Books of Change for Children

Wonder

This little blue book has the power to change lives and influence children (adults too) in such a positive way, that if you haven’t yet read the book to your children, go buy it now. Wonder tells the story of Auggie, a child born with a facial difference and as the reader, we endure his painstaking journey through life.  The book is honest, painful, funny and heartwarming. It teaches children empathy and encourages us to celebrate our difference.  Thank you R.J. Palacio for so many teachable moments.

Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different

Ah, this book quickly became a favorite at home with both of my children.  The short, yet inspirational stories, the colorful pictures are all captivating.  For some, the honesty and the subject matters may be too much, but for this family, I believe openness and honesty are paramount.  As an adult, the take-a-way is simple, it takes all kinds of people to make this world a beautiful place and our definition of what it means to be “male” is shifting and yet to be defined.

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls 2

We were so intrigued by the first book, that the second book was a must.  Again, the short stories about powerful, brave women caught our attention and encouraged us to be better; to dream and create ideas of our own.  The book makes for the perfect bed time read, as the text is short, but the stories fill us with messages of hope and often, we couldn’t help but keep turning the pages and allowing bedtimes to slip late into the night.

The Inventor's Secret

I’ve read this book four times in the last two days and each time I read the words, not only are the little people that stare up at the pages intrigued, but I too find myself inspired.  The beautifully illustrated book portrays the lives of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.  Two tenacious inventors, each relentless when it comes to pursuing their dreams.  I won’t give away the “secret” the two inventors cling tight to in the book, but boy is that secret the key to a life well lived.  What a genuine delight of a book!

Happy reading!

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Birthday Parties for Children in Basel

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Happy Birthday

Birthday Party Ideas

In your home country, you are more than likely already aware of all the places in which you can book a birthday party for your children, but once you move abroad, the searching begins. Don’t allow this to stress you out. The more birthday parties we attend, the less hoopla that surrounds the event, the better the party seems to go. To help you plan your next party, I have compiled a list of ideas to get you started.

 

Local Parks

We have attended several birthday parties at local parks, and I must admit they are a real treat. Children run freely, come around for snacks and cake and are once again, off to play and explore. Parents love this idea because there is little mess to clean up and the worry over too many children in one house or location simply doesn’t exist. Plan a few activities such as face painting, water balloons tosses, or other creative games to pull the children together during key times.

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Okidoki

– Küpferstrasse 3,

79540 Lörrach, Germany

+49 7621 424940

A huge indoor play place, this haven for children hosts birthday parties for children of all ages. Book in advance especially during the winter months.

 Community Centers – Familienzentrum

For a nominal rental fee, the community center in your neighborhood will rent out their common space, typically consisting of a kitchen space, equipped with a coffee machine and access to a stove, a toy room for the children in the group and a space for parents and children to sit and relax. We have enjoyed renting these spaces for our son’s winter birthday when weather prohibits long celebrations outdoors. Contact your local community center well in advance, as they tend to book – up far in advance.

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The Forest

The forest is another prime location for birthday parties. Invite friends, plan to grill with plenty of sausages, bread, also known in German as Schlangenbrot (pre-made pizza dough works perfectly if you don’t have the time to make your own), plus children love cooking the bread and the sausages on sticks over the campfire. Bring a few games to play, invite the parents to stay and allow the children to simply explore and play in their new surroundings.

Some forest playgroups even offer organized birthday parties for children of all ages. One example of this is the Waldentdeckungsraum located in the Allschwiler Wald.

Waldentdeckungsraum:

Contact person: Andrea Pfandlbauer

077 464 0959

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Zoo Basel

Basel Zoo

The Basel Zoo is a particularly special place to celebrate a birthday. The zoo will help you choose a theme for your party and will provide a unique experience, including personalized tours for all of your guests. To learn more about their offerings or to book your birthday party, please call +41 061 295 35 35.

McDonald’s

For a nominal expense, children can celebrate their birthday at McDonald’s with a few of their closest friends. Meals, a cake and party favors are all provided along with craft making possibilities.. Contact your local McDonald’s to learn more about the price and available dates.

Robispiel – Several of the Robispiel sites allow families to rent the space to host birthday parties.  Consider SpielEstrich, which costs 200 for an afternoon rental.

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Aquabasilea – Hardstrasse 57, 4133 Pratteln

Birthday parties can be booked in two – four hour time frames for children six years of age to 15. Entrance is CHF 18 for two hours per child and CHF 27 for four hours per child.

To learn more about the birthday parties offered by Aquabasilea, or to book your party visit their website at http://www.aquabasilea.ch/de/wasserwelten/kindergeburtstage.php.

Sutter Begg

The Sutter Begg located on Frankfurt-Strasse 80 in Münchenstein offers birthday parties for children from 5 years of age to 12 years old. To learn more about what they have to offer, please call +41 061 685 9696 or email them at info@sutterbegg.ch

Basler Kinder Theater Schützengraben 9, 4051

If your child enjoys theater, consider scheduling a birthday party with the Basler Kinder Theater.   The theater is for children and by children, is located at Schützengraben 9. The productions change on a routine basis and are certain to engage children from four to 16 years of age.

All Familienpass cardholders receive a discount on tickets, so be certain to have your card with your upon entry. Children who are celebrating a birthday receive free entry and all friends of the birthday child receive entry at just 5 francs. What better way to bring in a new year in your child’s life?

To learn more about the Basler Kinder Theater, please visit the website at: baslerkindertheater.ch

Happy Birthday!

*If any information is not correct, please let us know!

 

The Golden State – A Love Story

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There aren’t too many places in this world that pull us the way they used to, however, California might just be one.  Despite the fact that we know we will more than likely never live there again, the state is extremely nostalgic for us both.

Having both grown up in California (the South and the North) whenever we return, the smells, the vegetation, the salt air, and the memories all flood us with deep emotion.  We hold those years of our lives close to our hearts and recall our time in residence with joy.

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On our recent trip to California, we moved up and down the coast making stops along the way.  For our children, it was there first real California experience and thus, we felt excited to show them the best of our former home state.

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Days were spent close to family and friends engulfed in love and laughter.  For those times we were not gathering with those we hold dear, we explored beaches, forests and new landscapes.  All gorgeous, and all rich with newness.

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The trip was a genuine delight and a nice reprieve from the cold, harsh winter back home.  The sunlight, the sand, the warm winds were all welcome, but what we relished in the most were the arms of family and friends.

California is indeed a gorgeous State, with miles of coastline, stunning nature and a history that runs deep for us both.  But despite its natural beauty, what remains the most memorable of all were the moments of deep, hearty laughter, the silent gazing over children playing at their grandparent’s home, of observing shy smiles as children meet for the first time, of being able to talk in person, sharing a warm meal on a cold night, falling into arms that are warm and familiar and feeling ever so grateful to call these people family and these moments blessings.  That is and will always be California!

Interested in some of our trip highlights?  Listed below are a few of the paces we visited:

Monterey

Los Alamos/Los Olivos and Santa Ynez

Santa Barbara including:  State Street, The Mission, Beaches

Guadeloupe Sand Dunes and Beach

Napa and Sonoma

Berkeley

Winter Days for the Family

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“ Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell

Our lives, including the lives of our children, are becoming incredibly busy. With school, work, and extra curricular activities, it often feels as though we are running on an endless hamster wheel.   When the weather turns cold and wet, instead of searching for ways to occupy our time through additional activities, I like to give myself permission to move slowly. Retreating inside and bringing the pace way down, is often a blessing and reminds us that both children and adults need and require unscheduled time to play, read and be inventive. It is essentially a mind shift, a change in perspective to abandon schedules and just allow the day to unfold as it may.

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On those rainy days when we prefer to stay indoors, or when the weather is cold and blistery, we naturally have less desire to run outside (though this is still possible and encouraged) and enjoy the coziness of our homes. When unstructured play has ended, here are a few ideas to keep children engaged and creative.

Read:   My children have always enjoyed a good book, but now, at six and eight, they love to hear stories about childhood adventures. Create a cozy reading nook in your home, or a sacred place on the couch and open your favorite book. If you select a book that is also a film, commit to completing the book before you watch the movie. By finishing the book, your children have the opportunity to create the characters in their minds, set the scenes through their own imagination and visualize the book before they see it on the screen.

When reading, point out sight words (those words that are most used in your language) and then ask your children to identify such words in the text. Also, for emerging readers, take the time to allow your child to read words, or sentences to practice his or her skills.

Here is one more fun way to incorporate reading into your household. Set a goal for the number of books you hope to read over the winter months. By creating a book challenge and tracking your progress, your children will stay engaged in the process and ignite their love of reading.

Great books to read out loud include:

Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

James and the Giant Peach Roald Dahl – anything by Roald Dahl

The Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne

Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

Not sure where to find English books that don’t cost a fortune, consider purchasing used books at Bücher – Brocky. Located at Güterstrasse 137, 4053 Basel, all children’s books are just CHF 2. We have founds some remarkable treasures for the entire family at this super location right behind the SBB.

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Movies:  If you notice your children are low on energy, there is nothing wrong (I have come to terms with this myself) with making a nest of blankets on the living room floor, piling up your favorite snacks and enjoying an afternoon or evening of an at home theater experience.

Allow your children to select the movie and as a family, sit down and watch the film together. After the movie has concluded, ask your children questions about what they saw, how they felt and how they would rate the film.

Movie Recommendations:

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

Dolphin Tale

Dreamer

The Jungle Book

Paddington

Bake: Teaching children to bake is a skill that they will carry with them, so why not get started on a rainy day? Flip through your favorite cookbook and allow your children to pick the recipe that they want to make. Be sure you have the ingredients on hand and get started.

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Teach children how to read a recipe, how to measure ingredients, how to use caution when in the kitchen and finally, how to enjoy their latest creation. Strap on your aprons, measure, mix and create a family recipe the entire family will enjoy.

So, pull up a chair, pour your favorite beverage and enjoy your cake, muffins, or treats together.

Baking Suggestions: Cookies, Muffins, Cakes, Granola Bars

Baking Tips:  To enhance the nutrition of your baked goods, consider adding vegetables to your recipe. Shredded zucchini adds extra moisture to banana bread and muffins, or add shredded carrots or pureed vegetables to any recipe to boost nutrition. Consider substituting maple syrup or date syrup instead of using processed sugar.

Finally, by subsisting whole grain flour for white flour, you are also adding additional nutrients to your baked goods. Enjoy!

Learn:  Rainy days provide a wonderful opportunity to learn something new. Not sure where to start, take a moment to think about your last holiday, or family experience. If you were just at the beach and your children discovered Sea Urchins, find out all that you can about those prickly, little creatures. Where do they live, what is their life cycle, are they dangerous, how do you handle them, what do they eat, etc?

Have your child draw or write down all that they have learned and place such drawings and discoveries in a notebook that he or she can reference later.

Play Games: There is nothing like a good game and luckily, there are loads of fun games that children can play to keep them occupied. By having a family game night, or afternoon, the children are learning vital skills such as, strategy, patience and teamwork.

Some of our favorite games include: Monopoly, War – with cards, Jenga, Uno, Puzzles

When the weather turns cold or rainy, instead of allowing fear of idleness to wash over you, learn to embrace the changing of the seasons. Each year, after months of travel and busy schedules, I find myself longing for the slow pace of winter. I indulge in the warm drinks, the cozy sweaters and the ability to retreat indoors. I find our children echo that same sentiment as I observe them waking slowly, asking to wear their fluffy robes and smiles when they desire nothing more than quiet mornings spent in the house.

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With their Ovomaltine in hand, their warm socks on, they spread themselves out in their rooms, create LEGO cities, play games that haven’t been used during the hot days of summer and much like a bear in the winter months, they move at a slower pace and wait for the spring to force them outside once again.

Spring Hike II

Rodersdorf – Mariastein – Landskron – Fluh

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What better way to spend a gorgeous Sunday than to hike through the woods, to famous religious sites and on to impressive castles? In my humble opinion, there is no better way to make the most of a day that is filled with sunshine, family time and exploration.

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We did the hike listed below for the first time today and enjoyed every minute of this awesome route.

2016-04-10-Hike_23 Tram: 10 towards France – Rodersdorf tram stop – make sure to check the schedule as the tram doesn’t always go to Rodersdorf – sometimes the tram stops in Fluh and goes no further.

2016-04-10-Hike_10When your back is at the tram head left. There you will see a board with all the wanderwegs, head towards Mariastein. The walk will take you through some lovely forests, where you will continue on.

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Once you walk for about an hour or so, you will see Mariastein to your right through fields. From there you can elect to head down towards Mariastein or follow the small brown signs to Ruine Landskron.

2016-04-10-Hike_55 If you haven’t been to Landskron before, this is a beautiful castle located in France. Approaching the castle from this vantage point, offers a stunning view. Plan to have a picnic at the castle. There are a couple of places to grill, or simply pull up a spot at the castle. From there, head towards the left of the castle and head down to Fluh. The tram 10 will take you back to Basel.

2016-04-10-Hike_33 The walk took a good portion of our day. This walk is possible with a stroller, however, there are several uphill portions, though nothing too intense.  Have fun and enjoy the spring!