Thursday, March 10, 2011

A sunny winter day at the Abbaye du Rouge Cloitre (Red Cloister Abbey) playgrounds and surrounding area (Mar 8)

This past Tuesday the weather was so nice in Brussels that I decided to take Reagan to the Abbaye du Rouge Cloitre (aka Red Abbey) to explore the grounds and most importantly the playground, Reagan would say! The area around the Abbey is very pretty with a few ponds where people can fish or watch the ducks and geese swim by. However, Reagan found it more fun to throw sticks in the water. The Abbey also houses an Art Gallery which I wasn't able to go in this time, but hopefully I'll get another chance when Reagan isn't around or maybe sleeping. On the weekends, I believe there is a cafe open to the public. There are also a few horse stables on site, so we were able to see some friendly horses. Reagan even fed them some hay. She's not afraid of anything! The horse basically gobbled it out of her hand and she didn't even wince!

Reagan definitely had the most fun at the playground at the Abbey. There are actually three different ones for different age groups. Two of them are suitable for Reagan while the other one involves more climbing and is quite a bit advanced. There's even a zip line for kids at one of the playgrounds, which I'll have to try with her another time. Though, I was very impressed with how brave Reagan was in going down all the slides by herself. One of the slides was a bit intimidating since it was in the design of a tube / tunnel, but after I went with her a few times and she saw some other kids do it, there was no fear factor any longer! After a bit of play, we had a picnic lunch consisting of a chicken curry baguette, banana, milk and no-bake cookies for dessert.

After we were done with the first playground, we ventured down the path to the next one which we didn't actually play on since it was way too advanced for her. Then we saw the third playground just a bit further down the path which was in the shape of a boat. It was really cool! There were several wooden bridges, walkways and slides going off of it. Reagan and I played on it for a bit before checking out the rest of the grounds.

She was in heaven just being outside and being able to run free. I wish every day could be this nice, but I have to remember where we live! Regardless, we try to make the most out of any day, rain or shine!

We parked a little ways a way, so this is the Abbey from a distance. By the way, we were lucky not to get a parking ticket since the police were ticketing cars when I returned to the parking lot, but hadn't gotten to my car yet! We were only allowed 2 hours and I was about an hour over with my little blue clock that you're required to put in your window in some parking areas.
Reagan enjoyed the large green spaces in front of the Abbey. She was running away from me and laughing as I was trying to take her picture.

Compound of the Abbey
I think this is where the cafe is located, but only open on the weekends.

Reagan picked up stick after stick and threw it in the water (notice the stick in mid air in the second photo). I was afraid to snap a picture in fear that she'd fall in the water while I was doing so!

I believe the Art Galley was in this building.

You might think she's pointing at the "Abbay de Rouge Cloitre" sign, but she's just showing me some cool rocks she picked up!
First playground we went to and spent most of our time at. Reagan loved the bridges and slides.
Zip line they had at the playground for older children
Walking across the wobbly bridge. She only managed to fall once and it was at the end of the day since she was swinging on it.
Getting ready to fly down the slide!
Thankfully Reagan likes Chicken Curry baguettes (sandwiches). We split it along with a banana and some no-bake cookies for dessert for our little picnic at the park. Initially I thought we might use the picnic blanket my mom gave me for Reagan's birthday, but the ground was too wet. There was a little hut with benches that we ate our lunch in instead.
"I think I can handle this baguette!"
"Oh wait, maybe this is more my size!"
Playing peak-a-boo between the fence

"I love this cool tunnel slide...I'm such a daredevil!"

"Some friends I met at the park who helped me overcome any fear I might have to go down this monster of a slide!"
Overview of Playground #1 and the best one suited for Reagan's age which by the way is almost 20 months. There's also a sandpit in the distance.
Playground #2 - for older children since there's more climbing involved
Playground #3 was also pretty cool since it was shaped in the design of a ship

Lots of neat walkways, slides, poles and steering the boat options

There were also two horses between the Abbey and the playgrounds which Reagan really liked.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Children's Science Center (Technopolis) and a few recent playdates

Last week Reagan and I, along with two of my girlfriends, Melanie and Dana, and their toddlers, Lincoln and Finley, decided to venture out to Technopolis. It's an incredible science center in Mechelen just outside of Brussels and caters to almost all age groups, with an emphasis on preschool through high school students depending on which area of the facility you visit. Though, anyone would really enjoy the interactive exhibits they have. Reagan and I usually hang out most of the time in the Children's Science Center which has lots of great exhibits for the kids. It says it's mostly for 4-8 year olds, but as long as your child can walk, I think it's worth it! There are lots of lifelike settings, such as a supermarket, bank, pizzeria, construction area, garden, feeding pretend animals, ambulance, giant mouth with toothbrush, changing a tire, car, tunnel, train, ect... It basically helps kids discover the world around them in a fun and interactive way. Reagan especially loves the supermarket since when we go to a really one, she always has to carry a basket or push a little cart. I usually end up with a few random items in my bags!

I had actually already bought an annual membership back in January when Reagan and I went for the first time with another gal, Marcie, and her son, Tom. She had been telling me for several months that I needed to check it out and when I finally did, I was definitely pleased! I figure I'll try to go once a month since it's so close to Shannon's work. I can just drop him off and go for a few hours in the morning, and then he normally can catch a ride home. The annual membership basically pays for itself after 3 visits, so it's totally worth it! I'm always encouraging my friends with toddlers to go with us.

Lately, Reagan and I have been having lots of play dates so I captured a few shots from some of our most recent ones. She gets so excited when someone comes over and usually starts showing off! We also go to a Tuesday play date (aka Coffee Morning) every week in our neighborhood which is organized through the Brussels Childbirth Trust Organization. On Thursdays, we attend a baby music class, just a short tram (trolley) stop away. Reagan is all about dancing and playing with all the instruments. She especially likes the hand clappers and drums which we neither have at home and am afraid if we did our neighbors would hate us! They already have to handle Reagan clogging around in her Holland wooden shoes all day! Anyway, we often listen to the music cds (from class) at home since they're so catchy and she really enjoys, I can't get enough of her dancing moves! Also I occasionally volunteer at the American Women's Club of Brussels in their Gift Boutique, while Reagan attends the daycare there for a few hours. It's really nice since it gives me a break and it cost nothing when I'm volunteering!

Grocery shopping at Technopolis's "pretend" supermarket. Reagan knows what's good...croissants, YUM!
Oh and maybe a carrot or two for her daddy or mommy since she actually doesn't like them that much. I have to disguise them by steaming them with apples and then pureeing to make apple / carrot sauce! It sounds gross, but she loves it!
She found some cereal and now off she goes to the checkout counter at the supermarket. Some of the older kids were actually scanning the shopper's items since there are bar codes on all the food. I thought that was so funny!
Practicing her EMT skills in the ambulance; though, she looks a bit shocked!
And next onto dental school, her and Lincoln brushing away all the plaque! If only I could get Reagan to brush her own teeth like this! She has to do it herself, which is fine, but usually just sucks all the toothpaste off her toothbrush!

Melanie and Lincoln inspecting the newly cleaned mouth! Feel free to check out Melanie's blog on our outing as well.
This was pretty cool, but Reagan was still a bit small for it. When you pedal, the skeleton's body and thus legs show the movement.
Reagan thought it was fun to feed the rabbit some carrots. There were specific balls with different items on them that the animals would eat (open their mouths for). I think there was a squirrel, owl and maybe a possum as well which would eat things like acorns and certain insects.
Practicing her construction skills, but she didn't want to wear one of the hard hats unfortunately!
A little bit of teamwork...Reagan and Lincoln filling the wheel barrel with screws or something. I think this was Lincoln's favorite area. There were also huge building blocks and cement blocks and a crane along with a platform to walk up to. A boy's dream play area!
Reagan is supervising as Finley drives the ambulance
Planting a garden by matching the shapes into the holes. I think her grandmas would be proud!
Reagan with one of her many playmates, Bo (my friend Jackie's son). She must really like him...she shared one of her necklaces with him!
I watched the neighbor boy, Thomas, for a few hours which Reagan was thrilled about! They had fun rocking in this chair together.

Reagan, Lincoln and Kate playing on the bed in Reagan's room. I think Kate was a little concerned about her safety since Reagan and Lincoln were pretty wound up!
Reagan and Lincoln were having so much fun!
They took turns tackling each other on the this age I think its okay, but will be much more concerned when the teenage years roll around!