Moms can’t get sick… Or should we?

January 16th, 2012 → 11:41 am @

In the last month, I have swallowed more cough syrop, taking more tylenol, inhaled more nose spray and sucked on more throat things than I have in the last 5 years. I’ve even had a week’s worth of antibiotics and no drinking. Yes – it’s been that kind of month…

And now – I’m camping out with a bruised rib despite all of the above. Who knew that coughing could bruise a rib. I thought they were bones – hard and un-bruise-able. hurts like hell… Luckily my nice doctor gave me some strong painkillers and I’m functioning again with a big smile on my face.

Because really, a sick mom is still a mom.  Some things are supposed to function all the time. us. And when we don’t – disaster. Kids don’t understand, husband tries to help but strong woman thing gets in the way. Life doesn’t work. It’s not like we only have one role to fulfill or get a replacement for. We are meant to have strong bug free bodies. We (I) take for-granted that we (I) can do everything all the time. I don’t plan for sick days. I don’t plan for not physically being able to do things.  (And yes, I know that, in the big picture, I am very fortunate.)

I mean I try to eat healthy foods, go out with friends, take my vitamines, exercise, but this year, that hasn’t been enough.

And how does one really recover?

- Spend one week in bed. Really?

- Take it easy… uh ok…

Having said that – it’s a great time to learn about letting go.  The mess, let it go… Diner time, let it go…. Arguing with the kids, let it go… Exercise, no go. Laudry, still clean underwear? let it go. No excuse needed to sit on the couch and watch tv.  And lucky me, the painkillers I’m on are ok to combine with a glass of wine. Thank God!

Hmmm… this is actually sounding like not a bad deal.

Mom’s should get sick more often!!!

Blog &Daily Life

Tip #13 What can my newborn hear when she’s born?

January 9th, 2012 → 11:43 am @

In Holland, babies hearing is generally checked by a nurse that arrives at your house, usually at a very inconvenient time (I mean, when isn’t during that first week at home with a newborn???) with a sound machine. All of my kids tested positive for good hearing so I’m not sure what would have happened if that hadn’t been the case.  She was in and out in 15 minutes and that was the end of it.

However my youngest daughter Julia did have trouble hearing sometime around her 2nd birthday, though it may have been earlier.  I just added up her “not talking much” and “hard to understand” to being #4 and communicating in other ways.  The specialist checked her ears and saw some red (I’m sure he used a more medical term which I can’t for the life of me remember at the moment) which he said could be causing a change in hearing. He said that he would re-check after the summer as ears often cleared up after a good old fashion dose of heat. And they did. Her speech improved but she’s left with a number of sounds that she just can’t pronounce very well.  The old habits are hard to get rid of.  She is bilingual, English and Dutch and I can tell you that there are some seriously strange sounds one has to learn to speak the Dutch language! Still – she’s getting there with the help of a speech therapist.

The funny thing is that she speaks perfect French…

Here is the answer from my book:

Newborns can hear pretty well though the middle part of their ears are still full of fluid. Their ears are still in an immature stage. Because they heard your voice in the womb, they are apt to respond to you more than others. They also respond better to high pitch, clear and loud voices which is why we tend to automatically speak loudly and clearly when talking to our baby.  In many countries babies have their hearing checked before leaving the hospital. Double check that this was done in the first weeks as a delay in recognizing and treating hearing problems (even delayed by a few months) can lead to speech delays.

Babies 0-6 months &Blog &My kids

Tip #12 What can my newborn see at birth?

December 19th, 2011 → 11:50 am @

Here’s the answer from my book.

A newborn’s vision is blurred so don’t worry if your baby is a bit cross-eyed.  She just can’t focus yet so she sees shapes and forms but nothing definite. She likes contrast (black and white) and likes to look at faces.  Around 3 months the baby’s focus becomes stronger.  Between 4-6 months she can enjoy colors. By age 1 your baby’s eye’s are fully developed.

Babies 0-6 months &Blog

Tip #11 How do I clean my baby’s “new” belly button?

December 12th, 2011 → 11:52 am @

I remember looking at this piece of umbilical cord sticking out of my son’s stomach – another one of those things I hadn’t read about… We were told to keep it dry and clean and that it would eventually fall off.  Luckily it did!

Here is what I wrote in my book about it. This question is linked to Tip #10.

With warm water and mild soap. You can also clean it with an alcohol swab 2 to 3 times a day. If you notice it getting very red or puss forming or has a bad smell, see your doctor.

Babies 0-6 months &Blog

Turning 4 means starting school in NL

December 12th, 2011 → 11:50 am @

My daughter will be 4 in a couple of weeks. It’s a huge milestone in this country as it’s also the day that you start school.  We don’t have a September start for everyone. The kids literally roll in on their 4th bday.

It means that the teacher has a group of 4-5-6 year olds that work together and help each other. When a new 4 year old starts, he/she is assigned to a “bigger” kid who helps them understand how the system works. It’s like a buddy system.

The class is a combination of pre-kindergarden and kindergarden. The kids are split into “youngest”, “middle’est” and “oldest”. The “oldest” group starts getting ready for grade 1 and most kids take about 2 years to get there. Some stay longer, some leave before that time.  Grade 1 is a September start. That means, for example, that my daughter who is starting school now will likely take 2,5 years to get to grade 1 instead of a short 1,5 years. She’ll be an “older” grade 1 starter. (They like to label here…) which I think only has benefits.  Who wants a 10 year old heading to high school?

It works. I must say that when my oldest started school I found this a bit weird. Like anything unknown, I questioned the idea of having such a diverse age group in one class. Now, I think it’s a good system. The kids aren’t at all busy with getting to Grade 1. This gives the school and parents a chance to have a good look at the child in question to determine if he/she is ready for the next step without there being any stigma attached to it.

But – I did mention that my youngest is starting school. I think the consequences of this are much bigger for me then they are for her.  She’s super ready (she says). That’s what I will write about in January – when she’s officially in school.  This week she’s just “practicing”….


Blog &Daily Life &My kids

Tip #10 When will my newborn’s umbilical cord fall off?

December 5th, 2011 → 11:56 am @

I must say that I was not at all prepared for a lot of this stuff.

While expecting my first, I was mainly focussed on the giving birth part, what was going to happen to me (loss of freedom, controle etc. - I got over that the minute he was born...), my work, what last name our baby would get and a whole bunch of other non-baby stuff.

Luckily….   I already knew how to change diapers and dress babies –  being the oldest of 6 I’d had my fair share of experience – but the umbilical cord – NO idea…



Here’s the answer from my book:

I never thought of my belly button as being the thing that connected me to my mother but since I’ve had babies it has become a more awesome part of my body… Once the umbilical cord has been cut there is a piece that still hangs on the newborn’s stomach. This will eventually fall off, usually between 8-14 days, at which point a scab will form and slowly heal itself and turn into a real belly button.  Make sure to keep it dry and clean during this process. Keep your baby’s diaper off the cord (and the scab) by rolling the diaper underneath it.  Many suggest sponge baths until the cord falls off to avoid infection. If the cord does get a bit wet, gently dry it off.  Once it’s fallen off you can bath your baby normally.  If you see signs of an infection, see your doctor.

Babies 0-6 months &Blog &My kids

Tip #9 Are some newborns more prone to jaundice?

December 1st, 2011 → 11:58 am @

This was a question I asked when Adam, my first born, started turning yellow…

Here is the answer that I wrote in my book:

Yes, if they were bruised when they were born or if they were premature babies their liver isn’t as developed. If their blood type is different than mommy’s blood type (which is a big cause of babies’ actually needing phototherapy) or if you are breastfeeding and don’t have quite enough milk in the first days, your baby can get dehydrated which can also cause jaundice. Don’t try to figure this out yourself though, see a doctor.

Babies 0-6 months &Blog

Tip #8 My newborn has a yellowish tint to her. Is this OK?

November 28th, 2011 → 11:59 am @

This is what I experienced:

Two of my kids had jaundice. My first was born 18 days late (yes, they let it go that far in NL). We were still in the hospital when he turned a yellowish shade so he was given light therapy but was allowed to stay with me. They put what looked like a heating pad on his skin, underneath his pyjama. It was bright light. Couple of days and we were good to go…  My third child Olivia, was however was a different story.  We were sent home a couple of hours after she was born (another typical Dutch thing) – I hadn’t had any complications so off we went. The next day she was very yellow… I had a nurse come over and check on her and we were immediately sent to the hospital.  Olivia had to go into intensive care, naked, with eye patches on and some seriously intense light. That was hard, going back to the hospital and having to let her go.  I remember looking around and seeing the other kids in intensive care and thinking – phew… we are the lucky ones.  They let me spend the night at the hospital but we didn’t sleep together. Took her almost 3 days to return to a normal color and we’ve never looked back.

The other 2 remained pink, except for the occasional yellow face paint that’s impossible to get off. It leaves exactly the yellowish tint that the other 2 had as newborns.

Here’s the answer in my book:

This yellowing of the skin is called jaundice and it affects more than 50% of newborns. Jaundice appears in the first couple of days on the face then on the body and usually disappears on its own during the first weeks.  It can be worse in breastfed newborns in the first days so be sure to feed very often to maintain hydration. Depending on the severity, it may be necessary to stay in (or go back to) the hospital so that your newborn can be given a type of light therapy (phototherapy) treatment.

Jaundice is caused by an excess of Bilirubin which is normally taken out of the body by the liver. In utero, the mother’s liver did the job but after birth it can take the baby’s liver a little time to catch up and take over the process during which time jaundice can occur. This type of jaundice is called “physiologic”.  It can also develop in the second and third week in breastfed newborns via a different mechanism. See a doctor but keep breastfeeding. If you are at home and concerned, see a doctor immediately as untreated jaundice can be dangerous.


Babies 0-6 months &Blog &My kids

The Piets

November 27th, 2011 → 12:01 pm @

I want to talk a bit about The Piets (English would be Pete’s I guess…). These are part of The Sint ritual that I recently wrote about.  There are Crazy Piets, Messy Piets, Hungry Piets, Funny Piets, Sneaky Piet, Grouchy Piets, Sad Piets, Forgetful Piets, Tired Piet (me), Piet’ettes, Music Piets, School Piets, Dancing Piets, Present Piets, Singing Piets, Marching band Piets – but I’ve never seen a swimming Piet. That might ruin the make-up effect…

I was thinking the other day that they are just like the Smurfs. Except for the “controversial color” thing.

The great thing about the Piets is that there is always an excuse if you “accidentally” leave the letter the kids wrote to The Sint on the counter (Forgetful Piet), or if you go completely nuts and throw everything around the living room before filling the shoes (Messy Piet and super fun!), Late Piet is used when you’ve just plain old forgotten (friend of mine this morning after a night out…).  So I am actually starting to love The Piets. We even had a “Before Piet” come and leave a message that they weren’t ready for our house yet. (Read, I didn’t have my act together). Worked like a charm and gave us 3 more days grace!

We were watching the Smurfs on TV the other day and the legend says that they have existed “as mythical creatures” for a long long time.

So I wonder who came first – The Smurf or The Piet?

Blog &Daily Life

Think you have present problems?

November 22nd, 2011 → 12:03 pm @

There are some great things about living abroad, sharing cultural differences, learning lots of new things but the yearly traditions can get complicated.

In Holland we have someone called “The Sint” who looks an awful like Santa but totally isn’t. He arrives by boat from Spain with his “Piets”, the Sint version of elves but they are black (from the soot from the chimneys???) – Anyways, that’s not important.


The important thing is that the guy comes 3 weeks before his birthday and hangs out around the country, sending the kids into a frenzy. Imagine that Santa filled the stockings not once but 8 times. I mean, seriously. Jeez Louise (as a friend of mine once said). It’s huge, a mega country-wide production.  There is the Sint news channel at 17:40 every night on national tv. They come up with a different story each year that freaks the kids out that there will be no presents. This year the story is about his lost book (i think…) – so he doesn’t know who’s been good.  A lot of Santa stuff going on. But apparently the Sint was here first.

Anyways – the coming in on the boat is really great. The cities and villages go all out, there is energy in the air, the Piets give out small cookies and candies and often know the name of the kids (we live in a small village!).


There is dancing and singing, tension and excitement. I can almost get into it. THEN…

The kids put out there (stinky) shoes at night. They fill them with fresh apples (hence the reason I used the word stinky) and carrots, leave notes about what they want and sing songs (all day long).


They wake up very early to check if the Piets have left a little gift in their shoe. No = major crying. Yes = well that’s obvious.  There is a calendar available on-line of “when” they come. Very handy. 2x a week is more than enough. Then on December 5th, his birthday (i think), he leaves a big bag of gifts at the door. A big knock, the kids freak out, and there it is – the Bag. The bag is full of gifts for the kids. Some kids get 10 gifts each, some get “only” 3. We favor the 3…  The kids open the gifts like it’s Christmas, we eat some traditional sweet stuff and that’s a wrap. Well not quite. You see he also leaves the country, the next day.  We’ve managed to skip that event so far but I suspect it might be on the radar this year. There are also some other nice things that the big kids and adults do. They write poems for each other and make “surprises” but we haven’t gotten there yet so I can’t say much about it…

THEN we have Christmas. Man. I mean, I love Santa, so I need to do the Christmas thing but even I have to admit, it’s a little much. But Santa doesn’t exist here. He’s the Sint. So we’ve done the “well if you don’t believe then”… story and my kids believe in Santa and on the 24th of December we start all over again. Less fanfare, no tv news about him, it’s all me. And I love it! But, as i said, it’s a bit much.

So. To sum up. 4 kids x 8x shoes x 3-4 in the bag gifts + 4x socks and Santa. Pffff… Yes, I have an excel sheet. And also not to overlook, 2 birthdays in that same period.

So you think you have present problems??? Welcome to my life.


Blog &Daily Life