Photo story: Weekend way of life #5

29 June 2015


Dear friend,

We have had a jam packed weekend. Full of fun family activities. Our weekend began on Friday afternoon when we surprised the big lad. We ordered new bikes for the boys a couple of weeks ago and there was a slight mix up. It meant that the little man had got his earlier in the week and poor the big lad had to wait. He was really disappointed but coped amazingly well. The owner of the shop managed to get a replacement bike for my big lad but we didn't tell him and just went along. His smile was priceless.

The big lad couldn't believe it when he saw his bike.

Photo of the week.

28 June 2015



How important is it that your kids learn to swim?

25 June 2015

Dear friend,

Our journey to get the big lad swimming has been a very long and at times difficult one that started when he was five. We live in Holland, a land that is literally sinking, there is water everywhere. I wanted both the boys to be able to swim as I had a fear of water when I was younger. Now as a mum, I had a huge fear that one of my boys would end up at the bottom of a canal.

Most children at school were starting swim lessons at five. A friend advised that we enrol the big lad in a special group at the local pool that gave more intensive lessons with smaller groups of children. We knew that he would be lost in a large group and were prepared to pay the extra cost. As the course came to the end the instructor had a quiet word with hubby. He wasn’t going to make it! Not only that but he didn’t think he would cope in a ‘normal’ swimming lesson group.



Photo story: Father's day

22 June 2015

Dear Friend,

I am so lucky to have a hubby who gives so much to his family. He changed his job to be there for us, to give the boys and I more time and support. He always puts his family first. I love the poem below by Helen Bush. I love to walk behind and watch my boys with their Papa; holding hands, laughing, playing, talking, just being together.




This father's day we stayed in bed until late. The boys barged in early and eagerly gave Papa his special gifts then we cuddled in bed. I love the little poems that the teacher's find and the original gifts that they create. Big lad's glass was so special as he finds craft activities very difficult, too many fine motor skills and getting dirty, Yuk!




We took Papa shopping for new clothes for the holidays.



At the local shopping centre there was an old and new day.

There were many old timer cars on display.





The little man even got chance to sit in a Cobra.



The Nuna 7 solar panel car (designed in Holland) was on show.

It finished first in the World Solar challenge in Australia in 2013.





The boys waited patiently while papa tried on his holiday clothes, well mostly!





We went to Oma and Opa's house for dinner. Boys will be boys.



There is a fantastic view from the balcony across Leiden.




Happy days; playing at Oma's house.




We ended the day with a Skype call to Grandad in England. I am so grateful that we have the technology to be able to do this and we Skype 2 or 3 times per week. Being able to see each other is much better than just speaking (and it's free).


Happy Father's day everyone! I hope all you daddies had a great day.



Photo of the week

21 June 2015



Reflecting © an imperfect mum  

Photo story: Weekend way of life #4

15 June 2015



Dear friend,

We have had another really quiet weekend. Unfortunately I picked up a cold last week and have ended up with a chest infection. Still the peaceful weekend has been good for us all. This week was a particularly busy one with school trips and the horse market. The end of the school year is approaching quickly and we are all feeling the pressure a bit. 


Photo of the week.

14 June 2015





My love/hate relationship with fancy dress

12 June 2015

Dear friend,

Pre kids I had set ideas about what I would or wouldn't allow. I was also a teacher so I thought I was the authority on kids. Ha! I admit it, I was that bitchy, childless person who thought they knew how to do it better. No way would I let my children play computers all day, watch Bob the Builder on repeat, eat the same crap food every meal or dress up in cheap costumes. Oh no. My kids would be perfectly coordinated down to their socks. How stupid was I? (A fact my own mother takes great pleasure in reminding me of.) So what is it about our own kids that turns us into hypocrites?

Hubby and I were united in our hatred of dressing up costumes. Pre kids, we had agreed that no child of ours would ever be seen wearing, a ridiculous costume inside or outside of the house. The Dutch have a saying, "doe normaal" be normal. They use this a lot. Children are encouraged to fit in. I was a dressing up snob. The cheap, synthetic material they are made from set my teeth on edge. They are poorly made and end up unravelling at the seems. Let's not forget that half of them are never cleaned through fear of damage so your kid ends up smelling like a jumble sale. How do you wash something with a head attached?

Little man's first outfit was for a school dress up day. He wanted to be a tiger so we found a super cute costume in a party shop that had semi decent material. As soon as he put it on I fell in love, he looked amazingly cute. Hubby was less happy but went with it (just for the school party) but what we didn't realise was, we had created a dress up monster. He wanted to wear it all the time...



The little man would crawl around the house making tiger noises. He wanted it on as soon as he woke up and would have even worn it for bed if he could have got away with it. The cuteness soon wore off, especially when he needed help going to the loo every 5 minutes. But he was so happy and he loved it so much that when he grew too tall, I unpicked and restitched the legs and he wore it as a sort of jacket.
At Christmas the supermarket was selling a reindeer outfit. We said no. Every time we went shopping he stood looking at the shelves where they were displayed with such a sad face. I made excuses, maybe father Christmas would bring it, not today mummy has no pennies left, Daddy said no (pass on the blame) they don't have your size. Eventually I gave in! (It was on sale.) He was so happy he walked around the supermarket with it showing everyone what he was getting.

Our reindeer.
What was I doing? I don't like dress up outfits. Why was I giving in? I was allowing myself to be emotionally blackmailed by a 5 year old!


Why does any parent give in to their children?


We want them to be happy. OK wearing a reindeer costume may not be my idea of fun but for little man it is pure bliss. He loved it! We had to take photos and Skype Grandma and Grandad. Everyone had to see.

At least this one was seasonal (we could put it away after Christmas).


Next the little man asked for a Pikachu dress up outfit for his birthday (in February). I managed to find one on line and we had it delivered to the UK just in time. He loved it and wore it almost the whole time we were there. When we got home the tail was hanging off and the stitching was unravelling in several places. It took ages to repair. Little man really wanted to wear it for school but I drew the line there. I promised that he could wear it for teacher day (when everyone dresses up).

Why was I being such a dress up snob? I believe it is my need to control everything and also perhaps a touch of narcissism because who really cares how a 6 year old dresses? He isn't doing any harm. Doesn't every child go through this phase?

Actually no! Autistic children can find some types of play difficult. Big lad's play was always quite limited and repetitive. He rarely engaged in pretend or role play and when he did it usually involved acting out Thomas episodes (almost word for word) with his trains. Little man has always had a fantastic imagination but recently I have been concerned that his play is becoming more narrow. Is this as a result of imitating his older sibling or is it just that he is maturing and becoming more interested in computer games? I don't know. Perhaps, this is why I am overcompensating with the Fancy dress outfits. But am I trying to extend his play experiences or am I simply clinging on to my baby?



Would you bloody believe it? Teacher day fell on the hottest day of the year so far (30 degrees).

Hubby wanted him to wear something cooler and most of his friends were wearing football strips so he tried to persuade him to wear his Ajax strip.

I got on my soapbox; Why should he follow the crowd and wear a football strip? It's OK to be different. What message are we giving him if we make him be the same as everyone else? I had promised he could wear it and I wasn't going to go back on that promise now. Every week he had asked, Is it teacher day this week? (In child time he had been waiting forever.)

A very happy but very sweaty boy practically bounced to school dressed as Pikachu. There were a few sidewards glances from mums who obviously thought I was totally crazy and comments about him being warm. But who cares. According to the little man, it was the best day ever!

I no longer see fancy dress costumes as my parenting failure, as giving in to my child's wants. I have learnt to accept and love what they mean to the little man and to see them as supporting and developing his social needs.

He has asked for a dog costume next, let's see...

Photo story: The Horse market

10 June 2015


Dear friend,

Today was the Rijnsburg Paardenmarkt. We had fantastic weather again, luckily for us. The day begins with the horse sale so we took a walk with Nova to have a look. The little man loved the Shetland ponies and Nova liked eating the horse poo. Yuk! Why do dogs do that?




Later we wandered around the market stalls that are set up along the canal and the boys got to try out some instruments with the Flora band. Little man was brilliant at blowing the trumpet, either he's a natural talent or really good at fart noises. 


Finally we sampled all the fun of the fair. The big lad was a demon on the bumper cars and the little man was great at the hook a duck game (he won two prizes) and enjoyed the bouncy castles and trampoline. 







All the schools are closed and everyone comes out to enjoy the horse market, it is an annual event. There is something for everyone, with the market, fair and live music in the town square. There is a real sense of community here we love it! 


What Katy Said

Photo story: Weekend way of life #3

8 June 2015



Dear friend, 

The summer finally arrived this weekend. I love the summer. I always say that I fell in love with my hubby and then he made me fall in love with Holland. He was clever as he brought me over here for the first time in the summer and sold me on the beach cafe lifestyle, not in rainy, cold October when I may not have been as impressed. 

We are really lucky to live within cycling distance of the beach. Saturday was a busy day spent getting haircuts, swimming and shopping but Sunday was a fantastic, fun filled day for the whole family spent at one of our favourite places, the beach. 


On Saturday morning the big lad had to swim for his Dolphin diploma at his swimming group.

Photo of the week

7 June 2015


©animperfectmum

How autism is making me a better friend

5 June 2015

Dear Friend,

According to research studies, people with close friendships are happier and healthier and ten friends seems to be the magic number. (Ten, I'd be lucky!) It is also thought that having good friendships can lengthen your life.

Living life as an expat can be very lonely at times. You can go through periods of, sometimes intense, homesickness. After ten years here, I experience it less but there are times when I really miss my amazing, fantastic friends.

I must admit that I took my friends for granted. I didn't realise just how special our relationship was until I moved to another country and tried to form new friendships. I am so lucky to have the type of friends with whom, you can sit in comfortable silence, roar laughing and cry uncontrollably. People who accept you, who get you, totally. I didn't realise how lucky I was. Sounds cheesy but in the UK my friends were my family.

It takes a long time to grow an old friend...

Now I am an expat, not only that, I am an expat married to a Dutchie. This means that I have a foot firmly in each camp but it also means that I don't quite belong to either...




When I moved to Holland I went to some local international groups to meet Expats. The problem is that speaking the same language or sharing a country of birth doesn't guarantee the click of friendship.

Social media has made it easier for me to keep in contact with my friends in the UK and feel part of their lives too. But it can also make us lazy friends, as it gives us the illusion of having actually been in touch. My Facebook habit was becoming an addiction and for me too much time on social media had a hint of loneliness... There is a degree of desperation in being the first to like a picture or comment on a post.

Good friends are like stars. You don't always have to see them to know that they are there...

Ok, let's be honest, as a special needs parent I have found it difficult to sustain my friendships because I hate feeling judged. I hate anyone judging my son's behaviour or indeed my parenting skills. I am fearlessly protective of my family!

Differences in opinion have lead to conflicts with friends that I have found very difficult to forgive or forget. Sometimes trust is broken, a judgement is made or the enjoyment is lost. When people are hurt and emotions come into play it is very difficult. I believe that is why there are so many chat rooms and social networks starting up specifically for special needs parents. We are looking for friendship, for support and importantly support from people who "get it".

Recently I read a comment on a social media site that said; How can I teach my son (autistic) about friendships when I am so obviously failing myself? Special needs families can feel isolated and alone. But I think this parent was looking at the problem from the wrong perspective.

What has autism taught me about friendship?


1) Treat everyone as your friend.


Big lad thinks that everyone is his friend and doesn't exclude anybody.

I am guilty of choosing to make friends with people I think are like me. Similar age, intelligence, interests etc but aren't I limiting myself? My life is richer and I learn more from different people.

2) Talk things through honestly.


When the big lad has problems they need to be discussed straight away or they become huge issues. I have learned not to let small problems fester, as they become big ones. Be honest and open.

It is not very English to air our dirty laundry in public. It can be uncomfortable at first but is worth it in the long run.

3) Don't hold grudges.


When the big lad has a bad day we learn from it, then forget it and move on. We don't bring it up later on. Kids are great at this, they fight one day and are best mates the next.

Once a problem is sorted move on. After all, I don't want to spend everyday avoiding certain mums at school drop-off.

4) Keep your promises.


Big lad always keeps his promises. Rules are rules.

Be there. Don't let people down. Don't make promises you can't keep.

5) Trust people.


Trust is really important for the big lad. Without trust he can not function that is why the beginning of the school year with a new teacher is so challenging.

I am learning like my son to give people the benefit of the doubt as most hurtful actions are due to thoughtlessness not disregard for feelings.

6) Friendship should be unconditional.


With kids we hear, if you invite me to your party I'll be your friend.

What do adults do? It is more subtle but we do have certain expectations of our friends; sympathy, understanding, honesty, trust, enjoyment of each others company.

What is your deal breaker? Is it worth it?

7) Some friendships are special.


True friendship isn't about being inseparable, it's being separated and nothing changes...

8) Be open to new friendship.


I am always encouraging my boys to say hello, to introduce themselves to others, to ask kids if they'd like to join in. Perhaps I need to listen to my own advice?


Anyone fancy a cup of coffee?

Read more autism related posts here...


Periods: My Miranda moment

3 June 2015

Dear friend, 

I have a problem. I can't say the word 'period'. Every time it comes up in conversation I become all Miranda. Pursed lips, whispered under my breathe; Periods. I sometimes even take a look around first to make sure there are no men or children around.

The problem is that lately I have had to do a lot of talking about periods. They have been bad, no strike that, actually they have been bloody excruciating! 

I must admit that when I started having difficulties a few months ago. I preferred to tell people that I had stomachs problems. Well it wasn't too far from the truth.

What was I afraid of? 



Photo story: Weekend way of life #2

1 June 2015



Dear friend,

This has been just the type of weekend that I love. One that encapsulates our normal family life. Spending quality time together, just enjoying the company and the peace that comes with not having to do anything. Pure bliss! 

Every time we get in the car at the moment the little man wants to drive because he wants to be a racing driver when he grows up. I love his cheeky face, grinning from ear to ear. It amazes me how kids can find such happiness in the smallest things.

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