Monday, August 25, 2014

Museon in The Hague

 I am a a hoarder. I collect trinkets and papers and flyers and tickets and magazine cutouts and newspapers and train tickets and photographs. Mark is the kind of person that likes to throw things away and he calls my collection "junk" or "random crap".  He dreams of the day I will get rid of it all.

 I was going through a stack last week, and I was surprised to find 3 tickets to Museon, the children's museum for Science and Technology in The Hague. The tickets were valid until the end of the summer, so we decided to go this weekend. It was really interesting. The museum has collections in the domains of geology, biology, archaeology, history, science and ethnology.

 Currently there are a couple of temporary expositions, one on mimetism, or as it is called: "imitation is an art, and another one focusing on ways to achieve peace. There is also a section that details the history of the Peace Palace in The Hague, another one that goes through several Peace Nobel Prize winners, yet another one about children during the war, as well as the (very vast) main collections on Evolution, Immigration, Geology, Biology, Science, Machines...

Worth noticing is the "baby care" area where not only is there a nice and tall changing table, but also a high-chair, sink, and a box, in case your kid needs a break, a meal, a change or a nap. How was your weekend? Did you go to any interesting places?

 First image courtesy of the wikipedia 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer reading

I am struggling a bit to keep up my reading habit. It is hard when I find myself constantly running to keep things pseudo-clean and pseudo-tidy and everyone fed and happy. Then, when there is some time left, I end up collapsing in the couch, taking naps to catch up on sleep or doing laundry or going out for walks or running errands. But reading is important for me, and I try to make the time for it. Switzerland was glorious, because I was so relaxed that often I put the baby in the garden to play and took the time to read myself.

If you are looking for ideas, Lauren has set up the #Better in Real Life Reading List and there are often reviews coming up. From her list, I would definitely like to read "Truth & Beauty" by Ann Patchet, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingslover and maybe "The light between oceans" by M.L. Sedman, though I am torn about that last one, because it seems to be so, so sad. A while ago I read "Storyteller, the authorized biography of Roald Dahl" and actually loved it. I was fascinated by Roald Dahl's life (he was a spy and a pilot, he knew the likes of Walt Disney and Roosevelt) and I liked getting an insight on the inspiration behind his stories.

As someone who loves to read, and as a challenge to force myself to actually do it I decided to write a review for the BIRL reading list, and got assigned "The view from Castle Rock", by Alice Munro. I was really excited to have this book assigned. I’d heard Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013 and I had been wanting to read her. Part memoir, part fiction, part imagined what could-have been, this book is a collection of short stories, independent of each other, but actually linked together as they trace back a family’s history (Alice’s own) of a migration from Scotland in the eighteenth century to North America, ending up in Canada and detailing their adventure as they look for a better future in far away, unknown lands. It takes the reader from the Ettrick Valley near Edinburgh, through Newfoundland, to Chicago, Joliet, The Huron Valley, Ontario… It is the story of great grandmother’s and grandfather’s, of uncles, of lost-relatives as the times change until today. In case you missed it, my review and Shaelyn's and the discussion is here.

Other than that, I finally had the chance to finish reading "La amigdalitis de Tarzan", by Alfred Bryce Echenique, one of the books Zarawitta sent me for this year's #AOWbookswap. I really, really liked it. The books tells the story of a pair of friends / lovers that meet in their early 20's in Paris during the late 1960's and follows them and the circumstances that led them to not-end-up-together, through almost 30 years. But what's different is that the story is told through the letters they sent to each other through many international moves, across oceans and continents (though mostly between Europe and America). It talks about love, but also about Latin America, about being a young naive girl, about discovering the world, about being an artist, about repression and corruption, about staying pure and joyful in the most adverse of circumstances, as stated by one of the phrases that gets repeated over and over again in the book: "Experimentó la angustia y el dolor, pero nunca estuvo triste una mañana"*. The quote is supposed to be Hemingway, I believe it's from the Old Man and the Sea, but I am going crazy trying to find the original quote and I don't seem to be able. Anyone recognizes it?

I've also read Baby-led weaning, as we are going to more or less try that with baby Y. I say more or less, because I love cooking and I am also kind of into preparing purées. And I no longer subscribe to any parenting theory or technique that is so fundamentalist in their approach that proclaims that doing X or Y or Z is forbidden or else *whatever it is you are trying to do* will not work. I am excited though, to have her eat real foods, to experiment with colors, flavours and textures at her own pace.

What have you been reading? Any recommendations?

* This would translate as something like: "She experienced anguish and pain, but never was she sad one morning". (Though of course, being Hemingway, it must be written better).

Monday, August 18, 2014

An ode to cloth diapers

We have been using our precious Bumgenius Elementals since the end of May, when we were finally able to get them. And we couldn't be happier. They work really, really well. They don't leak, they contain all messes, they are very soft and gentle on baby's skin, they breathe, they are easy to use, they absorb a lot (they can even handle the whole night, at 7 months), they fit well, they are cute... They are everything we hoped they would be (and then some).

The some being that, as I had read, cloth diapers seem to protect babies against diaper rash. I can now say it from personal experience. I had never even seen a diaper rash, and I did not want to search the web for it, because looking for skin conditions on the internet is like jumping in a dark hole of grossness. And what you see can't be unseen. Well, when we were in Switzerland, we used disposable diapers (Pampers!!) for 11 days, as I was not going to always have access to a washing machine. On day 5 of using said diapers (which we used together with a Zinc Oxyde and lanolin ointment), I was shocked to discover what undoubtedly was a nappy rash on baby's bum. I started freaking out, because I did not know how to treat it and I was already using a cream that was supposed to help prevent it. I was also changing her diapers every 3-4 hours, as we normally do, so it's not like she had been sitting in chemicals for long periods of time.

After some research we decided to use Bepanthen (a cream that contains pro-vitamin B5) and, luckily, the rash went away. I also made sure to dry her bum really well and to let her be diaper-free for at least 5-10 minutes every day. It was like magic, the lesions disappeared in 2-3 days, then healed and completely went away.

We are back to using cloth diapers and her bum is soft and healthy again. After such an experience I just had to sing the praises of cloth diapers loud and high. We have only experienced the famous poop blowouts 3 times, and on each and every one of those times we were using disposable diapers.  I think this particular issue has to do with design, as the back of disposable diapers tends to be very flat, letting messes run up the back of the diaper.

Do you know any tricks / products to prevent or treat diaper rash?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

11 days of Swiss Summer

Last Monday we came back from a holiday visiting family and friends in Switzerland and it was just glorious. We finally took advantage of the air miles we had been saving for more than a couple of years and scored some award tickets yay! It was the second time baby Y. went on an airplane trip (though this time only for 1 hr. 30 min, flights), and she did great! She even fell asleep on both flights, turbines are the best kind of white noise, and the extra excitement of airports makes babies tired and ready to nap, I guess.

We walked around, we hung out in the garden, baby Y. met her little cousins, I had tons of time to read and take a dip in the Leman lake, we ate salads for lunch, we made jam, we took trains, had cheese and chocolate, took strolls, picked up wild blackberries and just generally enjoyed the perfect summer days (not too warm, breezy, and sometimes a refreshing rain).

I was lucky enough to meet and hang out with Bettiann (from the Swiss-Wife Style), it was nice to finally meet another blog-friend, someone whom I often think of and pray for. We went to an Italian trattoria and then shopping for a bright pink scarf.

The boy was with us only the first 3 days and I was rather afraid I was not going to be able to deal with Yu by myself. Normally, as soon as Mark comes home from work, I let him wash his hands and then hand the baby so I can do some stuff around the house (like cooking). She is often awake and happy at that time, but then she has to be toned back down to be ready to sleep for the night and that process sometimes involves some fussiness.

As we were on holidays I decided to attempt a more go-with-the-flow approach to her routine, allowing more flexibility. Some of her naps were shorter than usual, but she stole everyone's hearts with her smiles and playfulness and she was almost never difficult, for which I am grateful. It is amazing how much a few days away can do in terms of recharging your batteries.

What have you been up to?

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