Friday, 30 August 2013

How to BBQ on the Beach in Style

I saw this advertised in Mama magazine and just had to share. This bike/bbq encompasses everything Dutch there is about summer here: bicycles, sunshine, BBQ and gezelligheid.

For the Dutch there is none of this instant, disposable BBQ rubbish to lug about. Only a man size, real life cooking apparatus will do. A BBQ may be heavy but where there's a will, there's a way. And where the Dutch are concerned that solution usually involves a bike. Voila!

So, what are you waiting for? Kids on the front, BBQ on the back and off to the beach. Perfect right?

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Art of Home Education: Expat Family Ties

The Art of Home Education
The informative site The Art of Home Education republished a post I wrote for Expat Child on the topic of keeping family ties alive when huge physical distances keep extended families apart. You can read Expat Family Ties here.

If you aren't familiar with the site head on over and take a look. There are some great features, as well as information and links about home schooling.

In particular the Week Window feature is a lovely roundup:

"A weekly overview in pictures accompanied by a short description. Beautiful moments, creativity, inspiring surroundings, wonderful nature and more we encounter during our “little” adventures."

And I love The Art of Home Education's tag line:

"Let the journey be shaped by the curiousity of the child…"

Monday, 26 August 2013

Liebster Award

I am honoured that Molly of The Move to America has put my name forward as one of her nominations for the Liebster Award.

The award is a way of shouting out about blogs that you enjoy reading. Subsequently you then share information about yourself and open your welcome arms out to more lovely readers.

If you are nominated by me (see below) or are interested in taking part by shouting out about other bloggers you feel deserve a wider audience, the rules are simple:

  • share between 5-10 facts about yourself
  • nominate and link to 5-10 blogs you love that preferably, but not exclusively, have under 200 followers
  • link back and thank the person who nominated you
  • if you are nominated, you do not have to join in if you do not wish to
So here goes, some facts about me:

1. I think Bruce Springsteen is a god
I was introduced to this amazing musician by my parents. In fact they actually took me to my first Springsteen concert in Sheffield, England back in 1988 when I wasn't even a particular fan of his. Since that day I have been hooked and no other music comes near in my eyes. 

2. I'm a HSC
A recent self discovery, I'm a highly sensitive person. It means you won't see me standing on the podium at a major conference any time soon. 

The green mush that attempts to pass itself of as food is evil personified. Disgusting. Just looking at it turns my stomach.

4. I got married in the Dutch town of Hauwert
We tied the knot at Robacher's Watermill. It was in a truly beautiful setting and on a Saturday afternoon six years ago in front of our nearest and dearest. It strikes me today how different our wedding guest list would have looked if we married now..... (Oh, and the owner was a little cranky on the day...)

5. I am where I am because of the internet
My husband and I met online. In a chat room. The rest is history.

6. I liked black and purple clothes
As a teenager I wore a lot of black and purple, including nail varnish and on the odd occasion even lipstick. I recently went through my wardrobe and realised that most of my clothes were black so I went  out on a 'colour adding' shopping spree. Now my wardrobe is full of black, purple and red.......

So now you know a little more about me than you did five minutes ago. And now for my nominations. I confess that I don't read as many blogs as I used to because quite frankly with three young children there just aren't enough hours in a day. However, there are some I keep tabs on still on a regular basis:

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Hot and Cold: The Little Differences

Photo Credit : Lee
En route to Cornwall for our summer holiday we stayed overnight in a hotel in Swindon. The first thing my three year old son said noticing the sink taps when he walked into the hotel bathroom was,

"Why are there two taps?"

After laughing a little I explained,
"One is hot and one is cold."

When he asked why, I had no answer. It struck me then just how British two separate taps over the sink is, and how highly impractical it is. Really, really unhandy. I mean really, who needs just scalding hot water to wash their hands and face? Alternatively freezing cold water is no fun either. And running both with the plug in and mixing it all up is just tedious. Especially if you're three. 

Until my son raised this question it hadn't sunk in that you don't, in general, see anything but mixer taps in the Netherlands. I saw the two separate taps in the grotty hotel room and thought nothing of it - only through the eyes of a three year old Dutch boy did I see how it's the little things that will always remain different between my birth country and the country I currently call home.

What little differences have your children pointed out in your birth country that you didn't notice?

Monday, 12 August 2013

Dutch Friend Books

Photo Credit: Cienpies Design
My eldest son started primary school two years ago and within a week he came home with a vriendenboek (friend book). And that was just the start of it. He then, of course, needed a book of his own and this was passed from friend to friend for the poor mothers to fill in during their evenings. (Dads are not involved in any way with friend books). Naturally, mothers have absolutely nothing to fill their time with once the kids are in bed so these friend books really are a blessing.

They require such information as favourite colour, favourite teacher, favourite subject in school, favourite film, favourite website, favourite book, favourite music, what you want to be later when you are all big and grown up, favourite food, favourite underpants.... you get the picture.

When you are four and five, you're not only unable to physically write the answers to these questions yourself but your answers change from week to week so a manual copy and paste is out of the question. This means you have no choice but to sit with your child and go through every question. Last week the favourite colour was blue but this week it's that 'dark purpley colour'. Last week he wanted to be superman but this week policeman is the career of choice. No mother wants to be accused of lying in their child's friend book, so it has to be done properly - we mothers have enough guilt to deal with as it is.

And of course every new friend book page requires a photo. There are only so many spare passport photos that a mother stockpiles so the next step is printing photos out on paper and cutting round heads. With a completed profile page, the book is then handed over to the child who scribbles, draws and puts stickers over the page, making some of the information that has been painfully extracted from a four year old illegible.

Finally, there is the 'keeping tabs on the friend book' game to play. Two weeks after giving the friend book to a classmate a voice will suddenly chirp up,

"Muuuuuum, I don't know where my friend book is."
"Ok. Is it in your bedroom?"
"No. I gave it to someone."
"Ok. Who?"
"Ermmmmmmmm. I don't know."

And you'll be that mother that has to ask the teacher to put a note on the information board about a missing friend book......

Is this a Dutch thing? I don't remember having anything like this when I was at school. Any other country's school children fond of friend books?

Monday, 5 August 2013

Mums Don't Lie About The Tooth Fairy

This is not my son by the way, but it is the same tooth that
is loose....
Photo: Olga Doroschenkova
My son has his first wobbly tooth. Aside from making my stomach turn with his constant wobbling of his bottom front tooth with his fingers and his invitations for me to "have a feel" I am also dealing with his plan to "wait until all my teeth are out and then put them all together under my pillow in one go."

I have explained to him that getting all his 'big people teeth' through can actually take years but he either has a lot of patience, a stack of money somewhere that I don't know about or he thinks his own mother is a liar. In any case I am busy trying to prepare him for the fact that teeth go under the pillow the day they fall out. Otherwise the tooth fairy won't take them. Fact. She doesn't like old fallen out teeth. Only fresh ones.

Now why would he think his own mother is a liar?

Does the tooth fairy collect teeth in the country you call home? Do you have childhood memories of wobbly teeth and the tooth fairy?