s a great place to just relax and bond with your family.
9.On Disturbed bedtime
How crazy it is to see a baby out in the park until midnight? You see children playing in the beachfront at night. Only in here that I see kids riding their bikes in the dark, toddlers playing in the sand until 2 am in the morning enjoying a family midnight picnic. During Ramadan , people spend so much time outside at night. I grew up having our bed times set at 8 pm , except on weekends that we are allowed to watch TV and stay up late. In Kuwait, going out with your kids at 9 pm is normal. I stick to my routine with my daughter to put her to bed on time and especially not to disturb her nap times.
10. On Safety Issues for Children
In Kuwait , I find it relatively safe & crime rate is at par, but as parents we can’t compromise their safety . While in Europe that you can let loose your child in the streets and go home from school by themselves, here its a totally different story. It is not safe to leave your child to play in the streets alone , especially if you live near a highway. There are no sidewalks or safe path walks and cars are speeding up even on residential areas. Besides , There is the garbage problem that you don’t want your child to expose . There is a school just 5 minutes away from our building, it doesn’t even have a pedestrian zone.
As an Expat Mama, I have learned that no matter where you are, Parenthood is a distinct journey to self-discovery. You get to know more of yourself as you go through with it. Becoming a parent is a privilege, and not a right. It is a wonderful blessing. Indeed consider yourself blessed if you have a child on your lap and if you have been on the journey of raising them. If there’s one thing that I learned as I go on this journey of Motherhood, it’s this :
‘You get two big windows of opportunity in your life to do stuff like build castles, play in the dirt, lick pebbles, & just play ; The first is when you are a Child, the second is when you have ONE. ‘
Don’t get too wrapped up to missed it.
Are you an Expat Mama? How is Parenting done in your country or in the place you live at the moment? How are you coping so far ?
Do you find any surprising things about Parenthood? I would love to hear your own story.
I came to Kuwait in May 2008 totally ignorant about this country. Yes,i know about Saddam’s invasion but i haven’t got any clue what to expect from this country. You see, sometimes, when you make big changes in your life, it’s so spontaneous that you embrace it enough to get it through your skin overnight. Now, for almost 8 years of living and working in this small, yet oil-rich country, Kuwait has been close to my heart. My second home. I have embraced the Kuwaiti way of life, Muslim culture, the real heat during Summers , the fierce Sandstorms, the Authentic brightness of the sun, and the parenthood in this culture.
I’m telling you, Kuwait is not your typical tourist destination .If i were a tourist, i would never put Kuwait in my Bucket List. Why? No nightlife, No public partying, no alcohol, not much “Green Nature “ to see here, (yeah there is Desert), No Pork! Public Transportation is bad, besides,who would want to go out in the scorching heat? Kuwait is totally dormant especially during Ramadan. It doesn’t have an appealing profile in Wikipedia, or in Tripadvisor. But still, there are approximately 2.4 Million expats living here.People are attracted to go to Kuwait mainly to earn money. People go here to work, and this is from my own perspective.
Now from the moment you step out of the plane and out from the Airport, you inhaled Kuwait. The air you breathe in is different. The heat & humidity is quite a shock to most foreigners .The heat is real. It could stung your skin. If you come here during the months of May to August,then you might really praise the invention of Airconditioning.You cannot survive here without an AC. When people complained to me that they have hot temperatures, i shrug & always said,“Do you know how it feels to have 50 deg temps?“Getting used to the heat is one of the hurdles you need to overcome. A good pair of Sunglasses is also a must-have. Never ever come here during Summer!!
As we all know, Kuwait is an Islamic country. Arabic is the main language spoken although English is widely understood by Kuwaitis .Paperworks in Ministries are all in Arabic so it’s a nerve-wrenching experience to deal with them if you don’t understand it.Prayertimes are widely observed.Every place has it’s own Mosque (Masjid).I have seen cars parked in the middle of the highway, just because the driver needs to pray.I have seen my colleagues pray together, inside the mall,in the park, even in the island of a Roundabout.
In Europe, where in it is pedestrian-friendly, the car stops to give way to the pedestrians .In Kuwait, the cars and its drivers rules !Maniac drivers are the King of the Road most especially in the major highways. I saw men driving with kids in the driver’s seat,no seatbelts,annoyingly feet up on the dashboard,mobile phones are stucked on their cheeks!People are even driving on New Year’s Eve. I often wonder what in the world they are doing spending all their time driving around. Social status is also depends on the car that you drive. Swerving and cutting lanes is common and mostly causes accidents. Driving in Kuwait is not for the faint-hearted. Autobahn in Germany has no speed limit, yet the percentage of road accidents is lower compared to Kuwait who has speed limits set, yet has a high road-accident rate .Kuwait has broken the world record of number of traffic deaths.Not really the kind of record to be proud of.
I don’t know why but only in Kuwait that Men stared a LOT.I mean, its really crazy and uncomfortable the way people stares. I would believed that you could get so much attention if you are a Celebrity or a supermodel walking along the street and wearing flashy outfit! Don’t forget that Kuwait is a Muslim country and although Non-Muslim women here are not required to wear the Abaya, they are expected to dressed conservatively. I noticed that Kuwaiti women are fashion & beauty-conscious. They love the glamour & glittery lifestyle. Their wardrobe are always trendy and up to date with fashion . Of course, they have money to splurge on make up , clothes & everything. There’s never too expensive for them. You can always see fashionable women totally made-up even on a very laid back environment just like grocery shopping. International brands flocked in Kuwait’s top malls like The Avenues. From designer shoes to bags, they wear it even going to supermarkets. It’s no wonder also that Kuwaiti women are one of the top users of make up.I mean,they really wear it.Loads of it.Everyday.The number of salons both for men & women are more than the number of gasoline stations.
Luxury shops in Prestige of The Avenues
Shopping Haven in Kuwait
For most expats working here, An attractive salary offer without any taxes is the top reason to stay. Utilities are minimal. But the high cost of housing is getting higher due to rise in Expat population.If you are working from a private sector then you have benefits like Free Healthcare, Accommodation ,Transportation and Annual vacation leaves with Airfare .But sad to say that most disturbing inhuman acts of molestation and abuse for domestic workers are also coming from here.It breaks my heart to hear many stories of ‘Kabayans’ who are victims of injustice .I have high respect for these women who really work hard just to provide for their families. In Kuwait , modern slavery is prevalent.
When i was new here, “Diwaniya”caught my attention. It’s totally Kuwaiti. Every Kuwaiti household have a Diwaniya area,mainly a hall or Annex from their reception area for the purpose of meeting & gathering with male friends,colleagues and guests. This tradition is traced back since immemorial. The men usually dressed in their Dishdashas discussing various topics while relaxing,casual smoking,drinking tea,Arabic coffee & Sheesha, nibbling sweets or dates .I find it cozy with their beautiful soft cushions.
As an Expat , I could RANT a lot more about bad things about Kuwait, But then I would be a hypocrite to say that these things are absent in Philippines, in The Netherlands or even in the US.Every country has its own issues. Maybe the extremities are different but injustice & social problems are prevalent anywhere.There is no such thing as perfect place. As an expat, I have learned to accept this country, with its flaws and everything, After all,it is my own freewill to be here. It doesn’t mean that I approve of the rudeness, Hypocrisy, Wasta System, Modern Slavery and Racism but Generalization is complete ignorance.
I have read lots of hate blogs about Kuwait. It’s like spitting it out as a vomit. So many hate and disgust in their words. Kuwait have wounded their hearts. People have the right to voice out their own opinions and some have low tolerance of anything that pisses them off. It may not work for you, but it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t work for others. I have known kind and decent Kuwaitis so in the end, I tried to keep an open mind and looked on the positive side ;
KUWAIT –A country with distinct heritage.Has a stable currency and one of the richest country as per Capita terms. Kuwaitis are more liberal and westernized compared to other Arab countries.Their government is progressive.Yes,their lifestyle is grand,and spend like crazy ,living in big villas & mansions, but they have the money to spend. They can afford the luxurious life.They have Oil and the State owns it.They are endowed.When a Kuwaiti marries,the government gave money .Education is free.NO TAXES!Gas prices as 70 fils (around 0.25 USD) per liter.Expats bring their families here and settled.One way or another,they know that life is better here compared to their home country.Or else they would have left already.
Arabian Gulf on a clear,sunny day.
Symbolic structure along Arabian Gulf
Beautiful skyline viewed from Green Island
For those expats in Kuwait, they have a reason to still stay here. For those who have left already, they’ve had also a reason to go away.
I hope i have given you an idea what to expect as an expat in Kuwait. But how about you, How is your experience as an Expat ? If you like this post, please feel free to hit the like button below & share it. I would also love to hear your comments below.
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
Baby’s Formula and Extra Bottles .
Diapers.Loads of it.Depending on type & availability in your destination.
Hygenic Wipes.And more wipes.
Baby Food or Cereals (2-3 bottles or pouches )
Set of clothes (at least 2 onesies with long sleeves,pyjama,jacket,socks,Hats,plus clothes for her once you arrived )
Small blanket (Could be used as a shield in the Bassinet & stroller)
Favorite Toys,Books and Lovey if your child has one.
Important Medications,including pocket Thermometer,medical prescriptions included.
Pacifier with sling if your child uses one.(Take Extra just in case!)
Baby Carrier or Sling.
Snacks for your Baby like crackers,biscuits or any of her favorite food.
Shoes or Sandals for your child.
Sippy cups.(Extra sippy cup with water or her favorite drink )
Travel Crib/Cot/Stroller if you wish to bring one.
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 .
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!