For someone who doesn’t like to travel, I move a lot.
Back and forth across Canada a couple of times, then to England for seven years, and then back to Vancouver for five years, and in a little over two months we’re moving to Germany.
We’re lucky in that both our move to England and this move to Germany has been through relocation programs with my husband’s company. Though the first time we did this, we were in our mid-twenties. Now we’re older, and have a child. A few more moving parts to the whole thing.
I had never been to Germany when I said yes to this move. After many years in England, I knew a little bit what to expect. And the opportunity to live in Europe again, for our son to live there and gain a wider understanding of the world – it was just too good to pass up. I am again giving up a job and a network. My mum is here. You would think, as a person with anxiety issues, doing something as bonkers as volunteering to move across the world to a country I have never seen that speaks a language I don’t know would be completely off the table.
Trust me, there are moments my anxiety takes over and I think I must be completely nuts to do this. But I think that’s normal human anxiety talking, rather than my extra special brand of worrying.
Somehow, this is okay. More than okay, an adventure. So follow along as we prepare for yet another giant move, and I fill you in on our second round expat journey.
Next in a series of things you don’t want to think about yet, it’s lunch boxes!
I’m discussing this now, because some of the beautiful lunch accessories I mention require mail ordering from Japan. And I am only thinking of your schedule here.
I like these two-level round Marvel bento boxes from Bento&co. My son has had the Spider-man one for a year, and it fits stonewheat thin crackers, as well as having a built-in spoon (though not a waterproof section, fyi). It’s a good size for a kindergartener lunch.
We are big fans of My Neighbour Totoro in this house, and I admit I bought this bento box (also from Bento&co) as much for me as for my son. This is a one-level with a moveable divider inside. It’s a handy one for a sandwich and some baby carrots.
It’s an uninspiring photo, but the two-level stainless steel bento boxes from ONYX are really lovely. The clamps holding the whole thing together manage to be easy to open while also secure. If you’re not keen on plastic, but don’t want to send glass, this is a good solution. These boxes come in three sizes.
We like Lunchskins snack bags to eliminate plastic bags for snack time. The larger bags could conceivably fit a sandwich, but I tend to fill them with things like little crackers and raisins, or grapes, or even a muffin. The little ones are great for single servings of crackers and whatnot for snack time. Beware, when they are new, the velcro can be a bit aggressive, and pops open suddenly, sometimes showering everyone around in penguin crackers. I say this from experience.
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If you’ve got a small child between 3 and, well, I’m not sure there’s an upper age limit here, paper airplane construction becomes a critical life skill. I wrote about a great online resource for paper airplane plans here, and it’s one of my most popular posts. As my son’s appetite for paper airplanes only grows, I decided to invest in an actual book. The [amazon_link id=”0761143831″ target=”_blank” ]World Record Paper Airplane Book[/amazon_link] is a pretty good one.
Along with plans for many different types of planes, there are pages to cut out that produces really cool looking planes, and a hangar to park them on. There is also many pages of seriously deep information into why each model flies and how, discussions of drag and lift. So if you have an older child who is into Knowing Everything, this is great. You can safely ignore those chapters otherwise.
I particularly liked the troubleshooting tips that go along with each plane model. After you’ve finished following along with the clear diagrams, they provide some help for diving planes, planes that go up quickly and then dive, or veer in a particular direction. This is handy when your child wails, ‘Mummy! This plane DOES NOT WORK.’
Every year I try and come up with a non-candy option for the class Valentine’s Day cards. In the past we’ve made bath bombs and red sparkly play dough. This year, as Valentine’s Day is the beginning of the beekeeping year, I have bees (even more) on the brain.
The other week I also did a presentation about beekeeping to my son’s kindergarten class, which was sweetness itself. After hearing about every single time every child has been stung, or nearly been stung, or thought about being stung, by a bee, wasp, or mosquito, they asked great questions about honey extraction, where the dead bees go, what makes honey taste different, and how I make the smoker work.
So, as the time for planting wildflowers comes up in early March here in the temperate, if damp, west coast, I thought we could tape a little glassine envelope of bee-friendly wildflower seeds inside the valentine. If you’d like to do the same, I think the bees would be thrilled. Below you’ll find a printable in both English and French (my son goes to a French immersion school), to make your own. We’re gluing this image to the front of a blank card after my son does the tough work of printing his classmates’ names on them, and taping the little envelopes inside.
I’m not feeling imaginative in the cooking and baking departments these days. Maybe it’s the hungry gap, maybe I’m just sick of thinking up meals three times a day. Whatever it is, these simple banana chocolate chip muffins are quick to make and satisfying to a horde of kindergarteners despite the lack of sugar (choc chips aside, obviously). The browner the bananas, the sweeter the muffins, so leave them as long as you can.
Super easy banana chocolate chip muffins Makes 12 muffins
4 large ripe bananas
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cups wholewheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 12 cup muffin pan with spray oil or muffin cups.
Mix the bananas and other wet ingredients until the mixture is mostly smooth and only slightly chunky.
Add dry ingredients on top, gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
Fold in chocolate chips. Fill prepared tin with the mixture.
Bake at 350º for 20 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.