Safe slime recipe!

Safe slime recipe

Safe slime recipe

In this recipe, we use psyllium fiber. This is actually a dietary supplement to support bowel function. You can buy it for a few euros online or at the chemist (I bought it at Holland & Barrett ).

Ingredients

  • 250 ml of water
  • A few drops of food dye of your choice (optional)
  • 2 hefty tablespoons of psyllium fibers
safe slime recipe
This is my fist batch, without food colouring. Once cooled I was able to handle it and it was slimy. The day after it did feel more like play-doh.


Preparation

  • Mixing & stirring ingredients
  • 3 to 5 minutes in the microwave
  • Stir, cool down, ready!

Some thoughts

The recipe I found online calls for 3-5 minutes, with our first try we did 5 minutes, it spilled over (as you can see in the video) but it was slimy and easy to clean up. The second time we put it in less long and it was not as slimy. I’m thinking that it really needs to get hot hot hot! So don’t worry if it runs over a bit, once cooled you can manage it.

The kids decided to add glitter last minute, was not my idea, but it did look way better than my brown slime 🙂

It does not smell great, so even though you could technically eat it (without glitter)…they won’t want to. 🤣 You’re welcome.

Who knew that fiber could give this kind of result.

Life by Mim

Check out these recipes for detox baths, great for after a messy craft like this one.

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4 favorite recipes for my child’s detox bath

4 favorite recipes for my child's detox bath

After a full day of school, playing in the mud and sand, then kneading (almost) 100% natural slime at home plus baking and eating a carrot cake, my child deserves to end the day with a nice hot bath! All parents know that moment of calm and serenity that follows the bath: a clean little cutie who smells like soap, warm in his pajamas and ready for stories. And what if bath time could also be an opportunity to take care of our children’s health by offering them a gentle detox? Zoom on into my 4 favorite recipes for my child’s detox bath.

These 4 recipes I have come up with myself or found ideas on Pinterest and played with them.

They make falling asleep easier, provide quality sleep and gently cleanse the body of toxins accumulated during the day. What’s more, these recipes cost almost nothing. Why deprive yourself of them?

4 favorite recipes for my child’s detox bath

1 – Detoxifying bath salt with lemon


This detoxifying bath salt recipe is excellent for children with skin problems, irritations, eczema, dryness, etc… It helps to regain well-being when children are very tired from their day. Lemon essential oil is excellent for regaining a good mood and feeling soothed, it promotes a positive atmosphere and an optimistic attitude.

Mix a cup of Epsom salt and a cup of baking soda then add a drop of lemon essential oil. Then place under the faucet. I buy the Epsom salt at Holland & Barret.

Let your children soak for 30 minutes under supervision of course!

2 – Purifying Bentonite clay bath


The bentonite clay boosts general circulation and has been shown to act as a detoxifying agent.

Dissolve one cup of Epsom salt in hot water and add the tea tree essential oil.

Mix the clay with a small amount of water until all the pieces are removed (use a plastic spoon and a glass jar, no metal in contact with the clay!). Add the clay mixture to the saltwater and place it under the water jet.

It is also possible to make a clay paste that you can massage on your child’s body before bathing. Leave to dry for 5 minutes and let your child sit in the water and rinse.

3 – Detox bath with ginger


This bath is especially recommended for sick children! Small blocked noses, congested bronchial tubes, etc. can benefit from these two simple ingredients.

One cup of magnesium flakes and 1 tablespoon of organic ginger powder. Place the mixture under warm running bath water and let your child soak for 20 minutes.

I will be given my little Baba this bath tonight as he has been coughing profusely lately.

4 – Revitalizing bath with apple vinegar


This recipe is particularly suitable for children with skin problems. Apple vinegar helps to rebalance the pH of the skin and treat minor skin problems such as eczema, sunburn, itching, etc. It is a must to have at home but be careful, it is important that it always contains the mother of vinegar. I use the Bragg cider vinegar, but you can use any kind you like as long as it is raw and “with mother”.

Vinegar is also great as a conditioner for shiny and soft hair! If you don’t like the smell, add a drop of EO of real lavender to the mixture. The use of essential oils for children must be well thought out, and especially the oil must be of high quality!

Mix 500 ml of unpasteurized apple vinegar with the bathwater. Soak your child (or yourself!) for 30 minutes and dry thoroughly.

What’s the difference between Magnesium flakes and Epsom salts?

Magnesium flakes contain magnesium chloride and Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate. Magnesium flakes are purer and actually safer to use on children. They also absorb into your skin much faster than Epsom salts and the effects last longer.

Keep in mind:

  • When I mention essential oils, I am referring to quality, therapeutic-grade oils. I’m not talking about using diluted and watered down oils.
  • Try to keep them in the bath for 20 minutes to get all the benefits of the bath.
  • Lather them up, if you wish, with a natural moisturizer like coconut oil. I add in a few drops of lavender and give my son a light massage as I’m putting on his clothes.
  • Give your child some water or leave some beside their bed. Detox baths can make you thirsty. We always have a full reusable water bottle next to the bed.
  • Cuddle on the couch or in bed and read a good book before kissing them goodnight! Magnesium promotes sleep so they should sleep very well! Good for you! 🖤

I hope you’ll enjoy these few recipes and that you little angels will have fun playing splash and help them to sleep well.

Life by Mim

My 5 New School Year resolutions

My 5 New School Year resolutions

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. The coming of the New Year does not give me the sense of a new beginning like September does. School life has been part of my life non-stop since I was 5 years old. If it was not my own school life it was that of my children. This September I decided that I wanted to switch things up for my 5 year old, hence my 5 new school year resolutions.

My 5 New School Year resolutions

  1. Getting to school 15 minutes earlier: I used to get to school just on time by the end of the last school year. I drive my son in our cargo bike when he could easily bike himself, but I always seem pressed for time and that’s a pity. I’m resolved to leaving earlier and to hopefully get him to bike himself more regularly and arrive earlier at school so he can fit in some playing time before school starts.
  2. Less screen time after school: My son has just spent a whole day at school and it’s easy to simply let him sit down in front of his iPad and unwind, but by doing this we don’t really connect and get to do fun stuff together. So I want to do more activities together after school. If it’s a short walk with the dogs, board games or crafts. Those things should not be only done during the weekends, but after school, I want to re-connect.
  3. Add more diversity to my son’s lunchbox: We do bento lunches (we use the Yumbox), but my son has somehow reduced the things that he likes to eat to sandwiches with cheese and jam (it’s a Belgian thing), cucumbers, grapes, Ikea chicken meatballs, and nuts. This year I’m going to sneak in something new each week. Hopefully, this will broaden his very limited taste.
  4. Getting my son to help with dinner: Again, it’s easy to just flip on the Ipad so I can get some cooking done, but I want more quality time with my son right? And I want him to start appreciating different kinds of food more, so instead of heading for the kitchen myself, I will encourage my son to help me out with dinner. He loves making pancakes with me on weekends so why not dinner from time to time. We will make this time together fun.
  5. I won’t let guilt grip me: All of us mom’s/parents feel the guilt from time to time. Certainly when you see on social media all the things other parents do (In fact, according to a recent study by UK charity Scope, of 1500 Facebook and Twitter users surveyed, 62% reported feeling inadequate and 60% reported feelings of jealousy from comparing themselves to other users.). I need to remember that my good intentions are there. But I have my limitations too. Last school year I was just trying to survive a brutal divorce, I am chronically ill and need to take care of myself if I want to take care of others. So I will try to keep that in mind this year and if I had a bad day, I will try to do better the next.

Motherhood is a hard, lonely journey. Maybe, just maybe, we can find it in our hearts to be kind to ourselves and remember that fact. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to do better the next day and that, by God’s grace is what I will try to do.

So here were my 5 New School Year resolutions. Have you made any? Am I being too ambitious? I would love to hear from you.

My 5 New School Year resolutions

The best summer activities we did so far.

the best summer activities

So bye bye July, what a month you were. The heatwave nearly killed me, thank God that it only lasted about 3-4 days.

EEEEEEEEEEH, I’m a born and bred Canadian. I like my summer’s warm, but not scorching hot. What I really love is the fall, it’s my favorite season but it was the winter that I was dreaming for during that heatwave. I made a promise to God that I would NEVER complain about the rain again and I’m sticking to it.

So for besides those 4 days in hell where you could hardly move, we had a great summer already.

I would not be a mom blogger if I did not share with you another list of must doe’s, just to give you all some inspiration so here are the best summer activities we did so far.

Just a reminder: I’m a Canadian native living in the suburbs of Antwerp Belgium. I’m a mom of three, with two “kids” still living at home. My 25-year-old daughter and my 5-year-old son. We are sometimes accompanied by our two Doxies Toby and Charlie. And we travel mainly by cargo bike or transit.

This is what we have done so far

We also did quite a bit of crafting, lego building, baking and board games. Looking at the upcoming weather forecast for the next week, it looks like we will be doing more of those things in August.

So you don’t need to go on far away exotic trips during the summer, just explore your surroundings.

“Mommy, I have such a fun life”…mister 5 year-old during bedtime.

I must be doing something good.

The best summer activities we did so far.

“Free” things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.

Free things to do this summer with kids in Antwerp

Looking for free things to do with kids in Antwerp?

The summer is almost halfway done. Some of you are having a blast, others are struggling with keeping their kids occupied. If you are like me, a single mom on a budget, you want to keep the vacation costs low. So here are a few of my favorite places to go in Antwerp with my 5 1/2-year-old son.

So what free things can you do in Antwerp with kids?

SUMMER BARS

"Free" things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.
Zomerbar -Sloepenweg Antwerpen

One of my favorite things to do with my girlfriends and kids is visiting a child-friendly summer bar. And “Antwerpen” has a lot of them. For all types of people. The family people, the hipsters, the fancy pants …and so on.

We have been to the “Zomerbar” at the Sloepenweg for a few years now, just because my son loves it so much, heck even my 25 year old and her boyfriend love it.

You have an open-air library and there is even a volunteer who will read a story to the children twice a day.

This year they built this awesome a boathouse with slide up in a tree.

And when it is really hot outside, they put out puddle baths for the kiddos to cool off in.

Coming by electrical bike? Great, you can even charge your battery there.

Have some spending money? Book a circus show. Or order some great food from the food trucs there. Believe me, you will love the Zomerbar, or you will find another one that suits your needs better. Give them a try.

Check out this LINK to see if there is a Summer bar near you.

PETTING ZOO’s (kinderboerderijen)

You have many of those here in Belgium. Most of them also have a tavern and/or a playground in the vicinity. For us, in Brasschaat we love going to the Mikerf Farm. It is situated in the ‘De Mik” domain where they also have a real castle and towers. You can picknick at the lake before or after visiting the farm animals. It is a magical place.

You can even order a “fairytale walk” (sprookjespad) for your child’s birthday. Have a look here, and use google translate.

Other farms that we have visited:

PLAYGROUNDS

But you already knew this idea right?

Our favourite playgrounds?

If you are planning a trip to Bokrijk or would not mind driving out a bit further, we highly recommend the playground next to the open-air museum. IT IS HUGE! You can pack a picknick and easily stay there all day. Read about my review of our day trip to Bokrijk HERE.

BAREFOOT TRAILS

"Free" things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.

They offer the opportunity to walk barefoot for some distance and to feel the natural ground and various materials with bare feet soles.

In addition, visitors can enjoy balancing or climbing and walk through brooks or even rivers. Some barefoot parks include playground sections designed for bare feet. These healthy combinations of barefoot hiking and playing have become popular tourist attractions.

I’m including a few small free ones, but if you don’t mind spending a bit of money on a memorable trail, then I would strongly recommend the barefoot trail in Zutendaal. (google translate if needed).

We absolutely loved it there. We went there when my son was a toddler and I carried him half way on my back in the carrier and will never forget walking through a deep thrench with water up to above my belly button, with a sleeping toddler on my back. Going back with my 5 year old again for payback time. Ha!

LIBRARIES

Some of them have air conditioning, some organize workshops. Ours in Brasschaat even has a play area. So go look online and make a morning of it.

I like going on Monday’s because you also have the weekly market going on and my son loves to then get the waffle on a stick. Yep, it’s a real thing. And delicious.

Most towns have their own library.

PUBLIC FOUNTAINS

Some towns have play fountains. Just check online or ask in your local towns Facebook group .

The ones we have tried out:

ROOFTOP OF THE MAS MUSEUM

What a great piece of architecture and design. The MAS has free admission. There is only an entrance fee for the permanent and tempory exhibitions.

Located in the trendy “Eilandje” neighbourhood this eye popping museum is a must to do. You have to keep in mind that you do need to take the escalator up 8 flights, but the view is totaly worth it.

Keep an eye on their website, they organize many child activities and workshops like treasure hunts. And this during most school holidays for all ages.

Where?

MAS | Museum aan de Stroom

Hanzestedenplaats 1
2000 Antwerp
tel. +32 3 338 44 00
mas@antwerpen.be

BOEKENBERG SWIMMING LAKE

The swimming facility in the Boekenbergpark in Deurne is an ecological swimming pond. Plants purify the water in a natural way, so the pool contains no chemicals. There is a large pond of 73 m long with a depth between 1.80 and 2.50 m. There is also a small play pool with a depth of 50 cm and a large lawn area to sit and lie on.

Yes, also this place is FREE!

What do you need to bring then?

  • Fitted swimsuit, bathingsuit or bikini.
  • An elastic band to tie long hairs together.
  • A 2 euro coin for the lockers.

Where?

Zwemvijver Boekenberg
Van Baurscheitlaan ter hoogte van nr. 68
2100 Deurne
tel. 03 411 19 95 
zwembad.boekenberg@stad.antwerpen.be

PLAYDATES

I’m going to end this post with the cheapest and for me one of the nicest free activities, and those are playdates.

When it comes to playdates, I choose to keep it simple. I am not winning any “hostess of the year” awards—but I am totally okay with that. I keep the food and fanfare minimal these days, but I like to think that both the adult and child guests enjoy themselves while in our home. The kids get to play with other toys (kids love our dress-up rack) and mom’s get to relax, talk and enjoy some good coffee or tea. As simple as that. When you invite, you get invited back, especially useful in the summertime when in need of a pool. 🙂

Am I missing something you LOVE? Just let me know in the comments below.

"Free" things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.

Bokrijk with kids

Bokrijk day trip with kids

Bokrijk with kids. It is more than just an open-air museum! At the Bokrijk open-air museum, history is brought to life in these traditional buildings thanks to talented craftsmen and actors.

If you love history like me, this place is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! But even if you don’t love history, still this place is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

Bokrijk with kids? What’s it about?

Well, it’s a park and and open-air museum which displays more than 148 historical authentic buildings dating back from the 17th century right up until 1950.

There are three main clusters at the museum:

-The Kempen

-“East and West Flanders”

-“Haspengouw and the Maasland”

There is also an area dedicated to the sixties but we did not have time to do it as we promised the kids that they could play in the wonderful playground before going home.

We went in near the parking number 1 parking lot. We were greeted by this wonderfully recently restored windmill. It pretty much showed us what to expect from the rest of the museum.

We started in the Kempen and spent the first 1,5 hour there. I thought that was it until my companion said that we didn’t even do a third of the parc yet. Oops! We spent so much time there because of the “Speelschuur” translate: “The games barn”. The kids had a hoot trying out all the different types of “olden day games”.

Next time we visit we will not start there as it was hard to get the children to move on. But it was a fun experience. It kind of made me want to do more of the simple game and life stuff.

You can walk back in time along a path that winds its way through the different parts of the museum site and step into historical buildings that line the pathway, see the traditional working farms and even see people (actors) cooking their meals.

We wandered along the pathway past hedgerows, wildflowers and goats grazing on the lush green grass. The Bokrijk Open Air Museum has a quirky charm. But watch out for the herd of sheep that are being led to another field by their shepherd and the sheepdogs. It was quite unexpected thing to see happening on our path.

Top tips for visiting Bokrijk

THE TRADITIONAL GAMES BARN IN THE MOL – ZELM BARN

Stilt walking, shuffleboard, mast climbing, bowling and much more! This is the place to hone your skills on the Flemish folk games of yore, an experience for the whole family that mustn’t be missed! But do not start here otherwise you will have a hard time getting the kids to move on.

WORKSHOPS

Currently, there is a ‘from grain to bread’ workshop route. Along this workshop route different aspects of the production process come into play. Every day museum visitors can become acquainted with bread dough in the Wortel workshop barn.

THE CHURCH AND SCHOOL IN WAASLAND

Visit the little church and hear the pastor preach from the pulpit and you can even attend a class in the tiny schoolhouse and hear about how children lived in those days. When we attended class, it was 1913, the year before the school became compulsory in Belgium for children from 6 to 12 years old. Not many farmers were happy with this new regulation as children were a cheap help force in the home and on the farm.

One of our children even demonstrates a punishment that was given in class besides wearing the donkey ears. She had to sit with her knees into wooden clogs and hold up two bricks. It looked painful but she thought it was cool. I wouldn’t want to go to school in those days and my son was less than impressed, seeking solace in my arms.

THE PLAYGROUND

This was really what my son was looking forward to at the end of the day. I haven’t ever seen a playground like this before to be honest, it’s quite impressive. You could even sit there for the entire day and still the children will not want to go home.

Mega slides, swings, a climbing net, mini-cars, miniature golf and even a real toddler town with a HOPLA corner! The outdoor playground in Bokrijk is not only enormous, but it was also great fun. There is a zone for every age, and it is fully fenced. For children with disabilities, there are special playthings.

The restrooms are not what you would expect from a public playground. They are new, fancy and clean. There is a first aid post for if anything happens to your little one (or yourself). There is also a food and drink stand and picknick tables all around. Shaded under a tent or not.

To see some pictures of the playground go and visit the “Seeing beautiful places” blog.

We will go back!

There’s still so much to explore and so much that we haven’t seen yet. We will definitely be coming back. Bringing my picknick blanket for sure!

Our group?

We were four adults with 5 children between the ages of 8 and 5 years old.

I noticed that this is one of the few museums where you could bring your dog with you, but dogs are NOT allowed in the playground. Just so you know.

Now go on, plan a visit and let me know what you enjoyed most!

For more information on prices and opening hours follow THIS link.

You might also enjoy this day out at the Museum of Natural Science (the Dino museum) in Brussels!

Bokrijk with kids

How to help your ​​child’s creativity

How to help your ​​child's creativity

If you follow me on Instagram you will know that we embrace creativity and crafts in our home. For me, it started when my eldest child was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) some 20 years ago.

I looked into ways where I could connect with her and at the same time to help improve her attention span, self-expression, and to help reduce her anxiety.

Twenty years ago I did not have a computer, so no Pinterest and no YouTube tutorials. I did it the old school way. Libraries and workshops/classes.

I found tools that helped, especially using Montessori methods in our daily life like having open shelves in our home to encourage her to craft, read or play a board game, how to learn to have conversations, teaching her daily life skills and giving her freedom to explore and express herself.

This is where I start talking about creativity. I can go on and on about Montessori and I will in the future on this blog but I have started with it because Montessori has also helped us to get creative. It made us think outside of the box.

I’ve learned many things over the years and now we have the internet at our fingertips. Many years later and 4 children further creativity still is a big part of our life. I’m a gap mom, I now have a 5-year-old. He and his eldest sibling are 20 years apart and that means, I’ve had some practice. These are the ways that I encourage creativity in our home.

Create an environment that will encourage them to be creative.

I know many people who rather have their living area unmarked by children’s toys and personality. And all the peace to you. But your child will only be a child for a short period so why not let them take over your home for awhile? As I once saw in a post on Facebook, you will “only” have 18 summers with them.  So enjoy those 18 summers and plan to redecorate after that. Pin Pin Pin on Pinterest!

Having open bookshelves is a must. children usually don’t tend to look for the things hidden away. I have one very big Kallax bookshelf. The bottom row has boxes to store little toys, a box for music instruments, a box for Duplo, and box for cars and so on. The shelf above that one has age-appropriate books. Then we have educational toys and learning material. The top shelf is for board games. Next, to that bookshelf, we have the arts bookshelf. For this, I used the smaller Kallax shelving unit. On top of it sits a tray with craft articles we use daily (pencils, markers, crayons, glue, tape , scissors and paint bruskhes). On the shelves beneath are boxes with craft paper, paint, play-doh and so one. Our friends know that we love getting craft stuff.

Space is also a resource your kids need. Unless you don’t mind creative messes everywhere, give them a specific place where they can make a mess, like room in your attic for dress-up, a place in the garage for painting, or a corner in your family room for Legos. We are lucky to have a lot space where we live now and my son has a playroom. In the playroom I store his building stuff like lego and playmobil and we have a clothing rack with his impressive amount of dress up-clothes. His friends just love going up there.

Join in

What Monkey sees, monkey does. I tell you, if I just go sit down with some art project, mister 5 years-old will surely join in, I have then successfully lured him away from his iPad.

We’ve heard a lot about attachment, so the concept and importance of bonding with our baby seem obvious. Just because our little one has grown to become a lot bigger, smellier and sassier doesn’t mean your bond and connection is any less vital to their development. In fact, it continues to be of the utmost importance throughout childhood. So go on, get the paint out and make some memories, you might even find out that you have a hidden talent.

Encourage children to read for pleasure and participate in the arts. 

Limit TV and other screen time in order to make room for creative activities like rehearsing a play, learning to draw, reading every book written by a favorite author. Maybe they have after-school art classes in your area. One of our favorite outings is our local library. We just like to collect some books and sit on the coach there and read a little, deciding whether or not we chose the right books to take home. We love the library.

Museums. There’s no shortage of research indicating the benefits of museum visits for children. They can provide memorable, immersive learning experiences, provoke imagination, introduce unknown worlds and subject matter, and offer unique environments for quality time with family. Here in Belgium, we are truly surrounded by many fascinating places like the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium or the Natural Science museum in Brussels , the MAS museum and many many others.

Stop saying “good job!”

Of course you can say positive things about their creativity but we tend to say the same things over and over. “Goodjob” “that’s awesome”.

Try to be honest, look at their project and think about how you can be a help towards their improvement at the same time as being encouraging.

I would sometimes say: “wow, you are getting very good at drawing mommy but I think that I might be missing a few fingers”. 🙂

And please don’t do rewards for creativity. Incentives interfere with the creative process, reducing the quality of their responses and the flexibility of their thought and that would be a shame. Just find a special place to hang it up and give them a great big cuddle.

Let them fail and make mistakes

My son is quite the perfectionist. He has this idea in his head that he wants to execute and when it ends up not being as imagined, he can get very, very upset. When I realize that he is getting frustrated, I just sit next to him and ask him to explain to me what he has in mind or what the problem is.

Yesterday he was trying to draw a dolphin, he couldn’t get the flippers right and he was going to give up and rip the page to pieces. I told him to maybe practice it a few times on the same piece paper and that once he got it the way he wanted, he could take a new sheet of paper. I explained that we all need to practice things, and by not giving up we will usually achieve it. Also, I was there and I was going to help him if he wanted me to. That usually gets him motivated again, knowing that he was alone in front of this endeavor.

Well, he drew a mighty fine dolphin and gifted it to his big sis.

Remind your child it is OK to make mistakes. Encourage them to explore, play around, and make those mistakes. This fosters the love of discovery.

Always have music on in the background

Music, creativity and movement are essential parts of early learning. From singing songs with children to having a variety of music instruments in the open shelves area, it’s important that you create an environment that inspires children to express themselves. 

So I have created a few Spotify lists for our family, like the ABC’s and the 123’s, moving and dancing music, classical, children’s songs and worship. I need to create a work-out playlist and have no idea what songs to choose for that, but it’s been my son’s request lately so we could “work-out” together. We are currently experiencing a heatwave this week, so I will put that on hold until after. Until very much after.

My son loves to hand us instruments to join in on the music and we can get very creative then.

Soo…

I hope I got you all as inspired as I am.

I will share some more suggestions for raising creative children soon and how I’ve integrated Montessori methods into our home.

Meanwhile, if you just want to comment or if you have an idea of what songs to put on our Spotify playlist, please let me know!

My recommended read on the subject of children and education : The Natural Laws of Children by  Celine Alvare

7 non-obvious things to bring or a trip.

Sustainable travelling with children

Disclosure: Please be aware that some of the links on this site (not all of them) are affiliate links. This means that I may earn an affiliate commission for any purchases you make.

Today I will be packing our bags for a trip to Italy! My (unduly kind) mother has invited my son and I to visit her and my aunt while they are visiting Italy. They fly from Canada, we fly from Belgium, we meet in Lucca. My mom has truly become a globetrotter since my father passed away, I’m pretty proud of her and cannot wait to get to spend some Italian time with her.

When my youngest was barely 4 months old I wanted to visit my parents in Toronto. I can still see parents faces when they saw us arrive with all our luggage. Two big suitcases, two carry-ons, a huge stroller, car seat and backpack. and the baby strapped on to my body in a wrap (plus, he had to wear a monitor in those days). It looked like we were moving in.

Now, five years later and a few more trips wiser, we can call ourselves traveling pro’s! I am planning on just taking one suitcase and two backpacks. My son though is convinced that he is taking his step with him. Would they even allow that on a plane I’m wondering?

Whoever knows me knows that I am a sustainable wannabe, trying as best as I can to at least lower my carbon footprint and it will be the first time that I will be consciously doing this while traveling too. What I’ve come up with is pretty simple, I have already been using most of these items out on day trips, so it’s not only handy for travelling far far away places.

What are we taking for sure:

  1. Reusable straws. They take no space and my son loves to use a straw.
  2. Reusable water bottles. We will not fill them until we are checked into the airport. Most airports have water fountains. We like to use the dopperbottles, they are very light, and my son like to use the cup option. I don’t really. I find ours on the small side, so I am thinking of buying a larger one, that is insulated.
  3. Bentobox. We loveeee our bento boxes. We are not much of “sandwich” eater kind of type; we prefer to graze and so our bentobox are perfect for that. My son takes the Yumbox to school, but on our trips we take our large Goodbyn one. It’s lighter and has larger compartments.
  4. Tote bag, always useful. For when we go grocery shopping or if we come by a pretty market. I kind of collect them, so I probably will get a new one in Florence.
  5. I’m also taking a few small net bags for veg and fruit.
  6. If you have kids, you need wipes. I love our washable wipes, but where we are going, we will not have a washer & dryer and so for this trip, I am taking deposal ones. I have some from YES to, they are 95% natural and compostable. We can both use them.
  7. Child ID bracelet. Mainly for my piece of mind, but I’m pretty sure it would be helpful if he would lost. You can get all types of id bracelet, ranging in all prices. Ours is from a well-known Dutch company called “Goedgemerkt.nl” who mainly make name stickers. These bracelets come in different cool colors and what I like most is the fact that the name is engraved in the bracelet, making it impossible to fade out.

These things that I listed here are things that are not as common as what you would maybe find on other mommy travel blogs where they would mention snacks, extra pair of clothing, tablet…I am taking those things too, just don’t think it’s that netion worthy because most of you would have though about it yourself. I was trying to be original here. Did it work? Was I?

I feel like I am forgetting somethings.

Oh well, will just have to wait and see.

So I kind of made myself a packing list here and made a blogpost. Yay!

7 non-obvious things to bring or a trip.

Trip to the Natural Science museum in Brussels with kids

Dinosaur museum Brussels

I asked to tag along on my youngest child’s school field trip to the Natural Science museum in Brussels with kids, having been there 10 years before with my older children I remember that I really enjoyed it. So we drove (during morning traffic, ugh) in the school bus packed with children, parents and teachers to the “Dino museum”. Even though it’s called “Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science”, locals call it the Dino museum and the children have just had a dinosaur theme in class and where all about T-Rex’s. My son was particularly excited to see his favourite dinosaur, the Diplodocus. They loved it so much that they decided after this excursion to make their own museum in school. P-r-e-t-t-y cool I must say. So let me tell you about this trip to the museum stthat inspired them.

Trip to the Natural Science museum in Brussels with kids

What did I think of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences?

It was a little bit more run-down than I remembered and many stuffed animals were covered in a layer of dust, many interactive activity points were broken which was a pity, but it did not really take away from the impressiveness of this all, especially the the Bernissart Iguanodons, one of the earliest and most important prehistoric discoveries ever. This exhibit does not disappoint, the nine black mounted skeletons are displayed in the same poses they were in the 1800’s. They look incredible and this alone makes the museum worth a visit. 

When you enter the museum you are greeted by a huge imposing whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling, it’s not the Smithsonian t-Rex kind of wow, but it still looks fantastic, and lets you know that you are in for a treat.

We unfortunately did not have time to visit the human exhibition or the temporary TEDDY and BEAR exhibition , but due to a friends daughter, who is a classmate of my son and was sick on the day of the field trip, we are planning on going back this month and we will hopefully be able to visit the rest of this very likeable museum, and I will add on to this post.

Our highlights were:

  • The children spent the longest time laughing, stomping and pretend running in front of the interactive dinosaur video wall. I think this must have been their most memorable part of the field trip.
  • The well preserved 30 Iguanodons that were discovered in a coal mine in the 19th century is probably one of the most significant discoveries of its time and the kids were impressed to say the least. Wow …when you walk into the main dinosaur exhibit room, you have a view of almost everything, this is impressive.
  • Another hit was measuring themselves next to a dinosaur leg bone. Got some funny face pics there.
  • Seeing a mammoth displayed in front of an elephant was pretty cool. (got many Ice age movie comments).

Opening dates and times:

  • On the 24th and 31st of December, the Museum will close at 15.00.
  • The Museum is closed on the 25th of December, 1st of January, and 1st of May.
  • Consult the dates of the Belgian school holidays.
  • Please note: the library is open Monday to Friday, between 9:00 and 12:00 and between 13:30 and 16:00. It is closed on national holidays and between Christmas and the New Year. 

Admission fees

  • Adults: € 7
  • Students, European Youth Card (EYCA), Seniors (65+), Friends of the institute, Disabled visitors, FED+: € 6
  • Children under 18 (accompanied by an adult): € 4.50 (from 6 years old)

There is also the possibility for a free entry for:

  • for everybody on the first Wednesday of every month, after 13:00
  • for children under four (for TEDDY & BEAR) and under six (for the permanent exhibitions), accompanied by at least one paying adult
  • for Museum annual pass holders
  • for one accompanying person per disabled visitor
  • for ICOM members
  • for teachers with professional ID

Practical information

  • There is a very small car park outside and is always full! If you go by car, you can park around the island but paying about 3€ or more.
  • You cannot really have a picnic there unless you reserve a table before hand in the lunch room. We did reserve a place (this was on a schoolday) and we really had to hurry the kids into eating quickly because there was already another class waiting, so I’m not sure how this works if you just go as a family. There is a cafetaria next to the room, but you need to order the food from there. I only ordered a well needed latte but I could see some of the stuff they had on the menu and it looked pretty decent and the prices a well. The typical Belgian lunch items like baguettes, pastries (croissants, donuts, chocolate buns). You could eat your lunch outside, but that would all depend on the weather, and hey, we are in Belgium…so be prepared.
  • There is a locker room if you want to leave your jackets and backpacks behind.

Visit the  Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences?

See more reviews of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

Intro to me:

I asked to tag along on my youngest child’s school field trip to the Natural Science museum in Brussels with kids.

This was a kindergarden class affair. I visited the Natural History Museum with my 5 year old son, two teachers, four parents and 30 children (yikes!) between the ages of 3.5 years old and 6 years old.

Have you been there before? Let me know about your experience and what is to your opinion a must see exhibition.

Trip to the Natural Science museum in Brussels with kids

UPDATE: My Babboe cargo bike e-curve review

Babboe e-curve cargo bike review

Today I will be writing a review for my Babboe e-curve cargo bike. The opinions are mine. I did not receive any earnings from this post, but as you will be able to read towards the end of my post, I have been compensated. Just not for writing this blog post. 😉

To be honest, I am a bit ashamed to say that I am a grown 41-year-old woman without a driver’s license.

I don’t know how it is where you live, but here in Belgium I only have one other friend without a driver’s license so I always end up having to explain to people why I don’t have one. I just never came round to it and I am actually a bit scared, but fingers crossed, I will be going for my theoretical exam (together with my 25-year-old daughter.

But even if I do pass, it will still be months before I have a full permit and even longer before I can afford a car. So, my cargo-bike is a must in my life.

I am since July 2017 the owner of the Babboe e-curve cargobike. I have 3335 km on it. It is my main way of transportation. I drive my son to school in it, I bring him to and from swimming classes, I do my groceries in it, I run my errands with it, I even drive it 30km (18miles) on Sunday’s to church (Antwerp) and back.

 

Sleepy Baby
Falling assleep is one of the side affects of owning a “bakfiets”

I want to make it clear that my views expressed in this post are entirely my own and entirely based on my experience with this cargobike. I have provided a link to the Babboe website above for anyone who wants to look them up. Nobody has asked me or paid me to write a review. My only aim in writing this is to help others who may be thinking of buying the Babboe e-curve cargobike.

I did some research beforehand, I found some helpful Facebook groups where I could read experiences from other users and I wish that I had taken their advice. There were many complaints (mainly about the spokes), but I really fell in love with the e-curve Babboe when I saw it during a test drive. I made up my mind that I wanted a three-wheeler, I wanted something that also looked pretty and because of my chronic pain, it needed the battery-powered pedal “assist”. One of the most well-known brands here in Belgium is the Babboe and I fell in love with the e-curve when I saw it.

When my cargobike got delivered (then you could only buy it online in Belgium and it was delivered 4 weeks later) I tried it out straight away of course and oh boy….it felt really weird driving it. I constantly felt like I was going to fall off. But I was determined to make it work and so I drove it 40km straight to our fixed camping spot and once I got there, I was a confident cargobike, or how they call it here, even my expat friends, a “bakfiets” driver. I loved it. My son loved it, heck, even my two Doxies love it.

4e484869-011e-4930-8a45-77aa60740846
Our Doxies do not fall assleep in the “bakfiets”

But…a few weeks later the first problems arose, my brakes and lights. One brake was not working, the lights were not working and so I emailed Babboe. I also inquired about when the technician would come by for the first maintenance (included in the price we paid. I had already received an email asking me if I was satisfied with the services…for the services that I haven’t received yet). It took exactly a month before the technician came. My brakes were then finally fixed and I had received new lights. My bike was riding smoother than ever.

Then the rain cover poles broke. I emailed again, Babboe said that they were aware of the poor quality of the poles and that they were looking for a solution. In the meantime they would send me new poles. And they did, the wrong ones. Emailed them again and soon after I received the first pair or rain cover poles. But the rain cover poles have broken off 5 times during the 18 months that I have owned my e-curve.

Broke rain cover poles
Picture explaining to Babboe where the poles broke off. The end bits are still sticking in the wholes and also needed to be removed.

Another issue, the wheel spokes. They too have been broken multiple times. This is apparently something that many, many Babboe owners have experienced. This is a pretty costly thing to have to happen regularly. One of my back spokes is even broken now.

And something they forget to tell you…not many bike repair shops repair your electrical cargo-bike, definitely if you have not bought it in their shop. I have two bike repair shops in walking distance of my house, but they have refused to repair my bike (one will repair the spokes but nothing else) and so I have had to rely on friends to pick me up and drop me off at another bike shop further away. Not very convenient. You can always book a maintenance and repair service at home from Babboe, but be prepared to wait many, many weeks and with a broken spoke, you need to get it repaired as soon as possible.

My Babboe cargo bike e-curve review broken spokes

Oh yeah, and my battery, remember at the beginning of this post I mentioned biking 40km to our camping spot? (I still drove around with it for a few more days before I had to recharge the battery) . Well now (18 months later) the action radius is +-15km. I alternate between modes 3 and 4 and transporting one child who weighs 21kg, I weigh 70kg. My friend who owns an “e-big” bike from Babboe even bought a second battery because she could not make the trip to school and back with her kids. Not ok.

I have emailed Babboe again (I have emailed them 8 times) I feel like a complainer, but when you pay almost 2.500euro’s for a bike, you expect it to work properly. Customer service is very unsatisfactory and while they are polite, they are evasive. They say they will get back but they do not and so I have spent a few hundred euro’s to date on reparation costs.

I am writing this post, review, because I am just so very upset about the quality of my bike, while it looks great. My brakes broke again two days ago, I have yet again a broken spoke and it is making a funny sound while driving, I am worried that it’s the motor. The key to the battery of the bike is so thin that it has been bent beyond use and I will have to get a new key made today, otherwise, I will not be able to recharge the battery. I am a single mom on a very low income and I have no way to get it repaired again, let alone the money to buy a new one might this break down completely. It saddens me, I have really enjoyed driving it, my son loves it so much too and it has given us so much pleasure and freedom and I really need it, I just cannot do without and so I’m again praying for a miracle.

The pro’s:

  • It is very pretty to look at. Classy.
  • The finishings are much nicer than the cheaper models. Especially the “leather” handles.
  • The display is nice and easy and it’s digital, so you know how far you can still drive before the battery runs out.
  • The rain cover (not the poles) is cute and you have velcro on the top for stopping it to flap down while children are getting in or out. You can also roll up sides on warmer days. It has to be -20c degrees here before my son wants the sides closed though.
  • Comfy seat for the driver.

The con’s

  • The spokes, just the wheel, in general, is not strong enough for the cargobike according to two repair shops.
  • The battery. I know, I know that a battery loses it’s power the older it gets and by usage, but going from +-50km a year ago to 15km now…that’s ridiculous.
  • The rain cover polls break very easily.
  • The brakes…ugh, I find that the scariest.
  • The rear light is powered by a battery. The two front lights are powered by four AAA batteries between them. It would be great if the front lights were powered by the battery or dynamo powered. The front lights don’t give much light, plus you need to slide them on and off, meaning that they also easily slide off by themselves. I have lost one like that.
My Babboe cargo bike e-curve review
I also like to pimp it up, here it is as a “red devil” in honor of Belgiums (euro)football team during the 2018 World Cup.

I want to again remind you, dear reader, that this has been my experience. I am not technical, so I cannot comment on the motor or stuff like that, I can only write about my experiences and how people have advised me. I advise you to do your research before buying your “bakfiets”. Go try some out or rent one for the day and even if you think that you would not be able to drive a two-wheeler bakfiets, try it out, it’s like riding a normal size bike. I wish that I had because I know now which one I would have bought then knowing what I know now.

Do you have a cargobike? Which one? I would love to hear about your experiences.

 EDIT: 4 February 2019

Since writing this post about the Babboe e-curve cargo bike review, it has been shared around on social media and was the talk amongst my friends. My bike actually broke down, the crankshaft broke, leaving me in a bit of a predicament. But I am truly, truly blessed by all the wonderful people around me. People were texting me, asking if they could help with the groceries or if I needed them to bring my son to and from school. Then one mom in school even lent me her cargo bike!!! *happy dance* That was really a lifesaver for me. Thank you all again! Big love.

Now what happened next; Babboe contacted me through this blog post and I finally got to speak to this very nice lady Aimée. She said that they (at Babboe) were very sorry for all the difficulties that I have been experiencing with the Babboe bakfiets and said that they will be sending me a technician who will hopefully be able to fix all the problems. A week later the technician came (again a very nice person who really enjoyed my coffee and cookies) and he made me a very happy mom again by :

  • replacing the whole rear wheel (due to the crankshaft)
  • new disk brake
  • new battery and charger
  • and tightened the brakes and bolts

For my lights, I can also visit a bike repair shop to get some new lights installed and Babboe will reimburse me.

So I practically have a new bike now, all done under warranty, thank goodness!!! We are again zooming all around town overjoyed by having our little piece of freedom back.

Thank you all for sharing my Babboe e-curve cargo bike review.

EDIT 15th of April 2019:

So, my cargo bike has again, started to make funny noises. I’m afraid it’s the motor or something. So Babboe has gracefully proposed to replace my bike. They only do this when there have been many issues with a bike.

I am very grateful for this, it helps me to be independent, gives great joy to my son and me and I can continue to get groceries myself without having to rely on other people. It makes a big difference in our lives.

So thank you again Babboe, your generosity humbles me and alters my perception.

Thank you re-posters and thank you, dear friends, for sharing this post of my Babboe e-curve cargo bike review.

Be blessed.

EDIT 9th of August 2019

I was a bit late with this update but I am very very happy to say that since writing my latest update:

That we have been so blessed by receiving a BRAND NEW Babboe cargo bike!

*Insert party ballons here*

The sweet (patient) lady who had been trying to help me sort out the problems with our previous bike realized that the problems that I had been experiencing with the cargo bike were really abnormal.

So we started a new adventure with a new e-curve. Since June we’ve had our new bike and I’m glad to say that we have not had any problems yet. I’m not going to lie, I seem to be waiting for something to happen, but that’s just me. If you know me and my life, you will know that it’s just something that stems from the very unconventional life that I’ve had up to now.

I’m loving it again and we have been traveling all around Antwerp visiting museums, going to parks, getting groceries done and now I’m planning a trip with the Ferry!

So even though we did not have much luck with our first Bike, Babboe really came through for us and I really stand by my opinion that they’re practical, beautiful, and damn fun to ride. They can haul everything from babies to groceries, to large pieces of furniture. They make moving gear through traffic-choked cities faster, and more fun, than any big air polluting car. I’m totally smitten again!

Thank you Babboe and thank you all for reading and sharing my Babboe e-curve cargo bike review.

Edit 14 January 2020

Since beginning September 2019, I have started to regularly experience flat tires. This has happened 9 times in total, 7 times it was my back tire.

It seems to happen for no apparent reason. A couple of times it had to do with the spokes breaking and puncturing the wheel. Other times have been just tiny holes. The Local bike shop has checked the outer wheel, there seems to be nothing there.

I have taken different bike routes, checked my garden for any debris, but it stays a mystery as to why I am getting so many flat tires. According to my repairman (and he guessed my bike was a Babboe without me even telling him), that this company, unfortunately, does not use the best quality and that it for sure is not made for the long distances and frequencies that I use it for and that he has had many clients of this make, with flat tires, bad batteries, and spokes breaking off.

So, maybe that is what it is. It’s a pretty bike, works well if not used for long distances.

Too bad for me I guess as I now have to look for another solution for getting my son to school and back. Making that a total of almost 25 km a day at least.

What an expensive ordeal this has been.

  • Babboe e-curve flat tire
    Babboe e-curve flat tire review
UPDATE: My Babboe cargo bike e-curve review