Winter Days for the Family

2016-04-12-Titls_128

“ 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.

2016-04-12-Titls_077

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.

2016-12-23-luna_35

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.

2016-12-25-decem_01

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.

2015-02-21-Snwsh_049jpg

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.

Advertisements

Spring Hike II

Rodersdorf – Mariastein – Landskron – Fluh

2016-04-10-Hike_64

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.

2016-04-10-Hike_53

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.

2016-04-10-Hike_42

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!

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winter can be tough.  Many of us would rather stay indoors away from the rain and cold temperatures, cozy in our homes, but when you have children, staying indoors all day simply isn’t an option.  If you are looking for a beautiful exhibit that the entire family will enjoy, then don’t miss the beautiful Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit currently on display at the Natural History Museum of Basel.

2014-07-12-Bfly_044jpg
This child–friendly museum houses live bugs, microscopes for hands-on discovery, large dinosaur skeletons, a woolly mammoth and a great deal of other opportunities to keep children occupied.  The top floor is currently home to some spectacular images shot from professional and novice photographers from around the globe.  Children will be inspired by the gorgeous images of animals, natural landscapes and might even be keen to take – up photography when they see the child section on display profiling budding artists.  There is one section that shows man vs. animals, which provides graphic images of how man uses/abuses animals. This section can easily be skipped over if one finds the images too disturbing, or better yet, may just provide a wonderful opportunity to teach children compassion and kindness.

2014-07-12-Bfly_012

The exhibit will be on display until April 3, 2016.

Address: Augustinergasse 2, 4051 Basel
Hours: Closed Monday     Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 17:00
Cost of Admission –Museum Pass Accepted or CHF Adults CHF 7 and Youth/Students – CHF 5
1st Sunday of the month – Free Admission -I believe the last hour of museum operation  is open free of charge under their “happy hour” admission.

Kids Explore

Part of the fun, as a kid growing up, is exploring your environment and testing your limits.  This is contrasted by a parents fear of letting go.  The benefits of kids exploring outdoors is unparalleled!  Have you ever heard of Forest Playgroup for kids?  This has been going on for years in Switzerland, a great time for the kids, and teaches them about nature; to respect it, and to enjoy it.

20151023_2015-10-17-Grill_016

This photo was posted as part of the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Careful

Brunni, Engelberg

2015-09-27-Engel_84We needed a distraction, something to take our minds off of Dad’s long departure that would take him to South America and ever so far from us.  We understood his need to support an incredible organization (Operation Smile), but that didn’t mean we would miss him any less. The perfect remedy for his absence seemed to be to escape and the mountains were the ideal destination.

2015-09-27-Engel_60 2015-09-27-Engel_68

As a mother traveling solo, I needed something quick and relatively easy. Thus, we made our way to Engelberg, a short 2:00 train ride from Basel. We dropped off our belongings at the Angels Lodge, made our way to the Tourist Information Center, obtained a map and headed out to explore. We happened to stumble across the iconic Swiss celebration of bringing the cows down from the mountains for the season, which was a hit with the children. We then made our way to the Monastery, meandered through, and entered the shop where we were able to witness cheese being made (excellent educational opportunity), before purchasing some locally made yogurt, which we ate in the warmth of the sun.

2015-09-27-Engel_93

Just a short walk past the monastery to the left (towards the end of the valley), there is a lift station that will take you up to Brunni. Brunni is a haven for children of all ages. With swings, a trampoline, rock climbing wall, a water station, slides, ropes course and knock your socks off views, the entire family will be happy. We spent most of the day playing, and exploring and when we grew tired, we had an early dinner at the restaurant located at the lift station. For more hiking options and less crowds, take the chair lift up to the top.

The next morning we woke to heavy fog blanketing those gorgeous peaks I came to see, bummer. Instead of throwing in the towel and heading for home, we took the gondolas up to Trübsee and hiked around the lake. Fresh air, glimmers of mountains and virtually no one on the trails, we were all happy, despite the pang in our chest for the man of the house.

2015-09-27-Engel_201 2015-09-27-Engel_246

Hotel Note:

We stayed at the Angels Lodge located about a 10-minute walk from the train station. The hotel was perfectly clean, the staff was warm and welcoming and the breakfast was a great spread. For those not traveling with small children, there is a hot tub and sauna onsite, which is a lovely treat after a long day of hiking in the mountains.  There are no special facilities for children, however, we spent very little time at the hotel and there are plenty of play opportunities in the town and up in the mountains.

The Angels Lodge – Alpenstrasse 1, 6390 Engelberg – 041 637 20 45

2015-09-27-Engel_151