Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs…

We’re starting to gear up for Easter weekend around here.  This year, I was hoping to give naturally dyed easter eggs a go.  It’s actually something that I grew up doing.  We always had a batch of eggs dyed in onion skins and then by Polish tradition, you etch out designs with a little needle.  When I was daughter’s age, I most certainly did not have the patience for that and much preferred the many colors that you could use in commercial dye.

Naturally-Dyed-Easter-Eggs

 

However, in my older age I find myself wanting to slow down and try the things that take a little bit more time.  Unlike Denmark, we don’t have all the days off for the preparations and I’ll confess that I miss those (no time for an Easter room this year!).  There was always a sense of “getting ready” for holidays there, whereas here, holiday preparations blend into many of our daily obligations.  It’s a concerted effort not to over-plan and over-book, and to save time for doing things a little more slowly.

We’ll have the regular colors this year as always, but I was hoping to give these blueberry dyed eggs from Fruetcake and these green eggs from Design Mom (what can I say, we’re partial to green around here) a go as well to bring a little bit of old school into the mix.  We’re carving out the afternoon before Easter as a family to take our time…not cramming the eggs in between a million activities but taking the time to set up the eggs, maybe watch a Charlie Brown or two, order in  – it might not go perfectly….the colors might not be as in the picture… but I think we’ll end up with exactly the feeling that the holidays are meant to give.

Adliya, Bahrain Arts Neighborhood Playground

Every so often I come across a batch of photos that I parked and somehow, forgot about – either forgot to post or edit or share or all of the above.   Bahrain was one of those trips, taken last year, and a little bit by mistake no less (let’s call it a last-minute woe of passports and visas and overlooked expiration dates).  So what was supposed to be a desert camping and beach trip to the Emirates, ended up being a bit of an impromptu turn to Bahrain… if people are interested, I can talk more about the trip (and specifically how to plan time with tots there if you have no pre-existing plan, and how to spend time outdoors in a place in that doesn’t normally make plans for spending time outdoors…) but in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few colorful snaps of a surprise play area we found in the Adliya district of Manama.Public art and play space in the Adliya District of Manama, Bahrain.

I say “surprise play area” since playgrounds outdoors aren’t normally a thing easy to come by in the Gulf, and certainly not in this non-import format.  We actually had a lovely playground on our hotel grounds, but that caters mostly to expat children that were hotel guests.  We came to the Adliya district to eat at the yummy Cafe Lilou (seriously, drop by if you find yourself expectedly or unexpectedly in Manama), and took a walk around the neighborhood after visiting the Old Town area and the main mosque, and stumbled on this colorful area.

Public art and play space in the Adliya District of Manama, Bahrain. Public art and play space in the Adliya District of Manama, Bahrain.Public art and play space in the Adliya District of Manama, Bahrain.Public art and play space in the Adliya District of Manama, Bahrain.Public art and play space in the Adliya District of Manama, Bahrain.Public art and play space in the Adliya District of Manama, Bahrain.Public art and play space in the Adliya District of Manama, Bahrain.

Adliya is isn’t quite as historic as the Old Town but much more so than the contemporary corniche developments, so the ability to walk and explore is something rather rare in the Gulf, not to mention to find that in combination with a play space as well as with a public space that supports the arts.  The three together is a bit like finding a Holy Grail of sorts.

Public art and play space in the Adliya District of Manama, Bahrain.Public art and play space in the Adliya District of Manama, Bahrain.Public art and play space in the Adliya District of Manama, Bahrain.Public art and play space in the Adliya District of Manama, Bahrain.
Public art and play space in the Adliya District of Manama, Bahrain.

So while this space doesn’t fit the mold of many of the natural playgrounds that we feature here, I still appreciated how much it must have taken to build a space of its kind in an urban center….still with some greenery (even the occasional cactus  – seemed more of a hazard here but still, I’ll take green in any form) to round out an otherwise raw space.  I loved the bright colors that softened the rougher textures of the materials.  And as of our tot, she didn’t love playing here any less!

Recuperating…

It was just one of those weekends…Puerto Rico Rain Forest-1

Looking to embrace one of our favorite parts of Washington, we set out to see the peak cherry blossoms.  At our tot’s request.  Not really a success.

Set out to surprise the kiddies with an outing and treats to the movie theater for the new Beauty and the Beast.  Most certainly not a success (more on why later).

Tried to do a little house hunting.  Meh…not a success either.Puerto Rico Rain Forest 2-1

One after another, it was one of those weekends where every attempt didn’t quite work out. On top of everything, both kids came down with something, more apparent as the weekend went on and that was likely the root cause.  Sometimes, you just have to declare victory and stay home.

Lots on the work horizon so I’ll be off for a few days – in the meantime, I leave you with just a couple of shots of one of our favorite plants from around our Puerto Rico trip – the colors were just gorgeous, especially after it rained, reminding that there is always something beautiful about, even when skies are gray if you just take the time to look around.

10 Tips for Visiting Mon Island Cliffs with Kids

I’m hoping yesterday’s post on the Mon Island Chalk Cliffs (Mons Klint) got you inspired to take a little day trip! If Mon itself is on your list, here are a few things that we’ve learned about visiting during our time in Denmark.

10-Tips-for-Visiting-Mon-Island-Cliffs-with-Kids

When you arrive at the cliffs area, you’ll find parking by the Geo Center and then have a couple of ways to play the time that you spend in that area. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’ll be visiting the cliffs at Mon, especially with little ones in tow.

Use the bathroom

Of all the situations to navigate, this is perhaps the most tricky and here’s why. It’s over 600 stairs down to the beach, through a series of zig zagged staircases, and then of course, you’re on an open stretch of beach that is actually quite narrow depending on the tide, and quite visible to other visitors; and then it’s another 600 stairs up.  So bathrooms for toddlers and for changing little ones aren’t exactly plentiful or accessible.  If you go in the summer on a nice day, crowds prevent some of the more nature-based options, leaving you a bit stuck if there is an unexpected situation. Make every effort to go before you head down or be prepared to get creative.

Ration your energy

Since we’ve gone a couple of times, we have done variations where we do the nature center first, and then cliffs, and then vice versa, and sometimes, just the cliffs.  I haven’t found one way to be better than others. Instead, I have found that what to sequence first depends a bit on the mood and energy of my littles.  When they fell asleep in the car once and needed time to wake up, we did the center first and then enjoyed the cliffs once the heat cooled off a bit.  But we’ve also done it the other way around – short answer, it depends.  The Nature Center isn’t open that late, but just see how things play out.  Just keep in mind that the trek down and trek up can be tiring, and not just for the kids but also for you, especially if you are doing any extensive infant carrying or letting a smaller one hitch a ride on your back.

Visit the Nature Center/GeoCenter

While it’s not open year-round, if you are in season definitely make time for the Mons Klint GeoCenter and make more time that you think you need.  It’s really an enjoyable visit and by the time you add in the activities like the erosion areas, or the little movie, or the panning for fossils, plus say a lunch of snack, it can really take up some time. It’s well done and the shop is also great for kids to pick out a little treat (like these dinosaur-themed binoculars!).

Pack the ergo

If you have little ones in tow, this wouldn’t really be a stroller friendly thing, with the stairs and all.  That being said, little legs might not do all the stairs up and stairs down, so this is a good trip for the ergo.  We always kept ours in the back of the car by default, but I was always glad I wore it down to the cliffs as one of the two littles inevitably needed to hitch a ride back up.

Pack a lunch

There are some lovely picnic areas in the woods before you head down to the cliffs.  There is also a little cafe in the Geo Center/Nature Center but unlike most museum cafes, this one didn’t impress quite as much (though it’s fine for a snack and water – if you arrive on busy summer days, they might run out of lunch dishes as well).  This is a good time to make like a Dane and bring your own madpakke suited to your own tastes.  An ice cream at the cafe once you return up though is a welcome treat.

Bring water

Similar to above, if you visit during summer days, don’t forget a little extra water.  Those stairs, especially if you are carrying kids, can really do a number on you.  Plus, you’ll need any extra water to rinse off any chalk before getting it all over your car.

Be prepared for chalk!

Speaking of which, as you might suspect, chalk cliffs are full of chalk.  The white, dusty, cling to you kind.  It’s actually pretty cool – but it will get on your shoes, clothes, etc so don’t wear anything too precious or too dark-colored down there.  Similarly, it’s natural chalk but behaves just like any other chalk so if you bring down a little bit of dark construction paper in your backpack, the kids can color a bit (although mine were happy just to draw on the huge rocks down there).

Have a few ziplock bags

If you’ve read here before, you know that I treat ziplock bags as a solution to nearly all my travel woes.  But in this case, the bags make it easy to collect a few pieces of rock chalk to take back, or store any potentially found fossils (which you are allowed to scavenge for still down at the bottom of the cliffs).

Pack a windbreaker

You’ll be surprised at how windy it can get down at the bottom of the cliffs, especially if you are not visiting during summer time.  Layers are key as the weather and temperature can change quickly, and if it is in any way off-season, a wind breaker or wind blocking coat (and a hat) will feel like lifesavers.

Be friendly on the trail

There are lots of feet headed up and down on those stairs.  People pass each other by, stop for breaks, take a seat…We found that if we were friendly, we met all sorts of people, Danish and otherwise, who were traveling through to see the cliffs.  Lots of children as well so don’t be shy about a bit of occasional small talk.  It’s a welcome diversion from all the stairs and makes the climb go by quicker.

Drive around the island

Unless people are staying on Mon Island, many will come to see the cliffs and leave immediately afterwards.  But the island itself is really quite calm and beautiful.  As mentioned yesterday, with any luck, your kids will be exhausted after the walks and explorations, so I found that while they wound down or dozed off, I really enjoyed a little drive on the island.  Mon is full of traditional houses and open fields – parts of it reminded me of the wide open spaces of North Dakota and I guess to some extent, it felt a bit like home.   Don’t forget to take some of that in.