DISTANCE DISCO – A Remote Dance Party!

My daughter was invited to a socially distance online birthday disco dance party – so naturally she let brother & I get in on the action. The invitation, which was super creative was hand delivered. It contained an invite, activity sheets, chips, juice boxes, a bouncy ball, glow sticks and naturally a Corona beer for the adults.


A company in Amsterdam created distancedisco.nl – which essentially was a quirky social experiment that combines a dance party with a game. There is one simple rule: you have to find the person who’s dancing to your own song and enter their code. If you enter the wrong code you get minus points – that is where we went wrong a bit at the start. Tip: Read the FAQs online before the party so you know exactly what to do! But all in all it sounds simple right – well if you have a small screen and lots of people dancing around it’s not as simple as it sounds. It’s really hard to see … so you have to get creative – like using your hands to sing and make sings like love, patting your heart or your head. Using your fingers to count and even some props – we brought in a teddy bear for the song I’m a gummy bear. I do think next time, we will hook up to the big screen tv in the living room – only we’ll miss out on the LED “Night Club effect” offered in my son’s room. Dressing up and having a disco ball for atmosphere would be really fun, but our family has never been into fancy dress so we lack crazy hats, wigs, costumes and all that party stuff. So apart from our Oeteldonk jackets and scarves and the 3d-movie glasses (which we were wearing), we don’t have a trunk full of dress up clothes like some families. And with all shops closed in our continued lockdown, getting any of that would require more preparation and ordering online etc.

And we, team Peanut, Butter & Jelly finished right in the middle 8 out of 16 – so not bad for our first time 🙂

Maebh had such a great time that she’s considering doing this for her birthday early April should the Covid restrictions continue as they are going – which might be the case.

Booking is straight forward, you fill in a form online – book a slot with a time, select the type of music and then send a link to your guests. Dancers must be online before the start of the event as they cannot join after it starts.

And for those who are interested in just dancing with strangers, you can do that too for FREE on their platform!

Overall, we had a great time and would definitely recommend doing it with friends and family. We’ll certainly do it again!

Tips For Vacationing & Family Fun At Duinrell Amusement Park – Wassenaar, Netherlands

NOTE: This ORIGINAL post was published in 2018 and has since been updated in September 2020 after a recent day visit. With corona and our current situation, I thought one afternoon of fun would be amazing for the kids! Duinrell is the most economical park in the Netherlands and there are MABY day pass deals to ge had at Social Deals and Tripper.nl. Unlike Effteling, you can go for as low was €14 per person!

Here in the Netherlands, the kids have off two full weeks of school during Meivakantie and King’s Day. Having only lived in the Netherlands for a couple months and Nila had to go away AGAIN and for the ENTIRE time – the thought the three of us sitting around the house in the middle of the woods again bored is so dreadful.  Therefore, I looked around to find a place for the kids and I to have a mini-escape. I booked myself and the kids for a 4-night break staying in a Duingalow at the amusement park Duinrell in Wassenaar/ Den Haag.   We have been having GREAT weather last week (27 degrees!!) but it is now back to being chilly – too bad as we would have loved to make a visit to the beach during this trip as it’s right there!!

Duinrell is a family friendly holiday park, with a theme park and water park located in South Holland. It is surrounded by woodland, and just 4km from a sandy beach, Wassenaarse Slag, Duinrell is also a great base from which to explore Holland if you are coming from Ireland or UK for a week. If you are local, you’ll probably only spend a day or a few nights there as a getaway!

OUR ACCOMMODATION

There are several types of level of accommodations available – from camping, to safari tents to lodges with jacuzzis.  Depending on budget and need/desire, there are tons of options.  When we arrived, our Duingalow #9 was ready for us so we could go straight there.

I was actually pleasantly surprised! (Well, one issue – had trouble parking our big car with that terrible tree – but all in all – we had a fine spot. You can’t usually check into your accommodation until 3pm but are free to visit the theme park and check out the facilities from as soon as you arrive.

ENTER AND EXIT AS OFTEN AS YOU WISH

From our lodge, we could go immediately into the park. One great thing about this holiday is that entry to the theme park is included in the cost of your stay, so you don’t need to pay anything additional to get in when you are there – a great bargain, right? Also the theme park is about a 5 minute walk from most of the holiday homes and you don’t need to show a pass to get in – you just come and go as you please (during op. Except ours – we were the farthest duingalow but it was quiet so we didn’t mind. Each time we took a different route 🙂

It is also great for families with small kids so you can go visit the park for a few hours, nip back to your holiday home for a nap or lunch (or whatever) and then go back in the afternoon and enjoy a few more rides or even to the two giant playgrounds.

TWO GIANT PLAYGROUNDS

There are two really large playgrounds (with sandy floors) at the start of the park which feature slides, climbing frames, swings and roundabouts. These playgrounds are open all the time – even when the rides are closed. So at the crack of dawn, you can bring little ones there for a play or alternatively right before bed to burn off any spare energy they may still have.

TIKI BAD

There is a HUGE water park located inside the Duinrell theme park. It has over 1km of indoor water slides including a wave pool (with a gentle sloping entrance), a lazy river and a toddler swimming pool and waterslide inside a large covered complex – it really caters to EVERYONE! There is a large outdoor swimming area which is open from May to September – so it was closed when we were there.    Entry is discounted if you’re staying on the site to €5 per person (adult or child) for 2 hours and children under 12 years of age will only be allowed entry, if accompanied by an adult.

Lockers at the pool are free… just get one and remember the number we got two and then realised I still had a bag on my shoulder. Instead of opening our existing one, we got another.  But when we returned, we totally forgotten the number of the third. We were also convinced it was at a different set of lockers. Two workers, Denis and Zahid helped us tremendously. They are able to enter your security code to determine your locker number (but only if you are looking in the right area). In our case we were certain, it was in that area. They opened EVERY SINGLE LOCKER only to see we were WRONG!! We were in the original area where they found our two existing and third with the same code !! Grrrr we felt like idiots!!! We had a 2 hour limit included in our stay but didn’t go every day. With two kids in arm bands who can’t go on the large slides and being only one adult, it was not easy.  Getting the kids in, find unoccupied changing rooms, enjoy the wave pool a few times and the lazy river and kids poll area, we were out of time and with the locker mess up we were over by 45 minutes!!

AMUSEMENT PARK

The park itself has about 40 attractions – a combination for smaller kids and older kids/adults.  .  Adrenaline lovers and children aged 10 to 18 would get the most out of all the roller coasters and other rides. Of course some were way too scary for our youngest but not for our oldest. Some of the larger rides, which she would have gone on, she was just too short.   Also as I was here with just the two kids and I the one adult, it was admittedly harder than it would have been with two adults. That I would change in the future!!

Our kids really liked bombing people in the row boats. Especially ones who were unsuspecting ….

Soren liked the Dragonfly roller coaster, Rollerbaan and Wild Wings – all three Maebh couldn’t go on for height restrictions.

FOOD OPTIONS IN THE PARK

To me the food at the park was not the best and expensive.  The first night we had pizzas at La Place – not the brick oven pizza I was hoping to have. One time we got three french fries and two slushes for €17. I think that is expensive. Kids ate ice cream, churros, cotton candy and a chocolate covered banana with sprinkles as treats during our time here.  

MY TIPS FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS

  • You are going to need to take photos (passport-type photos) at one of the MANY booths all around the park – at €4, per person here is a money saving tip:  Take a photo copy of your passport, cut out the photo – DONE!  At check in, they’ll give you small paper cards and plastic clear stickers to put over the photo – you’ll need those to enter and exit the park and Tiki Bad.  No need to spend €4. per person on passport photos which you’ll never use again. Of course, if you have old ones laying around – bring them.  They are not fussy!!
  • Tips: bring towels (shower & some beach for pool) dish towels and a bath mat.
  • Travel size shampoo for Tiki bad – avoid having to re-shower at your duingalow.
  • Leave the park – go walk over to Wassensar (drive in pouring rain or if you are lazy).  Eat at the local restaurants and skip dessert – then enjoy the amazing ice cream parlor – Lucianos Ijssalon– you won’t regret it!   
  • Enjoy the Natural Market in Wassanaar each Saturday.
  • Pack a cooler with ice from home to pack loads if items you already have. Like for example – make a batch of bolognese and freeze it. Then when you arrive stick it in the fridge and have that the first night. The sauce is already made so all you have to do is boil some pasta! There is a grocery store onsite (not super expensive yet not Lidl prices) which has a lot but why do spend extra when unnecessary. You have to carry it!!! Of course, if you come from abroad and flying your hands are tied but if local and driving or even as many Brits do, pack up your car in the UK.
  • Bring zip lock bags or tin foil to make up sandwiches and bring to park. Food is expensive and not the best in my opinion! Portions are not the best either – skinny fries x 3 and two slushes = €16.95. Or you could easily take a break from the park – walk back your duingalow have lunch and return to park.
  • In our duingalow, we had a machine which used Senseo pads or coffee with filter (#4) if you need coffee. I brought a small container with a small sauce pan with frother only as I love a morning coffee with warm milk.
  • Bring extra trash bags if cooking, but they give you one to start. Also, dish soap a sponge, wipes and a few dish washing tablets – I don’t see the need to buy full boxes of these items. Salt and pepper from home or can take a few small packages from the restaurant in the park.
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Toilet paper & a roll of kitchen towels
  • Potato peeler if you use that cooking – didn’t see one in the drawer.
  • I read elsewhere their unit had UK plugs but ours didn’t – our plugs were local to The Netherlands only so I suggest a travel plug for your phone.
  • Change your pounds in advance – closest place to change is Leiden Station.
  • There was no blow dryer in the unit – and only two hand dryers in the pool area.  I can do without but for some might be a nice thing to have in their room.

BE SURE TO LEAVE THE PARK – VISIT WASSENAAR & SURROUNDS  

On Saturday, we left the park and visited Wassenaar. The town center was cute.  We of course made a mandatory visit to Kelly’s Expat shop was in order for some extra processed junk which we would not be able to find elsewhere – do no we really “need”.  

The village itself had all the typical shops, Intertoys, Zeeman, HEMA and Jumbo, etc and then lots of independent shops. We first had croissants in a local bakery and then walked around the Natural market. We ended up buying three pots of different sambal from an Indonesian man – Oma’s recipe, two others Madaam Jeanette and Indian. And then we had a stop at the French sausages where we bought blue cheese, congac pheasant and one more which I now forget.  One evening we wen back and ate sushi! 

I knew of a kids kringloop which truthfully was a bunch of junk – unless you wanted horse riding boots those were great. But Maebh’s recent horse riding lessons was a big flop, we didn’t need them.

LOUWMAN’S MUSEUM

As it was raining, we then decided to visit Louwman’s Museum. With our Museumkaart, it was free entry.  We did have a bite in their cafe before going through the collection.    I did a complete blog post on this – read it here:  Louwman’s Museum – home to Netherlands largest collection of private cars. 

ZWARTE PAD AT SCHEVENINGEN BEACH FOR OYSTERS 

We drove over to Scheveningen Beach and it started raining so we nipped into a restaurant where as I promised Soren at the seaside he can have oysters. The place we chose was the Patagonia Beach restaurant. The food was good, the decor was lovely being so close yo the pier but the service was awful!!!  Actually, I really think the worst I ever had in Europe. I think the only reason why the waiter got the job was that he was a gorgeous model-looking guy and could speak German to the bus load of old ladies who ordered decaf coffee and complained about their cakes being frozen inside.

RENT BIKES AND GO SEE NATURE

You can rent a bicycle, go-kart or a fun trailer during your holiday which allows you to go enjoy the surroundings on a beautiful day. The bicycles are rented through the Duinrell reception which is situated at the entrance of the holiday park.  All hired items are offered on a ‘seven for six’ basis: hire them for seven days and pay for just six!  There are also several sizes of gas cylinders available if you are interested in hiring for a BBQ.   For us we didn’t do this during this holiday, but will do it when we return and stay again.   There are suggested cycle routes listed on their site which bring you to Den Haag, up to Katwijk Aan Zee or to the Meijendel – kids will love the Monkey Bos. 

ARCADE FUN

Another fun thing for the kids was the arcade – the place where we spent a total of €50 over the course of 4 nights and got cheap, made in China plastic toys and a lollipop!!  But they had a great time!!!! I even got in on the action a few times and won a bunch of tickets for them. 

MINI BOWLING ALLEY & PUB

Below the Marketplace is a pub and mini bowling alley. While we didn’t spend too much time there we did have a drink once and played some air hockey in the game hall next door.  Next time we might consider bowling?!  

On the last night, Soren came in SECOND place in the FIFA 2018 tournament beating out 10 kids – only to loose to the oldest kid in the group!  Very proud!! 

IN SUMMARY

Overall it was a nice trip, but I’m glad to be home in my house, my kitchen, my food, my shower and my BED – but I’m like this at the end of all my trips. The bigger rides were a bit too restricting for our youngest who is a bit of a peanut for her age but it’s not the fault of Duinrell. The smaller rides were just that too small for our oldest. We did have a LOT of fun and I’d highly recommend Duinrell to families looking for a good value holiday with plenty to do. Staying here is a fantastic alternative to a traditional beach holiday. If you are coming from abroad, it is in an excellent location to explore other parts of Netherlands, so can easily be your base for a week.

We really want to check out the Efteling and then perhaps some parks in Germany in the future but will definitely be back to visit Duinrell for a day trip and a future stay – only I’m bringing another adult with me – doing this all as a single adult with two children can be very exhausting and not fun at times. A trip like this should be fun for Mom too!  

VISIT TO DUINRELL #2 – July 2020

My previous post was from 2018 – so hard to believe it’s been that long.   

We were looking at fun days out with the kids during the summer holidays and thought why not head over to Duinrell for a day of rides and fun.  With the kids being taller (well, Maebh not quiet tall enough for all the rides), it was still worth it.

First off it’s important to note that we are now visiting during COVID times.  If you are specifically interested in knowing what exactly they are doing at the park to ensure a safe holiday for guests read their measures on their website.  Only overnight guests were allowed to visit the Tiki Bad.  I get the reasoning but was a bit disappointing because it was HOT and the outdoor pool looked SOOOO inviting!   

We also made one mistake – we brought our lunch in a cooler bag and put it in the lockers near the entrance – which were €7.00 per day.  Not knowing there are two different sets of lockers inside the park – by the LePlace and by the candy store for .50 cents!!  So don’t be like us – choose the right lockers.  🙂

RIDES WHICH WERE A HUGE HIT

The kids continued to enjoy the rides…. both kids are a bit taller now and this time Maebh was brave enough to try out the Dragonfly roller coaster and more impressively she went on the Falcon.  Which I at 46 would NOT even go on… so for her it was her first time ever going on an upside down roller coaster.  A HUGE DEAL for her!

Soren and she waited in line for the Rollerban and Funs went on the other line so they could “race”.  Turned out Maebh was TOO short and had to come join me and unfortunately the boys didn’t quite line up perfectly, so one was a couple people behind and the race didn’t happen.   Would have been fun! 

Soren was thrilled to be able to go on Wild Wing again – and as he was the first person in the ride for his turn, he was told to go to the American flag – he was happy about that!  After he confirmed it was still hard to flip around – need to work on his strength! 

While both kids still enjoy bombing people (especially unsuspecting ones) in the Rowboats. 

They even went to together this time in a rowboat and allowed me to bomb them!

The kids together went on the Kikkerachtbaan, leaving me to not have to pedal Maebh the entire way like I did a couple years ago.  It was enjoyable to watch them go together… and not have to always go on the rides with them. 

SHOOTING GAME

As it was over two years ago, the shooting game is a HUGE hit especially with Soren.  If he can soak someone – even better!   We gave them a few Euros to play a couple times – and as they cannot do much with few coupons they received, they passed them along to a small kid inside the arcade before we left. 

WASSENAARSE SLAG FOR DINNER

As we are not living near the sea, I always take advantage of hanging out by the ocean.  As the park is so close to Wassenaarse Slag, we decided to head over there for dinner before heading out for the 1.5 hour drive home.  It’s only a matter of time before these gorgeous warm evenings are gone so it was nice to eat outside on the terrace by the sea at Beachclub BAIT Wassenaar.

An evening meal by the sea was a lovely way to end a nice day and we were all exhausted!  

VISIT TO DUINRELL #3 – Oct 2020

Now the kids are a bit taller, braver, have Dutch swim diplomas and I return with another adult – yippie! 🙂

Have any tips for when we return? Perhaps restaurants in Wassenaar or surrounds?  Or even tips relating to the TIki Bad – pm me or leave a comment below.  Our kids visited last time without swim diplomas, so we mostly spent the duration in the wave pool – they are so looking forward to returning in October and doing a bit more. I’m not a dare devil, so the most I’ll do is the wave pool and the lazy river – I certainly won’t go down any waterslides, but will certainly watch huge smiles on their faces as the splash down like they did at our vacation to Center Parcs.

Top 8 Things For Families To Do In Rotterdam, Netherlands

When I used to think of Rotterdam, I always associated it with a very modern American city along with the favorite football club of my son and Nils. But it was not until now doing my tourism research for our visit to the see family in the Netherlands which I see the city has a lot more to offer than Feyenoord games or the fan shop ;).  For example,  I knew they had a tram system but no idea an underground Metro.

Part of my attraction to Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general, is the style of most of houses / buildings. This is probably why I ignored Rotterdam for so long. It is also surprisingly a very family-friendly city with loads to do for children. I have complied a “top 8 things for families to do in Rotterdam” list.  But we need more than one day to get through the list.   

Note: I originally made this blogpost a few years ago when we were visiting the Netherlands and living in Ireland, but I just went back in and updated it with photos and republished. I figured now we’re living here in the Netherlands for two years and recently visited Rotterdam with [and often without] the kids, why not!

Tip: As with many other local attractions, when booking online, you can combine visits and save a few Euros!

#1 VISIT THE MARITIME MUSEUM

We absolutely LOVED this museum. Even if you are not a “water person”, I really think you’ll still find it interesting. I did a separate post on it which can be found here.   I went back a second alone with Funs and had a nice time – and a bonus, I wasn’t seasick on the platform.  We even went back a third time with the kids —  the four of us spent time on the platform doing the activities like landing the helicopter, repairing a leak in an oil pipe, etc.  This section of the museum is brilliant and a must do while there. 

As the museum closes early at 5, I took Maebh upstairs to Profession Plons, so she could have about 20 minutes of play up there as she enjoyed it when we were there the first time.  But now at 10, she is really way too old.  It is great for kids 3-8. 

#2 – TAKE A HARBOUR CRUISE 

There are a few options available for you to visit and sightsee by water including hop on and off boats and of course water taxis and aqua shuttle. 

First is Spido tours. Among the busy traffic of sea-going and inland ships, this trip is a special journey through one of the largest harbours in the world. You can see Rotterdam’s impressive skyline with its imposing buildings glide by, and then get a unique view of the harbours shipyards, docks and the hypermodern trans shipping of thousands of containers. Last but not least the tour will end with a view of the steamship ‘Rotterdam’, the former cruise flagship of shipping company Holland America Line. An exciting 75 minutes with clear descriptions of everything you see.

Second is Splashtours which is similar to the Ducktours in Boston but instead of a WW2 style vehicle it’s an amphibious​ bus!  You have the option of first taking a tour where you drive through the city before ‘splashing’ into the river Maas.

But unlike the funny Boston drivers who give live commentary, here your tour was TV footage and audio.

#3 – PANNENKOEKENBOAT

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If the idea of eating UNLIMITED Dutch pancakes with a variety of toppings while seeing Rotterdam by boat seems like your type of fun, you won’t want to miss this place.  They offers variety of sailings from 75-minute to 2.5 hours!   They even have a ball pit area to keep the younger kids entertained. While I’d find this a bit boring personally, I’d go along for the kids as I know they’d love it.   Book online here

#4 – PLASJWIJCK PARK

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This place is so unique and a place the kids loved to visit and were never bored!  It’s called an amusement park but it’s more of an indoor and outdoor play space with a petting zoo and water playground. The parks website is only in Dutch but this review is in English and is very thorough and shows how fun this place can be for kids. While we visited, I never got around to do a post on it.  We’ll have to re-visit.

#5 – BLIJDOORP ZOO – AKA – ROTTERDAM ZOO

Also known as Diergaard Blijdorp, it is recognized as one of the most beautiful zoos in Europe, it is home to giraffes, tigers, seals, gorillas, polar bears all having their own unique habits.  Other highlights include the award-winning butterfly garden area, Amazonica and an aquarium area Oceanium.  We ended up visiting this zoo without the children but will take them next time.  Visit my post – A Day at the Blijdoorp Zoo. 

#6 – EUROMAST

The Euromast is Rotterdam’s iconic observation tower. It was built in 1960 to mark the occasion Floriade, an international flower and garden exhibition. Its height at 101 meters was the tallest building back in the days. Unfortunately, Euromast quickly lost its title due to the ever changing Rotterdam’s skyline. In 1970, Euromast retaliated with additional 85 meters by adding a rotating elevator – ‘Space Tower’.

I just did a blogpost about our recent visit to the Euromast – read it here:  The Euromast – Experience the most stunning views of Rotterdam

#7 – SS ROTTERDAM CRUISE SHIP 

This former Trans-Atlantic liner has been transformed into a restaurant/bar and 254 room hotel. The ss Rotterdam is the largest passenger ship ever built in The Netherlands: 228 meters long, 28 meters wide and 61 meters in height. It was inaugurated by Dutch Queen Juliana in 1958. Until 1971 it ran scheduled services to New York City, but turned more towards cruises when air traffic became more popular. You can read more about the history and things onboard on their site.   We went here for a drink and I posted about it in my blog post – A Day Out in Rotterdam.  We ended up going back this time taking the kids on – but of course, it was drizzly that day too so no chance for a dip in the pool or a drink on the Lido Deck.  Read about my blog post here:  ss Rotterdam: Legendary steamship with a nostalgic atmosphere. 

#8 – VISIT A MUSEUM

There are several other museums to visit where the children will be entertained and at the same time learn something new. 

Natuurhistorisch Museum   Rotterdam features skeletons, stuffed animals, fossils, butterflies.

Museum Rotterdam ’40 – ’45  features all things pertaining to the War and the resistance. It’s a reminder of how people lived and what they did during the war. It is a treasure trove of information and stuff like cigar boxes, Jewish stars, etc 

Kunsthal  There is always something for families and children to do in the Kunsthal. Children between 6 and 12 years old can go on their own Look & Do tour of the main exhibition of that moment, while for teenagers between 12 and 18 years there are Viewer Guides. Get inspired by the exhibition ‘Masterly! Four centuries of drawing and painting’. Dive into the DrawingLAB and create your own work of art!

While I know there are so many MORE things to do in Rotterdam, these are some  of things to do with the kids.  When we do more things, I’ll add more details and photos.  Have any tips of fun things I can do with the kids?  

Check out my other blog posts relating to this fabulous city Rotterdam:

A Day Out In Rotterdam
Maeslantkering: Visiting the Storm Surge Barrier
A Day at the Blijdorp Zoo
Cafe Dukok – Best Apple Pie in Rotterdam
Day & Day Hot & Hot – Hot Pot Restaurant Review
ss Rotterdam: Legendary steamship with a nostalgic atmosphere. 

 

Kool-Aid Dyed Hair For Kids

So thanks to real-life and to Pinterest, Tic Tok and the entire social media influences, my nearly 10 year old decided she wanted to dip the ends of her hair a color and for her 10th birthday.  She wasn’t sure which color – pink, blue, purple….  but decided on pinkish.     I thought it would a fun thing for her to express herself – why not?  SO I agreed!  Plus it’s not permanent!!

BEFORE PHOTO

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I asked my hairdresser here if they dyed kids hair, but she didn’t.  So we did some searches and decided to try the Kool-Aid method.  It is simple, cheap, not permanent, and won’t damage her hair like typical hair dyes might!  All it takes is 15 minutes, a little water, and some Kool-Aid packets!

Sounds simple right… well, as we live in the Netherlands, Kool-Aid is not a thing here – thankfully as it’s disgusting to drink – just my opinion.  Perhaps we could have tried to find it at Kelly’s Expat Shop but we didn’t go looking.   Worst case we’d have to find some sort of child-friendly chalk but my sister volunteered to send me an assortment of colors from which she could choose.   Very nice of her considering the package costs €15  – outrageous for postage!

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SUPPLIES

  • Kool-Aid packages (use 2-3 packages to get a more vibrant color)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Heat-proof bowl/glass which hair will be put into
  • Old t-shirt & dark old towel [which will get ruined]  Note:  I used a few sheets of paper towels to wrap up the hair at the end as I don’t own any old dark towels only nice white ones.)
  • Plastic gloves – optional but I highly recommend

THE PROCESS WE FOLLOWED

This process is best done on newly washed hair that has been completely dried and combed through.    If you only want to have the underneath part of the hair colored, separate it and put the rest of the hair up in a clip.  We chose to do the entire bottom part so we did a low ponytail.

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As mentioned above, be sure you have  your child dress in an old t-shirt that you don’t care about getting colored.  The hair will most likely drip and could possibly dye the shirt they are wearing.   Or you could also put a towel over the shoulders.  I don’t have an old dark towel, so I used paper towels instead in the end to wrap up the pony.  Also, I would recommend gloves if you don’t want your fingers to also be the color of the hair!

MIXING THE KOOL AID DYE

Combine your Kool-Aid packages (we used only one = Tropical Punch) and a cup of water in a pot and heat on medium-high heat until boiling.   Boil for one minute, then remove from the heat.  Pour your mixture into a heat resistant cup or bowl – I used a pyrex measuring cup.   Be very careful – as your child will need to sit with this boiling hot liquid behind him/her.    Depending on how much hair you want colored will determine how much liquid you want.   I read later that adding a few drop of condition to this process helps the color go on more evenly – ???

CAREFULLY DIP HAIR IN HEAT RESISTANT BOWL

Dip hair or (ponytail) into Kool-Aid mixture.  I used a plastic spoon/fork to move the hair around every few minutes to ensure we got it all and as she has really thick hair.  As you’ll see in the final photo, the color didn’t evenly cover all the hair the first time we tried this.  Second time, I might skip the pony and just put the hair in freely.  [will update post with photos if we do it a second time]

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HOW LONG DO I LEAVE IN THE HAIR?

Well, I did her hair in one section and let it soak for about 10 minutes total.  If you have darker hair may need 20-25.  Once the hair is done, ring it out with an old towel to avoid drips (again I  used thick paper towels and it was fine).   You can do strands if you want the same way vs just one big pony if you want to do different colors.   Repeat and move on to the next section until all is complete.

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FINAL STEPS

Once it was colored as you want, it’s time to blow-dry the hair using a comb to brush out any tangles.  It could be stuff and a bit sticky – hers was.   Then style as you wish.

Here is was evident that it was a bit more orange.   She doesn’t mind it at all but I think one of these days soon, we’ll give it another try with “Cherry” so that it will be more pink color as originally hoped.   Will update with new photos – if & when we do it.

 

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HOW TO REMOVE KOOL AID HAIR DYE

Depending on how often you wash your hair the Kool-Aid will naturally fade in about two to three weeks time.  But if you really want to remove the dye for your hair sooner you can try this.  Boil a pot of water on the stove. Pour the boiling water into a heat safe container. To the water add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and stir to dissolve. Dip your hair into the water for about 30 seconds. You should instantly see the dye coming off. Hair may be dipped a few times if needed. This is extremely drying for the hair so be sure make to deep conditioner.

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Update: April 11th

Sinterklaas Surprises – Love It or Hate It It’s a Dutch tradition and we LOVE it!

Sinterklaas Surprises – love it or hate it – it’s tradition!  If you have kids group 5-8, chances are your kids are required to make a “SUR-PRE-ZUH” leading up to Sinterklaas.  If you are new to Netherlands, you might not want to get caught off guard and show up with something less than expected – might be uncomfortable for the receiver and of course your child the giver.  This mom writes about her experiences on a local site.

Last year was our first full school year in the Netherlands, so it was our first experience with “Sinterklaas Surprises” and celebrating Sinterklaas.  So we made our own family celebrations  and then each year we add (or subtract) or edit.  This year the kids were looking so forward to all the festivities.  But as we also celebrate Christmas, they knew not to expect too many gifts on the 5th.  Also this was the first year we had two non-believers so it made it easier to set expectations.   Though it was quite sad at the same time as M – who had been questioning it all along was apparently told by the teacher – grrr!  So in the end – she was more mad that sad – asking “how could you lie to me for so many years?”  She is over it now but there was one full night of unconsolable drama and tears….

All in all, what the kids were looking forward to most this year was the Sinterklaas Surprises at the school.  In fact, we visited Vlieland again but this time our plan was to head up on the 5th – so no movie this year.  But when we realized they’d do the surprises in the morning, we moved to the evening ferry so  they could be at school the entire day to participate.   Luckily our school has a study day the next day, so we had the day off and could enjoy our time in Vlieland.   I’ll make a separate post about our time there.

SINTERKLAAS SURPRISES

You can see from this year’s surprises, some kids with and without help from parents spend a lot of time and thought into the surprise and others not much.

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For a child receiving a present which  is GEARED TOWARDS THEM and THEIR PERSONAL INTERESTS & HOBBIES is very special.   Perhaps even especially for girls. They even fill in forms to include their hobbies and interests along with things they do not like.   So with that said, even if you have not a creative bone in your body, a simple google search will turn up tons of ideas like this Pinterest board with nearly 300 ideas50 Nice & Easy Sinterklaas Surprise Ideas!   It is really not that hard to create a surprises but I guess you have got to want to make it and not treat it as a nuisance.

Sadly unlike last year, where she received an amazing surprise – a purple ice skate, [which is still on display in her bedroom] this year, she received one that was let’s just say more suited for a child who plays soccer and probably created in less than 10 minutes the night before.  

So for her and rightly so, she was a bit disappointed.  But as the is a mature 9 year old, and a nice girl, she didn’t get upset or cry, but you could tell when she brought it home, she was disappointed.   I wonder what this boy’s reaction would be if he were to receive a ballet slipper whipped together in less than 5 minutes – I’m sure he’d also be disappointed!  Anyway, this was her surprise and it goes down in the record books and went out in the next days recycling.

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My son received one right up his alley – a “MEME”! As he is always posting MEMEs on his friends app and sharing them with me so it was really perfect!

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WHAT MY KIDS MADE MADE

Here are the suprises my kids gave – along with a typed poem – the one of the left was a punch surprise – inside each hole was treats and a big chocolate letter inside.    And the dog looking cat (ha ha) was made out of fluffy cotton balls – inside the tiny box in the front was a package of washi tape and inside was also a giant chocolate letter.

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SINTERKLAAS KOEKJES

On the 5th there is a bit of a class party, Sint and some Piets visit the school, etc so I baked Sint cookies for both kids to take to school.  Extras were given out to the administration, teachers and helper as a thank you.   In fact, as I’m still starting out with my cookies, I did two rounds.

This first photo were of my first set of “oefenen koekjes” = practice cookies which I shared with local kids and my Inburgering classmates.   I picked up this cookie cutter for €1.50 at Dille & Camille but I found it a bit too small.

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Second photo were the actual cookies which were brought into school.  I ended up ordering online a larger Sint cookie cutter for €2.50 from Koekdesign.nl and it was perfect!    I put the in plastic baggies as I assumed some kids would take them home, but turned out they all ate them there.  Good to know for the future – no bags!   Now that I have PME 00 and 0 tips,  I know I can do a better job but they kids thought these were wonderful as is so I was happy about it and they did taste good (according to my kids). 
I never eat decorated cookies – I LOVE making and decorating but I don’t eat them. 

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I’m going to make some Winter themed cookies for their Kerst Dinner.  I’m thinking Extra Large Snowflakes, Xmas Trees, Hot Chocolate Mugs . My son asked me to also make my chili, so I’ll do both.

UPDATE:  Here are some photos of the cookies I made for the Kerst Diner –  slowly I’m getting better with consistency of the icing- still can’t get icing through the tiny  0, 00 and 1 PME to allow for fine details as hoped.   So while the tiny details are still a problem for me, I’m sure the kids are going to love these cookies – or at least I hope! 

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Maebh had a friend over and they decorated some cookies – but using buttercream frosting instead – as there was not enough time to let the royal icing dry.  Here are two photos of their beautiful creations! They are very excited to bring them to school to show their masterpieces.

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2020’s SURPRISES

Just a quick update to this post to share this year’s surprises –  A llama and a tennis racket & trophy! 

While they have 350+ days to wait until next year to start again but only for the one remaining child in groep 8! I am pretty sure middlebare students don’t do surprises.

If you are reading this and have an opinion on the whole tradition of Sinterklaas Surprises, do let me know.  Do you love it like us or do you dread it each year?

DIY: VSCO Cowie Shell Choker Necklace

My 9 year old asked me for a cowie shell chocker necklace but we haven’t been able to find one in Claires nor at the Urban Outfitters in Amsterdam,  so instead I decided to make it for her.  Of course, practice makes perfect, so I made her a few different necklaces and even a bracelet.

She’s very happy with them and changes them up when she goes to school.

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I ordered some cowie shells & some supplies online but I did have some items here already so it quite simple to make … each one takes about 6 minutes to make.

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While I cannot “label” our  9 year old a “100% VSCO girl”, she and a few of her girly friends have likens to one.   

While there are several specific hallmarks of a “VSCO girl,” which include:

  • scrunchies – Yes she has loads
  • oversized T-shirts –  Some
  • clothing from the store Brandy Melville – Never heard of her – totally a US thing. 
  • Vans – Maybe in the summer.  Not the best weather here for Vans.  She prefers Fila platform sneakers and wants Doc Maarten boots for Xmas.  
  • Pura Vida bracelets – These are totally more my style and price range than hers 🙂 
  • Fjällräven Kånken backpacks – Nope – I’m not paying that much for a backpack for her at 9 years old… an online-knock off maybe but not at real one at this age. 
  • Shell necklaces – yep, see above photos! 
  • Birkenstock Sandals  – Has not yet asked – I have Gizeh ones thought 🙂 

Another integral part of the “VSCO girl” lifestyle is being environmentally conscious, as a key component to the style is the use of products such as metal straws and Hydro Flasks to “save the turtles.”  So while we don’t go around using metal straws, we do try to avoid plastic ones. She uses a CHILLY’S AVOCADO bottle – only because we live in the Netherlands and Chillys & Doppers are more popular.   BUT…. as she was born in the US have many connections still back in the US and thanks to YOUTUBE, she is well versed in many things from the US including speaking fluent English [unlike many of her 9 year old pals].  So she “gets” a lot of the lingo and stuff which her friends don’t get.

Anyway, thankfully she doesn’t walk around putting on lip balm and doesn’t say “tssk tssk” nor “and I oop”.  She does however, watch and record videos with her girlies on TikTok.

We’ll see how long this VSCO girl trend lasts in our house … but it is all harmless and innocent!