Local Heart, Global Soul

March 22, 2019

Bolderkars Have Had A Tragically Rocky Recent History…

I have featured “bolderkars” on my blog before: “So… just what IS a “bolderkar”?… ” but not gotten the chance to photograph them more often. On this occasion there was not just one, but two for capture the attention of my lens. These photographs were taken in 2017 and I’m not sure if the orange on is still in use; there has been a Dutch ban on the use a certain type of bolderkar after a tragic accident in 2018 where a motorised one went out of control onto a railway line and into the path of an oncoming train. The children and adult perished. There is a large legal dispute concerning the cause of the accident, if it was human error on the part of the adult or if they just couldn’t stop the machine because something was faulty. Other brands of bolderkar are still in use and well used they are too. The perfect way  for one adult to transport a half dozen or more children depending on the size of the bolderkar. It’s green,  clean and (usually) perfectly safe. it was later in the afternoon when I took these photographs and the staff had dispatched the last of the children into the arms of their parents and then decided to use one of the cars to take the adults for a spin. After a day of having the responsibility for, entertaining and looking after babies and toddlers I think they have earned their fun!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 27, 2017

If You Want To Captivate A Child…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My biggest apologies to readers who received a blank post here this morning, for the last 24 hours I haven’t been able to log into WordPress because it says there are Server problems.

Serves me right for keeping the finished text and photos on my computer rather than uploading them to the Schedule earlier. Apologies.. Normal transmission has now been resumed 🙂

Garderen’s Sand Sculpture festival of 2016 featured the life and work of Rien Poortvliet as it’s theme. I find it a paradox considering Rien’s views on animal hunting that in his book ” De ark van Noach” (Noah’s Ark) that he appears to value animals.

Then again, it says nothing about what he actually thinks about hunting these magnificent wild beasts, so maybe I need to not dig too hard or I will be yet again in conflict with his views.

The information board text translates as:

The wonder of the creation” ” In his book “Noah’s ark”  Rien is amazed about the diversity and colours of all the animals and birds on earth. From extremely large to extremely small, some with strange things on their heads, they are strangely adorned but always functional.”

The sand exhibits show kangaroos, monkeys, elephants, lions, and a gorilla as main pieces but there are smaller images etched into the backgrounds of these too. Looking from one angle you might not see them at first, but as you move around and the light brings out the shadows, these bits come to life in front of your eyes. Families with children spent the most time in front of these: historical scenes, portraits and the like are one thing, but if you want to captivate a child then an image of an animal seems to do it every time.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Wikipedia / Dutch Artist / Rien Poortvliet
Garderen Sand Sculpture Festival

November 19, 2016

It All Hinges On An Brilliantly Simple Idea…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You know I love everyday, normal stuff, ideas that are ingeniously simple, full of common sense and practical.

Out one day when I needed the lavatory and end up finding this total gem of an idea, literally “in the loo”.

Seriously, you can’t get more everyday or ordinary than in the smallest room in the house.

In fact I got so excited about this find that I completely forgot where I saw it (but am busy rattling my brain cells, that information is in here somewhere.) So, to the point (eventually)… what was I so excited about?

Well, It’s a loo seat within a loo seat. One size for adult derrieres and one size to fit the average small child: more importantly, perfect for the child undergoing the toilet training phase.

First, let us all remember the dark and hidden fact that all parents never ever forget the time that their children went though “that stage”. Mostly we wished it would have been less messy, with less tantrums and fewer traumas (ours, not theirs) and had taken literally been over in no time at all.

Like many families, we went though several trial runs, moments appeared when our kids appeared ready to make the leap from nappies (diapers) to using a toilet, and like most parents we also discovered that on these occasions the kid had other ideas. After reading books on every method under the sun we settled on an age old favourite: bribery.

A jar of small jar of Smarties (sweets similar to chocolate filled M & M’s) went on to the dining table. Kid could score the grand total of one Smartie for every successful toilet event.

Note the word “successful”. With Kiwi Daughter we left that word out and the result was that she went and parked herself on the potty, doing nothing except demanding the reward, then getting up and repeating the experience two minutes later.

Generally what actually happens is that kids experiment with the “idea” of not using nappies, but are not ready to commit to a permanent switch until far later on. They get their parents hopes up by seeming interested, but reality is that parents are the salespeople desperately pitching the toilet experience as a new and wonderful event. The kid asks all the right questions, lets us use all of the tricks up our sleeves, lets us talk-the-talk, taking all of our time and energy,  …before nonchalantly walking away from the deal.

In our family one of our experiments involved kids in the warmest summer months dressed in nothing but t-shirts and little toddler knickers, playing on the wooden living room floors with the potty “conveniently” parked in sight and a multitude of little reminders, until the inevitable happened: the puddle on the floor. The simple fact is that kids get so wrapped up in playing the they simply forget, and once it’s too late, it’s too late.

Then came the transition from the plastic potty to the actual toilet. Also a fraught time because for a small child the hole in that seat looks mighty large, and they know that what ever falls inside gets flushed away. Little wonder they are afraid and cling on to you for dear life. Even if at home you can have all the success you want with the familiar plastic potty, outside the home it’s back to the terror that the “big toilet” invokes, and it’s not practical to bring a large plastic potty with you everywhere.

Our children “played” with the idea of toilet training at ages two and again at three, no matter what we tried we were unsuccessful, then suddenly at three and a half they found their magic moment, indicated that they didn’t want their nappies ever again and were dry day and night in a week. Each had two or three “accidents” after that, but then that was it, everything perfect since. Somewhere there is a little switch that triggers when they are ready and once they are truly ready it all just falls into place. Making it easier for them to use an adult toilet after this is the icing on the cake. I know that for many parents there are long struggles, especially with night time bed wetting so I know that with both our kids we got off lightly, but who knows how soon they might have been ready if the right equipment had been available for them to use, especially outside of the home?

What I discovered on this day was the perfect solution, an additional toddler toilet seat, hinged into the main one, deployed by simply lowering it into place, removed by raising it up again. Why have adults not been smart enough to think of this amazing solution decades ago? I hope that slowly but surely you could find this as “standard” in every convenience: in all restaurants, kid friendly places, public buildings and any and everywhere that families with toddler might be. For long term environmental reasons, for simple “bog standard” common sense and for the sanity of parents everywhere… let’s try and make toilet training easier for kids.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 19, 2013

Dutch Swimming is as Easy as A,B,C…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One of the things that is standard practice in the Netherlands is that very strong emphasis is put on the necessity of children having swimming lessons.  This seems a very logical idea in a country where canals are almost everywhere and kids accessibility to water is usually only just a short distance away.

The ethos of the importance of learning to swim well is in fact so strong here, that one of the swimming staff I spoke to said that 96% of children in the Netherlands learn to swim and get all three swimming diplomas, which I think is an amazing credit to Dutch society and demonstrates a huge level of recognition of the responsibility needed when surrounded with so much natural water.  It may also be a reason why the Dutch often do well competition swimming all the way up to Olympic level.

There are three main national diploma’s called the “A”, “B” and “C”  that need to be achieved  and the idea is to both teach water safety to children and confidence and enjoyment in recreational swimming and water sports.

Before children start with their A, B,   and C diploma’s, there are also three “Puppy” diplomas that introduce young children to basic water skills, include play with water skills and promote confidence …things like getting your face wet, holding your breath underwater, opening your eyes underwater and the like.

I’m ashamed to say that growing up in New Zealand I never learned to swim particularly well,  I can do a few basic strokes if forced and can’t open my eyes under water. I usually wear glasses or contact lenses and without these, in the water can’t see very well, my lung condition means I can’t hold my breath particularly well either so combined with my lack of confidence in my swimming skills, I never feel particularly safe in deep water.

I would of course not hesitate to jump in to save my kids (or any child) but if I’m really realistic I am hardly going to have the physical skills to be a hero lifesaver. Baywatch material I most certainly am not.

I’m highly impressed to see that Dutch swimming lessons have a real depth to their training and take a very practical pragmatic approach. They expect children to learn to swim with their eyes open,  Diploma swimming examinations require children to perform tasks with clothing and shoes on, they need to do things like a forward-roll into the water, clothed, and get themselves out of the water onto a large floating mattress unaided also clothed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The logic is that the biggest risk of accident and drowning will come when they fall unexpectedly into a canal, or off a boat and there is a high possibility they will be clothed and need to know what sensations of disorientation underwater and weight of the clothes are like should they ever fall into the water in this way.

They are taught not to panic and how to react in a controlled, safe environment and the tasks even for very young children are quite substantial, the First diploma is the “A” certificate and children are required to be able to swim 50 metres in both breaststroke and backstroke and swim 3 meters underwater through a large hole in a canvas panel for instance, and this increases to 75 meters and 6 meters underwater for the “B” diploma exam.

Later for the “C” diploma the kids have to achieve 100 meters swimming, in swimsuit and then swimsuit and clothes, with obstacles and forward rolls into the water, and 9 meters underwater and swimming through the panel with the hole in it.

Children who have not yet achieved their “A” diploma are required to wear inflatable armbands in all public swimming pools until they do, and many school and outdoor organisations will not let children take part in water activities if they have not achieved the three  “A”, “B” and “C” diplomas. Therefore there is also a strong social  and peer incentive for the kids to loose their armbands and gain all of the A,B,C diplomas.

Kiwi Daughter is an amazingly strong swimmer,  she can swim about 24 meters of a 25 meter pool completely underwater and that last meter is annoying her so much that it’s now a goal she’s working on. Himself as house-Papa first took her swimming when she was 6 weeks old and they went pretty much every week for the first three years of her life, and on occasion more when friends came too.  Time constraints were harder to manage when Little Mr. arrived 3.5 years later as I had a bed-rest pregnancy with him  because my oxygen levels were too low and we were in and out of hospital constantly for checks during the third trimester.

Little Mr. had a kidney infection at 11 weeks old and was hospitalised for almost 2 weeks as was I shortly afterwards  for complications to my COPD  lung condition due to reduced medications during the pregnancy.  Little Mr. had many follow-up hospital appointments and whilst they all luckily turned out fine in the end and he went on to be a very healthy toddler,  the contrast in the amount of swimming opportunities he had could not have been greater when compared with Kiwi Daughter at the same age.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

For me it’s really clear that introducing your child to fun water experiences at a very early age, and keeping these opportunities up regularly, must surely influence that child’s confidence and eventual ability in the water.

Little Mr. has achieved his  “A” diploma but is currently being held back for the “B” because they need to build his confidence far more in all areas of the test. He has good swimming days and less good swimming days, some days he just can’t manage the underwater parts of the test at all and we have to heap on the encouragement so that he will continuing trying, whereas Kiwi Daughter very rarely missed the targets and was usually the first,  fastest, strongest and most confident  in her swimming classes.

Little Mr. will get all of his swimming diplomas in the end, as do almost all children here in the Netherlands and I have nothing but praise for the thousands of swimming trainers and volunteers in this country who place an amazing importance and seriously high standard of  competence on the kids because they understand the responsibility of living in an environment where a water related tragedy could often only be meters away.

Many countries around the world could do well to emulate  the Dutch swimming system for kids,  I myself, deeply aware of my own lack of swimming skills can only wish that I had learnt to swim like my children have. Maybe one day when my foot functions properly again I will face my fears and take a few swimming lessons myself. In the meantime I remain firmly planted on dry land as much as possible and take a big breath of relief that my kids are already so much better at swimming than I am.

http://www.npz-nrz.nl/index.php?sid=60

March 29, 2013

I Conquer My Nerves But Am Then Left Hanging By a Thread…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are still at “de kinderwerkplaats’ (The Children’s workshop) , getting to grips with scientific and mechanical  playthings. Working boats and  balloon cars have been made from polystyrene, volcanoes erupted, paving stones laid, rockets launched and water diverted. Child’s play, literally.

Now however Kiwi Daughter is a showing some nerves, she’s holding a thin square of wood and the band saw beckons.

She and the older daughter of our friend can think of no more imaginative a shape to cut out than their initials. (That’s the reason there’s no photo of their finished product) but the band saw looks intimidating.

I’ve never used one before either but surely it can’t be so difficult? I do remember my Dad in New Zealand using a skill saw, the round blade eating into most things in it’s path with evil ease,  as a kid I would shudder, keep my distance when it was going and keep my hands  dug deep into my pockets. This machine is  so much smaller but the blade still holds a certain menace that makes my fingers wince.

I wasn’t certain of what made me more nervous, that I would have to use it, or that Kiwi Daughter might blast confidence and gusto and want to go gung-ho on it. I drew a tiny diagonal line across the corner of he wooden square and told Kiwi Daughter that we would just cut off the smallest snippet so that we could gain some confidence at how the machine worked and handled.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

She offered for me to go first and she watched from a safe distance.  I held the wood firmly, took a deep breath and started to cut.  The trick appears to be to go as slow as you want and press the wood downwards as you go, as it wants to lift upwards and then you loose control of the cut. A tiny triangle of wood  shot away as I finished the slice I was making and the result didn’t look half bad.

Kiwi Daughter repeated my maneuver with rigid concentration  with the other three corners and then we got to grips with drawing out the letter she wanted.

Cutting what she wanted was going to require getting a bit closer to the edges so I was nervous she would want to do it, but luckily she was quick to suggest I do it,  so it was my turn to be cutting with rigid concentration and extremely paranoid  placement of fingers.

I didn’t however want her to know that this was freaking me out so I made jokes about girls can do machine tools too, and ten digits safely intact later, the letters were complete.

The next most “dangerous” item on the agenda was the dip candle. You are supplied with a length of wick, a wooden pole to tie it on to and directed to a very large vat of hot wax. Instructions are two seconds dipping a new layer and thirty seconds out in the cold air to harden it somewhat. A father of a toddler turned up to the vat and tired a technique that involved dipping, waiting about 4 seconds and then repeatedly dipping.

Instead of adding new layers quicker he only managed to melt away the still hot previous layer so he was forced to change tactics when he saw that progress was minimal.

Truth be told, not one kid to stayed the course when it came to the candles, a few dips and they wanted to be off to the next thing, leaving  Mama or Papa holding the candle and the little deserters even giving instructions to “make sure it’s a big candle” as they departed. Himself joined me with a good idea, he was dipping for the two youngest kids so he tried a wick to each end of the pole and dipped first one end and then the next. One end could be cooling whilst the other end was going in and out of  the vat.  A seriously good idea.

It was surprisingly therapeutic, and about 40 minutes and probably 500 dips later, my candle was very fat and very long ( far longer than the wick in fact) and was looking amazing when all of a sudden I dipped it into the vat and came out with only the wick on my pole! My fat candle was now floating in a fat of hot wax and in grave danger of imminent return to it’s molten state. It’s weight had caused it to slide off the wick completely and all my hard work was about to go down the tubes.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Everyone frantically dipped their poles into the vat in order to push my candle as far out of the liquid wax as possible, Himself quickly seized it  and got it laid down on the side of the stand the vat was on, Phew! … only now we had a long fat candle with no wick in it.

I asked the staff for some of the saté sticks that they use for the boat masts, and since the candles remain warm and soft for quite some time,  we cut my long candle into three pieces and I gently poked the sticks down the centre of the soft wax, intending to remove them once the candle has hardened and thread the wicks back into them at home.

(I’ve since done that, but the hole down the middle is now wider than the wick so the next step is to tie the bottom end of the wick to a short piece of  saté stick so that the candle is now  resting on a supportive “foot”, I can then fill the cavity around the wick with wax and restore my candles to working order.)

The funny thing was that the kanteen was at the other end of the building and as I carefully carried my soft candles on their sticks there, no less than three children, all strangers, asked hopefully if these were ice-block ice creams and were mightily disappointed to learn that these were not at all edible.

Little Mr practised changing a tyre  and played with the sand tables and then we decided it was time for a well earned rest in the kanteen with a cuppa and a toasted sandwich. By now the kids were confident enough to return to some of the things like the volcano by themselves and we parents enjoyed a second cuppa in relative peace.

At closing time the staff were cleaning up around us and we had to drag the kids away, brilliant concept, amazing fun and kids grinning from ear to ear… One thing  is for certain, by popular demand: we will be back!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My repair job, ready for final dipping…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Playing with electricity (the only item I didn’t actually see in action, because I was too busy candle dipping)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 28, 2013

Fizz, Whoosh, Slam and Bang…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following yesterday’s post, I’m taking you around “de kinderwerkplaats” (the “Children’s Workshop”) in the  Transvaalkwartier of the Hague.

The place has been set up to help the local community but is open to the general public from everywhere, in fact we even heard about  someone even came especially from the province of Friesland in the far north of the Netherlands to visit here!

Upon payment of the entrance fee each child receives a wooden “toolbox” that contains the various  things they will need at  each of the workstations: Styrofoam, a thin piece of wood, ingredients to make their button, etc and from there on in the only difficult choice is “where to start? ”

My advice is now practical: start with the items that might receive paint during or after completion, there’s a drying room for items in a room behind the toilets and if you do the paint stuff first, then it can all be drying whilst you are busy with the rest of the activities.

We alas learned the hard way as Little Mr. ended up carrying a  half dry model he had made, back home in the car and ended up with paint liberally smeared upon his person and clothes, and to be honest probably also spread to the back seat of the car although I haven’t dared look there yet.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Most certainly the bath he had that morning and the pristine condition in which he arrived at the workshop didn’t last long, since he’s a messy little monster  and it’s a shame we didn’t notice soon enough that “de kinderwerkplaats” also provides full overalls, coveralls and painting shirts to protect kids clothes, as he also has a penchant for wiping dirty hands on his clothes.

(I’m thinking of getting shares in the company that makes “Vanish, oxy clean laundry powder we go though so much of it).

The bigger girls  tired out the “volcano’s”first, this involved putting baking soda into the “crater”and then adding vinegar, causing a reaction that caused the volcano to “erupt”, the girls were delighted and not only tried it over an over at the beginning of the visit but also came back to it later…

Then they became rocket scientists… first a cylinder of paper is made and a cone shaped top added,  there’s an enclosed tower reaching to the roof into which you place your rocket and after pumping on a handle that builds up compressed air, all of a sudden your projectile is launched skywards up the tower.  It all happens so fast that you don’t even see your rocket leave the launch pad, and so getting photos was a matter of watching many kids launch theirs, taking photos as fast as I could and getting lucky with a few of them. Depending on the skill of the rocket builder, the rocket could be launched more than once before launch and impact damage rendered it beyond repair.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The first of the cutting implements is a hot wire for cutting through polystyrene ,  and it’s used to make a toy race car (powered by a balloon) which I didn’t get photos of, and a sailing boat, which I did.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The boat pictured first on dry land has a sail and rudder and once complete was launched in a water tank with some artificial wind in the shape of fans … it actually sailed very well, but direction control was a little wanting…

Also with water, another tank helped the city kids imagine what it would be like to go dam building in a stream… something that I did often as a kiwi-kid but our kids have yet to experience. The small bricks can be lined up in a multitude of ways to divert the water but every time a new kid tuned up the finished walls invariably got scuppered. No patience, these engineers.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Street paving skills were next… Little Mr. completed a very neat pattern and called me over to take photos of him beaming with his work in the nick of  time before another kid arrived to demolish the lot and start on his own patterns… (sounds like the local city council, who constantly dig up the same stretch of footpath first for a gas pipe and later for a water one, clearly they did their training courses here)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Later it’s on to the hammering table where nails are beaten into oblivion into thick wooden planks. Judging by the number of mangled nail-heads  this one must be rather therapeutic.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The kids are having a great time discovering that they can build things that “do stuff” and my own laughter is echoed by other parents too, with nervous excitement they now move on to the “dangerous” stuff…

March 27, 2013

Work Your Kids Will Love…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last weekend we met up with a friend and her children for a play-date with a difference.

None of us had been to our appointed destination before but it had been recommended by someone who had,  so here we  were,  ready to give it a go.

de kinderwerkplaats”  (which probably translates best as the “Children’s Workshop”) is  a community project that has been set up in a less affluent district of  The Hague and offers a unique experience for kids no matter where in the city they come from.

One small note about getting here: it’s better to go down the De la Reyweg to get here rather than approach from the Escamplaan side as Family Kiwidutch attempted to do, because you will find yourself on the wrong side of a myriad of small one-way streets and it’s not the short-cut that you might imagine it to  be. We arrived so late that our friend rang to enquire if we were still coming.  It was worth the journey: This is truly a hands-on place where there’s a mixture of  fun science, general skills and experimentation, all done in a brilliantly playful and creative manner, literally.

At first we assumed that the parents could leave the kids to the activities and disappear into the canteen for a relaxing cuppa and a chat, but  no, this is best suited to being an interactive activity with parents involved along side their kids.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is especially true when you discover than the kids can cut their own piece of wood with an electric band-saw… or polystyrene with a hot wire, or make dip candles with hot wax.

The upside of not getting a restful cuppa whilst our charges did their own thing was that we discovered that these activities were really a lot of fun for adults too.

Actually the older girls from both our families were OK with all of the equipment except the band-saw, Kiwi Daughter didn’t mind to cut the outside edges off her piece of wood after I’d given her a careful demonstration,  but preferred me to do all of the intricate deeper cutting  after that.

Also, now that they gotten the hang of the rest of the equipment they have said that they feel confidant to do everything alone on our next trip here, but for Little Mr and the other younger child, parental supervision is probably still required for at least some of the activities..

This place was a surprise because we didn’t  know what to expect when we arrived but the kids showed their enthusiasm in several ways:  first by being the very very last kids out of the place, which is why I managed to get photos of the equipment sans kids (and they didn’t go willingly, they probably would have slept here if it had been possible) and secondly by demanding immediately,  “how soon can we come back?”.

So if that’s not a big thumbs up, I don’t know what is.  Such has been the pressure to come back, that a return appointment for both families to re-attend together  has already been arranged. Let’s have a look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 25, 2012

Wishing You a Smile, this Merry Christmas…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m going to be really honest and admit that I have no clue why many North American’s use the phrase “ Happy Holidays”.

I know that not everybody in the world celebrates Christmas, or indeed may even have faith in any particular religion. For me that matters less because I believe that each person has the right to their own view and as long as they respect the views of others.

At the moment I am unable to drive because of my foot injury and so work pays for a taxi to and from work, I have a regular driver, who just happens to be Muslim. He observes Ramadan and Eid and we use the opportunity to learn more about the customs we each hold dear.

I know he doesn’t celebrate Christmas but he has no problem to wish me a Merry Christmas just as I wished him a happy Eid celebration earlier in the year.

Neither of us observes the other’s celebration but we like to extend our support to the other knowing that it’s important to the other’s family and friends. Harmony is different notes arranged together not a collective of the same note played all at the same time.

So just as I would wish someone a Happy Hanukkah , Rosh Hashanah, Eid Al-Fitr, Easter, Diwali, or Ramadan celebration, I now extend very Happy Christmas Celebrations to all who observe it, in whatever capacity.

Recently, world events involving children have left us with tears and breaking hearts, but ultimately one child was born (symbolically) on this day to relieve the heartbroken and to dry the tears.

Therefore for this post I’d like to leave you with a smile as I present a compilation of some of the smiles my children have given me.

I always try to jot down the incident as soon as possible after they happen, but surprisingly it’s been so long since I posted some of these that some of them took place quite a while ago… never mind, the smile is still the same. Enjoy!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

***

Kiwi Daughter: I have an idea, when our little TV breaks down and you buy a new big one for the living room can I have the old one for my room?

(two second pause as she computes the logic of that, then giggles) “… err,  that isn’t right is it? ‘cos the old one would be broken!”

(Our answer is simple: Yes, you may have the little broken TV in your room (if that floats your boat LOL) but ” No working one , or  computers)

***

Himself went into the kids bedroom to wake them both up for school. Little Mr. usually chirpy first thing in the morning woke up on this day bleary eyed, sat up in his bed, looked around and asked “Papa, what did we do with the two people we saved?”

Clearly his fascination with anything ambulance, police  or fireman and had carried over to his dreams and he had been busy dreaming of rescue missions… Himself told him “I don’t know my boy but you are very brave to have been rescuing people”.

***

Little Mr aged 6 has come home with his first homework assignment: he has to write about his favourite fairy tale and then write one himself, with pictures.

I was busy helping Kiwi Daughter with a maths homework game she has to play, reading and a spelling test/revision so Himself took Little Mr to the heaving kid bookcase to look for a favourite out of the many many favourites.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Later Himself comes back to me laughing and tells me “Little Mr has chosen the book  “Jack and the Beanstalk”, but  announced that he hasn’t gotten around to starting writing about it yet, because he still doesn’t know that the beans are talking about

An unwittingly beautiful play on words Little Mr.,    Bravo…

***

Little Mr. wanted a toy plane in the shop but it cost Euro 20 and he only had Euro 3,– from his piggy bank to spend. I explained that he didn’t have nearly enough money and advised he to look at some of the small Lego figures instead.

The shop was quiet and one of the assistants (a very young woman) was pricing stock on an shelf a little further along.

Little Mr. was silent for a few minutes and then said “Mama, do you think I have enough money to just buy the wheels of the plane then?”  Trying had not to burst out laughing I explained that the shop doesn’t let children buy just  “parts” of toys… because then some other child would not be very happy if they bought the plane later and discovered that it had no wheels.

Little Mr. “got” that, but meanwhile the young lady shop assistant was wiping away tears of laughter and was trying (and mostly failing) to keep control of her mirth, which made it really hard for me to keep a straight face too.

Suddenly I was forced to pretend I had a sniffle so that I could  blow my nose, wipe away tears and use the moment to compose myself.   Luckily Little Mr. was so seriously concentrated on his decision making process that he was oblivious to both of us,  but clearly this comment made this young shop assistant’s day.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

***

Little Mr. suddenly started a conversation asking me why in the last weeks everyone likes puppies so much.

I replied: “lots of people like puppies but sadly not everyone can have one“( thinking that this is leading to another plea for the pets that he knows we can’t have since Kiwi Daughter and I are both allergic to animal hair and I also to feathers).

Little Mr. gives me a quizzical look and says “No, no, everyone who wants one can have one I think… lots and lots of people on the TV have puppies, the people on the sports have puppies, the people on the News have a puppy, even the people on the Dancing all have a puppy (we have been watching Strictly Come Dancing on the BBC)  and lots of other people have a puppy too…  ”

Now I’m getting  rather confused, I certainly haven’t spotted any dog invasions on Strictly Come Dancing and nor have dogs been on the News much of late.  “Do you mean that everyone has a dog, Little Mr.? I haven’t seen any dogs?!”

Little Mr. shoots me a funny look that shows that he finds my stupidity very frustrating and sighs… “Noooo,  Mama,  not “dogs”.. I don’t know the real word, it’s a bit hard to say so I call them puppies, you know, puppies, puppies,  the red things we  wear when we have to be quiet when all the people died”  Ah Ha! the penny drops, he doesn’t mean puppies, he means  “Poppies!”

Of course,  as a bilingual family we watch both Dutch TV and the BBC from the UK… and the UK celebrated  their Remembrance Day on 11th November and Little Mr. Knows poppies from the New Zealand and Australian commemoration of ANZAC Day.

***

Little Mr. at dinner table… “Papa, did you go to school?”

Himself looks rather surprised at the question, whilst Kiwi Daughter almost choked on her food laughing.

***

I hope that no matter where you are and what you do today, that your day is an especially Happy one. Merry Christmas!

August 27, 2012

Children! …Run Through Here! (Or Maybe Not!)

Filed under: Funny,LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We have travelled a decent distance from Foxton,  and Little Mr. suddenly decides that he needs an urgent  pee-pee stop.

Whilst Himself helps him negotiate a good spot in the bushes that meets with Little Mr’s approval as far as privacy from passing traffic is concerned, I spy something in the next paddock that makes me laugh.

Clearly, if you had a bird’s eye view  it would be clear that there is a fenced path behind the paddock , but from this angle it looks all too much like the Bull has an open invitation for children to visit  and is waiting so that he can chase them.

Of course it’s safe for children to use the path, but from this angle it just looks wrong on too many levels.

Needless to say, Himself and Little Mr steered well clear of this paddock when looking for a suitable place to take care of natures call.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 15, 2011

A Children’s Farm and a Ladder leading to an Apartment…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Just up the road from where I took photos of the trams and herons in yesterdays post, there is a kinderboerderij.

Kinderboerderij” rather literally means ” childrens farm” and it’s where children from cities and villages around the Netherlands go if they want to see and learn about farm animals.

Modern agricultural  regulations for farm hygiene and safely of children (and animals) make it difficult  for kids to see sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens etc on a real farm, so mini versions are dotted all around the country with a selection of animals and birds for young children to see, pet, and learn how they are raised and cared for.

Indeed, without the kinderboerderij, many kids who live without gardens in city environs may never otherwise see animals up close.

The  Stichting KinderBoerderijen Nederland (Dutch Foundation for Children’s Farms) http://www.skbn.net/de-kinderboerderij/maatschappelijk-belang-van-kinderboerderijen   (website in Dutch language only)  tells us that some  400.000 children of primary school age visit kinderboerderijs  annually where  they learn about how the animals are cared for, what they eat, how food for is produced, the environment the animals need to live, professions associated with livestock and agriculture, the effects on the environment and sustainability.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s also a favourite place for young children to go for play, in fact it’s so popular that there are around 500 kinderboerderijen in The Netherlands and between them they achieve some 30 million visitors per year!

The trees in the grounds of this kinderboerderij have strong stakes in a circle protecting the tree trunks to protect them from the deer that are also in the grounds.

Canals within cities in the Netherlands (we have quite a few of them in case you haven’t heard LOL) vary massively in construction, so often they are the storm water conduits as well.

Many have high sides made of bricks and so the city council places small ladders in the water that slope up to the banks…these are basic planks with little cross-ways treads on them and they help parent water birds and their little families get out of the water.

I’m pleased to see that on a low sided canal by the kinderboerderij, the duck ladders  lead to  man-made bird house in the middle of the canal, so that water birds can nest somewhat protected. It’s quite a beautiful little apartment don’t you think?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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