Point Shoot: Birthday Boy

31 July 2017

Dear friend,

Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

This week is a very special #PointShoot as it is a focus on my big boy. A look back at his 10th year and some of my favourite photos of him, of course the beach, our favourite place features heavily in these shots as does his infectious cheeky smile. I am immensely proud of my big lad and he has had an amazing year and has really grown in confidence and maturity. Actually autistic and actually brilliant!

I have a son, who is my heart. A wonderful young man, daring and loving and strong and kind.

My Sunday Photo

30 July 2017

Look mum a crisp that looks like Pacman.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. Albert Einstein

Life lessons now you are 11!

28 July 2017

Dear son,

I can't believe you are eleven. I know everyone says it but time does fly and at the speed of Concorde.  Where did my baby go? We are so proud of you. You are a funny, sensitive, caring and warm boy and I know you will grow up to be a wonderful young man. You have taught me so much. You inspire me every day with your strength, resilience, humour and your trust. You drive me to be a better person.

Now you are eleven I would like to impart some wisdom too...

20 Life lessons now you are 11:

  1. When in doubt take the next step
  2. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone
  3. Always be you!
  4. It is Ok to cry sometimes
  5. Don't compare yourself to others
  6. Don't take yourself too seriously
  7. When it comes to something you love don't take no for an answer
  8. Don't save things for a special occasion. Today is special!
  9. You don't have to win every argument! 
  10. Time heals almost anything
  11. Believe in miracles
  12. Get outside everyday
  13. Take a deep breathe.
  14. Keep asking questions
  15. Treat everyone with respect
  16. Never lose your imagination
  17. Always say thank you
  18. It's OK to be wrong
  19. Keep your body healthy
  20. All that really matters in the end is love

Happy Birthday my gorgeous boy! 

Why I am proud to call Holland Home

26 July 2017

Dear Friend,

It's rather a surprising thing for a northern girl like me to be writing this post. I was always rather dismissive of people who returned home to the North East and went on and on about; London, New York, Australia etc Returning to Middlesbrough will always feel like coming home; family, friends, football and the hills (god I miss the hills).

12 years ago I moved to Holland.

I left Middlesbrough 12 years ago. I can't quite believe that I have been living in this tiny, busy, brilliant country for twelve whole years, this place has really become home and I am proud to call it that.

10 Reasons why I love living in Holland...

1) Community
There is a real community spirit. The Dutch are great at organising events and keeping up traditions. Every year our village will host special days where the community come together and during the summer every town hosts their party week. There is a real sense of belonging and pride in these events with everyone taking part.

2) National Pride

A great example of this is Kings day when the whole country turns orange. Music events, games, markets, street entertainment ensures that there is something for everyone. The rest of the year the Dutch need no excuse to hang out their flags; birthdays, party days, passing exams, births, they proudly display their colours.

3) Work/life balance

Most people work part time many men included, there is shared responsibility for child care, men taking papa days to take care of their children. Working hours are shorter or many people work flexi hours to have Monday or Friday free. People here work to live they don't live for work.

4) Bikes

Everyone bikes, everywhere. There is something liberating about the freedom of jumping on your bike to go to the shops, beach, work or school. It is reminiscent of childhood. The rush hour is quite a sight to behold as are the lines and lines of bikes at the stations.

5) Honesty

Dutch people are the most honest people you can meet. This can be a little startling for us reserved English lot but if you ask a question you will always get an honest answer. Dutch people will ask questions about finances, personal issues, health etc that English would not. But you always know where you stand. Problems are spoken about, brought out in the open, dealt with and forgotten about!

6) Food

When I first came to Holland I missed lots of English foods and I still need a fix of fish and chips and a corned beef pasty when I visit the UK. But I have grown to love Dutch food too; creamy cheeses, stroopwafels and bitterballs are firm favourites in our house. Don't expect a massive freezer section in the supermarket. The Dutch shop regularly and eat fresh foods. Perhaps one reason they don't have a problem with obesity?

7) Shops

Small individual boutiques with little treasures and one off pieces, handmade jewellery and art. Yes the big chains are here too but I love the Dutch style and fashion, offering classic pieces with a modern twist. Dutch people support their local businesses and because we eat fresh the baker and butcher are still thriving.

8) Beaches

The beach tents/cafes arrive around May and stay until September. We love this time of the year. Being able to cycle to the beach after work or school is such a joy! The North Sea may be cold but the beaches are beautiful. If the weather is good then you don't need to go abroad to holiday!

9) Canals and Canal Houses
It is my ambition to own a canal house one day. The Dutch canal cities are truly beautiful!

10) Happy Kids
Dutch children regularly come out on/near to the top of the list of happiest children in the world.

Come and visit but be warned you may decide to stay!

Point Shoot: Kite surfers at the beach

24 July 2017

Dear friend,

Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

In Katwijk there is a kite surfing school. I love watching the kite surfers at the beach. Some of them shoot up into the sky and it is almost like they are flying.  It must be an amazing feeling! The boys enjoyed running around and chasing Nova and of course paddling in the pools. Little man ended up coming home in his underpants 😉 

Life is a lot like surfing. When you get caught in that impact zone, you need to get right back up because you never know what's over that next wave.

My Sunday Photo

23 July 2017

Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.     

I'm a blogging success because...

19 July 2017

Dear friends,

I’m a blogging success because…

When asking myself what is blogging success? I turned to google for help as I am sure many of you have done. My most recent searches include, other blogs, a clothes shop (sale time), a video about Mars and the kids school website, what’s yours? Anyway I digress. The wonderful Mirriam Webster was able to shed some light on what success actually is… I went for the simple definition.

Definition 1: Achieving wealth, respect or fame.

OK according to this definition I have not made it. My blog has not brought me untold wealth (although I am very grateful for the opportunities it has brought me). I am also not famous and don’t actually want to be but it might be nice to appear on, This morning and meet the silver fox that is Philip and the gorgeous Holly, like some of my blogging buddies.

Definition 2: The correct or desired result of an attempt.

I started blogging with no agenda, it wasn’t an attempt at anything. I hadn’t read blogs and had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I just needed to write … My brain was filled with questions and thoughts that needed a space to grow. Through blogging I found that space and started to breathe out again. Then something amazing happened - people started to comment. Other parents reached out to me. People told me that I’d helped them learn more about autism.

Raising awareness felt good, it felt like I was doing something, achieving something. Other autism parents reached out to me, other bloggers, friends, colleagues… people were reading my words. It felt amazing when I saw 1000 people had read my I hate Birthdays post. I was voted one of the most inspirational Autism Bloggers of 2015. I guess that meant I had achieved respect (see definition 1).

But the goal posts had moved and I started to reach for the full definition of that success. I wanted a measure. I started to look at those statistics, question why it had taken me so long to grow my following. I began comparing myself to others, checking my DA and Klout too regularly and caring too much about charts. I felt my blog was failing. I was failing… and it forced me to reassess what I wanted for my blog.

If I needed reminding of my success then all I had to do was turn to the comments of my fellow bloggers and readers.

I am a blogging success because...

I am giving people a glimpse into what life is really like for families affected by autism. I am a success because I am challenging the stereotypes and raising important issues in the hope that the life of my son and other people like him can be improved. I may not be the best writer, campaigner, speller, social media guru but my voice is out there. I am a success because blogging has enabled my voice to be heard.

This post first appeared on mummyinatutu  as part of Katie's I'm a blogging success series...

Point Shoot: Museum Volkenkunde

17 July 2017

Dear friend,

Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

We spent a fascinating Saturday afternoon at the museum Volkenkunde in Leiden at the Cool Japan exhibition. 

Pokémon, Hello Kitty, robots and samurai – all international icons of Japanese visual culture. Japan is known for its ancient traditions, and yet it is also hip and happening, with occasional extravagant visual excesses. A major exhibition entitled COOL JAPAN: Worldwide Fascination in Focus ... highlights the popularity of contemporary Japan, and places it in a historical context.
The boys didn't need any persuading to visit the museum with the promise of some Pokemon but it was actually so much more and we discovered Samurai, Buddhas, Swords, Dragon masks, Mangas and Hello Kitty. They even got to play computer games too!

Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering - because you can't take it in all at once - Audrey Hepburn

Point Shoot was previously Friday Focus.

My Sunday Photo

16 July 2017

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

Mahatma Gandhi

Ageing with attitude

14 July 2017

Dear friend,

Are you celebrating getting older? Maybe it is something that has never crossed your mind or maybe you have planned for your old age? Perhaps you are going to escape in your camper van, retire to Spain or take up skydiving. All exciting opportunities but should we be ageing gracefully?

A poll carried out by Retire Savvy last year investigated attitudes towards ageing. According to this poll I am too old for leggings and girls holidays to Ibiza,  I have only 5 years before I'm too past it for Twitter and one year left before I should cut off my hair,  I am also way too old to get a tattoo (38 years old is the cut off).

I have been planning on getting inked for ages but when my friend's son had a new tattoo and I mentioned wanting one too, I was amazed at my hubby's half joking comment about having a mid life crisis. I also read a comment on an internet thread that likened 40 year olds getting tattoos to

...older men buying sports cars, screaming out to the world I'm not too old.
So are they right?

I remember distinctly an argument conversation I had with my mother when I was a teenager. She told me that inside she still felt in her 20's and that only when she looked in the mirror could she see it wasn't true. I found this hard to understand at the time but not any more.

Is it time to hang up the skinny jeans, stop with the selfies and cut my hair into a mum bob? Should I be acting my age or celebrating it?

Having a hysterectomy has seen my body shape change but unlike in my younger years when I put on weight and would look in the mirror and hate what I saw, I accept how I look and don't see it as a failure, rather a work in progress, no-one is perfect!

I may not be overjoyed with the physical changes ageing has brought but I love the mental ones! I know that my voice, attitude and resolve is stronger than it ever was in my twenties. I'm proud of the inner strength maturity has brought me!

According to retire Savvy, the nation expects older generations to go quietly into later lives.

I would be interested to know exactly who completed this poll. Is it a broad cross section of people or a load of teenagers with quite frankly a lot to learn? I could quite easily belittle the authenticity of a poll based on a relatively small focus group but I don't need to because after a long period of Men prospering from ageing, with descriptions like distinguished or silver fox, we have seen a shift. Strong women are challenging the ageing stereotypes.

Women who are ageing with attitude:

  • Dame Helen Mirren:  a brilliant actresses who has not been content to simply play the older woman but has had many diverse roles and has been recruited as brand ambassadors for leading cosmetics companies too. Not only was she voted as having the best body of the year in 2011, but the actress posed nude for New York Magazine in 2010. She also had her first tattoo in her 70's.
  • Vivienne Westwood, still designing and modelling her own fashion line at 76.
The sexiest people are thinkers. Nobody's interested in somebody who's just vain with a hole in their head, talking about the latest thing - there is no latest thing. It's all rubbish. - Vivienne Westwood
 Source - Harpers Bazaar
Source - Harpers Bazaar 
  • Carmen Dell'Orefice - the world's oldest supermodel.  85-year-old model Carmen Dell'Orefice closed the Guo Pei show in Paris (Jan 2017) in stunning fashion
  • Bernice Bates - Bates began teaching herself yoga in 1960. Now, at 92, she holds a spot in the Guinness Book of Word Records as the oldest certified yogi on Earth. Mantra: "I can’t do that—YET."
  • Ernestine Shepherd -  the world's oldest female bodybuilder by the Guinness Book of World Records. She is a personal trainer, professional model, and author and is 75-years-old.
Image source - NextShark
  • Yasmina Rossi - the 59-year-old is a highly sought-after model (you may recognise her from the M&S campaigns) and check out those beautiful long locks too!
  • Grandma Moses -  Moses started to paint when she was 76 years old, after her hands became too crippled by arthritis to do embroidery. She painted every day and created more than one thousand paintings in 25 years. Her collection was shown at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. When she died,  aged 101, her paintings were on display in museums around the world.
  • Joanna Lumley OBE  is best known as Patsy in the long-running BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous, and has presented several TV travel documentaries. She has campaigned and raised funds for many charities, most notably the Gurkha Justice Campaign.
'If you’re alive, you’ll get old. There is no point denying it.' - Joanna Lumley

The best thing about entering my middle age is that I no longer give a hoot what anyone else thinks. And it seems I am not alone. Forget ageing gracefully I'd rather age with attitude like these brilliant women.

Pass the heels and skinny jeans, I'm ageing with attitude, what about you?

Who would you add to this list of inspiring women?

Stop Your Report Bragging!

12 July 2017

Dear Friend,

I read your Facebook status and the status of many other, friends, colleagues and acquaintances this week and I was really happy for you that your son/daughter got an excellent report. I was happy for the first 3, 4 maybe even 5 but then the pill became harder to swallow.

OK, I get it, you are proud. You want everyone to know how well they have done. When my children achieve something I too share. But I am sick of hearing about 'glowing' reports! What is it with this report bragging?

I have been party to many conversations this week, where parents have said, our Buddy got an excellent report he is doing brilliantly in maths and scored 92% in spelling. What you are really saying is, look at my child, he is very clever.

Why have we chosen to place so much importance on academic achievement?

Perhaps it is a side effect of our education system that sees children expected at an incredibly young age to read, write and count rather than play, learn and just be together. There is an equally destructive focus on testing children to ensure that they meet a required number of standards. What happens to all the children who fail to make the academic standard, those that do not tick all the boxes on the report. Are they failures?

Why are we rewarding attainment over effort?

As a Special Needs parent I measure my child's success in a different way. You may celebrate the fact that your child achieved all A's, but I will celebrate that despite being autistic my child has started to explain his emotions and describe how he is feeling and I am extremely proud that he always puts 100% effort into everything that he does.

Our milestones may be slightly different but both children have made significant progress so why should we celebrate one and not the other? Is my child a failure?

After 20 years in education I have written thousands of reports! I write honest reports but I have never written a bad report! We all have areas that we excel in and areas where we can make improvements. Nobody is perfect! Our differences are what make us unique what give us character and personality. 

You were born to be real not to be perfect!

We should stop writing blanket statements on Facebook etc or we should stop comparing ourselves to the Instagram perfect picture that others present to the world. Our children are already facing more and more pressure in school and socially, we should not be forcing our expectations or dreams on them.

Before you hit post on your status think about why it is important for you to have this perfect report moment! What are you actually saying? Are you really celebrating for your child or are you keeping up with the Joneses?

Boasting and gloating confirms that you need appreciation from others - Nico Garcia

Our son amazes us with his effort and tenacity we reward and praise him when deserved, not just at report time and share his success with family and close friends but I will not be bragging on Facebook. Will you?

This is a revised post. 

#PointShoot Week #17

11 July 2017

Do you love making photos of your family? Do you like to record the everyday memories you are making? Then this could be the linky for you. Come and share your photo story posts with me. You can share your days out snaps or any fun, special, touching moments from your week. It can be one photo (including Instagram posts) or a series of shots with words or without. 

I will be taking a little blogging break. #PointShoot will close for 3 weeks and we will be back again on the 8th August. I hope you will join me then! We will close a bit earlier this week too. #PointShoot is open until Friday instead of Sunday. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Welcome to #PointShoot Week #17

This week's featured post comes from the lovely Sarah @tammymumuk

Feel free to grab your featured blogger badge!

You may have noticed that the badges have changed. This is because of problems with photo bucket. Please use the new badges. 

Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

A photograph is the pause button of life.

We are open from Tuesday 6 a.m. until Friday 6 a.m. (so there is plenty of time to link up.)

Link up your weekend pictures!


  • You can link up to 1 post per week! Be sure to paste the Point + Shoot badge on the post you would like to link up 
  • Comment on my post to say hi! 
  • Comment on at least 2 other links – share the love, it is what linky's are all about. 
  • It would also be great if you could share your post and the linky party (using the hashtag #PointShoot) on your social media channels to help grow the community. I will also retweet all your posts via Twitter if you mention me in your tweets! (@imperfectmumx
  • Finally, if you could please follow me on (Twitter, Facebook Instagram and Pinterest) that would be fantastic!

Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

Point Shoot: Feeling hot hot hot!

10 July 2017

Dear friend,

Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

The weather in Holland has been amazing! The temperatures reached 34 degrees. The boys were feeling hot hot hot so we dug out the pool we bought last year and they cooled down and had lots of fun! 

Summertime is always the best of what might be - Charles Bowden

Why don't you join me on #PointShoot link party? We are open from Tuesday 6 a.m. until Friday 6 a.m. so there is plenty of time to link up. You can share your days out snaps or any fun, special, touching moments from your week. It can be one photo (including Instagram posts) or a series of shots with words or without.

My Sunday Photo

9 July 2017

You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.

Clay P. Bedford

A Glimpse into our Autism: The School Trip

7 July 2017

Dear friend,

Yesterday he went on his school trip, alone...

I waved him off and felt the tears prick my eyes as I recalled the small, extremely nervous boy on his very first school trip, clinging tightly onto my hand and pacing around with nervous energy.

Those first few school years I always signed up to help. He needed the reassurance that I was there and the teachers needed the support, just incase. School policy was not to have your child in your group but I always went with him. If truth be told I think I needed to go as much as he needed me to be there. I was too scared to hand full control over to someone else, what if he ran, what if he got hurt, what if he had a meltdown... who could understand him like me?

Every parent worries about their children at times. We need to trust that we have given them strong roots to enable them to grow independently. But sometimes I feel the panic flood in, filling my heart and head with white noise.  It is hard not to let the worries take over... to put our faith in the hands of others, particularly if your child's behaviour can be unpredictable or difficult to manage...
Butterfly with coloured jigsaw pieces pattern with text

Five years later and in Junior class, which 10 year old wants their mum coming on a school trip, especially a school trip to a theme park? I wanted to go, just in case, what if he reacted badly on a ride, what if he got upset or lost...  but if my son is to be accepted and integrated fully into his class then I have to learn to let go, to trust the school and staff, to allow him to be included. To trust him...

That doesn't mean that I won't stay at home all day with a nagging feeling of doubt and worry accompanying me in my housework or interrupting my Television viewing or causing me to forget the shopping I need. Or that I won't get to school early and wait eagerly for him to arrive. But I will let go...

Yesterday he went on his school trip alone...

Our big lad had an amazing day and told us step by step what he had done even down to the exact speed of the rides. 

A glimpse into autism is a series of short letters that explore how autism effects us on a day to day basis. Disclaimer:  this is our experience not all autistic people are the same.

More autism awareness posts...

Latest Instagrams

©spectrum mum ~ www.spectrummum.com (diaryofanimperfectmum.com) 2014 - present day. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to spectrum mum with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
© Spectrum Mum. Design by FCD.