Well it's not exactly spring yet, but the sun is shining and the first bulbs are starting to peek out above the snow. As spring seems possible, there are lots of exciting things on the horizon.
We had a very successful HomeinLeiden meeting - ideas bouncing off the walls and lots of decisions made and work undertaken. We have several more people officially on board, with their own email addresses. Alice will be working on the Children's Health section, and will also be writing a piece on Dutch etiquette. She will also be our official Helpdesk, so any questions about living here can be sent to her, as well as any ideas/contributions for either section, on email@example.com . Alexis is working hard on a Me Time section, which focuses on fun and relaxation away from the children - going out, getting a massage, or playing sports. If you would like to contribute to this and have any ideas/reviews, please email her on firstname.lastname@example.org . Elisabeth, who is also busy coordinating activities for the French-speaking community to help the children keep up their French, will be collating a section on activities and resources in other languages in the area. If you know of/are involved in activities in languages other than Dutch and English in Leiden, please let her know on email@example.com .
On the subject of other languages, we have decided that instead of trying to translate the enormous (and growing) website into dozens of languages, we are going to have the main information sections in English, Dutch and French (Annemarie and Claire have been working hard on the translations) and then have a function in which, written in as many languages as possible, we have (for example) 'If you would like information in Spanish, please contact Laura on firstname.lastname@example.org '. This enables people to make contact and feel informed in an accessible way. If you have a language you would like to offer, please do get in touch at email@example.com! Questions can always be forwarded to me or Alice and then translated, so the workload would not be great, but I think it would be a real step towards making new people who are not yet confident in either English or Dutch feel at home.
When Swati kindly volunteered to do a Bollywood dancing class for our Get the Children Dancing initiative, she had no idea how overexcited we would get! The children had their first taster this week and loved it! They were enormously impressed with Swati and adored learning the dance to this song. We are hoping she will be leading more sessions in the future. The whole idea is definitely working, so we will be holding a dance group most weeks (children 4+, 3.30 - 4.30, Pancrat Buurthuis, Middelstegracht - we will be there from 3ish, please be on time to start at 3.30. We now also have a room upstairs available for little ones and parents. € 1 per 4+ child for class and € 1 per adult for use of upstairs room) - please do come and join us!
To see Swati on YouTube with her students a few years ago check out this video (grainy but inspiring) - she's the beautiful one at the beginning!
With Valentine's Day on the way we all start thinking about when we last actually had an evening out together without children. Luckily, it's never been easier to go out and know that you are leaving your little ones in good hands! There are several lovely, responsible, intelligent women looking for babysitting work, many of whom I can vouch for personally. Check out the Find a Babysitter
function and book that date with your partner! If funds are tight and you wouldn't mind returning the favour, the enterprising Jennifer has set up the Leiden Babysitting circle:
if you would like to join or to learn more, please email her on Jennifer@homeinleiden.nl
- the basic idea is swopping babysitting of (sleeping) children for an evening with other families.