Social Media and My Multiple Personalities

23 October 2014



“I think I have multiple personalities.” I confess to my friend Aya.


“What do you mean?” as she sips her cold latté because I had forgotten to give earlier amidst the demands of my precocious toddler.


“I’m on all these different social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. On each one, I’m a different person. Pinterest is actually the one I’m most insecure about. It challenges my genuine attempts of just being me, because almost everything I pin is what I aspire for, not what I actually have, or even find the time to make, less alone succeed in making it resemble what ever was pinned. “I nervously spew out.


“Is there actually something wrong with that?” she asks. “We all are multifaceted people anyway. Why just limit yourself, put yourself in a box? Have fun with it girl. Isn’t the idea of Pinterest a world of make-believe any way? I should actually get on it for some design inspiration for my new apartment.”


I nod and smile in agreement.  Aya is gorgeous, smart, witty, down-to-earth, generous and kind. Men (and women) melt at her feet.  She knows it and we love her even more because of it. We don’t see each other much but she’s a kindred spirit. I love hearing about her glamorous life, her latest travel adventures and plans and how she’s settling in her new temporary home in Luxembourg.


A quick google search “social media and multiple personalities” confirms my suspicions that I’m not alone in feeling this way. It also intuitively makes sense. All of these social media platforms have different focuses and target groups, facilitating different types of interactions and promoting certain behaviors.


Being on various social media outlets is simply the industry standard for bloggers. It’s something that I just need to be a part of in order to reach my audience. Balancing it all – being present in the virtual world as well as the real-flesh-in-blood kind or world- is an entirely different discussion (blog post).


What I do know is that a healthy dose of all these social media platforms has made my life as the only American stay-at-home in my Dutch village a whole lot less lonely. And because of it, I get to explore different aspects of myself and “meet” people around the world who I may never have met before. And I couldn’t resist sharing with you guys an overview of my different personas.


This is where you can find Finding Dutchland (me) and what kind of personality you can expect:


Aside from the blog, my Facebook page is my other “homebase”.  Here I’m a storyteller. It’s where I love sharing random tidbits of my life, what interests me and my latest blog posts. In fact, I actually update it more regularly than my own private Facebook account and blog. It’s where my biggest supporters are, my people. I love how it’s evolving into a community where there’s actual discussions and commentary.


This is my second favorite social media network. On Instagram, I get to play the role of a photojournalist. It’s a place where I get to capture moments of my everyday family life, snapshots of where I’m writing, and glimpses of our family’s travels. Though I miss the feel of my DSLR in my hands, practicing iPhoneography on a daily basis with my vintage IPhone 5s is fun and convenient. It’s basically a modern day baby book and journal.


Perhaps the best description of Pinterest that I ever come across is that it brings out the “aspirational housewife in all of us“.  It’s essentially a grown-up version of make-believe, a fantasy world where we can all exchange ideas and momentarily get away from reality. As someone who is not a crafty DIY person, it was kind of intimidating. When I discovered that 80% of pins on Pinterest were re-pins, it confirmed my suspicions that I was like almost everyone else – just following along to the brilliant and drool worthy ideas of a very select group of content creators. But I’m having lots of fun anyways collecting ideas of what I want, aspire to have and dream to experience. And hopefully since I have my heart on blogging more lifestyle-themed posts, I could also contribute and curate my own content to share.


After all this time, I’m still getting the hang of Twitter. Sometimes I still get the feeling like I’m on the floor of the New York stock exchange, you know the kind that you see in the morning news with stock-traders yelling, holding wads of paper and pacing back-and-forth. Initially, everyone seems to be screaming something, all shouting at each other and not really doing much listening. I do appreciate, however, how it’s allowed me to connect with my favorite writers/bloggers and to have them follow me back makes me feel special. Whether or not they may actually know that I’m also an aspiring writer, or simply following me back for courtesy sake, I love being able to just tweet directly at them and perhaps even have a conversation. For the most part though, it’s primarily where I love to share articles that come up on my Feedly right before I head to bed. With a limitation of only 140 characters, it’s also the fastest way to get my attention.





Behind the Scenes at Finding Dutchland

17 October 2014

“Love.” my Dutch husband calls out to me from down the hall. “We need to talk.”


His voice betrays a hint of mischief and urgency. I think to myself, “Why can’t he leave me alone. I need to finish writing this blog post. Maybe if I don’t answer him he’ll conveniently be distracted by our son.”


“Do you know what you’ve just done?” his head pops into my office door seconds later.


He struts over to my laptop and opens up Google analytics.


1,117,289 page views. 863,662 unique visitors. From the 1 October to 17 October 2014.


My eyes stare back blankly at the screen, heart palpitating a million beats per second while trying to comprehend the numbers in front of me.


Oops, I did it again.


Or more accurately, my lovely loyal readers helped spread my words across the globe about Dutch children being the happiest kids in the world and everything else related to my Dutched reality. My husband kisses me on my cheek, shakes his head in amusement and heads off to play with our son.


I then put my head on my desk, overwhelmed by a flood of emotions.


Blogging has enabled me to combine my two passions, writing and photography, while also being a stay-at-home mom. I love the process that writing entails, to see my thoughts, ideas and emotions come to life as the words from my fingertips are strung together on the keyboard and onto the screen. Words can break down walls, forge friendships, illicit emotions, and … heal. Taking pictures for me is cathartic and forces me to slow down, capture moments and give gratitude to all the beauty and wonder that this crazy experience called life throws at my feet.


And I have so much more I want to share – about my own story, about parenting in the Netherlands, the universal experience of motherhood – because if you could read my mind love, what a tale my thoughts would tell. We’ve only just begun.


(Apologies for all old school music references. Music helps me deal with stress and random songs from my childhood come up in my head.)


My site statistics tell me that I’ve finally “made it” as a blogger. That people graciously find the time to sit down and read what I have to write and share. Thank-you.


However (and this is the part where my heart breaks), to accommodate this amount of traffic demands a hefty price tag in the form of server fees. No hobby should be a financial burden to a young family establishing roots. Not when we’re a single-income household with no trust-fund, or any other extra means of financial support to lean on.


I had to ask myself, “Do I stop writing, or shall I continue with this endeavor? Do I let you guys know what’s going on, or do I simply keep going and posting while behind-the-scenes I’m feeling paralyzed, uncertain about how to proceed and on the brink of quitting. My supportive husband sweetly warns me that if I stop now, I’m going to be disappointing a lot of people. He’s wonderful like that isn’t he?


Let’s also not forget how emotional I’ve been through all of this. I finally found my voice, my passion. It took me eight long, hard-earned expat years to discover just how wonderful life and raising children in the Netherlands can be. All the countless thousands of hours I spent researching, writing, and revising blog posts in hopes of building something I can be proud of.


For the sake of transparency and practicing the art of vulnerability, in other words, keeping it real, I’ve decided to share what’s been weighing heavily on me all week.  I’m officially making a concerted effort to pursue sponsorship opportunities to help me with my server fees and allow me the peace of mind and valuable time to continue writing. I promise not to make my blog an on-going infomercial (which is why I resisted accepting various offers for so long) and will only accept offers that I feel contribute to the spirit of my blog and are of relevant interest to my readership. Thanks for letting me share what’s really going on in the Finding Dutchland household.


Wishing everyone a wonderful and blessed weekend. For those who live in the Netherlands, weather forecasters are promising us a magical, record breaking “hot weekend”. Make it a good one.



p.s.  If you think your shop, business or blog would be a good fit as a sponsor, contact me.

p.p.s. If you haven’t joined already, there’s an awesome party happening on my Facebook page. Come join in the fun.

Families Around the The World with MKB Instagram Blog Hop

15 October 2014


In Seth Godin’s book Tribes, he explains the innate human desire to belong to something greater, stating “Human beings can’t help it: we need to belong. One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people. We are drawn to leaders and to their ideas, and we can’t resist the rush of belonging and the thrill of the new.”


I wholeheartedly agree with him.


I’m also convinced that in order to succeed in life, whether it’s the pursuit of a professional goal or simply finding happiness in the ins-and-outs of an ordinary day, lies in one’s ability:


To Build Your Tribe(s)


In other words, find a community or two. With the limitations of distance and restraints of all the demands of modern day life, the easiest and most convenient way to make friends, seek solace and advice and to learn more about the world outside of your own bubble, is to find your tribe online. Thanks to the online world, we can make genuine, meaningful connections without leaving the comfort of our own homes.


Though I honestly love real world interactions, I’m in a season of my life (motherhood with a toddler, professional aspirations, being a wife of an entrepreneur, embracing Dutch village life in the woods) where making friends and being part of a community online is the most convenient and realistic option. I’m a whole lot less lonely and so much happier because of it.


Facebook is a great place to start – simply use the search function to find whatever topic you fancy, find a group and say hello.


I belong to several online communities (perhaps too many actually). My own Facebook page is evolving into a “tribe” where people all around the world not only come to see glimpses of my Dutched reality and latest blog posts, but also to have discussions, provide support and encouragement, and to connect. It’s a healthy mix of people who in one way or another have a special connection to the Netherlands and/or share the universal experience of parenthood.


Out of all the communities that I belong to, my absolute favorite reference point for inspiration is the Multicultural Kid Blog (MKB) network. The MKB website is “dedicated to raising world citizens, through arts, activities, crafts, food, language, and love”. You can also connect with MKB via their Facebook page and Twitter for a daily dose of inspiration, parenting tips, delicious recipes, and language hacks from around the world.


Multicultural Kid Blog (MKB) is actually a collaborative effort of talented parenting/expat/travel bloggers brought together with the desire to celebrate multiculturalism, raise global citizens, foster diversity, continue cultural traditions, and share travel tips. Suffice to say, they are my kind of people and I have a sneaking suspicion that if you are reading my blog, they are yours too.


To commemorate the second anniversary of Multicultural Kid Blog (MKB) and celebrate families around the world, there is an Instagram Blog Hop GIVEAWAY. Come and join these amazing bloggers and get a glimpse of their own daily realities (including mine)!


How to Join In

Blog Hop Co-Hosts

Be sure to follow them all in the linky below (#1-18)!

Multicultural Kid Blogs LadydeeLG Sand In My Toes Mama Smiles Kid World Citizen All Done Monkey In The Playroom the piri-piri lexicon Finding Dutchland European Mama MarocMama Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes Lou Messugo American Mom in Bordeaux The Mommy Factor World Music for Children My Favorite Multicultural Books Chasing the Donkey For the Love of Spanish Smart Tinker Raising World Citizens Entre Compras y El Hogar

Our Prize Package – Enter for a chance to win!

One winner will receive this fabulous prize package! It includes:

Green Kid Crafts

A three month subscription to Green Kid Crafts, valued at $60. For three months, you’ll receive a different-themed Discovery Box packed with 3-4 unique and engaging activity kits designed to foster a child’s creativity and confidence while helping to raise the nation’s next generation of creative leaders. For kids ages 3-10. US Shipping Only

Little Humans

Little Humans by Brandon Stanton, donated by Smart Tinker. From the author of Humans of New York, this new work from photograph Brandon Stanton focuses on “littlest humans of New York – the ones who get back up when they fall, who have an impeccable taste in fashion, and who love with all their hearts. With spare text and a mix of all-new exclusive photos and fan favourites, Little Humans is sure to appeal to fans of HONY and those who have yet to discover it.”

Birds of Love | Elika Mahony

Digital download of the album “Birds of Love” by Elika Mahony. “Birds of Love” is a treasury of uplifting words and inspiring songs on the theme of love and marriage. It includes a diverse five song album from varied sources with five additional instrumental tracks for live performances and background at special events.

Please note: The subscription for Green Kid Crafts is for US shipping only. In the event our winner is located outside the US, s/he will receive the remaining items, and we will draw another winner from the US for the Green Kid Crafts subscription.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


An Open Letter to My Son’s Preschool Teachers

14 October 2014


An Open Letter to My Son’s Preschool Teachers 


It’s been a little over a month since my two-and-half year old son started attending your preschool. At the expense of sounding like the neurotic American mom in this lovely Dutch village, I would love to share a few of my thoughts.


I have to confess that I initially had my reservations. There was no formal preschool application requesting a full summary of all the accomplishments our son made in the first 28 months of his life. No personal statements, no reference letters, nor our credentials were asked. There was only a single sheet requesting our family’s basic information – names, home address, occupations and a bank account number- and preferred days to attend. The only limitation was just how long the wait list happens to be. Thank-you for sparing us the unnecessary and ridiculous stress of trying to prove that our son is worthy of being part of an institutionalized playgroup.


For a brief moment I questioned whether or not the lack of exclusivity directly reflected the quality of preschool education my son was going to receive. Please forgive me for my momentary lapse in common sense and judgement. I’m still recovering from the ultra-competitive and selective private schools and higher education institutions that governed my daily reality for twenty years of my life (which speaks volumes because I’m thirty-two). It’s hard not to get emotional about this because my immigrant Filipino parents made tremendous sacrifices to guarantee that my inheritance would be a world-class education.


Your open door policy for all the little preschool children reflects your country’s steadfast belief that quality education is a universal right, not just for the privileged few. That all children, regardless of socioeconomic background and educational attainment of their parents, are to be educated to a high standard, starting with early childhood education.


I’m also a bit ashamed that I have no idea what the pedagogical philosophy of your nursery actually is. There’s no mention of Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, or Montessori. I took a leap of faith and trusted that your combined 80 years of experience and credentials in early education would suffice. From my understanding, you’re following the general set pedagogy outlined by the Dutch government. Brilliant. Because let’s all keep it real here (something the Dutch have a special talent for) – good, old-fashioned play is what should be at the heart of all preschools. The beautiful, underrated but essential act of playing is what almost all developmental psychologists, neuroscientists and education experts advise and emphasize for the seven year old and under crowd.


And we all know that if we have the time to have open-ended discussions about which educational “philosophy” perfectly complements our child’s socioemotional development and hence would best facilitate his future academic success, chances are that little Bram would be fine either way. Some would even argue that he wouldn’t need to go to preschool but that’s a whole other discussion.


Thank-you for your kindness and patience as you introduce my son to the concept of school. The time he spends at your preschool is possibly the most influential year and a half of my son’s educational trajectory – the crucial moment where he will either fall in love with “school”, or be dismayed by it. Your energy, creativity and passion demonstrate that you ladies understand this and are fully committed to helping instill a love of learning in all your students.


Thank-you for having great expectations of introducing him to the big kid world but also having the grace to understand that he’s also still a toddler and even sometimes, still very much a baby. Thank-you for the diaper changes (Bless your hearts!) and not requiring him to be fully potty trained before he’s truly ready. Thank-you for teaching him songs, different dances, and how to play with other kids. Thank-you for making his heart jump with joy when it’s time for a snack and teaching him to wait to eat it until everyone received their own. Thank-you for the daily art and crafts gifts personally made by him – it always feels like a mini Christmas when I come to pick him up. Thank-you for texting me a picture of my son happily sitting in the infamous kring (Dutch circle) during his very first day of preschool when you knew that my heart was breaking into a million pieces. And how for the first two weeks, you held and consoled him, wiping away his tears and worries while he adjusted to his new environment away from his mom. Thank-you for giving him back to me with the widest grin on his face when playschool’s over, just the right amount of being tired and his bright brown eyes sparkling from all the new discoveries of the day.




Kind regards,

Rina Mae, the only American mom in the village.

InstaDutchland- A Montessori Toddler Room of His Own

13 October 2014

Montessori-Inspired Dutch Toddler Room

Out of all the rooms in our house, our son’s room is the one that is the farthest along to being finished. It’s also arguably the easiest room to decorate. Though it’s not completely finished yet, I couldn’t resist sharing some snapshots of it.


If you’ve been following me on Pinterest, you would know that I have a particular soft spot for vintage, Scandinavian and modern minimalist design trends. And it was our 1930s Dutch cottage in the woods that inspired my latest design preferences.


It was so easy to work with the natural beauty of this room – the hardwood floors, the original wood paneling, the built in closets and cupboards, the different nooks and crannies, the slanted walls and the abundance of light thanks to the two strategically placed windows. The room simply evokes nostalgia of happy childhood memories.


Taking a page out of Montessori, we also wanted to create a playful, functional and safe space for him. Most importantly, for him to feel like it’s a special room of his own, a space where he can play and let his imagination roam free. In true Montessori-style fashion, we made his toddler room in a way where everything would be easily accessible for him – the twin mattress on the floor, his miniature library, closet and shelves he can open to choose his clothes, and the various storage spaces for him to collect and put away his toys.


Montessori Inspired Toddler Room details


As you can also see, I made two separate “spaces” to encourage him to read. There is a reading nook with his own little tent and a wooden treasure box filled with his latest favorites. The other space – a mini library with low placed shelves – was strategically placed next to the door, making it not only easy for him to grab his book when he’s in the room, but to also for him to take a book (or two) with him when he walks out.





Thanks for letting me share his room with you! And hopefully, if you’re also a parent-to-be or a parent, this post may have given you some inspiration too.
p.s. You can follow me on Instagram to get a glimpse of how I celebrate the ordinary moments of my life or come dream with me on Pinterest as I collect ideas for our new home in the woods.




Finding Dutchland Friday Loves

10 October 2014


I can’t believe it’s already Friday! This week has been quite a difficult one for me and my family health wise. I finally caught the ugly cold that my husband and son were already suffering from since we returned from Italy three weeks ago. As someone with allergy-induced asthma, even a minor viral cold makes my lungs hurt. My husband had to take the rare day off last Wednesday to stay home and help man the fort as I laid in bed crying intermittently, “I’m dying, I’m dying!”. No wonder I’m one of the “lucky” few in the Netherlands automatically offered the annual flu vaccine.


This weekend we’re celebrating my son’s “2.5 birthday”. In trying not to be the insufferable parental types, we’re keeping this celebration strictly between our small family of three (details to come in a future blog post). Saturday is also a day of celebration as we join in rejoicing and celebrating a friend’s 50 years of priesthood, followed by a long overdue reunion with other friends of faith. On Sunday, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I also get to reunite with two girlfriends of mine whom I dearly love and admire but don’t get to see often (read = almost never). Notice the ongoing theme of our life?


And I’m not-so-secretly hoping that by next week it won’t hurt to breathe anymore. God knows how all four physicians at the local general practice office are already well acquainted with their newish hypochondriac American patient.


Here are some recent articles for your reading pleasure this weekend:


Want to unleash your inner Martha Stewart? Dominque Ansel reveals his cronut recipe.


A bittersweet farewell from a creative family that people around the world have come to love. Till next time, Young House Love.


The earliest art paintings ever discovered in human history happened to be discovered in Indonesia.


Speaking of art – here are some powerful illustrations showing women how to fight gender prejudices.


Get some tissues ready for this one – My doomed mission to make her happy.


When should laboring women given an epidural? A new Cochrane review offers a clear answer: When she asks for it.


If you haven’t already heard about Brain Pickings, you need to head over there and make it part of your regular reading digest. You can start by reading “Some Thoughts on Privilege” or with “The Mystery of Personal Identity: What Makes You and Your Childhood Self the Same Person Despite a Lifetime of Change.”


Why it’s important to consider journaling the ordinary moments of your day. Which reminds me of one of my all time favorite posts “The Gift of the Ordinary Day” by Katrina Kenison.


In need of inspiration?


And here is some help (Task Manager) in guiding you to be more productive.


You are not a fruit fly: why you should side-eye science headlines.


For some of us who don’t come from picture perfect happy families and childhoods, take a look at “What the ‘Father of 34′ Story is Really About.”


A gentle reminder that it’s really silly being frightened of death (something I need!).


It’s Like They Know US – a brilliant newish website that shares the “joys” of parenthood.




Wishing everyone a wonderful, healthy weekend! Tot Maandag (‘Till Monday!)

Canon of American Children’s Picture Books

8 October 2014


(Photo above is my child’s reading corner which consists of both Dutch and English books. This is only a fraction of the books he has.)


Inspired by the 60th anniversary of Kinderboekenweek (Children’s Book Week), I thought I could share some “American” children’s picture books. As an American mom raising my son in the Netherlands, it was important for me to teach him about my culture and give him a sense of an American childhood. One of the best ways I knew how was to start reading to him from birth children’s picture books that are close to my heart. I always look forward to sharing the same stories with him that brought me so much joy, the pictures that colored my imagination and the simple, visceral comfort of holding him close to me while we read. While his toys are kept to a minimum, I am utterly convinced that one could never have too many books. And though we’ve had more than our fair share of torn, ripped pages and tears shed (mine, not his), I wouldn’t do it any other way.


In the spirit of sharing (I am a mommy blogger after all), I decided to share my list with my wonderful readers. Educators, pediatricians, psychologists and other childhood specialists have been emphasizing for years how essential it is to read to children from birth. Like any other well-meaning parent (especially first time pregnant moms) taking in all the unsolicited advice can be overwhelming. That’s wonderful that reading is encouraged, but where does one start? And because of my own experience as a child of Filipino immigrant parents, I know that a little bit of guidance and direction would be appreciated.


Consider this list as my personal take on the American children’s picture book canon – a compilation of thirty books that are popularly regarded as important and influential in shaping American culture and identity. Keep in mind that these books are for the six and under crowd (kindergarden, preschool and those young at heart like me). Some of the books aren’t even “American” but embraced nonetheless as what Americans do best. And as many of my non-American readers can attest to, a lot of these books are also translated in several languages (such as Dutch). It is definitely not complete and a challenge to limit, but at least it’s a solid start.


Here is Finding Dutchland’s Canon of American Children’s Picture Books (in no particular order):



1. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

3. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

4. The Tale Of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter



5. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

6. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker

7. Press Here by Herve Tullet

8. The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt



9. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

10. The Polar Express: Mini Edition by Chris Van Allsburg

11. Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

12. The Snowy Day (Picture Puffin) by Ezra Jack Keats



13. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.

14. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson

15. Olivia by Ian Falconer

16. The Cat in the Hat: Green Back Book (Dr Seuss – Green Back Book) by Dr. Seuss



17. [ Oh, the Places You’ll Go Pop-Up! (Anniversary)[ OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO POP-UP! (ANNIVERSARY) ] By Dr Seuss ( Author )Mar-09-2010 Hardcover by Dr. Seuss

18. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

19. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

20. The Little Engine That Could (Platt & Munk Classics) by Watty, Pseud Piper and illustrated by George Hauman and Doris Hauman



21. Madeline byLudwig Bemelmans

22. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie: Extra Sweet Edition (If You Give…Book) by Laura Joffe Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond

23. Guess How Much I Love You (Little Favourites) by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram

24. Harold and the Purple Crayon (Essential Picture Book Classics) by Crockett Johnson



25. A Treasury of Curious George by H. A. Rey and Margret Rey

26. Corduroy by Don Freeman

27. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

28. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle



29. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

30. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein



P.S. Please forgive me if I left out any of the books that you guys believe should be part of this list. For a more comprehensive list, take a look at the Kindergarten Canon consisting of 100 books (definitely some overlap).


P.P.S. Come join me on my Facebook page for regular updates and random stuff I share on the internet.


20 of the Most Beautiful Dutch Children’s Books

7 October 2014



In celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Kinderboekenweek (1-12 October 2014), I’ve compiled a list of twenty of the most beautiful Dutch children’s books.  I’m a firm believer that children’s books with illustrations are essential to a child’s development and imagination. Books with beautiful images are also great way to introduce a baby to the world and to hopefully entice them to fall in love with reading early on.


Here is a list of twenty Dutch books worth reading to your little one:


1.  Nederland by Charlotte Dematons

2.  Sinterklaas by Charlotte Dematons

3.  De Gele Ballon by Charlotte Dematons

4.  Pluk van de Petteflet by Annie M.G. Schmidt and Fiep Westendorp



5. Jip en Janneke by Annie M.G. Schmidt and Fiep Westendorp

6.  Jij Bent de Liefste by Hans and Monique Hagen, Illustrated by Marit Törnqvist

7. Mama Kwijt by Chris Haughton

8. Op een Grote Paddenstoel by Mies van Hout



9.  De Paraplu by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert

10. Mijn Leuk Woordenboek by Richard Scarry

11. Het is Herfst by Rotraut Susanne Berner

12. Wij Samen Op Stap by Leo Timmers and Jean Reidy



13. Fabians Feest by Marit Törnqvist

14. WIj Samen op Stap by Leo Timmers and Jean Reidy

15. Nijnte aan Zee by Dick Bruna

16. Zoveel als de Wereld Hou Ik van Jou by Harrie Geelen and Imme Dros



17. Het Grote Rijksmuseum Voorleesboek by Thijs Goverde, Pieter Feller & Bibi Dumon Tak

18. Fiet Wil Rennen by Bibi Dumon Tak and Noëlle Smit

19. Aadje Piraatje by Marjet Huiberts

20. Het Gouden Helden Boek by Diversen and Fiona Rempt, Co-Authored by Joseph Jacobs, Virginia Parsons and Jane Werner


(Images: As Linked)

(Image credits: Nederland by Charlotte Dematons)

InstaDutchland -Markthal Rotterdam

6 October 2014



The lines of cars filing into the city of Rotterdam were invariably packed with self-proclaimed gourmands, architect buffs, modern art enthusiasts and curious day trippers. They’re eventually met by locals – cyclists and pedestrians – all congregating towards the middle of the city’s sprawling Blaak market square. The sense of urgency and excitement was palpable as they navigated towards parking spaces, entry ways, escalators and elevators. Their faces, softened by the Autumn sunlight, hungrily looked towards a mammoth horseshoe structure.


The building is the Markthal (Market Hall), Rotterdam’s latest architectural pride and joy. Designed by Winy Maas of Dutch architectural firm MVRDV, the country’s first indoor market opened last Wednesday (1 October 2014). It’s a food lover’s mecca – a sistine chapel of market stalls offering local, organic produce, artisanal gourmet crafts, restaurants, and regular Dutch fair. The Markthal is also a living community with 230 apartments built into the arch shaped structure.


The biggest surprise for us was the “Horn of Plenty” – a digital mural of 4,000 tiles that covers 36,000 square feet and displays brilliant high-resolution images of fish, vegetables, fruits and other items. Staring up at the spectacular mural makes one feel like one just went down Alice in Wonderland’s psychedelic rabbit hole. In collaboration with famed cartoon animator Pixar, Dutch artist Arno Coenen created a 3D optical illusion of produce and fauna falling from the sky. It’s art appreciation at its finest as people of all ages seemed mesmerized and in awe of the largest artwork in the world.


And the Markthal is definitely something for Rotterdam to be proud of. Markthal had garnered international intrigue and helped solidify Rotterdam’s place in The New York Times annual 52 Places to Go list in 2014. Not to forget to mention that it’s a “one up” in the friendly rivalry among “Amsterdammers” and “Rotterdammers”. Who could blame the Rotterdammers for being a bit smug and proud, whom like the rest of the tourist-worthy cities like Utrecht and Den Haag, had compete to play second fiddle to her more glamorous, world-renowned sister Amsterdam since time immemorial?

Processed with Moldiv


Being a former Erasmus University graduate student (which explains my natural soft spot for Rotterdam), I couldn’t help but contemplate what the implications of installing a luxury, world-class marketplace would have to it’s overall character and personality. Rotterdam has been traditionally characterized as industrious, hardworking, down-to-earth…and working class. According to Judith Thissen in Industrial Cities: History and Future, Rotterdam gained the reputation of being a werkstad – a working class city- as early as the 1870s.


Rotterdam’s evolution from a blue-collar industrial area to an architect’s paradise and now  foodie destination has its roots in the city’s seaport – the Port of Rotterdam and World War II. After the Rotterdam Blitz where virtually the entire historic city center was demolished (as informed by every single Rotterdammer who comes across a foreigner or tourist), the reconstruction of Rotterdam became a playground for modernist architects. But the seaport, one of the largest in Europe and considered its gateway, and its middle class laborers, are still the bread and butter of Rotterdam.


The resulting hodgepodge of different modernist architectural styles was an urban city that didn’t fit the Dutch mold of gezelligheidLocal Rotterdam authorities have vocalized for years how difficult it was to attract residents and visitors to the urban jungle of concrete. According to Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, there was an overall consensus to “draw more residents and visitors to the center of Rotterdam, especially residents with a higher income who consequently support services in the city center.” Hence Markthal is a clear example of attempts at gentrification, a not-so-secret strategy for drawing in wealthier clientele into Rotterdam. But I wondered whether, or not targeting a certain clientele would be at the expense of driving away and alienating everyday citizens.


While we strolled around the expansive Markthal, fighting the infamous Dutch crowds, I realized that my concerns were a bit naive. I made a loud sigh of relief when the everyday items – bread, cheeses, french fries, baked goods, and vegetables – were priced the same as what could be found at any other local market. For example, Mei Sum Bakery offered delicious Asian treats for the same price of €10 for 12 pieces as their flagship location at West Kruiskade. While Markthal might initially seem a bit out of place in juxtaposition to Rotterdam’s more modest character, I can sense the desire of local Rotterdammers (from all different backgrounds) to make something out of their beloved city’s new treasure. In fact, while my heart shouted out with glee with all the wonderful food, I became convinced that the Markthal was the new heart of Rotterdam.




The future looks bright Rotterdam. Welcome to taking your rightful place as a world class destination.


P.S. Come connect with me on my Instragram account. Aside from writing, photography is my other passion.

Finding Dutchland Friday Loves

3 October 2014



My first week officially back on the “blogosphere” and it feels refreshingly good. I’m convinced that I must have a guardian angel somewhere because when I emerged from under my proverbial rock, my ” The 8 Secrets of Dutch Kids, the Happiest Kids in the World” went viral all over again.


One of the best gifts of all – (re)realizing that my Facebook page is really a supportive, thriving community. While I wasn’t prepared to deal with the occupational hazard of trolls (comes with the territory of being an online presence), I was overwhelmed with the amount of support and encouragement when I confided in them tonight. I finally found my “tribe”. And as crazy as this sounds, dear readers, you’ve become my friends and my confidants. The category of those who fall under “online” friends are just as dear as those in “real-life”.  I politely refuse to listen otherwise because of my own personal experience. To keep my community free from vitriol, I have decided to delete the post. Thank-you.


This weekend is going to be full of much anticipated reunions with some of our “real life” friends who we haven’t seen in ages. It’s the story of our life as parents. It’s something I am quite embarrassed about and hold my head down low in shame at times, but one I’ve learned to simply accept. I know my family and I are simply in a season in our lives where we simply don’t have a lot of free time. My husband is an entrepreneur and time is a precious financial commodity. And like everything else in life, it’ll soon pass. Nothing lasts forever in life and I’m acutely aware of it (sometimes maybe too much). To our friends and family, know that you are our distant present. Yes, there will be a future blog post about this. ;)


On Saturday, we’re headed to Rotterdam to check out the much-anticipated Markthal and catch brunch with one of our favorite people in the world. She just radiates sunshine. The first time we met each other we were kindred spirits, both going through a difficult period of uncertainty and yet both so hungry to discover and explore our own potentials. It was kismet. And though we might not see each other a lot, she’s family. Sunday is going to be a very special day celebrating our friends’ baby girl’s baptism into the Catholic world. We share a special bond – born on the same day, 32 years apart.  It’ll be an incredible way to embrace another soulful Sunday, complete with the company of delightful friends and lots of Filipino soulfood.


Here are some links from the week to enjoy on this beautiful Fall weekend:

Harvard, Schmarvard: Why Getting Your Kids Into College Should Be the Least of Your Concerns.

No seriously, how contagious is Ebola?

Some honest ROFL insight into American politics by one of the funniest bloggers in the world.

This will melt your heart – Hipster Halloween Costumes Part I

Something my Dutch readers, especially the city folk- would appreciate: 7 Smart Storage Solutions for Small Kitchens 

Who doesn’t love Elmo? Check out Mindy Kaling and Elmo discussing what it means to be “enthusiastic”.