Thursday, August 22, 2013

Expat Blog Hop 24 Stepping over .........

Many things have got me thinking recently about how I feel about living here and in the Netherlands.
One of my very first posts on this blog was about being an Expat and whether you ever actually belonged. There I asked myself the question if I would ever feel the same about the Netherlands as I did Spain, I said to ask me in a few years.

Well, a few years have past... I live in a Dutch street, a Dutch village, my eldest daughter goes to a Dutch school, I have had a baby in the Netherlands, she goes to a Dutch child minder, I sing in a Dutch choir, I work in a Dutch company, I ride my bike everywhere as second nature, I complain about the weather and the trains......

Ok I teach English, I speak English to the girls, I still have to have my tea but even that has diminished into more herbal teas, no coffee yet!, we still celebrate Christmas and Reyes, we sing in Spanish, we are go with the moment no plans people still, just.

So, what has changed, well I am beginning to feel like I belong, that I have found my feet. I am beginning to feel settled here, this is my new country. I even feel I have to defend it at times and miss it when I am away.

Online chats with other mums made me realise this, worries about other mums not speaking in the playground to you. I dont find that anymore, I have become one of them I suppose, they chat to me not only in the playground but in the supermarket too. I have had coffee with a few of them after Funky Monkey has been to play. Cycling with the baby on the front of the bicycle and Funky Monkey alongside is now not a scary awful event but one of every day life.

I find myself not thinking about why is this so but just go with it because its the norm and I am now used to it. Ok so I still hate how everybody congratulates me, my husband, the kids, the dog and the next door neighbour when its my birthday but I can live with that

I am accepting better the Dutch and their country. I think that is when you finally feel at home when you accept the people and their culture. Acceptance is a big word and it can take many years to accept a foreign place at home, but Holland is beginning to feel like home.

During a telephone conversation with a friend yesterday I told her about these feelings and said I am stepping over to the dark side, but it does not feel scary or wrong at all, it feels good.

This piece was written for my Expat blog hop. Every second Thursday I post a topic and write a post about it.

Would you like to contribute? Do you belong? Are you home?
Write a post and then link it up here below.
Then please go and read all the other lovely posts too.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Expat Blog Hop is back! - Number 24 Stepping over.....

Being an expat in a foreign country means feeling out of place at times, not feeling like you belong, seeking others who are in the same boat. But is there a certain time when you actually feel opposite, you feel you are beginning to belong?

I am beginning to feel differently to the Netherlands, What are your opinions or experiences?

Next week a linky will be up with my post.Look forward to hearing your views!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Protecting my biggest assets in the most comfortable way ;)

So here it is my blog has reached another level. I am back in the blogging world after a few months of lack of sleep, juggling two monkeys and boobs. Yes, the first post I am to write after a short time out is about boobs.

I am not even sure I can say that word on the net without my blog being branded but don't go just yet!

I am breastfeeding Baby Monkey just as I did Funky Monkey. Now even before I got pregnant with them both lets just say that I don't have any problems in the upper department.

In fact the opposite, so finding anything to fit that doesn't look like scaffolding around a building has always been a challenge. Especially here in the Netherlands, I don't know where all the bigger sized woman get their bras but I haven't found that special place just yet!

Breastfeeding bras are even harder to source and I have mostly managed with normal bras that I stretch so much by pulling them open, that I have to restock every few months.

So how glad was I when the lovely people over at Royce Bras asked if I would like to try out their new Blossom Bra.

After doing some research and looking at their website and online video, I was dubious. I mean the Blossom bra has no wiring and is a normal pretty looking bra, nothing like the things I normally end up buying.

Surely it wasn't going to manage with my assets (as I have grown to think about them ;)

I was very pleasantly surprised and I mean that very truthfully. I have worn the bra for about 2 weeks now (no not every day! it has been washed and I must say it washes very nicely in the washing machine!) and I love it. I like it so much that I am going to order some more online, I have found a few stockists in the Netherlands see them under Breastfeeding in my Links in NL page. The Blossom bra retails at about 37.5 euros from Shop for so not a bad price at all, some of the scaffolding I have bought in the past has cost me near to 80 euros!

So what is fascinating about the Blossom Nursing bra, apart from being very stylish in a black and white spot print and very comfortable and breathable, its made from 41% Viscose, 35% Polyamide, 21% Cotton, 3% Elastane

With an innovate hidden drawstring it transforms from a high crop top style to lower cut plunge style bra which makes it so versatile It comes in 3 sizes (C/D/DD, E/F/FF, G/GG/H)  and because of its design it can be worn in pregnancy and later on too once the baby is born.  There are 4 tightness fittings and I am still wearing mine on the 1st fitting.

What I love about it the most is the innovative drawstring in the middle of the bra which converts it from the lovely crop top style bra great for sleeping and when the drawstring is pulled it creates the  lovely plunge effect giving both support and style.

Plus I love that for once I can support my assets in style!

Watch the video below to learn more about this lovely product and check out the stockists on the Links in NL page.

I received one Blossom nursing bra in exchange for a review, all ideas and opinions expressed are entirely my own and are from the heart and very true.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

BassBoomz Speaker review

They say the best things come in small packages and when reviewing the BassBoomz I would have to say this is very true.
When we were asked to review the Bassboomz from the company Bass Buds, Dutchie jumped at the chance. He is very into his gadgets especially any that are related to sound, if he had his way everything in the house would be amplified and given bass 3 times over.

The BassBoomz is a small speaker for smartphones, tablets and laptops. From the website itself : "Designed with an innovative Bass Expansion System for an impressive volume-to-size digital amplifier giving you deep, rich bass tones. Simply twist and release to activate an enhanced entertainment experience." March 2013

The speaker comes with a rechargeable battery lasting about 5 hours, a USB cable for recharging and the Aux cable to connect it to your devices. It can also connect to your devices via Bluetooth. To find the speaker, you search for Bluetooth devices on your iPhone and then enter a default pin code to pair the devices so that no unauthorized devices can use it.

We were impressed with the sound and would take it on holiday with us and we have used it at home with the Ipad to increase the entertainment experience. Dutchie tested the range the Bluetooth would handle before the quality was reduced. Sitting the BassBoomz in the living room, he was able to go all the way to the end of the garden before the sound became fuzzy.  The speaker would also be great during the summer sitting in the garden, 

+ Explosive sound quality – twist and release the Bass Expansion system
+ Ideal for your smartphone, MP3 players, tablets and laptops
+ Compatible with all wireless devices with a Bluetooth connection
+ Compatible with any audio device that has a 3.5mm audio jack output
+ Dual connectivity available – connect 2 BassBoomz together for double the sound
+ Portable and pocket-sized for your music on-the-go!
+ Compatible with all Bluetooth enabled devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets 

+The speakers come in 8 different colours to suit anyone tastes

Dutchies words: "Ok some may say it's not stereo but then you wouldn't get the smallness if it was, for what it is as a product its great"

If you did want a stereo sound you can buy 2 on the website and receive with your order a free connector cable.

BassBoomz retail for 79.95 pounds and can be purchased here on the Bass Buds website. Order one now, this month using the following discount code and get 30.00 pounds off , a fantastic deal. And a great idea for a fathers day present.

Voucher code exclusive to Tales from Windmill Fields visitors:  BBZNL29467

Friday, January 18, 2013

Saving for a Rainy day

Dutchie and I have always talked about opening an account for Funky Monkey and now Baby monkey has also come along, we are going to open them both an account. 

Opening them an account not only provides them with something for later but also encourages them to split their pocket money into a pot to go towards toys and things they want ‘now’, while putting something aside for the long-term. All those extra jobs, money from granny or reward money can be collected in a savings account teaching them that the  money doesn't have to be spent right now. 

But with the wide selection of banks out there and added to that the fact that both Dutch Opa and English grandparents living in Singapore will also be depositing money. It makes choosing an account to deposit their savings hard.

There are also numerous questions to ask yourself, Do you want to open a savings account at your own bank in your current expat country? If you choose this option, will you be able to transfer the money at a later date if you move to another location.

Or if you choose a bank back in your home country, Can you access it and the funds easily whenever you want? 

Also, it’s not always easy when living overseas and you don’t have an address to open an account in your home country. With onshore children’s accounts, you normally have to open the account by having a relative do it  and then you fund the account by sending the money across. However then currency conversions and costs are another item to consider, a savings account abroad  mean bank transfers with possible charges and variable exchange rates.

Some other things to consider when opening an account for your children:

  • Location Is the bank convenient for you to get to? If your children embrace the idea of their own savings accounts, they may want to make frequent trips to the bank. Consider a neighbourhood bank, one on a common route that you travel, or inside your local supermarket to keep the trips from turning into a hassle. If you frequently go to the bank, it may be very helpful to open your child's savings account at the same bank to coordinate visits.
  • Fees & Requirements  Find an account that doesn't have monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements. In addition, make sure there is no limit on the number of small deposits. Also watch out for banks that charge fees for inactive accounts and read all the small print before opening the account. If you are using a bank that provides a free savings account tied to your account, find out what happens if you move your account to another bank. Can your child still keep his account open?
  • Type of Bank The first bank you check will likely be your own bank. If they don't have an account that meets the needs of your child based on fees and requirements, you can explore an online bank.
  • Ages of Children Based on the age of your child, your account needs will have different requirements. For savings account for a baby, you or grandparents may only deposit gifts of money. For an older child, they may want to put money in and take it out to buy a toy. For a savings account for a teenager they may want the ability to link it to a checking account. Consider how you will use the account when selecting the type of bank and account requirements.
  • Interest Rates Don't forget to look at the interest rates on the account and compare savings accounts, two banks may have very different interest rate structures.Many banks and credit unions offer significantly higher rates on child accounts on low balances to encourage saving.
(above bullet point advice taken from Before You Open a Savings Account for Your Child From Madison DuPaix, former Guide)

As we are here for the lon

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2 little Monkeys in Breda

New website, sister site to Breda Expats.
2 Little Monkeys in Breda - a blog/website sharing parenting tips and tales about living in Breda and the Netherlands. Also home to Breda Little Monkeys - activities for children and Breda Bumps and Babies - Support group to Mums and young babies in Breda.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Expat Blog hop Revisited - Looking into the archives

It is a cold grey rainy morning, weather that really puts me in the mood for today's activity. The weather represents the people and the activity. Makes me wonder why we do this every month, whenever we actually remember.

After breakfast we get the boxes out. Find, in the very organised filing system the paperwork for each box and the counting starts with the itemised lists in hand.

Box 1: 5 people one with brown hair (the others don't), a door, the roof (which is actually attached, firmly with screws but is individually listed incase you have a child that pulls everything apart) a table, 3 chairs , 6 beds ( one was missing but the list now says it has been found) a house, battery cover and 4 screws.  Check all complete and counted. Into the bag it goes.

Box 2: Easy, these are coloured we can organise them in stacks of 10, doesn't matter about the colour as if there are 50 (5 stacks of 10) all is great. Oh wait, one without a number, no F-123456 code must be one of ours.

Box 3: A game, easy, a board, 4 counters, and 23 cards. Wait a minute, there should be 24. Panic starts to set in. Oh the humiliation, the devastation, the embarrassment. Frantic searching under the sofa and CIA style interrogation to my 4 year Funky Monkey reveals nothing. We will have to face the devastating consequences.

Ready to go? Check the main form, S**** we are actually 1 week late, meaning more humiliation, more devastation and more embarrassment. Why oh Why do I put myself through this each month. Dutchie husband has given up, after one experience he refuses to go. But I say  to myself each time I do it for her, for Funky Monkey, she likes it.

3 boxes and 1 child piled precariously onto the bicycle we wobble our way towards our destination. No don't glare at me big BMW, who didn't know which way I was going to turn, can't you see that I can't possibly stick my hand out and let you know. I have 3 boxes to deal with and a child who is asking why she can't later take home the Little Tikes police car that she can sit in. Anyway none of the Dutch ever indicate on their bicycles.

We arrive and jump into the best lift ever, a 10 minute ride to go up one floor which is 2 metres above us.
Funky Monkey runs on ahead and I can already hear the thoughts in their heads. "Oh, watch out, everybody at your positions, she is here"
I walk in and greet the lovely elderly Dutch ladies with my biggest smile ever. They are already smirking and thinking How late are you this month?

I hand over my bags and sneak away to search for more boxes to take home (Why I don't know as I'll have to go through all this again).

I am just figuring out the instructions in Dutch to a highly complicated game, when I hear " Eh excuse me, excuse me" (They can't mean me, can they? Please no) "Eh, English lady" I glance round hoping the room has suddenly filled with lots of English women. Nope Just me.

I saunter over confidently  trembling, here it comes, the humilation, the devastion, the embarrasment.
One of the ladies glares at me, "One of the cards from this game is missing" I mumble that I know and that we frantically searched for it all morning and that is why we actually arrived here 20  mins before closing time, certainly interrupting the long closing process that they always go through.

"We will have to fine you I am afraid and give you a ticket" Oh gosh it will go down in my Dutch criminal record.
I am processed and duly handed a ticket and fine of  2 euros.  2 euros for a square piece of card 2x2!!!

"Can we have the money now please? " Now, but can't I pay when I leave, when I pay for the things I take, I only have a 20 euro note.
"No it has to go in a separate FINE tin" Did she really have to shout it out, everybody turns round and looks at me heads shaking, What a bad mother.

I head off down to the bar to change my 20 euro note, trust me if I wasn't pregnant I would have downed something very alcoholic by now.

I pay my fine and am told not to lose the ticket as I need it if I ever find the lost card under the sofa. (No I wont lose it , been through this before and brought back a lego block, clearly labelled with G- 123445 so it wasn't ours (as I don't know about you but I don't tend to etch my children's toys with numbers) But it couldnt be taken back as I had no ticket to prove that it was the one I had lost!

I try to make ammends by stating cheerfully that in box 2 I have organised the duplo blocks into towers of 10 and that if you check the list there should be 50.
"Oh but we have to check the colours and the ones with pictures"
"But they all have J-4685906 on them so they are yours and there are 50 in total, 5 blocks of 10 = 50"
Whoosh! it doesn't matter the towers are destroyed and counted individually.

I wander away to check my new wares, I collect the revelant lists located under the relevant sections J for Jigsaws, C for Construction. I sit on the floor and with the help of Funky Monkey translating the Dutch words I don't know, we finally have 3 complete boxes of new toys minus one army man which duly is written as MIA on the relevant list.  Maybe he went into combat under another poor bad mother's sofa.

We go to pay.

"You are a week late, this means another fine" Now comes a scene that reminds me of the League of Gentlemen toy shop
"Josephine, Josephine.. this lady has to pay a fine, How do I put that into the atiquated computer system we have"
"Ok "I mumble
How much now? I only have 18 euros left after the last fine.
"It's 25 cents per toy, per week, so that is 75 cents.
I hand over a 2 euro coin.
"Don't you have any smaller change?"
Eh no? this is someone who pays everything by card you are lucky I even have 2 euros on me.
 A huge sigh is given and the change handed over . She smiles and says "I would try to bring them back on time next time then you won't get fined"
Oh my gosh not another 75 cent fine.

I walk out. Say goodbye and hear them "Tea, Maud? " "Yes please Josephine, it was a hard morning"
I vow never to bring things back late again. (But I have a nurses set at home which should have been taken back before the Summer hols, now they are not open in the Summer, at 25cents per week I will have to pay a fine of 3 euros Oh the shame!)

The Speelotheek (Toy Library) my new found activity to do with my daughter. Though why I don't know!

Speelotheeks are located all over the Netherlands. They can mostly be found in Culture centres, libraries and town halls. For a small yearly fee and a monthly cost you can cheaply borrow toys.

Don't let my experiences put you off! I love it really and moving to an expat country is all about integration and adaptation, I just haven't got used to it yet in this instance anyhow.

Here are some in the Brabant area:

In Breda:

De Wigwam

De Panda

In Tilburg

De Duizenpoot (Reeshof)

All over Brabant

And in case you fancy an experience to mine!

T'treintje in Rijen

For other areas see this page here.