Category Archives: Mom Diaries

Day Trip: Schloss Beck Freizeitpark

We recently decided to do a Family Day Trip to Schloss Beck Freizeit in Bottrop - about 45 minutes from home. It was a tip given by another parent on a mum group I joined on Facebook. I was a bit skeptical at first, since Miss E is still not old enough to go on normal children rides. But we had a look on their website and read reviews and just decided to go check it out. And wow! What a day we had.

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This park is fully catered for the young-ins. And with adults only paying EUR12 (kids from 3 years old pay EUR11), it really does come up as a cheap family day out. Most Theme Parks cost upwards of EUR35 per person and they all too often do not have many rides and attractions for very young children.

Bonus is that you can also bring your own food into the park. There's loads of picnic tables spread throughout the park, so pack a nice lunch and lots of drinks!

Let's gooo...

Once we got our tickets and got into the park, we rented a cart (Bollerwagen) for EUR2, packed all our belongings inside as well as Miss E. But she didn't stay in it too long - the first attraction was right in front of the cart rental and she wanted to go: the Park Train.

It started drizzling as we got off the train and we quickly looked for cover. It didn't last too long and once the dark cloud passed over us, we made our way to one of the indoor play areas. Miss E did not enjoy that too much (and neither did I), because there were bigger kids in there who were a bit rough, so we decided to move on. We reached the outside playground. Here are a few different swings and slides: some Miss E wanted to try, others she found a little intimidating.

There are also water attractions:

There are peddle-boats for up to 4 people (two peddling at the back). These boats you may take out into the water for roughly 20 minutes. The lake is not big enough for a 20 minute round though, even with only Papa Bear peddling.

Once back on dry land, Miss E and I went "horse-riding" and then went onto the mini-Ferris Wheel.

That was loads of fun. Miss E also wanted to fly in an airplane (which Mama Bear thought was too fast, but she enjoyed).

We crossed the lake high up in the trees and she met a Bat. On this side of the lake is a much larger Ferris Wheel (not as big as at Kirmes), big enough for even Papa Bear and Bobo the Traveling Monkey to join us. From the top, we could see most of the park as well as decide what other rides we wanted to do.

Miss E was adamant that she wanted to do the one ride I was not looking forward to - the Lady Bug Coaster. I'm not a huge Roller-Coaster fan, however I will try them once. Of course I was not going tell Miss E that she couldn't go on this one, so I gathered as much courage as I could and headed for the long line.

One thing Miss E thoroughly enjoys is a good slide. In the outside playgrounds around our house, she enjoys going up the stairs and sliding down. She could do that all day. At Schloss Beck, there is a very high, very long and colorful slide. And so we HAD to do that. She first went with her dad and they had so much fun coming down. So of course I wanted to go too.

One downside?

Yes! Only one negative I could come up with: We started getting hungry and sat down for some waffles - which took forever! Even though the weather was cloudy, the park was super full. Yet, not all the refreshment booths were operating. There are a few scattered all over the park. But Papa Bear had to walk a bit further down the way and then had to wait in a really long line of other hungry patrons. And they also only had 4 staff members manning the booth and only 3 waffle irons.

It was a really long wait and Miss E was eager to go onto the next attraction. But seriously, that was the only negative that came up that day - besides the weather, which they don't really have control over.

We had made our way back to the entrance / exit and Miss E wanted to spend a few more minutes on the trampoline. As luck would have it though, rain started coming down again and we quickly made our way under the canopy, where Miss E ate her Bretzel and mum and dad had a warm cup of coffee.

We completed our day with a short walk back to the car and of course, Miss E fell asleep on our journey home.

Conclusions?

It was a really really good day. For the cost of the adult ticket, it really is such good value for money. Many of the rides and attractions do not have staff standing by - those rides are easy to navigate and you actually just press a button once you are ready. There are loads of picnic tables and if you bring along a picnic blanket, that works too. We had a great time! Miss E enjoyed it so much and we will definitely be returning.

So, if you are ever out this way, and you have smaller children, this park is definitely something to put on your list to visit. It is less than an hour by car, you can also get there by train. It's cheaper than other theme parks and it definitely caters to Tiny Humans. Well worth the trip!

Recommendations:

I highly recommend wearing layers. Even in Summer, when the rain hits, the temperature goes down. Of course bring either a poncho or umbrella for the unforeseen showers that happen now and then. Water or drinks is a must (there was even a group of young men who brought their own beer). I would also bring my own food and snacks, especially for the kiddies. One other thing I also would recommend is your own wagon (Bollerwagen). The one we rented was fine, but a little small. A lot of families brought their own and of the ones I've seen, they are a bit more spacious.

Till next time, Happy Day-trippin'
Zephora

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When Summer knocks you off your feet

This year, Summer really knocked me off my feet...and not in a good way. I thought I had prepared well for the summer holidays, but the lemons kept coming my way. Our Day Mother went on 3 weeks summer vacation and so I had 3 weeks with Miss E home. I had planned Play Dates; activities out of the house; even a trip up north to visit the family. it was all supposed to go according to plan. But I should have learned from life so far:

Nothing ever goes according to plan...

On day 1 of being home, Miss E started getting a cold. A nasty one at that. Snot all day, everywhere. She was still in good spirits, but I found myself cleaning up snot every 5 minutes. And if I missed just one sneeze, or was 2 seconds too late, I would almost always find streaks of the stuff along her cheek and in her hair. Add to this was the start of the 30 month Sleep Regression that I was warned about when she went through her 2 year Sleep Regression. And for some reason, Miss E was extremely attached to me - I had a very tired tail for 3 weeks.

And of course to top it all off, due to Climate Change, Summer never really happened. Sure, it was super warm (sometimes even hot). But we had no real sun, and most days we woke up to heavy rain.

Now, of course some people (I won't mention names) have told me that it's not bad weather, just bad clothing. But I am from the south, and I don't like going out in the rain, with layers of clothing. It's just not who I am. On the one day I decided to go out in the rain with Miss E, I woke up two days later with a fever, aching body, runny nose and really sore throat. Miss E ended up at the doctor with Bronchitis.

When it rains, it pours...

With all this going on, I decided to cancel our trip up north. All our Play Dates cancelled when it was mentioned that Miss E was ill. We spent lots of time indoors and Cabin Fever really started setting in. I was losing the plot. I was exhausted because Miss E wasn't sleeping well; not getting natural Vitamin D; not really having any adult interaction and I couldn't come up with anymore interesting activities to do.

I was falling behind with house work, meal planning, budgeting and of course blogging. And this made me even more depressed. I felt like I was failing my family: Papa Bear was coming home to chaos each night; when I did manage to cook dinner, it didn't turn out well (I remember burning something); I wasn't interested in being human because that meant showering and eating (and who has time with a tail literally hanging onto my leg?). I had consumed more caffeine in those three weeks than I did since Miss E was born. And it made me extremely lonely.

This was by far the most difficult few weeks in memory. And I really wish I had a village. I won't lie: I envy family members who have Grandma and Grandpa living 'around the corner', or Aunt and Uncle who has kids (so cousins) in the same city or town.

Tiny light at end of tunnel...

But life has thankfully gotten back to some form of normalcy. Miss E is back at the Day Mother; my house is once again habitable; I'm back at my computer to budget and blog. But I am still exhausted; Miss E is still not back to sleeping properly. I remember a meme I once saw: it had a picture of a man and woman sitting on the couch just looking ahead (probably at a tv screen). The bubble over the man's head was empty. And over the woman's head were several bubbles, all filled with things you would find on a To-Do-List. And at the bottom of the picture it read (something along the lines of): If you want to know what it is like to be a woman: open 20 tabs in your internet browser on your computer.

Sitting here, at my desk writing this post, this is exactly what is going on in my head right now. I have a million things to take care of - things not even seen by others. And I still get weird comments like : what do you do all day, when Miss E is not home? How can you be tired, you don't work. How could you have forgotten this or why haven't you done that?

So yes, Miss E has been back at her Day Mother a week now and she will in fact be starting Kindergarten soon. But that doesn't stop the wheel from spinning. If I have learned anything from the 'Summer Break', it would be that nothing is set in stone - expect the unexpected because nothing can truly be predicted.

So with all my tabs still open in my head: here's to getting over summer and enjoy the falling leaves and cooler evenings.

I'm back, my Lovelies. Thank you for your patience. More content to come soon.

Zephora

Rheinkirmes 2017

Mama Bear and Miss E take on Rheinkirmes 2017!

The Fair, or Carnival as it is known as where I am from, has always been one of the things in life that I look forward to attending. I don't remember too much of my childhood. But the few good memories I do have, far outweigh the bad ones. And one of my most vivid memories i have, is of me holding my dad's hand, while my older sister holds our mother's hand, running across the street from the bus station at Mitchell's Plain Town Center towards the Big Wheel that was the biggest attraction at the Town Center Carnival.

That memory brings back such warm feelings in my heart. Memories of eating Candy Floss and Green Toffee Apples; of being afraid to go on the Big Ferris Wheel because I always thought we would get stuck all the way on the top; of catching ducks with a little fishing rod that has a magnet as a hook. And then later on, when I was tall enough to play basket ball. I have memories of going home with little trinkets we won playing the games as well as cone-shaped bags of popcorn.

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Typing this now is giving me butterflies in my tummy. I love going to the Carnival or Fair; I love the lights from the rides in the evening; the shiny horses on the carousel; the screams from silly teenagers on the roller-coasters.

I have lived in Germany for nearly 4 years. The first Rhein Fair I visited, I was just over 4 months pregnant. The second time, Miss E tagged along. And last year, we gave it a miss. This year, I was super excited to go. And the reason for my excitement, was because it would be the first time Miss E would actually know what is going on around her. She can go on rides with me, play games, win stuff, eat Candy Floss (which she doesn't like, so haters please don't hate).

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So on the first Sunday of Kirmes, I strapped Miss E into her Bike Seat behind me and we biked the 9.2km to Oberkassel. We spent the next 4 hours at Kirmes. And I will tell you: I have never had so much fun at Rheinkirmes, as I had with my child. It was very surprising and also really rewarding. She played ball games, and wanted to go on carousels. We ate fried mushrooms and french-fries. We danced to music and ran from one game stand to another.She drove a pink cadilac, then a purple truck and co-piloted a red fire-engine.

It was by far, one of the BEST days I had ever spent with my child. And being a Stay-at-home-mum, that is saying something. I was happy, she was happy and not once did either of us feel frustrated.

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That day, I realised that this is the sort of thing I wanted for my child: making memories and experiencing life with her, through her eyes. It isn't about how many books she has in her ever-growing library. Nor about her collection of plush animals. She really enjoys the one-on-one personal time with her mum or her dad. She enjoys the special moments we share and doing things together is so very important to her.

I'm glad I could start this fire in her to love the Fair as I do. I know that might sound like I am forcing my child to enjoy the things that I enjoy. But that isn't what I mean at all. I just look back on how much fun I had going to the Fair and doing that with my parents. And it's those warm memories that I will forever cherish. So of course it only makes sense that I would want that for Miss E as well: so that one day when she is older, she too would think back on the time when she went to Kirmes with her mother and had the best time ever!

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Do you guys like going to the Fair? What is your favourite ride or activity at the Fair? Comment down below or hit me up on Facebook.

Till Later, Dearies.
Zephora

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Quality Family Time July 2017

Many people would agree that Family Time is important. Some would go as far as to quote Dolly Parton: "Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life"

I tend to agree with that quote. However, I also tend to believe that quality family time makes more of a difference (especially with younger kids) than just spending time together. It's great to go out for a stroll in the park with Miss E, but if I'm only half paying attention to her and checking my cellphone every 5 minutes, that isn't quality time. Not only do I feel distracted, but Miss E also feels like she then is not as important.

Quality time to me is shutting off from the world, even if it's just half an hour. And being in the moment with my loved-ones. Being present, in mind and body. And so when I do our yearly vacation plans, I keep in mind that for long stretches of time, I will not be active on social media, I will not be blogging, nor will I be answering text messages minutes after receiving them - because in fact, my phone is switched off.

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This year, we have had a few mini-holidays. And recently Papa Bear, Miss E and I drive across the border into The Netherlands and vacationed in a resort north of Amsterdam. The weather was not that great and it wasn't exactly 'white sandy beach'. But it was still really nice.

We had a few hiccups: first house had no hot water; moved to another house; second house had no freezer. Luckily though, we were on vacation mode and we took everything with a pinch of salt, stayed calm and carried on.

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Even in the bad weather (heavy rain, strong wind), we still managed to have the best time by making the most of our situation. And our bonus was that our booking was a week before the summer school holidays and so we quite literally shared the park with about 20 other families. On Day 2 we shared the inside pool with three other people. Our last night, we decided to have dinner at the restaurant, and we didn't dine with anyone else. When we took a stroll along the lake, we passed one lady and her dog.

It was quiet, it was wonderful. Miss E had the best time. She had her parents' full attention for the entire week. Yes, I still had my camera out everywhere, but other than that: no cellphone.

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It was a little on the short side for my liking, but I was also quite happy when I fell asleep in my own bed back home...does that even make sense?

One thing I learnt on this trip, is that Miss E is growing up. Just this past Easter, she was afraid to sit on a pony. Now she wants to ride every chance she gets. And life gets in the way sometimes, we don't realise the small leaps she makes in her development. And so I want to try and make more of an effort with being in the present with her.

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Carving out some quality time with the family is important to me. More important than material gifts and wealth. Living in the moment, making memories and experiencing life with those we love. That is what makes life worth living. At least that is how it is for me, now that I am a mum.

Quality Time, Family Time, call it what you like. At the end of the day, we all want our children to remember that time we did that thing together and nothing interrupted that beautiful (or fun) moment. Sometimes, all it takes is one afternoon together, building Lego towers. Other times we have to switch off for a week, maybe two and get in some extra bonding time. I have felt of late, that those precious moments are what make the horrible moments in parenting, better.

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What do you mums and dads do for quality time with the family? Do you ever switch off and go dark, so that you can give your family your undivided attention? How do you stay 'in the moment' with your kids? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Till later,
Zephora

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