Annoucing Bear & Dragon Adventures: How to Catch a Star

A beautiful adventure
A beautiful adventure

Sunday mornings are for late wakings, slow sipping coffee, trips to the market and storytelling. I hope you have the first three checked off because here comes the  last.

This summer in Sweden, I thought I would pack away my camera and not touch it for the full three weeks. Separation makes the heart fonder and all. Well I was WRONG. Sweden in the summer, and all through the Nordics for that matter, are a wonderland of forest, wildflowers, long sunrises (waaay too early) and even longer sunsets (just perfect). The gentle sweeping of barley fields made for an irresistible setting. A trip to a local lopis (rummage shop) reviewed two bug catching nets and a story was born.

How to Catch a Star is the debut of a new Bear & Dragon offering, Bear & Dragon Adventures. This is a more stylized type of session where we develop a fantasy, style it with a special look and props and create a wonderland for play and adventure. The editing approach is equally fantastical. Your child as art. The first event will be announced early next year and set in one of the lush rooms inside the Chateau at Domaine Solvay. The theme will be Royals. If you have a little princess or prince who’s dream is sweeping into their own castle this is the one for you. 🙂

As the weather has taken a turn for the frigid, I hope this sweet tale warms you all the way through. Happy Sunday.

First make a wish
First make a wish
A partner is a must
A partner is a must
Set out with determination and love in your heart
Set out with determination and love in your heart
Search high and low
Search high and low
Close your eyes and feel
Close your eyes and feel
Never give up
Never give up
Follow the last rays of the sun
Follow the last rays of the sun
Fill your heart with joy and they will come to you!
Fill your heart with joy and they will come to you!
There they are!
There they are!
Give chase, soar
Give chase, soar
Almost got them!
Almost got them!
Now slow down and wait
Now slow down and wait
A beautiful dance begins
A beautiful dance begins
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Things to do with a toddler or kid in Brussels: Blow your train lover’s mind at Train World

Chugga, chugga, choo, choo!
Chugga, chugga, choo, choo!

It is a stunning fall day and with an special Momma and Babatwo morning ahead we decided to get ourselves down to the new Train World in Schaerbeek. If you have a major train lover on your hands then you might want to think carefully before taking them to this over-the-top mecca of traindom because it is very possible that their heads might actually explode. As a medium train appreciator myself, I was still blown away by the sheer volume of the collection and impressive attention to detail. It is truly is a captivating experience.

We arrived around opening time (10 – 17:00 everyday except Monday) and walked right into the ticket office. Very well organized entrance where you pay the fee (10 EUR for adults and FREE for children under six) and receive a map, ticket which you scan to get entry to the different buildings and a handheld devise which provides commentary in English, German, French and Dutch.

The entry takes you into the oldest remaining train station in Brussels built in 1887. Here you can catch a glimpse of the evolution of the ticket office including original tickets, train conductor uniforms and some neat model trains. I have to admit, I was already pretty satisfied that my 10 EUR was well spent but truly we have not even scratched the surface.

Exiting from the rear you walk a bit to the right into the modern building constructed for the museum. We scanned our ticket, opened the door and were immediately engulfed in a whole new world. The first space is dark. Really very dark and the music is tense, suggesting a scary but bold adventure ahead. Looming in the darkness were six large and fully restored engines dating back to the 1830’s. For me this was good fun. I loved the little spine tingle of this foreign environment. For the little guy, not so much. Poor thing was scared nearly out of his wits and to be honest, never fully recovered until we exited to the bright sunshine of the outside world.

So needless to say, we beat a fairly quick path through the rest but I was both seriously impressed and mentally book marking all the things I wanted to more fully explore when I come again. The museum traces the history of train engines, train lifestyle and travel, track development, and yes, even has a train simulation which was a hit based on the number of pushable buttons alone. Each exhibit is thoughtfully put together, creating a fascinating and immersive environment. It really shows off the best of the best of modern museum experiences that can blow us away even when coming from a high tech and high information lifestyle.

Although it was a little scary for my almost two year old (he’s a little afraid of the dark to begin with), I would still recommend this experience for the toddler and kid set. It is beautiful, interesting and just enough hands-on to keep them going to the end. With friendly opening hours and excellent value for money, this is a spot you can visit again and again, each time finding new surprises. And how do you get there? By train of course. Choo, choo!

Where: Train World, Prinses Elisabethplein 5, 1030 Schaarbeek

When: 10:00 – 17:00 everyday except Monday. Be warned last tickets are sold before 15:45 so that you have time to enjoy the full experience.

How much: 10 EUR for adults and FREE for under six. 7.50 EUR for 7-26 and older than 65.

Ticket please
Ticket please
Plenty of running around and pointing in the old train station :)
Plenty of running around and pointing in the old train station 🙂
Me train!
Me train!
Handsome traveller
Handsome traveller
Silly boy!
Silly boy!
Open, open, open
Open, open, open
An intrepid adventure
An intrepid adventure
All aboard!
All aboard!
Glimpse the inner workings
Glimpse the inner workings
Now don't be late!
Now don’t be late
The simulator was a hit!
The simulator was a hit!
Passengers
Passengers

Things to do with a toddler or kids in Brussels: Have it your way at Kessel-Lo

Two seeking adventure
Two seeking adventure

Ages and ages ago, I took a walk with a friend and our new babies in Kessel-Lo. Taking in the monumental climbing areas and wood structures, I looked at my little bababoo and tried to imagine her big enough to take on some of these amazing adventures. Well today we set out to try our chops on the king of all local playsets.

Kessel-lo is situated in Leuven and about a 25 minute drive from Brussels. It is also possible to get there by bus. At Kessel-lo you really can have it your way. On the grounds you will find beautiful walking paths, lined with flowers, trees and ponds. If you care to venture out on the pond, there are some sweet little paddle boats on offer. Also a small animal park sporting donkeys, goats, and chickens. Yes, there is even a pool! But truly the highlight for us are the gorgeous and abundant play structures which cater to around ages 2 and up.

The play structures are mostly made out of wood and blend in with the forested surroundings. That makes it all the more fun as you get tired on one and then notice a castle or massive slide peaking out from behind the trees around the corner. There is so much to discover! It is a real paradise for the adventurous little one.

Though the pool was closed today, it looked really fun with a big slide and plenty of space for kids to play. We would return just for this as well, should the weather gods turn it up past 25 one of these days. 🙂

Not the adventure sort? There is plenty of space for a nice stroll and a picnic with lots of flowery fields, picnic tables and neat designed wooden seating.

So one of these warm early summer days, definitely check this place out! Though there are a number of parking areas, I recommend P1 which you can find by putting 203 Eénmeilaan, Leuven. Happy whatever you like. 🙂

King of the castle
King of the castle
My big girl now :)
My big girl now 🙂
Saving a seat for you
Saving a seat for you
Lean in
Lean in
Black diamond slide
Black diamond slide
Float
Float
A pool!
A pool!
Its the climb
Its the climb

Happy birthday (merry christmas) to my little man! aka the bunny sessions

xander xmas blog-2
Happy birthday bunny rabbit

Its better late than never, no? Second baby guilt was setting in over a month after Babatwo’s first birthday came and went and still no photo session. Sorry little man! So I took a pause from my business editing schedule  (you know who you are) and had a blast with my little man playing with some Christmas goodies, laughing and carrying on like we do.

Ah my little man, you are such a big personality. Like momma in so many ways and sure to be a driving force in our family. Love you more than words bunny rabbit!

Peep
Peep
Snuggle with me
Snuggle with me
Yeah!
Yeah!
Berries
Berries
Angel cheeks
Angel cheeks
Eeeee
Eeeee
All of my heart
All of my heart

First look: Jumpin’ Jack

Hooray for sunshine!
Hooray for sunshine!

What a week! Bababoo started school on Monday and I think she likes it. Come on, they have a pet rabbit! Excited to get to spend some one on one time with my little Babatwo who, let’s face it, is not so little any more. 10 months old on Friday, crawling and talking up a storm including a rather unusual first word, color. 

It has been a busy time in the studio as people reach out for back to school and last summer hurrah in the park pictures. Last week I had the chance to meet a lovely American-British family, in for their first photo session with 3,5 month old Jack. Such a sweet boy and with the most amazing eye lashes. Why do little boys always have the longest lashes?! 

Please enjoy these sweet pictures and the late summer bump of sunshine. Cheers! 

Those lashes
Those lashes
In mother's arms
In mother’s arms
Man to man
Man to man

 

Together
Together

Ciao bella

Andiamo
Andiamo

Ahh vacation, you are sweet indeed. Just home now from our travels across Europe and down to Lake Como for two weeks of living la vida loco, oops, I mean la dolce vita. Our first road trip with the kids! They were troopers and after a stopover around Strasbourg, we hopped, skipped and jumped over the alps to the noble and stunning Como area. Just one hour North of Milan, Como is an incredible mesh of Swiss and Italian culture. Where the wealthy Milanese families escaped the heat, Como is now an eclectic mix of families, Russian mobsters (parlez-vous russain?) and elegant Italian matriarchs.

We stayed as always at a little house in Carate Urio found via our favorite site, airbnb. Though it rained much more than expected, we had a wonderful time eating lots of gelato, dipping into the cold lake and checking out the many small villages.

Now happy to be home in Brussels and buckled down for a busy fall. To reminisce, here are a few snaps to share. Enjoy!

Lago
Lago
Life on Via Clerici
Life on Via Clerici
Momma attack!
Momma attack!
Beauty
Beauty
The air out there
The air out there
My matched set
My matched set
Hang time
Hang time
Timeless
Timeless
Holy Light
Holy light

My sister, myself

Under the flags
Under the flags

When the Bear received a reward to do two weeks of volunteering in Nepal, I wondered if I would survive on my own with the littles for that long. Thankfully it was little sister to the rescue as Lauren swooped in from San Francisco to lend a hand and meet Babatwo. Hallelujah! We had the most wonderful time. So many laughs, new memories, late night card games and sisterly love. I miss her tremendously and each day after she left reminded me of some kind of post break up mourning. “Oh, this is the last of the pasta we made together” and “Hmm, last time I was in this park, Lauren was there with me”. Oi, the bittersweetness of it all.

Of course I made everyone get a little dressed up for some memory making with the big camera. What better backdrop than a lawn of blooming lavender and the European Commission building at Berlaymont. Bonus shots at our favorite park. Miss you Laurenee and love you to pieces!

Beauty
Beauty
Auntie love
Auntie love
From afar
R From afar
Rockstars
Rockstars
My sister, myself
My sister, myself

Things to do with a toddler or kid in Brussels: Choo Choo on the steam engine at Parc du Bempt

All aboard!
All aboard!

Holy blazes, spring is back on! One of our favorite things about Brussels is how many fun things are going on all the time. There are always a number of festivals, kid events, races, etc. This weekend we hit the Festival du Pain (bread) in the Schuman roundabout. It was delicious!

Now we turn to a summer activity that is more of a perennial than a flash in the pan. Thanks to the tip from Brussels Life, we decided to check out the little steam engines in Parc du Bempt. It is a bit of a long haul to Forest but fairly convenient if you take Tram 82 almost straight there. It is just past the Abbaye de Forest, which is also worth a visit. Parc du Bempt is a lovely green space with some ponds, area to play and some play structures but the real highlight is definitely the steam engines.

Three choo choos run along a super cute track for about a five minute ride. If your little one is obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine, this is for you, big time. Buy a ticket for 2 EUR and jump on. Tickets are technically for 3 year olds and up but Bababoo is on the tall side and her parents have a flexible sense of truth so away we went.

Zoe had a blast and we took the edge off with some ice cream from the garage. Beer and wine also on offer if you are so inclined. 🙂

Hope you check it out!

Where:  Parc du Bempt. If you need a GPS try Chaussée de Neerstalle 323B, 1190 Forest

When: Every weekend from 26 April to 5 October 2014 from 2pm until 6pm (only Sundays during July, August and September)

How much: From 1€

Ready to roll
Ready to roll
Sidelined...for now
Sidelined…for now
That was a blast!
Running!

This is Easter

This is Easter
This is Easter

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. We did! After a long week alone with the kiddos while the Bear traveled, I was thrilled to have everyone back in place for a long weekend. We had a fun time splitting Swedish and American Easter traditions. For the Swedish side we had a Sandwich Cake and spent the afternoon at an IKEA. For the American side we colored eggs, baked a Banana Cream Pie and ate too much. No dressing up here. Most time was spent in pajamas. Babatwo took his first bites (pumpkin). You get the idea.

This is Easter. Last week while driving (driving!) along, I heard from the back seat, “This is Momma. This is babatwo. This is Bababoo”. What?! Bababoo’s first sentences. While she has lots of nouns and verbs, it was somehow so striking to hear a full sentence. So in honor of that sentiment, this is Easter. Enjoy.

My garden
My garden
First bites
First bites
OK, as long as he doesn't eat MY food
OK, as long as he doesn’t eat MY food
Pie in process
Pie in process
Chocolate lover #1
Chocolate lover #1
Cooking assistant #1
Cooking assistant #1
Ahh sweet bed
Ahh sweet bed
The Bear family
The Bear family