Friday, February 24, 2012

Aunties = awesome

Oliver is a lucky little man. Not only has he got a bunch of awesome Aunties & Uncles back in Australia, he is also blessed to have a few surrogate 'Aunties'... The women who mean so much to me in my life have also taken on a special role in my son's life. Although I don't get to see my best friends as much as I would like (the downside to living an expat life), I love that they are able to be an important part of Oliver's life through my favourite invention ever - skype!

This past week we were lucky enough to have a visit from one of Oliver's 'Aunties' - Aunty Tiff!!! From that first meeting when he was only 10 weeks old, Oliver has always had a soft spot for Tiff. His gaze follows her wherever she goes in a room and when she is out of sight, he gets antsy. I love seeing you guys interact and hearing Oliver in fits of Tiff induced giggles (we always knew your sound effect skills would come in handy one day!) - thanks for not only a lovely week, but all your of chats, physical help & support as I've been getting used to this new role of being a Mum :-)

You don't necessarily have to be related by blood to be a great Aunty... Ollie and I love you guys, both near and far - thanks for making us both smile :-)

Not just another Dutch castle - Muiderslot...

We've been to a few Dutch castles over the past couple of years - some more then once, but all were quite pretty (albeit slightly similar after awhile). Castles are something that I'll never tire of - it's not exactly something you come across in Australia and I love wandering around castle grounds, day dreaming of battles fought and knights and fair maidens...

Last weekend we made the trip to Muiderslot castle, located not far from Amsterdam. Visiting Muiderslot wasn't just going to see yet another Dutch castle for me - this castle was where my Granddad was imprisoned at the beginning of WW2. Apparently he was held here by the Germans for 2-3 weeks before signing an agreement to 'obey' before being released, making it home just in time for his son's birthday.

I asked a few of the staff if they had any information regarding the castle during WW2 but no-one knew very much. Apparently there was a very precious book with the signatures of the officers here during WW2 but it was for private viewing only and we weren't there at the right time. Nonetheless, it was still eye opening to just wander around and try to imaging not only the castle in it's medieval glory, but what it must have been like for Granddad John to have been held here against his will. Honestly though, I don't think any stretch of my imagination could envisage what Holland must have been like during this time - it's hard to imagine a beautiful place like this castle being anything but serene.

We wandered around the rooms, gazed out the tower windows, carrying a very heavy baby up and down flights upon flights of narrow stone staircases (why oh why did I not remember the sling?!?!)...

Oh and Mr Oliver even participated in a bit of medieval fun!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Road tripping - Marken, The Netherlands

It's strange to think we are down to our final weekends here in Holland. We still (unfortunately!) have our car so figured we better make use of it while we can. I have this list of places I want to visit in Holland (thanks to some help from the Lonely Planet and wikitravel) and in the 2 years we've been here, most of them have been crossed off. This past weekend we made the list a bit smaller with a little road trip up north to the fishing village of Marken.

Located on an island (but joined to the mainland by a causeway), Marken is apparently a touristic village. Our visit was on a bitterly cold, windy day and the only other people we saw in this pretty, but eerily quiet village were birdwatchers. I'm figuring that the tourists are a bit more clever then us and leave their visits until the slightly warmer summer months? 

The village definitely had a fishing-y/seaside feel to it - from nets strung up on the exterior of the houses, to the smell of salty sea air and the sound of seagulls. Like I said - it was strangely quiet, but that meant we were able to wander around and just admire the lovely old traditional houses and fishing boats.

Walking around Marken almost felt like we were at the Zuiderzee museum, or Arnhem openlucht museum... Until I peeked past the lace curtains and saw people drinking their coffee and reading the paper, I wouldn't have believed that anyone actually lived in this picturesque village...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Om nom nom - our adventures into solid food

When Oliver started solids, it really hit me that our baby boy is growing up much faster then I had ever anticipated. Starting on 'real' food is an exciting milestone to hit but at the same time, it's a little scary to think that we are at this point already.

When Oliver hit about 4 1/2 months, I had this gut feeling that he was ready for solids - he was showing all the signs but with a bit of travel planned over Christmas, I had hoped to delay his starting for a little while longer. Soon after we arrived however, we decided it was time for a taste and gave him his first few spoonfuls of farex - which he eagerly accepted, confirming my suspicions he was ready.

When we got home, Oliver started fussing at his mealtime - closing his mouth, not letting me feed him but instead he kept trying to grab the spoon off me... I figured ok, why not, loaded up the spoon and let him go for it. Right from the start, the spoon ended up in his mouth 9 times out of 10 and he just looked SO much happier feeding himself!

With Oliver wanting to be Mr Independent, I started doing some research. I had heard of this thing called Baby Led Weaning and from the little I knew, it was a hands off approach to solids that sounded like it would suit Ollie perfectly. I chatted to some friends about it, ordered my book and soon we were ready to start...

Honestly, it was a little daunting at first. The fear of him choking was foremost in my mind and yes, we did have some gagging (different to choking) incidents in the early stages as he has been learning, but I have to say - I am so, so impressed with my baby boy. We started with simple finger foods that are easy to hold - banana, steamed sticks of carrot, zucchini, broccoli, toast fingers etc.

The first thing I noticed was that Oliver is a lot more vocal with his finger food compared to being spoon fed - he looks at what's in front of him, plays with it (he ALWAYS has a disgusted look on his face with the first feel, no matter how many times he's had the food before!) and chats away to it before putting it to his mouth. I can see that he loves being in control and it's amazing how quickly he has progressed. It's still only early days, but he has gone from just playing & sucking on food to now biting, chewing and swallowing. We eat all mealtimes together and he loves watching us eat - I often wonder if he's mimicking us with his chewing action. He still has some 'purees' which he feeds himself via a preloaded spoon - mashed sweet potato is a favourite and he now has porridge with apple puree every morning for breakfast.

I'm so proud of my big boy - last weekend he had his first family meals, starting with spaghetti bolognese on Saturday night...

Followed by his very first pancake Sunday!

Weekend pancakes are a long standing tradition in our house and I cooked up some baby sized pancakes (I do a salt/sugar free basic pancake batter) with pear puree which he happily munched on!

It might be messy, but I'm really happy that we've gone down the baby led weaning path. Oliver seems to really enjoy participating in mealtimes and much like his Mumma, he loves his food!

The next thing that we are working on is the sippy cup...

Currently, he thinks it is an oversized dummy... We'll get there though!

Friday, February 17, 2012


Today is a significant day in a certain little boy's life... Oliver is SIX months old!!!

Woah... HOW old am I?!?!

I know it's only a half birthday, but as of now we are on the downward count to his first birthday... Eeek!!! Our baby boy is growing up so fast!

He's had a lovely 'half' birthday so far - Mum's group, baking cupcakes, jumping in his jolly jumper... I think he'd prefer it though if I took the camera out of his face - no more photos Mumma!

Six months old and growing cuter every day - oh how we love you sweet boy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

All good things...

I have to admit, on Sunday I was feeling a tiny bit sad... Why? Because with the movers coming this week, last weekend was our final chance to take our lovely fiets for a spin in Flatland. Our last family ride, through the bike friendly streets and forests, a tradition that has been one of my favourite things in our two years here. And not to mention, it was also my last chance to go for another ice skate...

It was another bitterly cold day so we rugged up Mr Oliver...

... hooked up the fietskar and off we went!!!

After we'd ridden far enough to lull Ollie into his afternoon nap, it was time to go for my final Dutch skate :-(

This time we went to a different pond - although the closer one was great, I much preferred this one! It wasn't as busy, there were lots of little spots for me to skate on my own and not just around and around... I finally found my skating legs again (perhaps it was last Sunday's fall that snapped me back into it?) and although I wasn't quite confident enough to try any jumps or spins, I could do 3 turns, waltz and even mohawk (yes I am a little proud I could also remember the technical terms lol). 

After a short ride through some local forest where there was still some patches of snow around, it was time to call it quits and head home - I was feeling really quite sad the whole ride home... My bike has just been serviced and was so nice and smooth to ride, I am reallyyyyy wishing it didn't have to be shipped tomorrow! 

But as they say... all good things must come to an end! On the plus side, we did some googling and discovered that there are loads of not only dedicated bike paths, but also biking trails near our new home in California. The San Francisco Bay trail looks particularly appealing... It's going to be a shock the moment we come across any kind of incline but I can't wait to go fietsen once more!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Say hello to Mr Oliver's latest party trick...

He does it when he's happy...

And deep in thought...

While he's eating...

Or trying to grab my phone...

In fact, he just seems to poke his tongue out all the time nowadays!!!

Almost 6 months old... And such a cheeky boy already!


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