How to find the perfect sofa

31 May 2016

Dear friend,

What does a sofa mean to you? To our family it's the place where we snuggle, read, play on the iPad, watch TV, blog, grab a coffee/snack, read a story, have 5 minutes rest, gossip on the phone, Skype with the family... It is in many ways the heart of our home. After 7 years of general wear and tear our beloved corner sofa had seen better days and it was time for a new one... 

I loved our sofa, it was really snug and I always took the corner place where I could put up my feet and sit comfortably with my laptop on my knee and one of the boys or hubby snuggled at my side. The problem was hubby and I could not agree on what type of sofa we wanted. Should we go for another corner sofa? Do we pick comfort or look, style or function?

Parenting from a Special Perspective: Rockin Random Mum

30 May 2016

Ever wondered what it is really like to parent from a special perspective? Parent to a Special Needs Child? Where do you turn for help? What challenges do you face? What has surprised you? What have you learned? Every month I will be featuring one of my brilliant fellow SEND bloggers and sharing their reflections on raising a child with special needs.

Michelle Kellogg is a blogger and is currently exploring the world of freelance writing. She uses her blog to inspire others who may be dealing with mental illness, have children with special needs, or both. She is a happily single co-parent mom, raising two boys, one with Autism, the other with ADHD. She is a rock music loving, coffee addicted mom, blogging about parenting Music, Fitness, and any other random thoughts that invade her complicated brain. You can visit her blog here:   You can also follow her on Twitter,  Facebook,  Pinterest, Instagram

1.       When did you first realize your child has Autism?

I didn’t realize Adam had Autism until after I was educated about it upon his diagnosis. It’s strange but my reference for Autism at that time consisted of a couple of newspaper articles I read in the 90’s about the worst cases. Adam didn’t display any of those symptoms so I was very confused and lost.

2.  How did you feel when you found out that your child has Autism?

Oh boy, a lot of emotions. My very first thought though was, “what did I do wrong?” My second thought was, “God, how can you do this? Hadn’t I suffered enough surviving horrific abuse as a child? Why are you making my child suffer too? He doesn’t deserve this!” Yes, I was very angry with God.

Bedroom makeover - finishing touches

24 May 2016

Dear friend,

It's like musical bedrooms in our house. The boys often want to sleep together and my big lad has swapped rooms several times over the last few years. Having autism means that he sometimes struggles to get to sleep or that he is sensitive to noise so sleeping above the TV did not work at all (autism and  overcoming sleep problems). He also suffers from anxiety so being in the attic room didn't work either and he hated the sound of the rain on the roof.

The only solution was to put him in Little man's room, close to us. Little man has always been very accommodating to his brother's needs and relished the idea of moving up to the bigger room with more space for his toys and tent. But hubby and I did feel slightly mean and promised he could pick a new duvet and poster. His choice was Minions of course.

Little man settled happily into his new room but it was a real mismatch of ideas with formula 1 cars, Skylanders and minions all mixed together with a heavy blue colour and terracotta cupboard doors. It was time for a change!

Hubby got to work and spent the whole weekend painting. We went for white (white everything) to make it a light and bright space and ordered some fabulous wall stickers to continue the minion theme. We were really pleased with the finished result...

We love the little minion lights above the bed, it is so cosy on an evening during story time.

I found the wall stickers on amazon and the book shelf is Ikea Expedit (now Kallax) the boxes are really handy for toy storage too. The minion rug and duvet set came from Intertoys.

Fast forward a few months and there is still one thing that we haven't got round to changing yet! The blind...

Every night when I take Little Man to bed, I pull down the blind and I make a note to myself to burn replace it.  It is the same 1980's terracotta colour that previously matched the cupboard doors and is looking really tired. I think it's about time that I found a replacement...

I came across some great roofblinds from the company VELUX. I really loved the Disney and VELUX dream collection. Beautiful designs for kids and each one is unique as it is made specifically to fit your window. Maybe if we had gone for a disney duvet this could have worked but not with our Minions theme.

My preferred choice would be a Velux blackout blind especially as Little Man's room is south facing and gets a lot of sun. The Velux Blackout blind has a special heat blocking aluminium coating on the back to reflect the sun's heat. The Velux company had a great range of colours to choose from (36 in total) and we loved the light blue.

Little man loves his new room and has plenty of space to play when friends come around. We are really pleased with the outcome. Now just to buy that blind...

Autiquotes: Quotes about Autism

My aim is to spread a positive message about autism through my writing and to help my son to grow up in a world of understanding, compassion and acceptance.

Sex & the City: A window into my 20's

18 May 2016

Dear Friend,

Sex and the City is like a window into my 20's. It was that wild cocktail of sex, fashion and friendship that got me hooked from the first episode. The frankness of the women was something that I really admired. It didn't have the brashness of the girl power message sold to girls in the UK but it was showing a side to women and particularly their friendships that we hadn't seen previously.

The theme tune always makes me smile as it conjures up fantastic memories of fun-filled nights with my best friends in my flat. The nights we spent putting the world to rights, supporting each other through break-ups or celebrating our successes. Didn't we all have conversations about which one of the girls we were most like?

The magic part of the writing was that I could see elements of my personality in all the girls and wanted them each to be my friend. Candace Bushnell was speaking the thoughts and feeling of a generation of single women.

My top 15 quotes from Sex & the city...

"Man may have discovered fire but women discovered how to play with it."

“Maybe mistakes are what make our fate... without them what would shape our lives? Maybe if we had never veered off course we wouldn't fall in love, have babies, or be who we are. After all, things change, so do cities, people come into your life and they go. But it's comforting to know that the ones you love are always in your heart... and if you're very lucky, a plane ride away” 

"They say nothing lasts forever; dreams change, trends come and go, but friendships never go out of style."

"And finally, the most important break up rule: no matter who broke your heart, or how long it takes to heal, you’ll never go through it, without your friends.”

“The most important thing in life is your family. There are days you love them and others you don’t, but in the end they’re the people you always come home to. Sometimes it’s the family you’re born into. And sometimes it’s the one you make for yourself.”

The fact is, sometimes it's hard to walk in a single woman's shoes. That's why we need really special ones now and then to make the walk a little more fun. 

“I admit it’s tempting to wish for the perfect boss, or the perfect parent, or the perfect outfit, but the best anyone of us can do is not quit. Play the hand we’ve been given, and accessorize the outfit we’ve got."

“Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate. Without them, what would shape our lives?” 

“And we were dressed from head to toe in love, the style that never goes out of fashion.” 

“And why is it that we can see our friends perfectly but when it comes to ourselves, no matter how hard we look, do we ever see ourselves clearly?”

The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.

After a while you just want to be with the one who makes you laugh.
"Eventually all the pieces fall into place. . . until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and know that everything happens for a reason."

"Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future, stop figuring out precisely how we feel, stop deciding exactly what we want, and just see what happens." 

"Maybe the past is like an anchor holding us back. Maybe, you have to let go of who you were to become who you will be."

Which program is a window to your past?

The benefits of a Staycation

17 May 2016

Dear friend,

I have just returned to work after 2 weeks holiday. My friends and colleagues have been away on exciting vacations or have visited family and friends in different countries. They look tanned and happy and regail me with tales of exciting things they have seen or done. Am I jealous? Hell no. 

After almost eleven years of living life as an EXPAT I have come to the conclusion that I do not want to spend every holiday travelling. I realised very quickly that I was returning to work after my 'holiday' feeling more exhausted. Travelling can be stressful, especially with young kids. I wanted to stay in my home, do nothing if I felt like it and have my things around me...

This holiday that is exactly what we have done and I feel marvellous!!!

The benefits of a Staycation...

Go at your own pace: it is bliss to wake up of your own accord without an alarm clock beeping at some ungodly hour of the morning. Eating breakfast in your PJs or just enjoying a whole PJ morning. I don't do this on holiday, I drag myself out of bed for breakfast because I worry about wasting my time...

Easy planning: it takes a lot of planning and preparation to take your family on holiday. I am one of those weird people who likes the house clean before I leave. Then there's the washing, ironing, packing and last minute shopping. Tickets to print (you can bet that the printer has run out and there's a last minute rush to get a new cartridge at 6 o'clock) passports to find, check-in online. All this while you are still at work. Staying at home means no planning needed, you can go with the flow...

You control the cost: you can do as little or as much as you feel like. If you want to keep it low key then go to the park, walk on the beach or play games together at home. Or splash out with a trip to the zoo or a theme park or go out to dinner. It's up to you! But there are no expensive hotels or flights to pay for so the costs are bound to be less. 

No time lost travelling: OK it doesn't take us long to travel to the UK from Holland but I still hate sitting around airports waiting for a flight and try to check in online and arrive as late as possible. When we do take the ferry it seems like such a waste to spend one whole night travelling across. That's a night we could have spent with family or friends. 

No travel stress: I am Mrs stress head when travelling with the boys; "Hold my hand. Walk next to me. Where is your bag? Where's the passport? Look how busy it is... " Not great as Big Lad also finds airports etc very stressful places. I try to keep my stress under control but honestly some people would try the patience of a saint and I have been known to get suitcase rage! Stay at home and there's none of that business. 

Relaxation and comfort: is there anything more comfy than your own bed, lounging on your sofa, sprawling out in your favourite baggy pants and T combi. Where else can you feel more at home than at home?

Catch up with people or activities: I have loved spending time catching up with friends this week, sitting sipping coffee in comfort without looking at the clock every 5 minutes to see if it's time to collect the kids. I have also been able to do some things that I'd put on the back burner, like sorting out my DVD collection and finishing a photo book.

Quality time with family: is there anything more important to do than spend time with your kids?

Book corner: The Story Machine

16 May 2016

Dear friend,

This months choice for the book corner is a very clever book I found in the school library. It is called The Story Machine and is written by Tom McLaughlin.

I love this book because it celebrates the pure joy of telling stories and for the purist in us it also champions the simple beauty and delight of using a typewriter.

Autiquotes: Quotes about Autism

10 May 2016

My aim is to spread a positive message about autism through my writing and to help my son to grow up in a world of understanding, compassion and acceptance.

Spring cleaning your wardrobe

9 May 2016

Dear friends,

Do you spring clean your wardrobe? I do. When the first ray of sun hits my window ledge I start to feel excited about having a wardrobe change over. I use the change of season as a good opportunity to sort out my clothes. I am an organiser; definitely not a hoarder and I love a good clean out, it makes me feel better!

Did you know that you only wear about 20% of your wardrobe regularly. I know I am guilty of picking out the old favourites like that comfy pair of jeans that go with anything. I regularly pass over trousers or tops that feel a bit tight or a little out of shape and hang onto things that I'm never going to wear again but I like.

H days: 4 months today

3 May 2016

Dear friend,

Hurray for the holidays. I have endured the usual ribbing from family and friends about us teachers... Working so hard and how I... really deserve a holiday because it has been so long since my last one etc etc But I let the jealousy wash over me and paste on my wry smile and give my standard answer. Yes wasn't I clever to choose teaching as a profession, why didn't you? 

It's never really been part of my DNA to take things easy. I've always had a project on the go, big ideas to follow through. I considered writing a bucket list post. All the wonderful things I wanted to do with my boys this holiday, things I wanted to see, places to go, games to play... But to be honest I can't be bothered. I am wrecked. I seem to have been running at life at a break neck speed for the last few weeks and whilst we have had a fabulous time, I need to stop...

The thing is the world doesn't really want you to stop...

It is exactly sixteen weeks (4 months) since my hysterectomy. To me that doesn't sound like very long, although it feels like a lifetime ago. Whilst I feel a million times better, I feel really tired.

But the world doesn't want me to stop...

I have twinges, usually brought on by too much physical exertion or carrying something heavy.

I have period pain (I still have ovaries) so although I don't experience a period I feel something, it is  strange...

I don't feel myself. The universe has suddenly tilted and my emotions are all over the place, one minute crying and the next so mad I want to hit something. Like my body is screaming at me via my hormones, what the hell did you do to me woman. 

There comes a point where it is no longer acceptable to be ill. Like the patience runs out...

You are back at work so just carry on as normal... 

There's the comments:
Are you still having problems??? I was back at work after 2 weeks... How long were you off???

The world doesn't want me to stop...

There's general life; washing... Ironing... Cooking... Cleaning...
You can't expect hubby to keep on doing everything (although he does his bit with washing & cooking)

The world doesn't want me to stop...

There's fun; I want to swim with the kids, walk at the beach, build dens in the woods and push them on the swing at the park. I want to be fun mum...

I don't want me to stop...

Who is putting this weight of expectation on me, myself or others? In truth a bit of both...

I went to see my GP worried by some pains I'd been having and she advised me to go back to the consultant. But after some lovely advice from a fellow hysterectomy survivor I was able to see that I had been doing way too much... 

Some on-line research showed me that it can take around 6 months to feel back to normal...

So this holiday I am stopping!

I am letting the boys play on the computer and I am lying in bed until gone 10... I am watching TV and sitting in the garden in the sunshine. I am holidaying at home to the backing track of computer generated music...

And I am not going to feel I?

Liebster award

Dear friend,

I love blogging tag posts. I suppose it is because I am really a very nosy so and so. I love finding out about other people. I've heard it said before but one of the best parts of blogging to me is the buddies that you meet along the way. I have recently started to get to know a whole bunch of lovely new bloggers through Tribal Chat. One of my fellow tribesters the gorgeous and brilliantly funny Jade from The Parenting Jungle tagged me in the Liebster award (you must check out her blog with a unique and witty approach to parenting that will make you feel fantastic) thanks Jade.

Picture of award saying Liebster discover new blogs
So here goes my answers...

1. Inspired by Occupation mother’s fab post- what would you choose as the soundtrack to your parenting journey so far? 
I would have to pick this absolute classic by Stevie Wonder. Hubby and I had this song played after we signed the register and left the room at our wedding. It always makes me feel happy. 

I love music and there are so many songs - perhaps I will have to follow suit with a future post. Thanks for the inspiration!

2. If you were a sandwich what type would you be?
A big bun from the baker filled with something classic like a good cheese but then with an aftertaste of something a bit spicy or different that kept you wondering what it was like a mayo with a hint of cayenne pepper.

3. What is the best toy you have ever bought your child and why?
Had to ask the boys this one and absolutely no contest, has to be the Wii U. They are mad gamers and would spend all day on it if allowed.

4. What toy would you like to throw out of the window?
I would gladly grab the boys Nintendo DS off them at times and throw them straight out of the window because the sound of the truly awful, annoying and immensely irritating music in the games drives me insane!!! I have been known to scream, You are Driving me mad! very loudly and make the boys mute them or wear ear phones.

5. What is your best childhood memory?
Sleepovers at my nana's house. Anything to do with my nana really, baking, playing games, drinking tea, going to the club, trying on her jewellery, putting on make-up so many wonderful things. She was an amazing woman who was always the life and soul of the party. 

6. What is the first blog you read?
Honest Mum. I didn't read any blogs until I started blogging myself but found the amazing Vicky's blog and was wowed, it showed me what blogging can achieve. I started joining in with brilliant blog posts and Vicky was one of my first followers. When she tweeted one of my posts I almost fainted. 

7. Why did you chose your child’s name?
We wanted names that weren't too common but also that weren't too unusual too. As we are a dual culture/nationality family we had to find names that worked in both languages. I loved the name Jake but my Dutch family pronounced it Yake. As a teacher I found it very hard to pick as many names reminded me of former pupils (and not the good ones). Hubby chose both names but both times we couldn't agree on a girl's name so lucky they were boys. (I don't use my boys names on the blog so this was quite difficult to answer.)

8. What really makes you angry?
When anyone hurts someone that I love. I'm like the hulk, you won't like me when I'm angry!

Picture of the incredible Hulk

9. Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
The brilliant Sheridan Smith down to earth, pretty but gritty and a brilliant actress.

10. How old were you when you learned Santa wasn’t real? How did you find out?
I have absolutely no idea at all. My memory is terrible in fact I think most of my childhood memories aren't actually mine they are stories my parents or brother have retold. I remember very little. I hope my boys remember their childhood. 

I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a bit better and thanks Jade for the brilliant questions.

I'd like to pass on the love and nominate the following amazing bloggers:

Liz Lowe - 52 pauses
Louise - liquoriceUK Little Hearts Big Love

Here are my questions:
  1. If money was no object, what would you do all day?
  2. Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
  3. What is your favourite memory?
  4. What has been your biggest challenge?
  5. What does your perfect day look like?
  6. University or life experience, which do you feel best prepares you for life?
  7. What is the one thing that should be taught in school that isn’t already?
  8. If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
  9. Describe yourself in 3 words.
  10. Which animal best defines you and why?
For more about blogging see here

Here is how it works: Please give me a mention for nominating you. Answer my questions. Then think of your own 10 questions and nominate 5 fellow bloggers to answer them... Easy peasy, enjoy!

Photography @My_Dutch_Angle

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