I think I can safely say after two weeks that I have mastered the peanut butter and jelly sandwich and mac’ and cheese. Not that that’s all my host kids eat, it’s just that these dishes are not popular in The Netherlands. Luckily my cooking skills extended to being able to make these favorite dishes.
The second week
I feel more settled in, not that I didn’t think that before but it was all so new and I had a lot of help. This was the first week I really had to do it on my own. The mornings are going really smoothly now (I hope I didn’t jinx it) and the kids are used to me waking them up and getting them ready for school. Asking questions like ‘do you want to go potty before or after we put your clothes on’ really helps. It gives them a sense of that they are choosing to do something when in fact, I don’t really care when you go potty as long as you do. I get my way and they are happy because they made the decision. I try to do this as much as I can. Ask them what they want to do but give them a choice so that it is still doable for me. My host parents have told me what the kids like to eat in the morning and I rotate those choices throughout the week. Mostly oatmeal, cereal and eggs. Which are all pretty easy to do. I always get breakfast completely ready before I wake them up so that when they come downstairs they can get straight to eating and I don’t have to entertain them while struggling to make breakfast. Plus it helps me get out the door faster.
The afternoons are pretty much the same everyday. I make them warm milk before I pick them up which they then drink in the car. Au pair fail; I forgot their milk one afternoon. But I diffused the situation and had no tears. Was very proud of myself. Just explained that I was in a rush and that it was on the stairs in the garage all warm and waiting for them when they got home. When they get home bath time and then put them in their pajamas. I have learned the hard way that less is definitely best when it comes to bath toys. Less fighting over who gets which toy, less trying to grab as many as we can, it’s just better.
This week I also had the first dinner without someone there to help me. Let me tell you; it is going to take you 3x longer to make dinner when you are also making sure the kids stay alive and unharmed. Luckily, I can see them play from the kitchen which helps a lot. And they play really nicely together, albeit with some reminders. But we got through it, everyone was fed and happy at the end of the evening.
The vegetable introductions
So, after talking with my host parents we have decided to include vegetables in all their meals during the weekdays. Peas, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and a few more. I read a study once that children have to see and taste a vegetable about 5 – 7 times before they really get to know it and like it. So even though it may take a while I am determined that they will like at least a few vegetables in several weeks. I’m trying to make them different ways, some I roast, some I make an oven dish out of with cheese on top, and some just in the pan. I am trying to find a few more recipes for kid friendly vegetables.
This week I went to two new places. On Wednesday my host mom and I took the kids out of daycare early so they could show me the science museum. All the outside areas are now open so we were able to see a lot of it and they were able to play on the playground for a while before we continued. I would 100% go back there with them. They loved it and there was so much to do. I can’t wait to see all the other child friendly museums and places Raleigh/Durham has to offer.
I also ventured out to Umstead Park. Although I didn’t see too much of it, I could already tell that it was beautiful and I really want to explore more. It was a bad decision on my part to go there in 30C/ 86F weather and try and do a walking trail. Way too hot and probably a lot better in the fall. And the trees must look amazing with all the colored leaves. There are so many trails to do there, and different entrances so I can spend a lot of time there and always do something new.
It was labour day weekend (I still don’t know what that means exactly) so we had a long weekend. On Saturday we left really early in the morning after waking up the kids and we drove two and a half hours to the nearest beach. The journey was worth it, the beach was so nice and it was really quiet. There was plenty of space for everyone to play. We met up with some of my host parents friends, and their kids so we were with a nice club of people to enjoy a nice sunny day at the beach. My host kids loved playing in the waves, the younger one was jumping over them the whole time and the older one even had a go on a paddle board to float on the waves and let them push him to shore. The temperature was so nice and the ocean was not cold. Which was amazing. We left around 2:30 so the kids could have their naps in the car, when we got home it was shower time for everyone and then dinner. They were so hungry, the kids ate so much. But they spent the whole day running round so I do not blame them.
This weekend I met up with another au pair who has just come, from England and also a teacher, and also loves food. Could not think of a better combination for a friendship. We went to Crabtree Valley Mall, where we spent way too much time in Bath & Body Works smelling every single item they had to offer. We did some shopping and found the cutest little shop with only locally sourced products.
The next day we met up to go grocery shopping (yes, again, and yes it was another new one, don’t judge), we each bought ingredients to make our host families a meal. I was going to make spring rolls and she made them bolognese. Then we went to chick-fil-a. I got the spicy burger, it was pretty good I have to say. And I will
probably definitely be going back there. We spent some time at her house and then we went on to do some more shopping, because what else are we supposed to do. And then I went home to spend some time with my host parents.
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