Weekly Roundup #9

30 October 2015

Dear friend,

This weekly roundup is really almost 2 weeks as the first week was our half term holiday. I was torn between wanting to rest and recuperate after a busy half term and our recent illnesses and not wanting to waste our days away doing nothing. I think we found a happy medium. Fun days at home, crafting, playing games and visiting the library and a museum day, beach walk with kite flying, indoor playground visit and a cinema trip. Wow I think we need another holiday now!

Dad's no shit approach

29 October 2015


Dear friend,

Have you ever noticed how people have a natural positivity, a built in need to tell each other things will be ok. I'm all for positive thinking and I will often be the one found handing out tea and sympathy and uttering reassuring words to friends, family etc But...today I have changed my mind!
Why today?
Well today I had my wisdom tooth removed and I really wish someone had given me it straight; look Catie this is going to really, bloody hurt!


I knew I was in trouble when the dentist announced, this is a nightmare! A procedure that normally lasts 20 minutes took almost an hour. Bloody typical! I walked back to the waiting room, ice pack firmly in place. Hubby had the good grace to look suitably shocked when faced with a stunned looking Quasimodo but played it down in his usual fashion; I thought you'd been ages.
No really!!!

During the car ride home I relived my horror with a smattering of very colourfully descriptive language much to hubby's amusement! But seriously, does this only happen to me? Given the easy route or the difficult I always seem to opt for the hard version.



I was transported back in time (possibly through the haze of pain) to car journeys to or from hospital with my father. His approach to nursing was quite unique. When faced with an injection, procedure or operation he not only gave the facts he embellished them. His favourite answer to the question, Will it hurt? No, of course not, well it won't hurt me (with a huge grin). He would then go on to tell you how massive the needle was or some horrifying tale of auntie so and so's second cousin once removed who had his finger cut off with a rusty knife.

I'd either be laughing or so worried about the massive needle (that ended up being a fraction of the size he'd said) that it was not as bad as I'd thought. Even if it wasn't good I wanted to be brave for him, not to let him down. Come on you big girls blouse, he'd say. That's the voice I heard when the last piece of my tooth was stuck close to the exposed nerve and the dentist was considering giving up.  Not the oodles of lovely people who'd said, you'll be fine. Don't worry.

Pretty words aren't pretty if they aren't real and true.

I have decided to call it; Dad's no shit approach and it got me thinking of other occasions we could use it. I think I could start some successful campaigns;

1) Childbirth: the pain isn't over as soon as the child's born. No you'll feel like your peeing fire for weeks.
2)  Injections; not just a scrape!  Injections pinch like hell and then leave you with a dead arm for a couple of days.
3) Tooth extraction; akin to being beaten around the face with a crowbar!
4) Mamogram: like someone running over your boob!
5) Smear test: having your insides scratched by a rusty nail.
6) Stitches: the needle stings like a bee then when it feels like part of you has died they try to pull your skin off.
7) Wart or verruca removal: actual torture through burning, painful for hours.
8) Eye drops; like getting shampoo in your eye.

I'm not so sure it'll take off...what do you think?

Disclaimer: I wrote this at 3 a.m.in severe pain!

Family Fun: Halloween Pumpkin decorating

27 October 2015


Dear friend,

As hubby works in the flower business we always get great pumpkins but this year he surpassed himself. I decided to be a little bit more adventurous with our pumpkins. I usually do the standard carving which is great and always pleased the kids but I let myself be seduced by the amazing things on Pinterest. I asked the boys to take a look and choose a design they wanted to try. The little man picked, Minions, naturally and the big lad went for a mummy. Take a look at what we made.



Minion pumpkin

Family fun: Naturalis

26 October 2015


Dear friend,

We have been talking about visiting Naturalis for ages and finally got around to it during the half term holiday. Hubby took a day off and we had 2 free museum tickets from the post code lottery to use so what better way to spend a day? The natural history collection at Naturalis is the 5th largest in the world with over 37 million objects and it is right on our doorstep, in Leiden. 


The boys were excited to see Freek from the Dutch TV program; Freek's wild world but I was totally amazed at the sight that met us at the entrance. Nature's theatre: An exhibit of just about every species of animal and insect you can think of. It was totally amazing. The big lad and I spent ages finding the names of different animals and their countries of origin from the large catalogues of information displayed.



Next we headed down to where it all began the Primeval parade and took a look at the truly fantastic display of dinosaurs, prehistoric animals and their fossils. It fascinates me that these things are millions of years old, how privileged we are to be able to see them up close. But I don't think the boys really understand that yet.


The longest skeleton was that of the Camarasaurus, at 18 metres the head looks over the second floor. It was excavated in America and brought to Naturalis in 1996, where it was put together. The boys looked tiny next to it.
I was really impressed with how interested the boys were. The little man loved the information points and my big lad let me wax lyrical about fossils and how they were formed.


The Earth gallery has a huge rotating globe in the middle put together from satellite images. It is the very realistic and also the largest of it's kind in the world.


The Super senses  exhibition was the most fun. Here the boys were able to investigate how animals rely on their senses and how they are far more developed than our own. We got to smell, hear, taste, see and touch lots of cool things. The boys especially liked making monkey noises.


We loved the Dodo skeletons, what a rare find! My favourite exhibit was Triceratops live part of the Research in Progress exhibition, palaeontologists are currently at work in America recovering 3 possibly 4 Triceratops (1 young) that were found during the recovery of a T-Rex. The T-Rex is due to be displayed in 2016 but you can currently see part of a Triceratops skull. The Giant Japanese crab was also a sight to behold and the little man liked scaring mum with the bird eating spider and posing with the flying squirrel (or squirrel from Mario as he liked to call it).


What an amazing day and great value too at 9 euro per child (adults 12 euro). I would highly recommend it and we will definitely be making a return visit to see the new dinosaurs exhibition. 
Our Family fun, museum visit was a huge success! 
Don't you just love making memories with your kids?


Liked this post then check out more of my EXPAT series here.



Silent Sunday

25 October 2015




Family Fun: Simple Halloween Crafts

23 October 2015



Dear friend,

Halloween is almost upon us. I have always loved Halloween and in Holland it is becoming more popular but it certainly isn't celebrated to the same extent as in the UK. In the last 10 years I have only once had any children knock on our door dressed in costumes and last year was a monumental failure (read about it here). 

This year I am determined to make it a success. I want to pass on some of my British culture to my boys and for them to have special memories of Halloween too.

The preparation started this week. It is half term and what better way to spend some time than on Halloween crafts? I have been trawling Pinterest for interesting and simple ideas (you can see my Halloween board here) and found a few things that I wanted us to try.

Simple Halloween Crafts


Paper plate spiders

Little man got busy painting the paper plates and I printed out some large eyes and cut the thick card to make legs.

 Masking tape mummies and paper plate ghosts

We used some of the left over paper plates and eyes to make some ghosts. These were so simple. I just stapled the plates together with the tissue between and then we roughly cut up the tissue paper with scissors, the messier the better!
Next I made a template of a gingerbread man to draw around and we cut out lots of them on white card. We covered them with masking tape torn roughly into small pieces and stuck on randomly (again the messier the better). We stuck on eyes and drew a scary mouth to make crazy mummies.

We hung the ghosts up using cotton so it looks like they are floating.
We pinned the spiders on our art line to dry. We are going to make large spider webs from black plastic sacks later.
I used a hole punch to make holes in the mummies hands and joined them together with spilt pins to make a mummy garland.

Pumpkin caterpillars


I found a simple but effective Pumpkin craft idea on Pinterest and thought we'd give it a try. We needed 5 small pumpkins and used kebab sticks cut to size to join them together. This was trickier than I thought as the skin on  the small pumpkins was very hard and I ended up having to make holes in them with a thin metal screwdriver. (I would recommend using a gimlet if you have one, we didn't.) The boys stuck on the eyes and drew a mouth using marker pen. They look fantastic sitting on our windowsill!

The little man was very proud of his work and couldn't wait to show Oma when she popped in and he scared grandma with one of his spiders on Skype. It is great to see the big lad becoming more involved too. All of these were really simple but very effective ideas that anyone can make. Now we just have to wait for Halloween.


I added this post to the following links:

A Cornish Mum thumbnailsize What Katy Said

What makes me a woman?

21 October 2015

Dear Friend,

A while ago I wrote a piece about 'periods' and I was overwhelmed by the response the post got. Obviously this is a hot topic with many women suffering in silence. After several months of problems I had a procedure to try and alleviate some of my symptoms but unfortunately, it wasn't a total success. I have been offered an alternative; hysterectomy. 

I wasn't shocked, I had expected this outcome as I had done the unthinkable and completed my own research on the Internet (what on earth did people do pre-internet?) What I didn't expect was my reaction...
Will I still be a woman? 




feel a huge amount of shame for my self indulgent behavior. It's only a body part and one I won't need again so why am I so attached to it? 

I know my response is purely emotional...


I will be womb less. My ability to carry children will have gone. The place where I held my boys for nine months will no longer exist. It is intrinsically linked to my concept of motherhood. To letting go of probably the best period (no pun intended) of my life,  the end of my child bearing years and it has happened too soon, I am not ready for this yet. I am only 42, this happens to women in their 50's doesn't it?

Jessica Rabbit
Hubby's response to my panic was typically blunt; well if a man has a vasectomy does that mean he is no longer a man? Brilliant logic that can not be argued with of course. 

The stupid thing is that I don't actually want any more children. Our family is complete. But the fact that the option of more children will have been taken away, gone forever, unnerves me! I think I liked the idea that there was always a chance...

What is it that makes me a woman I don't honestly know! I don't want to go down the road of gender stereotypes (like Caitlin Jenner who in a recent Vanity fair article incurred the wrath of many feminist writers.) 

Unlike Jenner I don't think being a woman is about corseted breasts, high heels, make up, big hair and being emotional (e.g. Jessica Rabbit). My idea of being a woman is looking after your family, standing up for your rights, following your own path and never giving up on what you believe. 

Faced with the prospect of severe pain every month for possibly the next ten years or having a hysterectomy my choice is clear. I just need my heart to catch up with my brain.

What is your idea of being a woman?

Read more of my Hysterectomy diary...

Book corner: The little rabbit who liked to say MOO

20 October 2015

Dear friend,

I was invited to take part in the Love to read linky by the fabulous Angela over at Days in Bed. I was thrilled to be invited as this is right up my street. As a Primary School teacher I recognise the value and importance  of reading with your children. Reading and understanding language is central to learning.


We have a house full of children's books. This is especially important to me as my kids are growing up bilingual. Every trip back to the UK I buy more books and I am lucky to be able to borrow from my school library too. Hubby is not such a book worm so we make up for our lack of Dutch language books with trips to the library which luckily is at the end of our street.




Weekly Roundup #8

19 October 2015


Dear friend,

Welcome to my Weekly Roundup, a post where I like to share the ordinary moments that have made up our family time during the week. As a busy, working mum family, time is tight and this post allows me to focus on the little things that we do together that make our lives special.

This week we have succumbed to the bugs again. The big lad and I have both had throat infections then to add insult to injury I got an infected wisdom tooth (which needs removing) ouch! It's times like this (when you just want to curl up and die) that family time becomes even more important! I hope you enjoy this weeks post.

Silent Sunday

18 October 2015




Family fun: Cake pops from Dr Oetker

16 October 2015



Dear friend,

The big lad picked up this Cake pops mix from Dr Oetker whilst we were doing the shopping. It is a new mix and I've always fancied making these so we decided to give them a try! As papa was busy with the decorating and had worked very hard all week, we thought it would be a nice idea to surprise him with something yummy for when he was finished. 




Making cake pops


The boys were ready to get going and we checked the contents of the pack.

Ways children torture their parents

14 October 2015

Dear friend,

Today whilst making lunch for my kids they sat playing on the Nintendo DS and the iPad. Yes I know screen time is the devil, bla, bla, bla. Anyway I digress. After about 5 minutes I snapped and screamed; which one of you is that? Turn the bloody sound down it is like a form of torture! 

If your kids have these things too then you’ll understand, the constant repetition of tinny techno music drives me totally insane. It climbs into my brain and blocks up my synapses so I just can't think!


But actually it did get me thinking. I could seriously sign my kids up for the FBI. Withholding information? My two will get any information out of the most hardened criminals in 2 minutes. In their short time on earth they have perfected the art of parental torture. 




Weekly Roundup #7

12 October 2015

Dear friend,

It is Monday so that must mean Weekly Roundup, a post where I like to share the ordinary moments that have made up our family time during the week. As a busy, working family, time is tight and this post allows me to focus on the little things that we do together that make our family times special. 

We have all been fighting the bugs this week at different times so it has been a little challenging and with hospital appointments, therapy, hubby decorating the attic bedroom etc time has been short.  I hope you enjoy this weeks post.

Silent Sunday

11 October 2015







Family fun: Juice box monsters

9 October 2015



Dear friend,

I love Friday afternoons. My little man is free from school and we get some one on one time. A couple of weeks ago I had the realisation that I was wasting these special moments with food shopping, ironing and the like when what I really wanted to do was play with my son. So I have made a decision to put aside Friday afternoon for fun! Here is what we got up to making Juice box monsters from Trash 2 Treasure.




I bought the kit from a budget shop for less than 3 euros so in all truth wasn't expecting too much but the materials were really good quality. Instructions were also provided in different languages. 

Weekly Roundup #6.

5 October 2015

Dear friend,

It is Monday so that must mean Weekly Roundup, a post where I like to share the ordinary moments that have made up our family time during the week. As a busy, working family, time is tight and this post allows me to focus on the little things that we do together that make our family times special. I hope you enjoy this weeks post.

Our week at a glance




Photo of the week

4 October 2015



Taking a breather at the view point.  

Family fun: Making a rocket ship

2 October 2015



Dear friend,

I love Friday afternoons. My little man is free from school and we get some one on one time. A couple of weeks ago I had the realisation that I was wasting these special moments with food shopping, ironing and the like when what I really wanted to do was play with my son. So I have made a decision to put aside Friday afternoon for fun! Here is what we got up to.



We had a Go Create set from Tesco: Make your own space rocket. Aunty Clare had bought this for little man ages ago but we hadn't got round to making it. (Sorry Clare and Thank you!)


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