Vriendenboek

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We have taken the plunge and got rocket boy a friend’s book. And of course as he had one starry girl needed one too.

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These are books that you ask your friends to fill out with information about themselves, along with a photo or drawing. So you end up with a book about all your friends. Over the last few months we’ve increasingly been given them by other children in rocket boy’s class for him to fill out. The questions are generally straightforward and ask things like name, address, birthday, what you want to be when you grow up, hobbies, what you do (& don’t) like to eat, favourite animals etc. I find it quite interesting sitting with rocket boy and filling them in with him, as I find out the answers to all of these things. It will be a shame in a way when he will be able to do it all by himself.

You can get these books themed on just about anything, though I did struggle to find a train one as that was what rocket boy suggested first. Maybe I was just looking in the wrong places! We did get one from someone else to fill in that was about a Dutch band. It asked for your favourite song by them, which band member you liked best and which was your favourite outfit of theirs. We struggled answering those!

These are not something I remember having when I was at school, but maybe they’re available in the UK now too. I just don’t remember seeing them anywhere! Whereas here they are quite common; though when I first saw them in shops I was a bit confused about what they were and how they worked. Now we have bitten the bullet and have our own. At the moment they are both very excited about them, and who they are going to give them to next. We shall see how long that lasts…

Wearing glasses 

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It’s weird wearing glasses for the first time. I was actually first given glasses some years ago, but I never really wore them much. Only really for driving (I need them for distance) and, as we don’t have a car, that’s not very frequent. Recently I realized that I spend most of my time squinting slightly. Which gives me a tension headache between my eyebrows (& must be contributing to my wrinkles!). So I am trying to wear them more. 


First, I have to remember to put them on in the morning. As they are really quite weak it doesn’t make that much of a difference to my vision, so I can get by without them. Just things more than a few metres away are a bit blurry. 

Then, I should take them off to read. Otherwise my eyes are having to work twice as hard to see things close by. 

And just having them on my head is odd. I’m constantly fiddling with them. Moving them up my nose, or lifting the bits over my ears. I’ve been back into the shop three times to have them re-fitted as I wasn’t happy with how they sat round my ears. I’ve also done some adjustments myself using a hairdryer. Now I’m just not sure if it’s having glasses there at all that I’m finding uncomfortable, or if I could make it better. Maybe I’ll never get used to having them round my ears. 

One unanticipated thing about wearing glasses is that it effects how I wear my hair. I can’t have my hair tied up in a way that interferes with how the glasses sit. Otherwise I get dual headaches – from my hair and my glasses! So I am experimenting with different hairstyles to see what works best. 

I’ve also found that wearing glasses means that you need to move your head to look round, rather than just your eyes. Then you stay looking through the middle part of the lens. And how do you keep them clean? They’re forever covered in smudges, probably because I’m always moving them! 

I do like my glasses though, I feel like this is a new chapter of my life. New and improved – now with glasses! Though it has been a bit disappointing how few people have noticed them. My Mum and my daughter’s preschool teacher are the only ones who’ve said anything. 

Paas stokjes

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In the UK I was used to the idea of decorating your house for Christmas, but not really very much else. Whereas in the continent, or this part of the Netherlands at least, you also decorate for spring or Easter. You get some twigs and hang coloured eggs and ribbons on them. I guess it’s a celebration of new life and spring growth.

This year I decided we should do it too, as I’d seen some twigs for this for sale in our local supermarket. And the children and I had a fun afternoon tying some ribbon onto the twigs. And they’ve sat proudly in the corner of our living room since.

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(Sorry about the photo – not my best!)

The thing is, that I’m not sure I should have put them in water. In the shop they weren’t in water. The twisty sticks were pretty as they were, and now their leaves have drowned out the ribbons we added. And their roots are so entangled that I’m not sure I’m going to be able to get them out of the vase in one piece.

I’m not even sure how long we should keep them for. Is there, like at Christmas, a certain day that the decorations should come down? They do make me smile when I see them, so I will keep them for a bit longer!

Getting older

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My Dad was complaining the other day that he’s now got to take eye drops every day. And it made him feel old. I must admit that I wasn’t very sympathetic about it, as at the moment I’ve got three different medications to take every day. I’ve also started wearing my glasses most of the time. I’ve had them for some years, but only really used them for driving, which I don’t do that often as we don’t have a car. Then recently I’ve realized that I spend a lot of time squinting to see further. And that leaves me with tension between my eyebrows (& wrinkles!). So I’m learning how to wear glasses. And it does help my head, though after too long they’re no longer so comfortable.

So I’m starting to feel that I’m no longer young. Though the biggest change is that I’ve been tucking my tops into my trousers to keep me warm. At school we were meant to have our shirts tucked in, but we all tried to have them untucked as much as possible without getting caught. And since then I’ve never bothered to, until this last winter…

Well, at least spring is here now and I can wear my shirts untucked again. Even if the medicine and glasses look like they’re here to stay!

Happy Easter!

Dutch language skills

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A little while ago we went to see Dirk Scheele at the theatre. He’s a Dutch children’s rock star. We quite like his songs and listen to them frequently.  One night after the concert rocket boy was trying to go to sleep, and complained that when he tried to translate one of the songs into English it didn’t rhyme anymore. (If anyone’s interested Dirk Scheele has actually recently launched an English YouTune channel.) So on our next visit to the library I got out the gruffalo in Dutch. This is one of our favourite stories (in English!) and even starry girl can recite it as we go along. So it was interesting to see how they had translated it.


Translating children’s picture books must be so difficult, as you have to keep the rhythm and rhyme, with as similar a meaning as you can. With, of course, the same illustrations. It was interesting to see the changes in details between the two gruffalo books. For example it is gruffalo tartare, not gruffalo crumble, that the mouse claims is his favourite food. Steak tartare (or filet americain) is quite common here, much more so than the UK.

I’m also reading the first Harry Potter book in Dutch. I’d forgotten lots of the story as it was a while ago I read it in English. I’m not quite up to reading adult novels yet, but I’m quite enjoying reading a few YA books in Dutch. 

One of the presents I got for Christmas was an “every day a question” book in Dutch. This is a version of a five year diary, but rather than summarizing your day you have a question to answer. Every day of the year has a different question, so by the time you’ve finished it you’ve answered every question five times. The questions range from “what’s in your trouser pocket?”, “what was the first thing you thought this morning?”, to “what was your goal for today?”, “who would you like to meet?” and “if you could send anyone a message what would it be?”. I’m enjoying filling it in, and it’s good practice for my Dutch too. So far I’ve only had one question I couldn’t think of an answer for, and one I’ve had to ask my Dutch teacher to translate for me. It will be interesting to see how my understanding of the questions, and my written answers improve over the next few years!