This is me, on my way to therapy

This is me, on my way to therapy

• This is me on my way to therapy. You can almost not see it in this picture, but I have tears streaming down my face.
• Sometimes I feel like I don’t need the therapy anymore, that the time that my therapist puts in me should be spent on someone else. 
• But then this happens. I cannot stop the tears. For no other particular reason than besides the fact that I am still dealing with the aftermath of what has happened to us. Meaning that sometimes I think that I have recovered gracefully from all that had happened, just to end up almost where had I started.
• I know that I will feel better. I know that my therapy will also help. But I also know that I will feel like this again.
• And before you start judging me, maybe thinking that I like the attention that I get from coming from the abuse that I and my daughter have suffered. 
—-> Then shame on you. 
• I have as much right to tell it as it is and hopefully, it will help others know that they are not alone, as I have the right and the delight I get from sharing moments of happiness that happen, the mundane things in my life. 
•••It’s not all good and it’s not all bad. It’s just life. 

Why we should prefer second-hand stuff over the new stuff

Why we should prefer second-hand stuff over the new stuff

There is little worse for our planet than constantly producing new stuff and throwing it away again and again. Fortunately, the second-hand market offers a solution. Before I show you what second-hand stuff I have in my house (in my following post), I explain why it is so important to (learn to) appreciate second-hand and how to do it!

Why re-use gives environmental benefits 

Second-hand items can bring considerable environmental gains. Reuse extends the lifespan of the equipment. If you buy something second hand, nothing new needs to be made. This way you save raw materials, energy, and waste needed to make new stuff. Are you going to use something for a short period of time, like baby clothes? Or is it indestructible, like a batch of garden tiles? Then it certainly pays to buy it second hand and resell it after use.


It’s economical


Buying second hand is necessarily more economical. The gain can be more or less important. But if you take the time to search, the finds can be really amazing: reusable egg boxes to go to the market at 50 cents, wicker baskets at 3€, toys at -70%…

For very specific products, it is important to do some scouting, a “market study” to buy at the right price. Indeed, the occasion is fashionable, so some people see it as an opportunity to make money. Below are some tips on how to find your way around.


Typical second-hand must-knows


It’s dirty & it smells bad


When you buy second-hand, you have to deal with the “old life” of the objects. Nevertheless, there is no risk of catching diseases with second-hand purchases. Our advice :

  • Clothes: whether it is a different laundry smell or that of clothes left in boxes for a long time, after being washed a few times and worn, the clothes will quickly take on your usual smell.
  • Objects or toys: as soon as I buy an object or toy, I clean it before use. For example, in the case of a puzzle, I assemble it to check that nothing is missing and then I clean it with a dry cloth and the vinegar multi-purpose cleaning spray. Same for books.
  • For baskets and wicker objects: clean with black soap.


It’s “cheap”


Buying and giving second-hand gifts does not mean giving gifts of lesser value.

In the face of these criticisms, one of the counter-arguments is that you can find completely new second-hand things! Double gifted gifts and non-exchangeable ones, purchased errors, unworn clothes with labels: it is very common to find things still in their original packaging…

Of course, second-hand purchases are sometimes favored by the least wealthy households, but not necessarily. Today, buying vintage/retro is in fashion. There are more and more of us out there, who buy second-hand by choice: to avoid over-consumption, to save money compared to a new purchase…


My tips and tricks for second-hand purchases


Make it habitual


In recent years, I have adopted an “opportunity reflex”. As soon as I (our we as a family) have a need: I systematically look to see if this product exists on the second-hand market. And in 90% of the cases, this search is successful and avoids a new *new* purchase.

Locate and study prices


Before buying second-hand, it is always good to do a little “market research”. You can find out the new sale price of the product you want by estimating the price you want to put on it.

In fact, second-hand purchases are on the rise, and some people see this as an opportunity to make money. Fortunately, it is often possible to make good deals, so don’t hesitate to negotiate if you think it is necessary.


Take guarantees when necessary


Buying legos or pants, does not require the same level of attention as buying a household appliance for example. For the former, do not hesitate to ask for photos if those in the ad are not enough. For household appliances, it is possible to find second-hand, in very good condition or even almost new. Do not hesitate to ask for the purchase or maintenance invoice! Many second-hand shops give a warranty with bigger electrical appliances.


Give preference to local purchases


One of the first reflexes quickly adopted is to always check that the product is available near us before buying it on the Internet. In the case of second-hand items, I do a first local search before expanding to the region and then to the whole of Belgium if I really can’t find it. This allows me to save both shipping costs and pollution-related to transport.


Where to buy second hand?


In a specialized store

In second-hand stores you can often buy furniture, clothes, toys and household goods. You can also put your old stuff there. Some second-hand stores sell stuff in your place, so you can make some money from it. You can also sell furniture or works of art at an auction.

Kringwinkel
Chain of second-hand stores all over the country. The income from sales is mainly used to maintain and create jobs for people who have few opportunities in the labor market.
www.dekringwinkel.be

Think Twice
Think Twice is a branch that offers a wide range of vintage clothes at affordable prices. T2 gives its customers the opportunity to freely create their own individual styles, thereby spreading the love for second-hand fashion
The Think Twice Facebook Page

Oxfam Solidarity
Used stores run by Oxfam Solidariteit. The proceeds will go to development projects in North and South. There are 42 stores in Belgium, some specializing in books and others in vintage clothing.
http://www.oxfamsol.be

Ecoshop and Troc
Chains of stores with second-hand furniture and household goods, where you can sell your own stuff.
www.ecoshop.be
www.troc.com

All second-hand outlets
This website gives an overview of used stores in Flanders, from clothes to cars and computers.
www.tweedehands-info.be

Don’t hesitate to use Google to translate!

There are also stores that do not specialize in second-hand but offer second-hand products alongside the new. I’m thinking of Bol.com and I just read in the newspaper today that Ikea plans on doing the same.

Me at one of my favourite spots : De Kringwinkel

Garage sales and flea markets


Garage sales have been very fashionable for a few years now, unfortunately not so much now during Covid times, but hopefully, things will get back to “normal” at one stage or another.

People have a stand there to empty their houses and for passersby to find the right opportunity. I advise you not to go there with an idea in mind because by experience you rarely find what you came looking for. In spite of the diversity of the offer, if you look hard enough you will often find what you are looking for. Go as early as possible is my main tip!

As for flea markets, or *Rommelmarkten* as they say here in Flanders, they have long been known to be the place to go for antiques and other rarities found in attics by antique dealers. Sometimes the prices are quite expensive compared to the garage sales, but go and do not hesitate to negotiate!

To find out about garage sales or flea markets near you here in Belgium: go to Rommelmarkten.be or Wattedoen.be (use google to translate)


Online

  • Online classifieds: You can buy as well as sell. Are you looking for something very concrete? Then you can set up a search function, which notifies you by email when someone has placed such an ad. There are many other sites where you can buy, auction, or sell second-hand items.
  • Vinted: Personally my very favorite for clothing and toys. Very quickly Vinted has established itself as the new reference in the sale and purchase of second-hand clothing in particular. Its advantage? It allows you to make advanced selections by size, brand, condition, location. We can easily find the desired clothes according to our requirements! But also toys or other items such as Christmas toys. I have just recently been able to buy a brand new school bag for my son made out of reusable plastic. So, double win on sustainability!
  • Instagram: this social network has a lot of accounts that do online second-hand sells and it is the opportunity to discover real pearls. I have a few that I particularly like: like
  • Facebook Marketplace: it is an online marketplace very similar to the online classifieds. You can find anything from toys to a used car.

To conclude on the second- hand buying lifestyle

While for some people it is instinctive, for others, buying second hand is a mental step that can be difficult to take. Nevertheless, the advantages can be countless!

And as for the rest, I advise you to go “step by step”. One can start perhaps with a book or a game if the idea of wearing an already used garment is an “uncomfortable idea”. Then, once you have become familiar with the idea, you can take it one step further!

For example, this year is a new milestone for me: I’m looking for my first (used) car! Pray that I find the right one. 😀

Just go for it!

Before you go, here is a Belgian list for online buying and selling

eBay
The best-known auction site. You can sell stuff through an online auction or an ad.
www.e-bay.be

2dehands.be
Viewfinder site. You can buy as well as sell.
www.2dehands.be

Velt
Offers of second-hand eco-products on the website of Velt, the Association for Ecological Life, and Gardening. You can offer your stuff for sale or for free, place an ad for what you need, or offer something to trade.
www.velt.be

Stukot.be
The Flemish colleges and universities, in collaboration with KBC and Tapptic, are launching the website Stukot.be. Students can buy and sell their room stuff and their expensive (well-maintained) manuals) directly to other room students. Thanks to the expertise of Tapptic, responsible for the design and development of the website, the website has been optimized to be visited via the web as well as on a smartphone or tablet computer. Later, the website will be launched in Wallonia.
www.stukot.stumarkt.be

Uw Kringding
Auction website of De Kringwinkel, one of my favorite thrift stores! Not only do they help the environment, but they also create social employment spots!
www.uwkringding.be

Did this article make you want to try second-hand shopping? Any tips for me to discover?

Cutting the cord

Cutting the cord

I was proudly telling my mom friends the other day, that I had decided on cutting the cord. Do you know this expression? It means to say goodbye to cable/digital tv. *Shocking*

But apparently I’m not only a late bloomer when it comes to driving, but I am also a late bloomer when it comes to living without cable because by now, most people do. *Another shocker*

I was raised with having no cable tv and to make matters worse, we had BETA instead of VHS. The horror! Meaning that I could not borrow any videos from my friends. (hey, I grew up in the ’80s)

So when I became the independent teenage mom that I am today (not so teenage anymore), I said hello to cable TV. Oh, the hours we have spent, just flipping through channels, never really finding something worth watching. Besides Friends.

Cutting the cord
Reunion! Reunion! Reunion!

Then came digital tv, you could now have the tv on demand, skip the commercials. What a luxury.

But I came to realize that we were watching less and less tv. It would only come on in the evening, preferably with Sushi, and my daughter and I would watch 90-day fiancé on TLC together or Doctor Pol on Animal planet, while mister six would be watching his own program on Netflix.

But that was about it.

I was paying a lot of money for something that we were not actually using , plus being a single mom, wanting to buy her first car, I wanted to make some cuts here and there. And with cutting the cord and only keeping the internet, this made a significant difference.

So yesterday was our first evening without TV, my daughter switched on a video from YouTube on how to train Doxies (her’s is a pain in the bum, *mister bark-a-lot*). We were actually watching something useful for once, instead of catfishing people on a 90-day fiancé.

But it still feels weird to me.

I miss the channel flipping, even though I found it annoying before.

I just have to face the fact that I’m becoming old and that I am now finding it easier to understand how old folk don’t like change.

But I DID CHANGE, so not that old yet. Ha! 😀

Cutting the cord

Still want to watch tv/tv shows online, in Belgium? These are the options.

  • We all know NETFLIX – Available for all screens via Chromecast, on Apple TV and Smart TV (LG, Sony, Philips, Samsung, Haier). You already have a subscription from 7,99 € per month.
  • Sooner – The largest online catalog of arthouse movies. Subscriptions start at 7,99 €. Thousands of films, selected by a team of film lovers. A dozen new films are added every week.
  • Amazon Prime Video – Just like Netflix, Prime Video from Amazon gives you on-demand access to movies, series, and documentaries. Maybe less popular series than on Netflix, but often real gems! Subscribers to Amazon Prime get a free subscription. Otherwise, you pay 5,99 € per month. Available on Smart TV, Apple TV, Android TV, and now also on Chromecast.
  • Disney + – It has finally arrived in Belgium! Just in time for another imminent lockdown maybe. On Disney +, you can discover the best stories from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic in one place. From hit movies to timeless classics and new originals – there’s something for everyone and all of this for 6,99 € monthly.
  • TV Vlaanderen – Want to watch Belgian channels? Well TV Vlaanderen is a streaming service that allows you to watch live on 18 top channels (including VTM, one, Canvas, FOUR, FOX, National Geographic, BBC Entertainment, Ketnet, …). You pay 9,95 € per month for the “light version” and can play everything through your TV via AirPlay or Chromecast. They also have options for through satellite or antenna.

I’m hoping that Acorn Tv will one day be available in Belgium. Just love British comedies and mysteries. Pleeeeeeeeeaaaase!

Cutting the cord, have you done this already? Any regrets? Any favourite streaming website? I would love to learn more about this trend.

“Sparks of Joy” #3

"Sparks of Joy" #3

I try to share monthly with you things that have brought Sparks of Joy into my life. It will not always be things, but it can be an outing, it can be a craft I did with my son, a new recipe I tried out. It can just be anything.

Here you can read my last list of “Sparks of Joy”

So now, my list of things that have sparked some Joy and given me a thrill these past months!

  1. Dumplings! This is a brand new craving that I have developed during the COVID lockdown. I tried making some myself, but they were just not the same. So enjoying lot’s of them, now the restrictions have eased. My favorite spot in Antwerp, up until now, is a Bah Mei in the Antwerp Chinese district. I dare you to find me an even better one!
  2. Wine! Now that we are spending more time at home, why not with a nice bottle of vino? Loving this new-found wine called Dark Horse. I actually bought it for my miss 26yo, because of the horse on it of course…turned out to be actually good.
  3. Corky Masks! Now that the new fashion fad is face masks, I have quite a collection now. Two of my favorites is one that I bought on Etsy. And a vegan/sustainable one made out of cork, from a local store called Captain Cork.
  4. Favorite toy bough this past month is for sure the new Super Mario Lego set! I already know what I’m getting my little mister for Sinterklaas.
  5. Nice inviting smells are major “Sparks of Joy” for me, so my all-time favorite reed diffuser is from Atelier Rebul, the Istanbul. But will be trying a new one out next month.
View this post on Instagram

✨Het verhaal achter de kurken mondmaskers✨ . ➡️Toen covid19 in maart echt begon te woekeren en de drastische maatregelen van de lockdown werden opgelegd was dit ook voor Captain Cork een donderslag bij heldere hemel. . ➡️Ik was verplicht om de winkel in de Hoogstraat te sluiten. Net na de moeilijke retailmaanden januari en februari. Net nu de lente in aantocht was, mensen meer gingen winkelen, terrasjes doen, het toerisme dat op gang kwam. . ➡️Ik wist dat ik heel snel moest schakelen om mijn ‘kop boven water’ te houden. De vaste kosten bleven door lopen maar de inkomsten waren plots verdwenen. . 😷 Snel ontstond het idee om van de kurkstoffen mondmaskers te maken. Ik ben immers zeer bekend met het materiaal en ik was er van overtuigd dat de kenmerken en eigenschappen van kurk zich uitstekend zouden lenen voor mondmaskers. . 🌱W Vergeet ook niet dat kurken stoppen gebruikt worden in de voedingsindustrie, de strengst gecontroleerde industrie op vlak van volksgezondheid. . 😷We hebben wel tot 500 maskers gedoneerd om mensen kennis te laten maken met onze kurken maskers en om op basis van hun feedback ons ontwerp bij te stellen en te perfectioneren. . 😷Ontwerpen, prototypes, uittesten … einde maart werden onze maskers al geproduceerd. Maar we kwamen net te vroeg. . ❗Onze maskers haalde zelfs het Portugese prime time nieuws voor hun duurzaamheid, veiligheid en luchtigheid. Toen de Belgische overheid het gebruik van mondmaskers ging aanbevelen en zelfs verplichten op het openbaar vervoer kwam voor mij de kentering. . 🎉Mijn maskers kregen fantastische reviews, haalden meermaals de pers en zelfs bedrijven gingen ze in grote aantallen aankopen voor hun personeel. Zelfs dokters, verpleegkundigen en ander medisch personeel waren overtuigd en kochten de kurken maskers aan. Momenteel worden ze zelfs tot in California aangekocht. . . 😷Hou jij van luchtig, ademend, anti allergeen en licht? Koop dan snel je kurken mondmasker. . . 👇Fashionable kleuren of course

A post shared by Captain Cork (@captaincork_be) on

That was it for this past month. Looking forward to discovering new and fun things. Drop me a line if you want me to try something out.

Hugs!

Must have: Atelier Rebul Istanbul Reed diffuser

I love pleasant smells.

Ever since I was a child you could find me sniffing at the fabric softener bottles in the grocery store while the parents were shopping.

And every time that I would come across lavender outside, I would pinch my fingers over the blossoms and smell my fingers.

Or walking into the Lush store makes me want to buy up all the bath bombs…

Must have: Atelier Rebul Istanbul Reed diffuser

I’m pretty sure that it releases dopamine in my head.

My favorite way to scent my home

Reed stick diffusers are my favorite, cheap or expensive – I’ve tried a lot of different types. In the end, I decided to invest in more expensive reed diffusers.

Cheap turned out to be expensive, considering that you tend not to smell much after a few days, or even hours, with the cheap reed diffusers.

So…

I googled “best selling reed diffusers”

I was already familiar with Rituals. I love many of their products and have bought the large reed diffusers a few times before. But I felt like the smell got lost way before it should have.

So I wanted to try something different and some brands came up regularly. When I looked up some of the recommended brands (including Atelier Rebul), I found them way too pricey for me to just take the risk and buy a reed diffuser online.

But then one day I walked into the washroom of a local lunch spot and I was hit by this incredible scent.

I took a picture so that I would remember the name. I forgot to switch the sound off on my phone, I’m hoping that nobody heard me taking these pictures in the toilet stall. Ha!

Must have : Atelier Rebul Istanbul Reed Diffuser
The picture I took of my must have Atelier Rebul Reed Diffuser

Atelier Rebul Istanbul reed diffusers.

On bol.com they were priced at 35 euro, I thought that it was pricey, it’s ten euro more than my previously loved Rituals reed diffusers.

Must have: Atelier Rebul Reed Diffusers

But the scent left such an impact on me that I decided to give it a try.

It’s been three weeks now and the bottle is only 1/3 empty and the smell is still as wonderful as the first time I smelled it. I haven’t even turned the reeds over yet.

So this is a must-have! I would recommend this one to anyone and will I will be certainly giving this as a gift in the future!

If you don’t want to take the risk (and trust me :0 ) Check this link out the see if a store near you sells the products from Atelier Rebul.

The story behind Atelier Rebul

Must have: Atelier Rebul Istanbul Reed diffuser

Making the list

I’m curious as to the other scents that Atelier Rebul has to offer so I will be visiting their shop soon. Plus, I want to buy their Istanbul scented candle.

In the meantime, the Atelier Rebul Istanbul Reed Diffusers will be on my next “Sparks of Joy” post.

Lemme know what you think or have any other suggestions.

Unique kids birthday places around Antwerp

Unique kids birthday places around Antwerp

Unique kids birthday places?

This is a frequently asked question from many of my “mom” Facebook groups. We are all looking for that one unique birthday party. No indoor playgrounds (I really hate those), no “let’s just wing it” home birthday parties where the only thing planned was the decorations and cake. (the kids will entertain themselves, right?)

Well, look no further, I have collected here for you loving parents, a list of interesting and unique birthday party ideas for your little special person.

Who’s afraid of Red, Yellow & Blue – Antwerp city

For those little creative souls out there, this place certainly will catch one’s eye.

  • A place where fun and creativity come together.
  • Where an artist’s studio and fine foods merge.
  • Somewhere you can experience a wide range of creative workshops not only children but for adults as well.
  • Here you also enjoy art events every week, such as film evenings, vernissages, and performances.

For the birthday parties, there is a workshop, cake, time to open presents, and even room for free play!

Just contact Nena to see what offers they have that might suit your needs @ Who’s afraid of Red, Yellow & Blue!

Party for kids @home

With Party for kids, you can create your own birthday party by:

Choosing from all kinds of themes and choosing from various additional activities like baking cupcakes, dance party, funny hairdos…the list is impressive.

This company can also provide extra party food.

They equally have options for entertainment, watching over the children, decoration, and of course a present for the birthday kid.

So if you are looking for something fun for at home, without the mess, this website needs a visit from you.

Visit it here @ Party for kids

Unique kids birthday places around Antwerp

Zelda Zorro – Oud Berchem

Zelda & Zorro want to make parents life easier!

They do this by providing workshops for children’s birthday’s in an extremely beautiful setting. It’s building (the former justice of the peace) is situated in the hip “Oud-Berchem” neighborhood.

I just love the workshop themes they have. Workshops like making slime monsters, a jewelry-making workshop. Just such wonderful ideas, even a “designer” workshop for the little fashionista’s. LOVE!

Sprookjespad/ Fairytale path – Brasschaat

The Fairytale Path is a magical walk through park De Mik. During the walk, an experienced guide guides the children to a fantasy world with stories, songs, and games.

The activity lasts about two hours and starts at the Mikerf petting zoo, goes through the park and around the pond to the listed tower gate, where the children can stay for half an hour in the beautiful wishing tower.

There is a sweet little tavern where they sell pancakes or ice cream, but you need to book it separately. But my preference would be having a picnic at the lake with a view over the castle and tower. The children will love this!

Book the walk here : Sprookjespad

Book the pancakes & ice cream here : Mikerf Kinderboerderij

Zoo van Antwerpen / Zoo van Planckendael – Mechelen

Due to the measures taken concerning the coronavirus, birthday parties can not be booked. The parks however are open.

We have done this one too. My son loves the zoo and I though that it was the perfect idea.

You can choose between the toddler safari and the Creepy Creatures theme.

You have a guide who will explain all you want to know about the animals, and the walk ends with pancakes and a drink!

My son even receive a turtle stuffed toy.

I did find it pricey and we were hoping to have a close up of the animals or something special, but it was just a guided (well-guided) walk around. I might be picky, probably because we are proud owners of year passes and visit a lot so it did not feel much different from our other visits.

But still a great idea for the animal lovers! And we love the Zoo all year round.

You can find more info here : Zoo van Antwerpen or the Planckendael Zoo

So here you have it, my list of unique kids birthday places around Antwerp

If you liked my ideas, have a look at my other posts I wrote about fun things to do with kids in and around Antwerp!

Have any other unique fun ideas? Drop them in the comments below please! <3

Camping in the Ardennes- Les Ochays

CAMPING IN THE ARDENNES- LES OCHAYS

Camping in a more “primitive” way has always been my preference. In Belgium (and most of Europe) you can find almost any type of facilities and attractions on offer.

If it’s swimming pools, children’s activities, wellness centers, entertainment, and restaurants you’re seeking, there are plenty of parks ticking these boxes. 

But that was not what we were longing for.

Who is we?

Well, now with the corona restrictions and us, dwellers from the province of Antwerp, we could only really travel with people out of our bubble.

So my bubble was two other mom’s and we all had 5 kids with us, three tents, two cars, and a cute white Swiss shepherd (huge) puppy dog who enjoyed herding us.

Camping in the Ardennes- Les Ochays

This is when Instagram became helpful again.

A friend of mine had posted a picture of one of her sons, eating at a table with a river on the background. Knowing her a bit, I knew that the camping site was probably not going to big the great big recreational type of camping.

So I looked it up, presented it to my friends and we all agreed that this would be it.

The camping site was situated in the Belgian Ardennes and was bout 2 1/2 hours drive from Antwerp. The name: Les Ochays in Mortehan, Ardennes.

We were a bit disappointed that we did not have a spot right next to the river, but instead at the very front, next to the trampoline and the sanitary block. But after our weekend, we all agreed that the spot was actually great for us. The sound of the children playing was not annoying, we could keep a good eye on our children who were on that trampoline constantly.

Even though the idea about being next to a sanitary block might not seem appealing, it was not bothersome at all. There was still a good enough distance between our camping spot and the block, but handy having all these children needing the bathroom often.

We could also get water and do the dishes while still keeping an eye on the kids. No, I think if we would go back, that we would ask for the same spot again.

How we experience the camping Les Ochays

There is no shop there, but there is a fridge at the reception area stocked with life essentials like beer, wine and cava (we ordered the last). Some canned goods were also available and you could order fresh bread for the next day.

One of the appealing things to me about this camping spot is the “NO MUSIC” policy. No playing the radio and things like that.

So it was really peaceful in the evening, even with the children’s laughter in the background and the occasional screaming baby.

Even though our tents were not right next to the River “Le Semois”, it would only take us a minute or two to walk over to it.

The water was low this year. Usually, you could canoe the waters, but that was not possible, but it was great for swimming. Not too deep for the children. They had a hoot, trying to catch fish and frogs. One child even caught a river crab. So we did a great lot of swimming.

I’m not a great fan of it, but for my son, I would do anything, even dip in the slippery rock water. I actually enjoyed it a lot.

Camping in the Ardennes- Les Ochays

A little adventure?

There are a few trails you could do, and some towns to visit near the campsite Les Ochays, but as we were only there for a weekend, we only did a small hike, looking for beaver dams.

We did not actually find the dams (we did find something that looked like one and saw some trees with beaver marks on it) and we probably took the wrong route.

I’m pretty sure we were not supposed to be hiking through the slippery rock river (with 3 women, 5 children under 9 and one dog…)

Not even knowing if there was a hole or something in front of you to then finally have no other option than the send the white shepherd puppy out of the water so he could make a path through the burning thistles and all different types of prickly weeds just to get out. 

Did I mention that I and my half-naked barefoot son got lost for some time? With no phone, no bag, nothing or water in the middle of nowhere?

After my anxiety kicked in and my thoughts dwindle off to us maybe getting kidnapped and murdered by the workers we spotted a way back who were enjoying their lunch, my friend with her dog found us!

So that story ended well.

Finally…

Besides that, we just stayed at our camping spot where the children made new friends, and we got to relax a bit. With some cava. 

And so if you are looking for a great small camping spot, with not too many frills, next to a River and where no music is being played and extremely enchanting then this camping Les Ochays is for you.

Camping in the Ardennes- Les Ochays

Facilities:

  • Clean showers and toilets (clean is a must, there stops the primitivity for me)
  • Laundry room
  • Wash-up area
  • Possibility to buy drinks at the reception area, also some canned goods and fresh bread for the next day. There is a small terras (two tables) across the reception. Cozy!
  • For the kids: Trampoline, table tennis plus bikes and go-carts free to use around the camping. And the River Le Semois of course for swimming, with a little boat.
  • Kayaks (but the river was too low this season)
  • Wifi

And dogs are allowed!

white Swiss sheperd

So there you have it folks. I hope that I enticed you with this post, just writing about it makes me want to go back.

Let me know if you can recommend any similar “no-frills” camping grounds. 

Little eyes watching- How to serve others during COVID

LITTLE EYES WATCHING- HOW TO SERVE OTHERS DURING COVID

Little eyes love watching everything we do and so I try (but I don’t always succeed, far from it) to model positive traits.


During pre-COVID times we would visit a retirement home with a few people from church, but due to the COVID restrictions, we are sending the people some cards with words of encouragement. 


Just a small act, but its something that we both love to do (drawing and crafting) and we can do together.


We CAN teach children compassion and kindness starting from a very early age and help them to develop a heart for serving others And not only themselves.

It doesn’t even have to be difficult. There are SO many easy ways parents can help raise kids who have a heart for others and who want to serve others. They say the children of today are self-centered…let us as parents prove them wrong.

Here are some examples of ways that we can serve others during the current COVID Pandemic:

  • Calling or Video calling people we know are alone
  • Dropping off a meal and a drawing/card at your neighbors, elderly, single parent, or again someone you know living alone.
  • Making masks together to give away freely. Follow this link for the proper way of making a face mask.
  • Think local. Let’s support struggling local businesses.
  • Shop for neighbors and/or friends.
  • Donate games of toys that your child doesn’t play with anymore to a family in need (clean properly first 🙂 )
  • Chalk up someone’s walkway with nice saying, happy pictures, and colorful drawing
  • Order takeout from local restaurants
  • Show an example to your children of saying thank you to the medical care workers.
  • Offer dog walks.
  • Making the effort to stay healthy. Don’t underestimate how much you’re helping by simply following public health guidelines. Even by just staying at home as much as you can and practicing social distancing when you do go out, washing your hands you’re making a vital difference in your community.

While doing all of this, don’t forget, little eyes are watching. Good job!

Playing with kids without having to get up

Playing with kids without having to get up

Playing with kids without having to get up. Sounds too good to be true?”Mommmmmmy, do you want to play?”, I would consider myself a “fun” mommy. I like to join in crafts, building lego, playing games outside, and even do great voice impressions while reading to my six-year-old. But..some days I cannot do much due to chronic pain. And sometimes mommy’s just tired. Can I lie down on my lounge chair for a while?

Time for an inspiration list with simple children’s games: playing with kids without getting up, so ? A bit like games for road trips and plane flights.

So Mommy’s sometimes tired

I tidied up, took care of the lunch, and just installed myself on the lafuma chair outside for a quick read in my Kindle and then… “Mommmmyyyyy!” Does this sound familiar?

Letting my son have some extra screen time does seem tempting, but I have a good screen schedule in place and I don’t want to start making exceptions. (Torrential Storm and having to take him with me to the doctor are already the exceptions)

Playing with kids without getting up

So the kids are basically about their mother’s attention. Me. Maybe I can suggest a few games so I can play with my son without me having to get up.

Let’s give it a try…

Number and word games (guessing)

The classic guessing games are always good for moments like this. You can come up with guessing games by color.

Bumble Bee Bumble Bee 

I see something you don’t see

and the color of it is red

But you can also play with letters or numbers. I’m looking for something in this place and it starts with the letter K… Or something with numbers: Name 3 things in the closet that have to do with getting dressed. Or look for 7 red things around us.

  • I see I see and the color is. What is it?
  • I’m looking for something with the letter K, in this area. Rara, what is it?
  • Name 3 things from this room that have to do with getting dressed. What is it?
  • Look for 7 red things around us. What is it?

Playing with kids without getting up is also possible with fun word games. For example, invent an animal and the other has to invent a new animal with the last letter. Like with: a horse – dragon – kangaroo. Or choose one of the other games below.

  • Word game with animals, invent a new animal with the last letter. Like with horse – dragon – kangaroo).
  • Which number am I? Describe the number. I have a dash and a circle. Or I am two balls on top of each other, but they are not completely round.
  • Turn a string into a number. The other one has to guess which one.
  • Recite the alphabet and makeup words.

Fun fantasy games

A super fun game without getting up is fantasy hide-and-seek. You take turns pretending to be hiding somewhere in the house. The other is going to guess where, by asking yes-no. Are you in the kitchen? Are you in the cutlery drawer? The nice thing about this is that you can choose ALL the places you can think of. And there’s more:

  • Fantasy hide-and-seek
  • Making up a song together
  • Making up a story
  • Draw faces on fingers or toes and add them into a game

Moving on the spot

Finally, some fun motion games. One of my clever inventions is the game “circus”. This is simply that the kids show me their tricks and capers. By the way, this one is always good for the last energy just before bedtime.

The kids are jumping and jumping while I secretly stay on my bed. I can’t deny that this often ends in frolicking, but still ? Other fun games with movement on the spot:

Playing without getting up is short-lived

Enough fun, right?

Well, you can still play board or card games, lego, artsy coloring, learn how to draw animals together, puzzels?….I’ve tried and approved them all.

Oh, wait, I know one more! Do you know this one from the olden days? We’re playing: WHO’S BEEN QUIET THE LONGEST……..?! Ha-ha. Playing without having to get up, hmm? Do you have any smart suggestions?

“Challenge Accepted”

"Challenge Accepted"
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🖤Say no to violence against women!🤍 Almost every day we're reading news about women and girls being murdered, tortured, or raped. Turkish people have started a campaign, demanding a better law system and a better support system for women. I'm sharing this picture for every girl or women we lost and for the survivors amongst us, and to support their cause. Only the international pressure to the government can help Turkish women (or any other woman in that case) to finally get their rights. Say " NO" to violence against women. My abuser, my ex-husband, received 5 years. But will be free after doing 1/3 of his time. Barely giving his victims the time to heal and leaving me to deal with the ramifications for the rest of my life. But as a woman of faith, I will leave it into God's hands who has already been faithful (despite how many of you feel) and he gave me the fierce perseverance that I and my daughter both share. So…” Challenge” Accepted. Cherishing, supporting, and believing in women is one of my greatest joys. Women loving me, supporting me, and understanding me is one of my greatest strengths. 🖤 Big love to the women who nominated me, all of whom I am enormously in awe of and inspired. I could have never got to where I am now alone & I hope no woman ever feels she needs to. I hope she knows she’s supported. That her fellow woman stands behind her, that she’s worth being celebrated in every victory and has safe hands to hold her when she’s low. We are a sisterhood and together we stand.

A post shared by Miriam (@life.by.mim) on

?Say no to violence against women!?

Almost every day we’re reading news about women and girls being murdered, tortured, or raped. Turkish people have started a campaign, demanding a better law system and a better support system for women. I’m sharing this picture for every girl or women we lost and for the survivors amongst us, and to support their cause. Only the international pressure to the government can help Turkish women (or any other woman in that case) to finally get their rights.

Say ” NO” to violence against women.

My abuser, my ex-husband, received 5 years. But will be free after doing 1/3 of his time. Barely giving his victims the time to heal and leaving me to deal with the ramifications for the rest of my life.

But as a woman of faith, I will leave it into God’s hands who has already been faithful (despite how many of you feel) and he gave me the fierce perseverance that I and my daughter both share.

So…” Challenge” Accepted. Cherishing, supporting, and believing in women is one of my greatest joys. Women loving me, supporting me, and understanding me is one of my greatest strengths. ? Big love to the women who nominated me, all of whom I am enormously in awe of and inspired.

I could have never got to where I am now alone & I hope no woman ever feels she needs to. I hope she knows she’s supported. That her fellow woman stands behind her, that she’s worth being celebrated in every victory and has safe hands to hold her when she’s low. We are a sisterhood and together we stand.