Happy 10th Birthday Maebh

Copy of Maebh turnsxxxx

My Dearest Maebh,

I’ve been talking a lot lately about how grown-up you have become.  And it’s true.  Each time I look at you I’m amazed with the young person that you have become.  Now you’re ten years old and part of the double digits club too!  Remember back when Soren turned 10 – you sooo looked forward to also becoming 10.

Gone are the baby and toddler days.  At 10, you are now a full-fledged individual with your own thoughts and actions and ideas and interests.  As we enter into this new stage of life, I want to tell you some things:

YOU ARE SMART!   Like really wicked smaaat – insert a thick Boston accent!  You’re amazing at geography and trivia!   And can’t begin to say how impressed at how you’ve learned the Dutch language so quickly.  What about Math!?  Sometimes I have to do out the problems on paper and you’ve already calculated it in your head!   Can’t wait for you to learn more about science and biology – you’ll be fascinated!  It’s cool to be smart – never think otherwise!

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!  You have an infectious smile that lights up a room.  Your eyes are the most beautiful gray/green color and your silky hair, you know how much I love the color of it. But even more importantly, you are just as beautiful on the inside as you are out.

STAY MUSICAL!  Keep on playing the piano, singing and dancing!  Let music continue to fill your days!

IT IS OKAY TO CRY!  Some days you are just going to want to CRY!  Go ahead, let those tears flow.  A good cry is sometimes what is needed and I’m always be there to wipe your tears away.

EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL!  I wear my heart on my sleeve and so do you.  So your emotions will get the best of you sometimes.  Hormones are going to start to rear their ugly faces soon.  Embrace your emotions – feel all of them.  Talk about them.  You’ll learn to control them one day – well, some of them.  I’m still trying to figure this out and I’m nearly 46! J

YOU ARE A LOYAL, KIND & CARING FRIEND!  Your friends should never forget how much of an inclusive, wonderful and caring friend and sister you are.  How you welcome new children into your world without a care and make them feel secure.  Being a new kid to the group and having to start over a few times in life and school has, I’m sure, taught you this very important characteristic.

GIRLS CAN BE MEAN!  The next few years, you’ll understand this more and more.  You’ll make so many friends – many will come and go.  A few true friends will be there forever.  When girls are mean, remember to be kind and talk with me.  Don’t hold it in and try to deal with it alone.  Chances are I’ve been there before.  If not, we can be there TOGETHER!

YOU CAN TRUST ME AND TELL ME EVERYTHING!   Anytime. Anyplace. Anything. Always!  I’m here for you…. No judgement!

I LOVE YOU!    No explanation needed – I LOVE YOU!

You are MY GIRL. You turned my life upside down from the moment you were placed in my arms.  Being YOUR mom is one of the greatest joys I will have in my life. I have always said that you were created for something BIG and I cannot wait to see all that in store for you.

You entered this word very quickly – only 3 hours from the start of my first contraction to holding you in my arms.   And as with Soren, your gender was a surprise.  Deep down inside, I really wanted a girl and was prepared for a another amazing boy… BUT it was SOOO extra special when Papa said, “your wish came true, it’s a girl”.   My eyes and heart beamed – I have my girl.  Ever since then, you and I have been attached – our special “mother/daughter” bond – is one that can never be broken no matter what.

This birthday was going to be a very special one with a trip to the Efteling.  Sadly,  a party with friends will have to wait due to the CV-19 crisis, but I promise you, you’ll have another special day in the future surrounded by friends and family to celebrate YOU!

I really want you to “HAVE IT ALL” and this is my song to you.  You know the one I sing really loudly to you when it comes on my Spotify.  Read the words my darling.

May you have auspiciousness and causes of success
May you have the confidence to always do your best
May it take no effort in you being generous
Sharing what you can, nothing more, nothing less

May you know the meaning of the word “happiness”
May you always lead from the beating in your chest
May you be treated like an esteemed guest
May you get to rest, may you catch your breath

And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows, whoa-oh
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow, whoa-oh

Well, here’s to the hearts that you’re gonna break
Here’s to the lives that you’re gonna change
Here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it

Here’s to the good times we’re gonna have
You don’t need money, you’ve got free pass
Here’s to the fact that I’ll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

All (all)
I want you to have it all (have it all)
I want you to have it (have it all)
I want you to have it all (have it all)

May you be as fascinating as a slap bracelet
May you keep the chaos and the clutter off your desk
May you have unquestionable health and less stress
Having no possessions though immeasurable wealth

May you get a gold star on your next test
May your educated guesses always be correct
And may you win prizes, shining like diamonds
May you really own it each moment to the next

And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows, whoa-oh
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow, whoa-oh

Well, here’s to the hearts that you’re gonna break
Here’s to the lives that you’re gonna change
Here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it

Here’s to the good times we’re gonna have
You don’t need money, you’ve got free pass
Here’s to the fact that I’ll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

All (all)
I want you to have it all (have it all)
I want you to have it (have it all)
I want you to have it all (have it all)

Oh, I want you to have it all
All you can imagine, oh
No matter what your path is
If you believe it then anything can happen

Go go go, raise your glasses
Go go go, you can have it all

I toast you!

Here’s to the hearts that you’re gonna break
Here’s to the lives that you’re gonna change
Here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it

Here’s to the good times we’re gonna have
You don’t need money, you’ve got free pass
Here’s to the fact that I’ll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

All (all)
I want you to have it all (have it all)
I want you to have it (have it all)
I want you to have it all (have it all)
I want you to have it

Here’s to the good times we gonna have
(I want you to have it all)
Here’s to you always making me laugh
(I want you to have it all)
Here’s to the fact that I’ll be sad without you
(I want you to have it all)
I want you to have it all

Wishing you the happiest 10th birthday my darling!

Love your biggest fan!

Your mom!

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End of School Year Reflections

It was just yesterday when I was posting this year’s first day of school photo.  To me this one was extra special as this year their school year is 100% spoken in Dutch.  While their native language is English, they did an amazing job.   A few struggles at the beginning of the year and look at them now – wow.  M go the highest score on her Spreekbuert – a 9.5!!  Our son has an accent but I’ve been told our daughter has a true Brabants accent – I have no clue!

For the record:  I clearly speak like an Irish person coupled with an American accent trying to speak Dutch.  Each time I say simple things – most Dutch people will repeat what I say – ever slightly changing it.    Even if it’s just one syllable in part of a word.  Seriously, my pronunciation was not that off – or was it!?   I think I’m in denial! 


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I also think this time of year is an excellent time to get our kids to reflect on the year that has passed.  Here are some reflection questions which will help them reflect on the the year and remember the special moments and experiences that really stood out.

Soren’s answers are in blue and Maebh’s are in Red.

  • What are the one best memories you have of this year?
    S::  Unit Doorbrekend – each Thursday you go to a different class you choose based on a theme!
    M:  School Workshop Day! 
  • What was your favourite event/excursion/special performance this year?
  • S: Class Trip to Toverland & Feyenoord vs Ajax 6-2
    M: Efteling!

  • In what area do you feel you have improved in the most?
    S: Nederlands Taal
    M: Nederlands Spelling 
  • What is ONE new thing you’ve learned, that you didn’t know at the start of the year?
    M: Multiplication tables!  (Though Mom challenges this!!) 
    S:  Cannot think of something now – but when it comes we’ll update this post!

  • What’s something you did for someone else this year?
    M: Helped her friend when she had to get stitches in her chin!
    S:  Helped a friend when he had a knee problem in the school yard. 
  • What’s the best piece of work/project/assignment you’ve done this year?
    M: Spreekburt about USA – she got a 9.5!!  Highest score in the class! 
    S:  Was back up Student Council so got to be involved in lots of activities and involved in the school.  
  • What subject have you enjoyed the most? Why?
    M:  Music because she loves music and play the piano.
    S: Gym as he loves to be active and play fun sporty games.
  • What are you most proud of this year?
    M:  Dutch language progression!
    S:  Dutch language progression!

Also, I just love this Dr. Seuss poem about life – and find it very fitting for now.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

by Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.


You’ll be on y our way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t
Because, sometimes they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


Soren turned 11

Soren turned 11

loves.... (4).pngHow on earth can our oldest baby already be 11?!  Time really goes so fast….  I told him today that while most 11 year olds are eager to grow up and join the teenager stage fast, take your time and enjoy 11. You’ll have seven years to be a teen and only one to be 11!   Hope he listens 🙂

Today we had breakfast with his grandparents and then he and his father headed off to watch Feyenoord vs. Ajax – Holland’s biggest rivals – he’ll never forget this game – it’s quite the atmosphere in the Kuip.   Fingers cross Feyenoord wins for him!

Update: They beat Ajax 6-2!!!   Here is a video posted on NU.nl  – some fan’s in the stands were crying!   When they got home, they watched the game again on tv… ha ha 


His birthday party with friends will be held in a couple weeks at an indoor trampoline park.  I’ll post photos later.   He wanted paintball but a friend told me no parent is going to allow their 10 & 11 year  olds to do that – better to do that when they are older.   I did it years ago and I had so many bruises weeks later – I can see why!

It’s hard being born in the winter – all parties are indoors!


New Years Eve

New Years Eve


Well, 2018 is finally coming to an end.  It wasn’t a particularly amazing year, but not the worst either.   We relocated from Ireland to the Netherlands – so loads of changes with the kids – school, language, houses, etc all the extra stress of that but we also go to vacation in Boston & New England for a month in the summer which was pretty amazing!

As with most NYE’s – our plans involve staying home, having cheese & chocolate and fondue, playing games and of course fireworks for the boys.

Both kids were telling me this morning they are going to go to bed early so they can wake up at midnight… hummm.   I’m not even sure I can make it to midnight!  I normally am in bed by 9 pm so 12 am is a HUGE deal for me.  I might join her at 9 and perhaps I’ll wake at midnight or not.

Turned out, we never played games and I ended up watching Bird Box on Netflix, while S played FIFA19 in the man cave and N & M took a 3 hour nap!  Now we have loads of nibbles to eat which we’ll do tonight while we watch the Big Friendly Giant or playing some games – or both.

Anwyay, while I cooked, M made slime adding in shaving cream.   Said it was the best slime ever!  It was pretty cool.


Before you go any further watch this video from SURVIVAL GUIDE TO THE DUTCH – it is hilarious.

Today, we specifically drove the local Lidl to buy a few of the fireworks they had and then we went to Tuincentrum GroenRijk [beautiful garden stuff btw] on the Graafseweg is clearly Den Bosch’s answer to ‘Where you get your fireworks in Den Bosch?”  It was packed and there was a system – you get an order form from the guy, walk around the shop looking at the items on display – loads were already sold out, place your order, pay and collect your goods.    Some guys were buying €400 worth of fireworks – I joked we’d like to come to their house at 12:01 am!  Personally, I’m a bit of a party pooper – I find them a big waste of money & DANGEROUS so would rather watch others and save my money, but I know N & S find it fun and to spend about €25 was fine!!    I read the Dutch will spend €70 MILLION on fireworks to use on this one night!!


For the past couple days there has been so many loud bangs throughout the day and night.   And now that it’s actually New Year’s Eve – you can’t go 1 minute without a huge bang and considering where we live in the city center of Den Bosch, it’s quite tame.  There is a joke on my facebook page that just wait – the Netherlands on New Years Eve, is like Bagdad during Operation Desert Storm – crazy!!  Of course that is an extreme exaggeration  – but here is a great example.  A bit like Dublin on Halloween – all the a-holes come out and there is major, unnecessary violence!

Lucky for me, I didn’t have to leave the house to have a nice viewing of fireworks.  Especially from the back windows, M & I saw tons of fireworks going off from behind in the park, nearby houses and surrounding neighbourhoods.    We even saw a crazy guy putting fireworks in the street – turned out to be N! 🙂

Each year, Scheveningen (the North Beach) and Duindorp (the South Beach) compete for the title of the “highest bonfire” in the Netherlands on New Years’ Eve. This year, with winds, it got a bit out of hand and all the flickers from the bonfire we back into the dorp and things were catching on fire – it was a bit crazy.  Here is a video posted on nu.nl and here.



I personally do not like the taste of kirsch, so I don’t use it in my cheese fondue.  Instead I make it using a mix of chicken and veggie broth, crushed garlic and lemon juice, then remove the garlic, add the various cheeses and stir.  Serve with broccoli, carrots, apples, peppers, celery and bread.  It was yummy!


We were to also have  Chocolate Fondue but we decided to put that off until New Year’s Day as it was too late with M & N long nap.   I woke her a 5 minutes to midnight to watch the countdown on tv, some of the fireworks from the windows, but then she went back to bed.   She was so tired – I know she really wanted to go out with the boys, but she’s too young – maybe next year …. agreed and happily went to bed.   She did join the boys early for a bit of a walk around and lit off a few simple fireworks… so that was her fill this year.


I saw this on Pinterest – I LOVE PINTEREST!!  and think it’s a great thing for our family.  The kids and I are going to make this today and put in up in the dining room by the fireplace.  We don’t need to do it each day but when there is something good, accomplished goals, memories worth saving, meaningful or overall just something that made one of us happy – write it on this post it, and put it in the jar.   Then on Dec 31st, New Years Eve, we’ll open this jar and we’ll be able to reflect back on 2019 to see all these wonderful moment which  made us happy.



While normally I don’t make any ‘real ones’, but this year, I’ve asked each of us in our family to come up with some resolutions and wishes for 2019 this is what we’ve compiled.  Some are for the adults and others are for the kids.

  • EAT BETTER – consume less meat & processed foods.
  • EXERCISE MORE – Go for walks, bike rides, overall be more physical
  • LEARN DUTCH MORE – I stopped my Inburgering lessons and will self-study for the next month or so and see how that goes.
  • SOCIAL LIFE – Expand our social circle of friends.  Host friends at our home more often.
  • READ MORE BOOKS AND THINGS IN DUTCH – oefenen, oefenen, oefenen!
  • GET MORE SLEEP – Go to bed earlier & same time each night
  • LIMIT ALCHOL – Avoid alcohol during the week

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy & prosperous 2019 for all my friends & family near & far!






First Day of School – 100% Dutch

First Day of School – 100% Dutch

So the time has come and the kids are now attending a 100% Dutch speaking school.  When we moved over from Ireland, they spent the second part of the last year in the newcomers class getting ready for this day.    Spending last month in America speaking English the entire time, I was not sure if they had forgotten some of their newly learned Dutch, but they seem to be doing okay :).  Sure there will be hiccups and additional resources will be required to help them, as it’s not going to be easy but they are smart kids and are excited for this new challenge.

New house, new school, new friends, now routines, new everything!

We are so very proud of them both!

Oh on and Sept 11 – I start my inburgering course too – yikes!  The purpose is to learn the Dutch language as well as other aspects of Dutch culture and society.  And there are SIX exams to be done and passed for me to stay in the Netherlands!

August 20, 2018

Maebh turns 8

Maebh turns 8


Our Maebh turned 8. So fast those years went by. A friend of hers sent her this lovely picture and gift. Along with another BFF necklace!

As lso of ours from Dublin flew in to be with us for two nights. The first night was a pancake house dinner…. A trip to the market and hageslag for breakfast – all very Dutch 🙂

Presents and a decoraed kitchen is the new requirement.

Importance of Swim Lessons in The Netherlands

Importance of Swim Lessons in The Netherlands

There is a lot of water in The Netherlands between canals, canals, lakes, rivers the sea and pools – loads of pools –  kids learn to swim safely & proficiently.   They have a standardized swimming program where kids receive diplomas A-C over the course of several years.   I have no idea what they do in the US, as our kids were too young when living there to enroll in a learn-to-swim program in our area.  Plus ours had chronic ear infections, public pools were not top choice as each time they were in a pool, they would up with an ear infection.

I know loads of friends kids who can swim – but nothing involves lifesaving skills or sailing under a tarp to the hole etc.  It’s more from point a to b.  I do know from being 3+ years in Dublin, it was really slow and took forever there.   A few parents and I complained about this before.  I understand it’s money-making but our kids took several sessions of group lessons and swam with school and I would say they are not proficient to swim to any of the levels below.  S is much better than M and I suspect will get his diplomas quicker, but with lessons hopefully both will be good swimmers soon.

We are visiting the local swimming pool this week to have our kids do a small swim session to access their swim levels and then sign up for swim lessons.  At nearly 8 and 10, they need to know how to swim.   Hotel pools and vacations will be just that much more fun when they can swim safely – especially the big slides and waves.  Might even do some sessions of private lessons during the vacation weeks, to get them going and into their diploma A.  Also, these lessons will be in Dutch, so need to see how that goes and, if necessary, we might need to take them to Eindhoven to take lessons in English.

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The three key national swimming diploma’s are referred to as A, B and C. They teach water safety to children and aim to instill confidence and enjoyment in recreational swimming and water sports. Most swimming schools offer the diplomas with more advanced swimming lessons to follow, called Zwemvaardigheit 1, 2, and 3 diploma.

For the first diploma (A) the children go through 4 different levels;  ‘bad A1’ for beginners, then ‘bad A2’ and so on up to ‘bad A4’. When children earn a passing grade for each element through level A4,  they receive an invitation (usually by e-mail) for the practice session for the A diploma and in one of the following weeks the children perform the official swimming exam to earn their certificate. Once a child has earned his swimming diplomas, they can take part in water sports such as synchronized swimming, surfing, diving and water polo.

During swim lessons children learn such things as swimming with their eyes open. Diploma exams require children to swim with their clothing and shoes on and they’ll need to perform such exercises as a forward-roll into the water followed by getting out by lifting themselves onto a large floating mattress unaided.

With clothing on:

  • With foot jump into the water
  • Tread water 15 seconds
  • Swim 12.5meters breaststroke
  • Diving under a line
  • Half turn around a longitudinal axis
  • Swim 12.5 m backstroke
  • Exit the water

In swimming suit:

  • With headfirst jump into the water
  • 3 meters underwater swim through a hole in a sail
  • Swim 50 m breaststroke
  • Swim 50m backstroke
  • Floating on your stomach and on your back
  • Swim 5m front crawl
  • Tread water 60 seconds with 2 times to turn around the longitudinal axis

As most accidental drownings occur after a person has fallen into a canal, the exam tests realistic scenarios. For children (and adults for that matter), it is vital for them to to be able to handle underwater disorientation while dealing with the additional weight burden of clothing. During swim lessons children are taught not to panic and to react in a calm, controlled manner to maintain a safe environment while in a water setting.

The certificate A program requires a child be able to swim 50 metres using both breast and back strokes, and swim 3 meters underwater through a large ‘escape’ hole in a canvas panel. The parameters increases to 75 meters and 6 meters under water for the B certificate. The C diploma requires 100 meters of surface swimming in swimsuit and clothing with additional obstacles, the forward roll, and finally 9 meters underwater.

Children who have not earned at least a diploma A are required to wear inflatable armbands in all public swimming pools until they have earned the required certificate.  I’m sure Soren will be very embarrassed being TEN!  Most school and children’s sports clubs in The Netherlands will not let children take part in water activities until they have achieved the A, B and C diplomas.

Update:  Both kids did their assessment today at the local pool.  They’ll both be starting in group two to get proper leg techniques down, then add arms and then will be off and running in no time.   Felt good when we left – signed them up for weekly lessons.   Plus free swim in a few times a week, so I’ll join them in the pool which will only help them along.

Friday, March 30th – S was promoted up to level 3 – slowly but getting there.

UPDATE:  OCT 1st – S has his A DIPLOMA and his teacher says he’s nearly at his B.  A few more lessons and he is there already!  Wooo hoooo!


Update:  S has his B diploma now too and going for his C next – 8 stitches in his knee delayed him a bit.


and M has her A and working towards her B.   For her it is more difficult but she’s getting there and for him, we’ll he’s just flying now.


Update:  Sunday, March 31st – both kids are done with their swim!

M has her B diploma and S has his C!!

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