Saturday, November 26, 2011

Is it really that time of year again???

On Friday night we kicked off the festive season with a trip to some Christmas markets in nearby Kleve, Germany. I am really finding it hard to believe that we are almost in December again! I don't know why, but it just doesn't feel like Christmas is just around the corner!!! Although it's cold here right now, it's nowhere near snowing and it felt a little strange to be wandering around European Christmas markets without any snow. It was still a lovely little market though - full of yummy treats and some gluhwein, it was a nice night out. I still do find it a novelty that we can go 'overseas' at the drop of a hat, just for a Christmas market! Coming from Australia, I think it's a novelty that will never wear off :-)

Mr Oliver was having a nice time too at his very first Christmas markets and as usual, he wanted to be part of the action and didn't sleep the whole time we were out. He was a little grumpy once we started standing still for dinner, but before long he was cracking some of his cheesy grins under his dummy!


And once he noticed his Dadda standing behind the camera - well, our little charmer was working those gorgeous smiles that really do bring a tear to my eye! Oliver, you are just the cutest little man!!!!




Windmills, clogs & cheese - Zaanse Schans

When we first came to Holland for a holiday in 2008, we made the short trip from where we were staying in Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans - because of course,  a visit to the Netherlands wouldn't be complete without some windmill spotting.

Since moving here last year, I've been to Kinderdijk more times then I can remember with a few of our visitors. Although it's lovely there, we were keen to go somewhere different for some windmill spotting with our visiting friends from not-so-flatland and decided to go back to Zaanse Schans. It's about 1.5 hours from where we live (not far by Aussie standards but practically the other side of the country here!) so we made a day trip out of it.





A bit had changed in the 3.5 years since we had last visited - there were new museums and it was definitely a lot busier (the cheese tasting was just as good as last time though!!!). We'd also changed a lot as well - no longer just the 2 of us...


But now a family of 3 :-)


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Couch potato

When Oliver was a whole lot smaller, he loved tummy time! He'd happily lay on his tummy and exercise his neck muscles for the 10 minutes a day the kraamzorg told us to do with him.



One day however, he suddenly decided that he no longer liked tummy time - the second I'd pop him face down he'd scream and scream and wouldn't stop until I cuddled him. I tried doing it in different places like on his change mat (placed on the floor with me), on our bed, even on the couch, where he showed his couch potato side and decided to just chill and watch Dr Phil instead... I reckon he'd watch tv all day long if he was allowed!


When I took him to the consulatiebureau for his 3 month vaccinations, I asked the paediatrician about his aversion to tummy time. Although he's holding his own head up with enough strength for his age, she was pretty adamant that I MUST give him tummy time 4-5 times a day even if he screams through it :-( Although I was a bit hesitant (Oliver tears = Mumma tears) I figured the benefits will be worth it and decided to persevere, now trying with a towel rolled up under his chest and distracting him constantly with toys and noise.

Well, much to my surprise....


It's been working!!!!


With distractions such as squeaky toys, reading him a story (thanks Aunty Tiff!!!), singing and his personal favourite - talking in a high pitched voice - tummy time isn't such an evil anymore. He's even managed a few smiles while grunting away!!!



He's getting better and better every day too, managing longer periods of time before the tears begin. Although sometimes, he just gives up and pops his head down on the side and just stares at me... He's such a little couch potato sometimes!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

All the colours...

Ok, so it might not have had all the colours of the rainbow, but our latest creation was still pretty colourful!!!


I'd been following the rainbow cake craze online for some time and like everything, decided to join the party a little late. After a few people at Mitch's work asking to see Mr Oliver again, my fellow baker and I decided to have a go at a rainbow cake with swiss buttercream icing (recipe from here) to take into the lab for morning tea. 



Because my cake tin was a little larger then suggested, we could only manage 5 layers but despite our fear that it was going to be a teeny cake (each layer was quite pancake like) it ended up being reasonably big. The recipe also suggested using gel colours because liquid wouldn't be vibrant enough, but with the cost of liquid food colouring here already being a mighty 4 euros per teeny bottle, we decided to make do with the colours I already had and see how it turned out - I think it was vibrant enough...



It went down a treat - despite being a massive sugar hit, it was pretty tasty!!! And of course (although it's a bit hard to tell with his serious face here!), Mr Oliver loved going in to work to see his Dadda :-)

Musician in the making???





Musician in the making - maybe, maybe not... But the important thing is - Mr Oliver was having fun!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's that time of year again - Sinterklaas!

Sinterklaas - this year, we finally got to see what all the fuss is about!!!


Last year we were in Switzerland when Sinterklaas & Zwarte Piet arrived 'from Spain' - although the feast day isn't until 5 December, he traditionally arrives on the 3rd weekend in November for a parade around town. All morning we saw people riding into town from our window - the kids were all dressed up as either Sinterklaas or Black Pete and carrying paintings & hessian sacks for collecting treats. We braved the crowds and arrived just in time to see the arrival by boat down on the Nijmegen waterfront. 



Escorted by 125 Zwarte Pieten (some of which were a marching band, others were handing out the yummy kruidnoten), he was paraded around for the afternoon.







While Mitch was standing on bike racks in the hope of getting some photos above all the tall locals, Tiff and I got Mr Oliver out of his pram - partly because he LOVES being part of the action and also in the hope that kid = extra kruidnoten for us (sadly, the latter wasn't true - I think the Black Petes realised our gummy little boy wasn't going to be able to chomp on any kruidnoten and we weren't given ANY until we came across a not so stingy kid Black Pete later that afternoon who gave us handfuls of the stuff with a smile). 



Along with some random kid, Ollie even got his photo taken with Black Pete!


Although the arrival seemed to be the main event, the festivities continued into the afternoon as per tradition with Sinterklaas riding around town on a white horse. We were having lunch at the time so only caught a glimpse out of the restaurant window!


Afterwards we followed the noise (coming from half of Nijmegen singing the Sinterklaasliedjes) towards the town square. 


All afternoon I had been thinking that Sinterklaas kinda resembled the Pope...Well seeing him high up on this old building looking down at the crowds below really confirmed my thoughts!!!! It was a great afternoon :-)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Giggle boy!

A few days ago, Mr Oliver gave us his very first big belly laugh!!! He had been working up to it for weeks with excited half giggles and happy shrieks so we had been wondering when he would give us those big peals of laughter. Mitch was talking to him in a silly voice and taking photos of him when he finally cracked up - I raced in from my pancake cooking to capture it on video but only got the tail end of his funny shrieks... Honestly, it was the cutest noise I have ever heard!!!

He was working those big gummy smiles for the camera...





Then his expression changed to - woah, did I just make that noise?!?!?!




3 months old today - Oliver John, you just get cuter and more fun every day. How I love that cheeky little grin of yours!!!

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