"I'm afraid that papa will have to go to the hospital", says Big Brother.
"I'm afraid that papa won't join us this holiday", says Little Brother.
And I'm afraid it will never stop.

Kenji has the flu (with a serious fever and all) and bed rest is obligatory.

A third of Little Brother's class was ill this week. Little Brother himself 'only' came down with an ear infection, but after an afternoon chilling in front of the TV with a nice dose of paracetamol, he was good to go to his Christmas dinner. Kenji joked how he would probably pick up a fresh virus from all the sickish toddlers that were walking around. Well, skip any joking, because he did. So much for Kenji's first edition of school's Christmas dinner...

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All year round the boys mention how much they like Christmas dinner at school: "Walking to school in the dark is fun! And the food is gooood!" Last night was their lucky night (and ours, because Kenji could finally tag along).
I made two plates of healthy snacks: little cucumber Christmas trees [scroll down for recipe / zie onder voor het recept]. Afterwards Little Brother said "Mama! Did you know all my Friends - note the capital 'F' here, friends are of the utmost importance to my youngest - ate your trees?" And then he started to name all of them. "Guess what, when I wanted to get a second one, the plate was already empty." Big Brother joined the praise: "Those trees were yummy! Everybody was eating them, even J. and M.!" He was obviously impressed: his mother made food that not only his friends liked, but even the tough boys in his class that he secretly looks up to.
I thought I'd better share my easy and cheap snack here, because boys between four and seven are probably the most critical audience when it comes to veggies. I presumed the preschool cucumber days were over, but apparently cucumber is still a hit - as long as you use the presentation as disguise!

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What if I didn't get the Christmas decorations from the basement? What if we didn't put up a tree? Could there still be Christmas - but more important, would I feel the relief I was desperately looking for? Could I come up with a middle road: steer away from the frenzy and head for peace of mind?
Yesterday I received an email, encouraging me to look at this issue from an artistic point of view. Grab the opportunity to come up with a new "CHRISTMAS  CREATION  BY ROOS AND FAMILY". Isn't everything allowed in art? And funnily enough before reading this, I'd already come up with a plan. If you deny your kids the joy of decorating a pine tree, you'd better think of a really worthy substitute.

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The most important lesson I've learned during the entire cancer ordeal is to trust my gut. To follow my radar and don't get sidetracked. Once you start to have more trust in yourself, it's easier to stand up for your beliefs. Besides, when energy is scarce, you simply don't have the stamina to engage in things you don't support one hundred percent.
We have made changes, because we have changed. We are more outspoken, but rarely speak up anymore. We value the simple things and crave simplicity. And now that Christmas is approaching, I'm faced with a problem.

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Volgens Kenji ben ik werkelijk niet goed bij mijn hoofd. Ik ben zoiets als 'adventskalenderverslaafd'. Grote Broer zei het, zonder het te weten, ook al: "Huh? Sinterklaas had vorig jaar ook al een adventskalender gegeven en nou hebben we eentje gekregen én eentje zelf gemaakt?" Ja, die Sint toch... ik kan het niet helpen. Waar ik in voorgaande jaren keurig aftelde tot Kerstmis en verder niks, merk ik dat ik dit jaar met tanden op elkaar de dagen tel. Kom maar op met die lichtjes, kom maar op met die vakantie. Het is zo klaar en ik ben er vooral zelf zo klaar mee.

Gelukkig steken we elke avond een kaarsje meer aan en ontstaat er langzaam een cirkel van licht in deze donkere dagen. Voor wie zelf een adventskalender van kaarsjes wil maken, klik hier!

Kenji says I'm out of my mind. He calls me something like an 'advent calendar addict'. Big Brother unintentionally said something similar: "Huh? Saint Nicholas gave us an advent calendar last year and now we got one again and we made one ourselves as well?" Yes, talk about a crazy Saint. I can't help it... Whereas in the previous years I simply counted the days until Christmas, I notice how this year I'm hanging in there by the skin of my teeth. Bring on those lights, bring on that holiday. Everything is done and over - and I'm so done with it.

Thank goodness for the candles we light every night: one after the other slowly form a circle of light in these dark days. If you'd like to make your own candle advent calendar, click here!

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