Before Isabel was three years old, a poster of “A Lady Writing a Letter” was hung up in our living room. Every time I pointed to the painting and told her that the painter was Vermeer. And I taught her to identify Vermeer’s most distinctive color yellow.
At that time, a poster of Klimt was hung on the wall of the dinning area. I pointed often to this painting and told her that the painter is Klimt. I watched Klimt’s album with her together to make her aware of the difference between gold and yellow. After she became acquainted with many colors, she made it clear for the first time that one of her favorite colors was gold.
Before the age of seven, I took her to the Mauritius Huis Museum in The Hague three times and saw the original “Girl with a Pearl Earring”. When she saw this painting for the first time, I let her guess whether the painter was Vermeer or Klimt. She chose Vermeer without hesitation and confirmed it three times. She also explained that Klimt likes to use gold. It seems that the aesthetic education that Isabel received before the age of three has paid off.
In my another article “A Story Triggered by A Few Silk Scarves” wrote that Isabel liked to use silk scarves to make her own design works when she was three. Sometimes she could play with these scarves for hours. When she was 7 years old, one day she was focused on her painting. I suddenly discovered that her outfit was full of style. I quietly picked up the camera and whispered to her. She looked back with a calm and peaceful expression. I pressed the shutter without hesitation, and then I couldn’t help but laugh. This independent design image is truly amazing! She is combining the essence of Vermeer’s different paintings. It is estimated that her creative inspiration comes from her early memories.
It takes time and effort to cultivate the recognition and taste of beauty. In the process of training, we often do not see obvious large-scale. Unknowingly infiltration is a long-term operation, in anytime and anywhere. I also mentioned infiltration education in my other “Teddy Bear Hospital”. The important thing is that you need to have a pair of eyes that are good at observing. Otherwise you will miss a lot of subtle and random behaviours and works. Never expect short-term effects. Be patient and diligent. The final results are often surprising.
Today, I went to the pharmacy to fetch the medicine. When I was waiting, I saw the children’s cough drops on the shelf. And suddenly I remembered the first time Isabel took medicine. When she was two years old, we took her to Beijing to visit my family. That was the third time she went to China. She started coughing when we was about to return to Europe. The doctor gave her a bottle of cough-relieving medicine. The task to persuade her to take medicine was handed over to my father (her grandpa). For to eat and to drink has never been a difficult task since Isabel was born. But she seems to realize that taking medicine is a different challenge.
Grandpa was more than patient like always: “Isabel, shall we take the medicine?” Isabel: “Maybe not?” Grandpa: “You will feel better after taking the medicine.” Isabel: “Maybe not!” Grandpa: “Take three spoons, then you can eat a fruit candy.” Isabel: “Two spoons!” Grandpa: “You need to take three spoons.” Isabel: “One!” Grandpa: “Only three spoons.” Isabel: “Fruit candy first.” Grandpa: “Take the medicine first, then the fruit candy.” Isabel: “One spoon!” Grandpa: “Three spoons.” Isabel: “Two spoons?” Grandpa: “Three spoons, you will finish quickly.” Isabel: “Eat fruit candy first, right?” Grandpa: “You will be happier if you take the medicine first and then take the fruit candy” Isabel: “The fruit candy is delicious.” Grandpa: “…” Isabel: “…”
On the other side of the living room, I listened to their soft-conversation and slow bargaining. Surprisingly the endless circles made me not irritable, but fascinated me. They talked back and forth gently for more than ten minutes. Finally they happily completed the task.
Looking back on it, I still can’t stop laughing. The patience of an adult can definitely affect a child’s reaction. In fact, for the impact on adults is the same. Later, every time Isabel needed take her medicine, we replayed the discussion between her and grandpa. Of course she couldn’t stop laughing too.
I I haven’t taken a long-distance flight for a whole year. To fill my hunger I think often now the trips I made before Covid-19. One of the unforgettable New Year’s trip was four years ago. We went to Lapland, Finland’s nearest to the polar regions. In winter, the sun does not rise (polar night); in summer, the sun does not set (polar day). This area is also known as the last wilderness in Europe, and nature is protected. The scenic area is characterized by mountains, dense forests, plains and many lakes.We were arrived on New Year’s Eve. We went out for a walk. As soon as I turned my head, I saw an aurora coming up. Without wind but as if being blown by the wind, swaying gracefully. More than two hours is like watching a fireworks show. This was a good sign to say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new year.
December 31, 2016 In the last few hours of 2016, we arrived at the destination Akaslompolo, in the national forest park. The lovely forest wooden cottage has two floors. The floor heating is at a temperature of 23 degrees. When you enter the front door, you will first see a huge cabinet door. When you open it, it is a dryer. The top is hanging hats and scarves, and the bottom is hanging coats and ski pants. There is also a machine for drying the snow boots. We suddenly understood why the tour guide told us to reserve more than 15 minutes of dressing time before going out. I went out for a walk after nine o’clock. As soon as I turned my head, I saw an aurora coming up suddenly. Without wind but as if being blown by the wind, swaying gracefully. More than two hours is like watching a fireworks show. This is a good day to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new. Ending 2016 in luck, looking forward to every day of 2017.
January 1, 2017 It snowed quietly on the first day of the new year. I tried to step into the snow in the backyard. The snow was deep to my thighs. There are only a few hours of daylight here. Now is noon time. It will be dark in less than two hours. This is not a famous food destination. We found the best rated restaurants nearby, and the ingredients are all local. The food guide says that the local taste is salty. So we emphasise less salt when we ordering. We ordered elk pasta (still a bit salty), local fish, smoked salmon vegetable salad and a small pizza with bear meat (very brave). The dessert is cinnamon baked apples and ice cream. The wooden restaurant has local characteristics. The candle decoration is simple but very atmospheric. In such a warm environment, I temporarily forgot about thirty degrees below zero outside.
January 2, 2017 We seized the short daylight and walked around. When we came back, we had a cup of hot chocolate. The travel agency had provided us with a full set of equipment. Let‘s try snow hiking!
January 3, 2017 Two and an half hours of snow walking in the National Forest Park is a personal effort. With 12 teammates and two guides, my daughter is the only one under the age of 14. This seven-year-old girl deserves praise. The guide doesn’t need to turn on the lights, the snow reflects, and the road ahead is clear. This way, you can watch the starry sky more clearly. The snow on the road is about half a meter to one meter deep. In some places it is even deeper and it is difficult to move without a snowboard. When we arrived at the rest station, the tour guide set up a campfire, boiled a pot of hot cranberry juice. We listened to the fire fox’s aurora legend with ginger cookies. It was really beautiful!
January 4, 2017 Today’s three-hour snowmobile Safari, beautiful. Before departure, everyone has special equipment: suits, boots, gloves, masks, helmets. All services are in order. A few children are sitting in a big sleigh, pulled by a guide. Followed by our own snowmobile.Driving this vehicle requires a driver’s license, which is much simpler than driving an automatic car. Right hand throttle, left hand brake. There are automatic heaters on the hands and feet. The chassis of the car is very stable. And the driving is much easier than looking at it. Our entire trip traversed the forest at a speed of 20-30 kilometers per hour. We were stopping once to take pictures and a bonfire to warm up. Although the return journey was only three o’clock in the afternoon, it was already dark. It is a perfect day!
January 5, 2017 Today minus 31 degrees, taking advantage of two hours of daylight, walking around in the nearby forest. Here the sun goes back before the horizon. Returning with frosty eyes, warming up in the sauna, a cup of hot cocoa, a freshly baked croissant, perfect. The outdoor temperature at night is minus 38 degrees. I put a banana into a popsicle. I sprinkled a pot of boiling water. The water become snow before it hits the ground. It’s the first time in my life to experience this cold. But the sky full of stars and the creeping aurora make you forget this terrifying temperature.
January 6, 2017 Fortunately, the second wave of aurora struck. It was very active for an hour and an half from 23:00 to 0:30. I don’t feel cold when I wear warm clothes. The only thing I have to do is to take off my gloves when I press the camera shutter. The camera was hung around my neck and placed in my jacket. I keep the camera warm with my body temperature. After take each picture I put it back quickly. Although I brought four batteries with me, the camera quickly went on strike. How many people run all the way to the right place but can’t see the aurora. We have seen few times during past few days. How luck we are! This holiday is worthwhile!
January 7, 2017 Today’s experience is unforgettable. 18 km Husky Safari in National Forest Park. Before we set off, we were again fully armed. In addition to putting on our own outfits, we had to put on snow suits. Today, we also specially put warm bags on the soles of our feet. Then put on a pair of wool socks and warmer snow boots. We looked like the fat globose bears. My daughter was the only child to participate. She was sitting in the guide’s sleigh. Fearing that she would be cold, the guide wore two more scarves and two more animal skins. We took turns driving the sledge in pairs. Six dogs were high-energy chasing the sled ahead. The scenery along the way is so beautiful. This journey is even better than the Snow Motor Safari. It is more integrated with the surrounding scenery. This activity takes nearly six hours. Finns do not rush for everything. And they take care of all the details for everyone. Beautiful scenery and friendly people. Once again, I realised the meaning of perfection. https://youtu.be/pgT133IRA_8
This Lapland Arctic New Year’s Eve tour is coming to an end. Whether it is viewing the aurora or various forest tours, it will catch up with the best weather. Everything is so lucky, no regrets, great! The last day in the Arctic Circle coincided with a friend’s birthday, and gave a huge lemon cheese cake to a distant friend. We tried to “dabble” on the edge of this big cake, but it disappeared in the waist-high white “sugar”. How thick this cake is, please enjoy it slowly.
Now is 0:00 1 January 2021. The fireworks ban seems to have little effect. Looking around, people still can’t help their desire to light fireworks. It seems that everyone still thinks that shortly happiness is the most important. Enjoy the moment! Happy New Year! https://youtu.be/Ld9LKEvPkhY
My daughter met Sinterklaas for the first time at the age of three. She received a letter from Sinterklaas when she was four. At that time, she didn’t realize why Sinterklaas can write Chinese. Singing in school every year to greet the arrival of Sinterklaas. She started wearing Piet hat and later changed to Sinterklaas’s red cloak. Finally, she can tell Sinterklaas a story. Then at home in the evening waiting for surprises. We asked our neighbors to put the gifts outside the door in advance. After the door bell ringing, she can’t wait to find out what in the gift bag. When she was eight years old, she couldn’t go to school because she was sick that day. She was upset at home because she couldn’t meet Sinterklaas. So here comes super Mama. Because I am the school volunteer photographer. I have been acquainted with Sinterklaas for several years. I asked him to write a letter to my little patient. As a result, this letter became the most envied gift of the whole school.
Last week, I accompanied my daughter to do her geography homework. I found that Sicily was marked on Sardinia on the map issued by the school. I asked my daughter to find the world atlas to confirm the correct location of Sicily. I hope she will tell the teacher about her discovery the next day.
When I picked her up from school the next day, she took the initiative to tell me that today’s geography quiz is to fill in all the geographic locations reviewed in her homework. She said that she got a perfect score of 10. But two classmates of her got 10+. I asked why? She said that because those two kids marked the correct location of Sicily. I was puzzled and asked her: “Did you not mark the right position? We corrected the error in the school textbook yesterday.” She said that she finally answered same as in the textbook. And she did not tell the teacher that she found the error from the textbook. “Why don’t you believe that you are right?” I asked. She looked a bit irratable: “Is this so important?” “It is very important,” I said. “You need at least to try to defend the truth.”
When I think this topic again, I still beleive it is really important. It takes a process to learn how to fight in right reasons and defend your opinions. How long of this process depend on different personalities. My daughter is a person who normally doesn’t take the initiative to fight for her speaking right. It takes courage to stand up. I hope she can understand the importance of adhering to the truth, and learn to try her best and persevere bravely.
Another one of my recent challenges, Klimbos 17 meters height. My first try. Unexpectedly, I found a very healing method. My 10 years daughter visited Klimbos with another adult a few weeks ago. Because that person not dare to take a route higher than 7 meters. Without the company of an adult, my daughter cannot try other routes higher than seven meters. When she came home, she was a little disappointed. At that moment, I thought of challenging myself for her. We went back there on the last day of her summer holiday. She was actually a little hesitant when she chose the 17 meter height. In order to encourage her this time, I told her “It must be fun. Let’s go together!” In the end, I tried the 17-meter height journey and it felt great. After the last section of the slide, I asked her “how do you feel?” She said “Mama, I am proud of you!” I can’t help but feel so moved that tears are rolling in my eyes. This is the most special activity I have done with her together in the past 23 months. I am sure she will remember the experience of this special day.
The tradition in China is that birthday girl/boy has to eat noodles on her/his birthday. Noodles are called “longevity noodles”. “Longevity noodles” are long and thin noodles that represent the longevity of the birthday girl/boy. In China, eating longevity noodles has a history of more than one thousand years. The main reason is that “noodes (面mian)” is similar to “life（命ming）” in pronunciation. And long noodles means long life. Wish me a healthy and happy long life！
This year is a strange year. All activities have stopped since March. Koninklijke Industrieele Groote Club is normally a socially active place for the members. It has suddenly disappeared from my calendar. Every May in Koniklijke IGC have traditional dinner parties, such as herring night and white asparagus dinner. It seems that this year can only be self-reliant. Last weekend, my friend from the south came to visit me and brought fresh white asparagus. So, I put on my apron and doing the cooking. Finally I enjoy my own Slow Food.