Many of my writing and editing assignments these days revolve around the theme of cultural participation by older people. And so I read studies on the beneficial effects of arts and culture on the health and well-being of older people and secretly wonder what is else is new. I'm a strong advocate of the positive effects of arts and culture - that is, for people of all age groups and in all conditions. The couple of works of art we have on display in our living room, move my soul and contribute to my overall happiness. Not just once, or twice, but every single time I look at them. Kenji confessed how these paintings became more meaningful to him after he got cancer: the healing power of art should never be underestimated.

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There is this guy on my desk, or to be more specific, on my desk light. He has lush brown hair, sexy stubbles and his most important asset: he serves freshly brewed coffee 24/7. The guy is called Larry, Larry the Barista. And having Larry close to me, cost me about three euros. That's even less than my favorite extra hot venti cappuccino at Starbucks. I know, isn't that awesome!
Right. I've probably lost you here. And that is fine too. Because you don't want to hear me ramble on about a Lego mini figure, even though Larry means a lot to me.

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It has been a tough week. And I don't know what made this week so particularly tough or if it was even tougher than other weeks. Not that it actually mattered. I just hung in there and counted the days for the weekend to arrive (or on some days, the hours for the day to be over).
My autopilot is functioning well: we all have clean underwear and we eat our greens. I make my deadlines, I go to swimming lessons and I do the obligatory school stuff. I go on, and on, an on. And then there is a sudden flash, in which I think: what on earth am I doing?

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Vanmiddag stond ik in een klas voor kleuters, een optreden voor Sint Maarten in goede banen te leiden. Van "moeder van Kleine Broer" werd ik eventjes "juf Roos" (een titel die me eigenlijk prima bevalt) en kon ik op mijn gemak Kleine Broer in de klas observeren. Ondertussen zong ik natuurlijk uit volle borst Sint Maarten-liedjes mee en warmde vast wat op voor vanavond. Terwijl de juffen de klassen rond gingen met verantwoord lekkers, niette ik touwtjes aan lampions, fixte kapotte schakelaars en ritste jassen dicht. Kleine Broer was dolgelukkig dat ik er was en ik ook.

Voor wie zijn ongeduldige kinderen nog even wil bezighouden: op het blog van Benjamin Bengel staat een speciale Sint Maarten Snoeptas die ik maakte om het langs de deuren te gaan nog leuker te maken.
Ik ga gauw een grote stapel pannenkoeken bakken om mee te nemen naar lieve vrienden die op ons wachten: de spontane actie vorig jaar bleek de start van een nieuwe traditie. Veel plezier vanavond!

This afternoon I found myself in kindergarten, leading a Saint Martin's performance of Little Brother's group. Instead of "
Little Brother's mother" I became "teacher Roos" for a while (a title I secretly like a lot), which provided me with the chance to observe Little Brother in his classroom. Meanwhile I joined in the Saint Martin's songs and warmed up my voice for tonight. The teachers visited all groups with healthy treats and I stapled strings to lanterns, fixed broken switches and zipped up coats. Little Brother was over the moon to have me there and so was I.

Just in case you'd like to keep your impatient kids busy: you can find a special Saint Martin's Candy Bag on the blog of Benjamin Bengel that I made to make the Saint Martin's rounds even more fun. 

I'm off to bake a big pile of pancakes for dear friends that are waiting for us: last year's spontaneous celebration turns out to be the start of a new tradition. Have a great evening tonight!

"Look at his results. Exceptional all over the place. Did you know that?" Big Brother has a substitute teacher (the boy is very unlucky, with his teacher being ill for at least a couple of months...) who is sharp and even more eager than I am to make him thrive. Excellent! Seriously, I couldn't be happier. It's the umpteenth meeting at school, but finally a fruitful one. "I'll come up with a special program for him. Not just for reading, but for everything even though he tested average on maths. Let's see how he develops. Because all this comic book reading in class won't do him any good. I can clearly see he is bored the entire day: he labels whatever I offer him as 'boring'". Yes, yes and yes!

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