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Friday, 28 June 2013

A Very Special Friday with Nerissa of Adventures in Integration

I am so honoured to have the wonderful Nerissa guest post for me! Nerissa is a fellow expat in the Netherlands and runs the already aclaimed blog called Adventures in Integration. I say acclaimed becuase it has brough her many awards and prices. I hope that one day I will meet her in person! Nerissa also runs International Almere where she kindly republishes my blog posts and has recently started a little business as MissNeriss, selling crocheted, beautiful baby clothes, accessoires and toys. Come over and say "hi!".

Sliding Doors

It was December 27, 2002.  I was visiting my boyfriend, blissfully happy and looking forward to the future.  Completely out of the blue he took my heart and smashed it into a million pieces.  He couldn’t give me a reason why, but proceeded to string me along for six more months leading me to believe that there was a chance we would get back together and live happily ever after.

More than ten years later I realise that day way back in 2002 was my sliding doors moment.  Remember that movie where Gwyneth Paltrow lives two lives in parallel and sports two equally horrific haircuts?  It was the moment in time where my life could have gone in two completely different directions.  The boyfriend may never have dumped me and I would be living in western Victoria (which is proper duelling banjo country) living in some sort of shack with several kids and spending my time equally between cropping, shearing and panicking about the lack of rain.

But instead I spent six long months nursing a broken heart.  I cried a lot, I drank even more.  I think I may have begged him to take me back more than twice.  But I pulled through it.  I jumped on a plane with my best friend and we went to New Zealand.  We scored crappy jobs and had the time of our lives.

After eight months I came home and set myself a goal:  I was going to be a tour guide by the beginning of 2005.  And I did it.  I moved to Alice Springs, I spent eighteen months taking tours to Uluru and the Flinders Ranges with Adventure Tours Australia and I found myself.  

Although I knew who I was by then, I wasn’t completely fulfilled.  My solution was to book myself a one way ticket and fly to England for a year to look at castles and explore medieval history.  One year stretched into two (including a year-long stint in my favourite city on earth, Edinburgh) and I saw and reported on so many castles that my family stopped reading my emails!  

In that time I reconnected with one of my passengers from my tour guide days and we fell head over heels in love.  All of a sudden it was 2008 and I was moving to the Netherlands to live with my boyfriend, buying a house, getting married and having a baby, all in another language.

So I often think:  What if that boyfriend hadn’t dumped me?  I like to think that I would have realised very quickly that we were very unsuited and continued on my life’s journey, but maybe, like Gwyneth, I wouldn’t have.  Perhaps I would have turned a blind eye to our differences and buried my own ambitions.  Lord knows I was prepared to do anything to keep him in my life back then.  Would I have gone to New Zealand, or would my grand adventure have been sheep shearing in the middle of nowhere at Commonwealth Hill station as he wanted me to do?

All I really have to say to him now is:  Thank you for breaking my heart.  It was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

Here I am as a tour guide in Central Australia

Would I have ever got to hang out here (Uluru) on a regular basis if it wasn’t for my sliding doors moment?

Or here?  My home in England was only an hour or so from Stonehenge, one of the most incredible places on earth.

[profile.jpg] Nerissa is an Australian import bride living in the Netherlands since May 2008 with her gorgeous husband (she says he really is, she's not exaggerating or anything!). She created this blog to document her personal experience with the compulsory integration courses for people in her position. Now the compulsory part is over, she is busy getting on with integrating properly...Visit Nerissa's blog over at Adventures in Integration, but also check out her Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Lee&Low Books- a review

Recently I was contacted by Lee&Low Books. They're a publishing company specializing in multicultural and bilingual children’s books. They asked me whether I would be willing to review some of the books. I am very passionate about books and said “yes”. I am very glad I did. The demand and the supply of multicultural books and especially multicultural children’s books is growing, but is still not enough, so I am very happy that Lee&Low specializes in this very types of books. They send me three children’s books for review and I would like to discuss them here.

1) Dreaming Up. A celebration of building." by Christy Hale

This book brings together pictures of children playing with objects, such as cups, sticks, blankets, etc. and then putting these images together with famous buildings from all around the world that look exactly like the little building the children were making. The motto is: “If they can dream it, they can build it”. The few last pages are devoted to providing more information about the architects who designed the buildings featured in this book, and  about the buildings themselves- where there are, when they were build. It also contains an important quote from the architect, related to children and the importance of play. I liked this book because it shows, in a very direct way, the power of playing, experimenting and having fun and the fact that a famous architect building a school, tomb or church is really no different from a playing child. I appreciated the fact that not only did the buildings come from different parts of the world, they also came from different times, making this book a great start for talking about geography, history and culture. I also enjoyed the contrast between the cute illustrations and the photographs of buildings. All in all, “Dreaming Up” is a great book and I enjoyed it a lot, even though it doesn’t have much of a plot or story.

2) "Rainbow Stew" by Cathryn Falwell

I think this is my favourite of the three. This book features a day in the life of a black family. The children visit their grandfather, and they want to play outside, but it’s raining. So, the grandfather suggests that they go outside and collect vegetables for his famous rainbow stew. Everybody goes outside and collects vegetables of all kinds of colours: yellow and red and purple and green and blue. Then, when they’re done, they make rainbows stew, which looks delicious! This is a great book because while it features a black family, it makes it look very natural. It does not focus on differences, but rather on similarities. I believe all children would see themselves in this book, not only black ones- after all, what child wouldn’t enjoy making rainbow stew! I know mine would love it! And, at the end of the book you’ll find the recipe for it- I’ll sure make some in the next few weeks!

3) How far do you love me?”  by Lulu Delacre

This is the last book I got to review. A child asks his mother how much she loves him. She explains she loves him to the highest mountains, the deepest seas, as far as the ice. The text  is accompanied by beautiful illustrations of aforementioned places. The illustrations are beautiful, almost like paintings and feature children and parents from all around the world. I loved the different beautiful locations and the fact that fathers were also included. My interpretations of this was that parents everywhere love their children, wherever they are and regardless of how they look, or dress. When the child asks his mother back: “How far do you love me?”, she replies that she loves him to the moon and beyond.

I can wholeheartedly recommend these books. They’re beautifully illustrated, simple to read for the youngest readers, and inclusive of many different cultures and skin colours. I am very happy that I was offered the opportunity to review them, and I only wish we had more of such books. A huge thank you to Lee and Low! 

You can find these books, as well as other minority books over at Lee&Low Books website. For more information about their books and updates, check out their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.
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Monday, 24 June 2013

4 play and fun ideas inspired by my daughter

I am not a very crafty person. My head is full of ideas, but my hands rebel. I rely a lot on technology: on my computer for writing my blog (doing this by hand wouldn’t be fun), on my camera for taking pictures because I can’t paint. While I have many ideas for blog posts, it’s a pity that this doesn’t translate into inventing games with my children. A pity, but what can I do. Luckily, my daughter is very inventive and comes up with great ideas that I wanted to share.

1)      Writing with colours

Does your child know to spell her name? Klara does, and she likes to draw letter everywhere, on paper, in the air, or… using colourful blocks. She came up with this a few days ago. She took some colourful blocks and wrote “Klara”, using different colours for different letters. I had to help her realize that in her name, “A” appears twice, but the idea was hers.  Try to get him or her to write her name, just use blocks instead of letters.

2)      Playing “Let’s go to another country”

Ever heard of children who played “war” in times of actual war? Expat children play “let’s go to another country”. Another country (or continent) is actually the other end of the garden, or the house. Ask your children how they want to go there, what they want to do there, and for older children, what the country is like. In our case, Klara wanted to go to Africa to get some bananas, and she wanted to go there by bike. You can use this game as a springboard to talking about other countries, cultures and traditions, or to teach geography.

3)      The multilingual telephone

Multilingual children learn to differentiate between their languages, but you can help them using this simple game.  One day, Klara wanted to pretend to make some phone calls. So I had her call her grandparents in Warsaw. She pretended to talk to them in Polish. Then, we also called the other grandparents in Germany (she spoke German), and then we had her call her Dutch friend from daycare (she spoke Dutch). If you have multilingual children, this exercise will be a fun way to help them develop the awareness of what language to use with whom.

4)      The Airplane and the Boat

This is a great one for children who are bored, in a tantrum, or not ready to go to sleep just yet. Lie down on the floor, and put your child on your lower legs. She will be stretched like an airplane. You can move her front and back to pretend she’s flying. You can talk about where you’re going, but you may be too tired for that. Next, keep her in the same position, but this time, you’re a boat, and to be exact, a sailboat, a yacht. So, imagine that the water is deep and that there are waves and then you go from left to right (there’s wind!) and going up and down there are waves!). It’s fun and makes you connect with your child and allows her to feel more relaxed.

Hope you enjoy these activities. Have your children come up with any games or activities- please share! 
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Friday, 21 June 2013

A Very Special Friday with Gosia of Mama w Bojowkach (Cargo Pants Mom)

This is a super funny post by my friend Malgorzata (Polish equivalent of Margaret). We met many many many years ago on the Biotechnology Summer School where our parents were invited to be speakers and chairpersons. We then lost touch, and thanks to Facebook, found each other again. I was happy to learn that Gosia was mom to a super cleverly bright little boy (who is Julia's age), and she also started a blog, called Mama w bojówkach (Cargo Pants Mom) about parenting, teaching children to read, and general observations from her daily life. If you speak Polish, come over and say "hi!"

And So She Slept, And in Her Sleep She Spoke Tongues

First of all, thank you Olga for inviting me to post on your wonderful blog ;) I’m inspired by you and your life story ever so much! Even more so now, when we’ve reconnected after a good few years with so many new tales to tell.

We got to talking about funny dreams a few weeks back, remember? Well, I should definitely mention one over here, since it fits your blog nicely – the dream about languages.  Of languages.  In languages. Ack! Let’s start from the beginning…

I was always a language buff, and learning a new one came fairly easily.  As early as primary school, I acquainted myself with English and German, plus some Russian under my mum’s tutelage. In further education, I came across these and also Italian, which I love even now, and French, which I wish I had slightly more of a knack for. My hobbies and other pursuits led me to sink my teeth into Spanish and Esperanto, if only for a bit. That’s seven foreign languages in all, as I’m Polish by birth. Seven! An impressive number, even considering I think of myself as fluent in only two of these – Italian and English. The others I’ve mastered to an I-attended-a-course-and-did-some-work-at-home extent, at various levels.

Imagine my sleepy surprise, then, within my funny dream…

… when, as a result of a rather painful blow to the head and a rather puzzling hospital recovery…
… I could communicate almost flawlessly in each of my seven foreign languages.

 English, of course, was no problem.  Italiano non era un problema per me. Je pourrais vous parler très bien le français aussi.  Ich sprach mit Leichtigkeit und ZuversichtDeutschen. Idioma español llegó de forma natural como una canción… Я мог читать стихи на русском языке… Kaj mi povisprofeso amo en Esperanto!

Best.  Nerdy. Dream.  Ever. I wish this could happen to people in real life, not just in dreams… Maybe without the blow to the head though. My brain is spinning already!

[IMG_0237.JPG]Małgorzata is an attachment parenting mom to 2-year-old Tymek. She blogs at Mama w bojówkach (Cargo Pants Mom) about all things parenting. She is a translator, a trainer and coach at The Natural Mind and regularly organizes mommy-and-me classes in Gdańsk, Poland.
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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Drinks around the World by Kid World Citizen: Poland

 Becky of Kid World Citizen has a series of "Around the world" posts with recipes or crafts. This time, she decided to feature drinks from different countries. I wanted to submit two great drinks from Poland, kisiel and kompot. Both are made with fruit and I used strawberries for both of them. They came out delicious, so here are the recipes.


Kisiel (or kissel, you can read more about it here) is a drink amde with fruit, sugar and potatoe starch or maizena. The texture is somewhere between juice and jello, you can drink it, but you have to slurp it. I liked it as a child and found that it is extremely easy to make kisiel at home. And now, you can too!

The recipe in Polish is here.

300g strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon potatoe starch (I used maizena and had to add some more)
300ml water

Blend the strawberries until smooth. Add water and bring to a boil. Mix the potatoe starch with some water and add to the strawberry mix. Cook for a while more. Done. It's so simple! And delicious. You can adjust the amount of sugar to your liking. My husband also added yoghurt, but condensed milk would work as well.


I know almost every country has their own version of this. In France, "compote" is fruit mousse. In Germany, there is "Kompott" that can also be eaten. In Poland, kompot is homemade fruit juice with fruit inside (see more about it here). It can be made from all kinds of fruit, incluidng dry fruit. I chose strawberries because it's the season and I just loooove strawberries!
I got my recipe here, but changed it a little.

500g strawberries
1,5 cup sugar
2 liters water (I used half of the ingredients)

Boil the water and dissolve the sugar in it. When it's done, add strawberries and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 more minutes.You can serve it hot, lukewarm or cold.

The cool thing is that you can drink the juice and then eat the fruit- awesome!

These drinks are very easy to make and plase children and adults alike!

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Monday, 17 June 2013

Daring greatly as an expat

I have just read Brené Brown’s book “Daring Greatly”. I am not a fan of self-help books, but this is not one. On the contrary, when I was reading it, the way it was written sounded very familiar: the categories, the way of performing interviews, the way of disclosing personal information if it fitted the story. The researcher in me woke up from her sleep and said: “This looks like grounded theory” and went back to sleep. I loved doing qualitative research and especially grounded theory where you developed a theory through data rather than using data to test establish theories.

This book impressed me also because it can apply to everyone. I could totally write a whole blog post based on each of her chapters. But here, I will concentrate on two things: shame and courage, and how it relates to expat lives.

I have just read an article in Polish describing the situation of Polish people abroad. The ones who stayed shamed them for it, saying that it was “A very cowardly thing to do”, “Poland is like your mother, and you can’t leave your mother”, and called them “traitors to their own country”. The critics claimed that it takes courage to stay when the situation in your country is not perfect.

Which brings me to my question: is becoming an expat an act of courage, or is it simply running away from problems in your home country, or problems in yourself? I have never thought of this in terms of courage. For me, it was an easy decision. I have a family, a home, my life in the Netherlands is good.

But I haven’t realized one thing: how hard it was to leave my home, my family and a life I knew. I could have found a job (I never had problems with finding a job in Poland). Instead, I became what you could call a trailing spouse. Is it easy? No, I don’t think it is.

It takes vulnerability to move to a totally new country, regardless of whether your situation before was good or bad. It takes vulnerability for all the male and female trailing spouses to trust somebody to care for them. Many expat parents I know change careers, set up their own businesses, decide to become SAHM’s even though they had a great career in their own country. And, as Brené Brown points out, to be vulnerable is to be courageous.

Each time you make yourself vulnerable, you’re also being courageous. This goes for expats, but the same goes for the people who decide to stay in their home countries, sometimes risking their lives because the unstable political situation or simply because they know they will have to make sacrifices- as a Polish father in the Netherlands told me: “Life is good in the Netherlands. You don’t have to decide whether to buy new pants for your child or food”. This of course is not symptomatic of how life would be in Poland, but it could be that for many families.

Whenever somebody decides to dare greatly and be vulnerable, there will be comments like the ones I quoted in the opening to this post. This is shame at its best- or at its worst. Unfortunately, regardless of the decision whether to stay or to go, there will be shaming voices, telling us that we are never enough. But I believe that expats are daring greatly, and so do the people who stay. 
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Friday, 14 June 2013

A Very Special Friday with Janneke of DrieCulturen

Inline afbeelding 1

DrieCulturen is one of my very favourite blogs. Janneke's posts made me realize that living between cultures seems easy to me but is not easy for everybody. In this post, Janneke shares great tips on raising resilient children and how to take care of our children's cultural identity. Besides, go over to Janneke's blog and say: "Happy birthday!"- her blog is 2 years old today- and funnily enough, it's almost as old as mine! I hear there will be a giveaway over at DrieCulturen so watch that space! Thank you, Janneke!

Sharing a Secret about Raising Resilient Kids

Don't we all want to raise strong healthy kids? Children that can face challenges and overcome them. Children who grow and develop into healthy independent individuals. Well I recently discovered a secret to raising resilient kids.

What is resilience? Resilience is a powerful word. Psychological resilience is an individual's tendency to cope with stress and adversity. So is there a key to raising kids that can cope well with stress and adversity?

I read the article "The Stories that Bind us" in the New York Times. In the article the author explains that they have discovered that resilient children are the children that know the most about their family history. The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives was and the higher their self-esteem was.

So the secret to raising resilient kids is to tell stories. Tell the story of your life. Tell the children about their grandparents. Make the telling of stories a tradition in your family. I'm Dutch but I grew up in Africa. I remember the times when we went on camping holidays on the shores of Lake Malawi and my dad started to telling us stories. He had grown up on a dairy farm in Friesland, in the north of the Netherlands. He told us about the life on the farm. I enjoyed listening to the stories and even though the farm was very far away I probably got to know my grandparents a little through the stories my dad told. This of course was long before the existence of Skype! Even in the age of technology we need to tell our stories.

Make sure your kids know the answers to these kind of questions:
  • Where did the grandparents grow up? 
  • Where did mom and dad go to high school? 
  • Where did you as parents meet each other? 
  • Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family? 
"The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come." 

Photo credit to Greyerbaby Morgue File.

Guest blog by Janneke Jellema. She is a blogger at DrieCulturenJanneke grew up in Africa, and discovered she was a hidden immigrant when she returned to her passport country the Netherlands. She blogs about kids growing up in other cultures. You can follow her on twitter @DrieCulturen.
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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award

Bildschirmfoto 2013-06-11 um 21.03.50

I would like to thank Ute of Expat Since Birth for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. It's always good to feel appreciated!

So, as with all other awards, here are the rules: 
  • Thank the person who gave you the award.
  • Include a link to their blog.
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly
  • Nominate those bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself
The Creative World of Varya

And here are the 7 things you should know about me:

1) I used to be called lazy but in fact I am willing to work hard on things that fascinate me.
2) I've also been called "too sensitive" and have then learned that this is actually a benefit.
3) I come from a small family (that was mostly my parents, my brother and myself) and never thought of this as a problem
4) I like taking pictures and would love to learn more about photography
5) My biggest dreams: go to India, China and Japan,and  fly in an airplane's pilot cockpit 
6) My favorite cusine is Indian
7) I've been tired lately and should spend less time in front of the computer. Also, I need a vacation.

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Monday, 10 June 2013

My culture shock at Madurodam

A while ago, my parents and my brother came over to visit us. When my parents left, my brother’s friend joined us a day before he left. We used this time them to go to Madurodam.
The girls were in the stroller and Markian in the baby carrier, attached to my brother’s belly. Both enjoyed the closeness! Madurodam is one of the most touristic places in the Netherlands. Visitors of all cultures go there every day! I like it because you can see all of the Netherlands at one glance, without having to travel.

Anyway, the day we went there, there was a group from India visiting the place. Even though I’ve never been to there, I love the food and movies, and one of my dreams is to India there one day. I admired the beautiful colourful saris. And then something happened.

Closing time neared and I feared that Markian would get hungry and I’d have to nurse him on the tram which I don’t like. My brother and his friend went off to explore Madurodam, and my husband went to look for them. The girls were running around and playing. There was water and the children could play with ships. Klara loves water, and so she stepped into it, getting her shoe all wet. After making sure that her foot was dry, I went back to my old place on a bench. And then I realised that Julia was gone.

And when I found her, I felt both relief and shock. Relief because I found her. Shock, because I found her in a stranger’s arms. It was a couple from the Indian group. This was not the first time somebody wanted to take pictures of my children. When Klara was little, we went to the Louvre and an Arab couple preferred to take picture of her than of the Louvre artefacts. The same situation happened here. They asked for permission but they expected me to say “yes”.
And I am not really sure how I feel about it. I believe that it is a right for me to not be touched or otherwise talked to if I don’t feel like it. I would like the same right be granted to my children. This of course, is a very Western view. It is not because I feel that children belong to me, it is about personal space.

I understand that other cultures have different views about this. For example, the way I see it, and please correct me if I am wrong, some cultures think of children as a part of the community and so everybody is responsible for them. Maybe this explains why they would just touch a strange child and then ask for permission. Also, in other cultures maybe it is more common to get closer to other people, and personal space is much less valued than we are used to, and people tend to stand closer to each other, and touching strangers is more accepted.

As for me, I was very shocked, but I allowed them to take the picture with my girls because they were a nice couple, and obviously didn’t want any harm. And now, thinking of all this, I sort of regret that I didn’t take a picture of them with my children! The whole situation also made me realize that encountering different cultures will never cease to both amaze and shock me!  
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Saturday, 8 June 2013

Keep calm and...

After having tried making memes, now's the time for "Keep calm and" posters. I made two, hope you like them.

Updated- now you can see the whole text!
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Friday, 7 June 2013

A Very Special Friday with Ilze of Random Ramblings

Today's Very Special Friday is by a fellow expat and a friend of mine, Ilze. Ilze and I met together during a research project we were both involved in- check it out if you're interested, it's pretty cool stuff, and I think I still understand some of it. Ilze married a German man whom she met at our wedding, and who played a part in getting me and my husband together. Ilze is an extremely clever person and fun to have around, always full of ideas. I am very happy to have friends like her and grateful that she wrote this great post. In this post, Ilze ponders on her relationship with the German language, considering it attached to one particular culture- as opposed to English, and international language. I think Ilze and Is hare a similar approach to integration. Thank you, Ilze for this great post!

How close is close enough? My ambivalent relationship with Germany and the German language

 I have been living in Germany for five and a half years now and in many ways it has become my home. I came here to study in Master’s, stayed on for a PhD, got married with a guy from Hamburg in the process (Olga played a role in introducing us, but that’s a different story, and I am planning to stay in Germany for next few years if not more.

After I landed in the beautiful little Bremen five years ago I acclimatized very easy. The historical streets of the Hanseatic Bremen felt alike those of my hometown, the Hanseatic Riga, the food was not much different and even the weather felt quite alike. I dove into the orientation week events of the university and did not feel homesick for a day.

Now, almost six years down the line and having left the multicultural confines of my super-international university, I sometimes wonder about how integrated in the German society I really am. My closest friends seem to go two ways: there are those who have learned the language and even work towards getting a German citizenship, and then there are those who never felt really at home here and left as soon as they were done with their studies.

I am somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. I have learned to speak German reasonably well and am now confident about taking care of most everyday things from bank appointments to calling service hotlines in German. I am even able to hold my own in a party full of German speaking people. Nevertheless, I feel that there is a glass ceiling to my integration and it is put in place by nobody else but me.

I feel much more at home among other expats, speaking English, and I am reluctant to switch to speaking German with close friends or even my husband. When my mother-in-law asked us when we will start speaking in German to one another my first thought was: why? Do I have to?
Does it make any sense that I feel like I would be giving up a certain part of who I am if I switched to using German in most of my everyday communication? If I have to reflect on the reasons for this fear, they probably lay in the different meanings the English and the German languages have for me. 

While the English is my open language of intercultural connections, German is a practically needed language, tied to one particular culture. Accepting this language for my primary communication would also mean accepting the German culture in a much greater extent. And that just does not feel right. At least not yet.

PortraitIlze comes from the small and green country of Latvia by the Baltic Sea but her path of education has brought her to Northern Germany where she now lives and works on her PhD dissertation. At the moment this blog is her respite and gives her space to focus on some of the other things that she's interested in, notably, intercultural communication and all things related to online education. Ilze blogs at Random Ramblings, and you can also check out her other blog on her wedding and honeymoon. if you're interested in research, and especially online research, and even if you're not, you definitely should check out this Facebook page

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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Taking my camera out for a walk

Today's post is just a short one, with lots of pictures. I am overwhelmed and very tired and had to cancel my latest giveaway because of that, and I'm very sorry for that.

Anyway, I did something I wanted to do for a long time. I took my camera for a walk and wanted to share with you what I found. All these pictures came from my neighbourhood or my backyard. 

Love the smell of lilac, so fresh and spring-like!

I live in the Netherlands, so of course there have to be tulips!
And I love these orange poppies (also very Dutch since orange is the colour of the Netherlands!)

Not sure what these pink flowers are, but the yellow one is definitely a tulip.
Hey look! Blue skies! All of you who live in the Netherlands, will surely get why I had to take this picture!

The picture I've been wanting to take for a long time- love how they keep a globe in their window. When it's dark, it glows.

And, let's not forget this beautiful chestnut tree!
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Monday, 3 June 2013

"Luke's Beach Day" by Giselle Shardlow- a review

Luke's Beach Day cover

I knew from Giselle’s blog that she was the author of yoga-inspired books for children. I just didn’t know how this worked until Giselle offered for me to review her book, “Luke’s Beach Day”. And it all made sense.

After all, movement and narratives work together perfectly, for example in dance. So, why not yoga? And when I read this book, I saw that Giselle’s idea is as inspiring and fun as it is simple.

In her latest book, "Luke's Beach Day", Luke and his classmates go to the beach on a beautiful sunny day and make discoveries and have adventures there. Luke is also known for pulling pranks on his friends! The beach setting gives them the opportunity to practice yoga poses, such as “Greeting the sun”, or assuming the warrior pose to mirror a surfer’s movement. It also mentions topics such as caring for the environment and the importance of finding peace, and being respectful of Earth’s natural beauty.

The language used is simple and very appropriate for children, and makes yoga fun!

I believe this is a great way to introduce children to practising yoga as it is based on things they already know, such as animal names. The story fits the movements perfectly, and the children can enjoy both at the same time, thus making the book more interactive- and, as well all know, children learn through movement!

Then I really have to mention the very cute illustrations by Emily Gedzyk. They are simple and colourful. On each page, you’ll find the poses mentioned in the text under it, so that the children can practice by themselves.

boy at the beach, illustration, Luke's beach day

All in all, this is a great book that is fun for the children to read and exercise, and for the parents to read and introduce the children to yoga. Even little children can benefit from it since the book mentions so many simple things such as animal names, things you can find on the beach- which are all great to enrich their vocabulary!

This is such a great book! I would like you all to check out Giselle's books at www.kidsyogastories.com!

Check out Giselle’s yoga-inspired children’s books on her Kids Yoga Stories website or on Amazon worldwide .  Get free kids yoga resources in your inbox by signing up for her weekly newsletter  or check her out on Facebook ,Twitter , and Pinterest.

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