My son had a study day and I always try to make those a little special. I decided to give the Speelgoed Museum in Oosterhout a try. For the Americans out there a study day is basically a teacher in service day and they happen every other month or so. I like the fact that we have what I consider a sneaky day off mid week when all the other littles are in school so things aren’t horrifically busy.
I decided on a museum because we have our museum cards that we haven’t used in a while. Do you know about the museum card? It’s magic you can read about it here: The Museum Card
I’m not gonna lie this super special outing got off to a rocky start. I had looked at so many museums that I didn’t realize that this one didn’t open till 1:00 in the afternoon and most open at 10:00 am so we were in the car super early before I realized my mistake. So we were already in the car and I thought “well, we will find somewhere to eat close by and wait for them to open”. I didn’t realize that the toy museum was in a small town and NOTHING was open during the day. But it was OK. I found a playground that we played at for a while and then we went to the Market Square and found a place to eat. I even bought the commemorative plastic bear cups filled with ice cream because I was feeling very “spoil my kids on this grand day out”. And secretly (not so secret now) I always giggle at the idea of my kids eating ice cream out of a severed head. Kinda “I will feast on ice cream out of the heads of my enemies” kinda thing. Yes, oh yes, I can be dark and I love horror movies. Anyways……..
We finally made it to the The Speelgoed Museum in Oosterhout. First impressions was that the place is adorable, everything about is ridiculously cute. The people who work there are all older people and I’m pretty sure volunteers. They were very sweet and and it totally gave me an excuse to speak Dutch.
The kids are given papers with pictures of things they can find within the museum and are encouraged to go on a scavenger hunt. My kids were not impressed but I like the idea of of it and the older kids there that day seemed to enjoy filling in their cards.
The museum itself is a series of connected rooms with toys behind glass. My kids weren’t that impressed, honestly. They ran though the tiny museum on about 5 minutes. Every now and then something would catch one of their eyes and I would hear a delighted squeal of “OH, look at that!!” but that was about it.I would have loved to have taken a closer or longer look at things. There were some older women in their reliving their childhood like crazy. It was super adorable.
The little cafe was cute, you can get drinks but not really food but the website said you could bring your own. Honestly I don’t know how someone would spend long enough there that a packed lunch would be required but it’s good to know that you can bring in a snack or something. Speaking of snacks and drinks: I was given a coffee or tea and the kids were each given a ranja with a cake and sprinkles. All included in the admission costs. I actually felt kinda bad because I used my museum card but I got over that quickly.
This is the Dutchiest kid thing ever btw. You take a piece of bread or cake, cover it in margarine and pour on candy of some kind. The margarine acts as a “glue”.
There is an indoor and outdoor play area. My kids were kept well entertained for ages! Inside there is a little play castle filled with toys. There are all kind of games to play. board games, Scrabble, Connect 4, my kids and I played Twister. It was really fun. The outside area has a large chess set and bikes and such. There was plenty for any age group to find entertaining.
So my verdict on the Speelgoed Museum is overall good. The actual museum wasn’t interesting for my kids but I would have loved to have had the option to have a really good look around. I would love to take them back when they are a bit older and we can play more games. In my kids mind I took them to a fun place to play and that makes it perfect.
Some Helpful Info:
OK. Thats about it. It was a grand day out!
Want to check out some other cool Dutch museums?
De Vossenberg Speelboerderij: Tilburg is an indoor softplay with a great outside play area in Tilburg. Sounds scary to people living in Eindhoven but really it’s only like 30 minutes away from me. I have a real love hate relationship with Vossenberg. First let me say that the place is amazing. There is so much to do and a wide range of activities. The staff is so super friendly and the beer menu is respectable. My kids adore the place. So what’s with the hate, you ask?
Parental involvement. Yep. This isn’t a place to take the kids if you want them to go play and leave you alone for a few hours. This place requires some work.
The inside area has two levels, the ground floor is a very good sized soft play. It will keep the kids entertained for hours with no problem. This is also where all the seating is. The nice thing about Vossenburg is the the softplay sits in one half of the building and the tables at the other so there aren’t kids running berserk through the tables constantly. There is also a fair amount of space between tables so when the place is packed it doesn’t fee claustrophobic.
The “little kids” area is really good. The walls aren’t high so you do have to worry about your precious little ones escaping while you are tying to enjoy your adult time.
The outside has a really great playground. Loads to do including trampolines, a sand pit and traditional play ground equipment. This is a really nice feature Vossenberg, they have an indoor and outdoor play area. Most places have one or the other.
The second level…..
The dreaded second level…..
Honestly this is what sets Vossenburg appart from all the other softplays. This is why my kids beg to go, repeatedly. This is what makes this place so special. This is why it’s never my first choice…..
Craft and building……
There is a room with tables, There is a bin with pre cut bits of wood. There are hammers. There are nails. You get the idea, right? I’m constantly “helping” my kids build birdhouses, sculptures and other random bits of crap that the will fall in love with. There is another table with paint so the kids can paint their creations (or cardboard or paper). To be fair, there is staff everywhere. They are super sweet and helpful and make sure everyone is safe. There are painting shirts for the kids to put on so that they don’t get messy. They have done everything they can to help make this a magical experience. And it is. My son actually calls it the “birdhouse place”.
It’s an amazing thing, really. But I’m not that good with the hammer and nails. And, not to call myself a lazy parent, but I’m pretty lazy. I take my kids out so they can have a play and I can read or, heaven forbid, have a grown up chat with another parent. Actually, that probably makes me lazy but I’m fine with that. So I take the kids to Vossenburg and they have a ridiculously amazing time. I try to limit the amount of sculptures or birdhouses to one per trip and everyone has a magical family outing.
Food and drinks:
Typical Dutch food. Nothing special but not bad either. The chicken nuggets are recognizable. I find it sad that I now judge all play places on the likelihood that my kids will cry when the see the nuggets on offer. There isn’t really anything healthy, and heaven forbid vegan, on offer for the grownups.
There is a respectable beer menu, though and that kinda saves the day. The have La Trappe Puur. It’s an organic Belguim Pilsner that I enjoy very much.
Definitely put it on you list. The kids will go crazy and if you are the building type so will you. And if not, just remember that they will play for a while as well. And think of the fond memories the kids will have every time you see all those damned birdhouses all over your house because the kids love them so much they must stay forever.
Some Practical Info:
I spent the last 2 weeks in the US visiting family. It was a wonderful time spent playing with kids, hanging out with family and all around enjoying life. In the back of my mind I was always thinking how much I loved home. I have lived in The Netherlands for nearly 10 years and I love it. As I was visiting the US I was constantly contrasting the US VS The Netherlands and The Netherlands was always the victor.
No Play areas in restaurants? Where we live…….
Constantly chasing your kids with disinfectant? In The Netherlands……….
UUGGHH! all this traffic! Do you know about our……….
It goes on and on (and probably in the opinion of my family, on and on and on and on).
I love it here. It’s great. I have chosen to call this little country home forever and I felt a bit superior about it all.
Then we came home. I was standing in Schipol and everyone around me was speaking Dutch.
Honestly, the reality of my struggles hit me like a ton of bricks. My life is amazing and I love it, but I suppose I had grown accustomed to being outside. My Dutch is passable but I struggle. No matter what a Dutch person will tell you (because they are, on the whole, a very accepting and amazing people) the language is a problem. Surprise, right!?!
I had spent 2 weeks in a world where strangers would chit-chat with me. Not just realize that I didn’t speak Dutch, repeat themselves in English and then move on. While in the US I had communicating with people on a level that I was very unaccustomed to. And it was so nice. Random things like what I was drinking and where I bought my pants were possible. I guess it had been so long that I had forgotten, but as I was standing in the airport waiting on my bags, after having been gone for what felt like an eternity, I realized how different things were from the outside.
Fast forward about 36 hours.
This is the basic skills test for Fresh Meat.
Spoiler Alert: I failed.
I struggled. But in the whole I thought I did pretty well with the basic skating.
After it was all said and over I met with the RockCity Roller who was judging my performance and who would decide if I passed or failed. I failed.
The heart of what she told me was this: I am timid and looked to other people. I seemed unsure about what I was doing and needed to grow in confidence before I could proceed. There were skating issues in there as well but I felt all these were pretty minor. She said my balance was good, I was fast (26 laps in 5 minutes, baby!!) and that I was good on my skates but I looked unsure of myself all the time.
I was reminded of my sons judo instructor a few years ago. He said the same thing: he said a million positive things about my son and there was the but….. he looks to others before he does things, he is always one step behind, he is just a bit slower than the other kids, he is extra timid…. He felt like I should have him tested for all kinds of learning difficulties. My reaction was: of course he looks to the other kids, of course he is a step behind, of course he struggles, HE DOESN’T SPEAK DUTCH VERY WELL!!!
I can’t ask the people at Derby to speak English with me at practices, it’s their country and I am alone in my inability to speak the language.
I am jet lagged and haven’t slept in longer than I can remember.
So what do I take from all of this? my life would be easier in the US, but it is better here.
I struggle every day to fit in and I don’t see that ending any time soon.
I wrote this months ago but never published it. I don’t honestly know why. I think I was having such a hard time readjusting that I just couldn’t.
I am publishing it now because I feel like its important and worthwhile to share some of the struggles of being an expat.
I really love my life and I am working on my Dutch and making my voice heard. I have decided to speak up in derby and really ask when I don’t understand something. They have been very cool about this, like the totally awesome Dutchies they are.I have moved on to the next level of training (but that is a post for another day).
Since writing this I have also made a few more Dutch friends and have renewed my commitment to making a life here.
I read this now and feel the pain and the struggle that I felt in those first few days back. On one hand I’m sorry I didn’t publish it then but on the other I am very happy that I can add this at the end.
I learned a lot from this experience.
So I consider myself a pretty crunchy mom. Cloth diapering (mostly), vegan (mostly), cosleeping, breastfeeding, organic eating, totally non GMO, home made as much as possible, baltic amber wearing, daily yoga (mostly), oil cleansing method and I totally have a salt lamp in every room. Like I said pretty crunchy. On the scale from modern prepackaged living to unshaven Earth mother I feel like I have reached a happy (and maintainable) middle ground.
Then there is Aunt Flo. Every month I would use horrible plastic pads (I have always hated tampons and refused to use them) and every month I lament the waste, the damage to the environment and the plastic and chemicals I am putting against my most sensitive of lady bits. About 2 years ago I decided that I needed to change my non crunchy period ways and go with something more sustainable.
Hello Diva Cup.
Everything I had read had been amazing. It was changing women’s lives! Everyone loves theirs. What could go wrong?
It sat in the box for 6 months. I finally tried it once, it leaked. Back to the box.
Then, one day, I was talking to a friend and Aunt Flo came up in conversation. Once again, this was the best thing ever! How am I not using it? It’s a total period deal changer.
Back out of the box. Perhaps I judged it to harshly the first time. We all have to get used to things. Maybe I needed to use it for a few days and get used to it. After all, everyone else on the planet loves theirs.
First day I was very impressed, actually. It did leak a little, but overall I felt very positive and optimistic about having a brighter future where being a chick doesn’t totally suck for a few days every month.
The next morning everything went wrong. THE DAMN THING WOULD NOT COME OUT. Slippery, weird angle, and that little tiny post with the little tiny ridges is simply impossible to grab hold of. So there I am, on the toilette trying to extract a little plastic shot glass out of my girly parts. My kids in the next room watching Peppa Pig or something equally mind numbing. All kinds of thoughts went through my mind at that moment. None of them were panicky, yet. I abandoned efforts for a moment to regroup and breath. At this moment I thought that maybe standing up and jumping up and down would help. It did not. I actually considered tweezers but I couldn’t find them. I have a small pair of needle nose pliers in the kitchen I use to debone fish, hmmmm. OK. Time to google.
I rejoined my children on the couch, phone in hand, and started to consult the greatest wealth of information in the history of the world. The advise ranged from worth a try to downright scary. Shower and squat down, have a partner go in for an extraction, crochet hook (yikes), masturbation in the hope that the contractions would help dislodge it, I went with the shower. The other advise seemed horrific and I needed a shower anyway.
I did what the good people in the internet said to do, because one should always do what the good people of the internet tells one to do. Squat and go in after it. Nope. Again, the little bastard would not come out. So I’m standing there in the shower regretting every life decision I have ever made because they had all led me to this point. How did I allow this to happen? So this was how I was going to spend my day? Random trips in to the bathroom in an attempt to remove this stupid thing from my girl bits all ending with a trip to the hospital (because that wouldn’t be uncomfortable at all). Great. Lovin life. Then I hear my daughter banging on the door screaming that she had to pee. Ok. What now?
Get dressed and start to panic. Message a friend who attempts to calm me down. Open a beer. So this is me at 10:00 am: sitting on the floor of the living room playing with my kids, trying hard not cry, and drinking a beer and having a texting conversation with my friend about my inability to remove my Diva Cup. I have an alien object wedged into my naughty bits and I had no clue how to proceed from here.
I finished my beer and decided to go in for another attempt. I gave myself a pre toilette pep talk in the mirror, did some deep breathing in an attempt to relax and went in.
Victory! Stupid plastic little thing! You will not win! I’m in charge here!
But because I never seem to learn a lesson the first time I let my very dear friend and total Diva Cup fan talk me into giving it another try. After all, I’m still learning. These things take time. Happens to everyone.
So I spent the rest of the day at home playing with my kids in total domestic bliss. Every now and then I would giggle a bit at my silliness of the morning. Pliers, really? What was I thinking? I can’t believe I panicked like that! Such, such silliness.
After all, these things happen. I went the rest of the day without incident.
Skip ahead to later that night. I’m still wearing the thing. I’m at a friends house, the same friend who had convinced me to keep trying. I stood up and noticed that the stupid little thing had leaked. a lot. Pants possible ruined.
Seriously. I’m done.
I love that people love their Diva Cup. I’m so happy for them. But, just no.
Back to the box.
I’m combining 2 weeks again because I had to miss week 13’s practice. Super sad! A friend of mine and I always go to Amsterdam for International Pillow Fight Day and we have recently started spending that night away (since the kids have gotten bigger). I was planning on making it back for practice (I even had my bag packed and by the door) but I just didn’t make it. I was so tired after a very sleepless night and my kids would have never let me leave immediately after I had been gone over night. I could have snuck in and grabbed my bag and made it to practice but I knew that the next day when my son woke up and had to go to school it would be an issue. I’m not letting that missed practice bother me, much. I kinda anticipate have to retake Fresh Meat anyways.
Our homework was to watch a bout on youtube. I watched 2. I got so frustrated with the first that I found another one hoping it was better. They kept changing the damn camera angles. I couldn’t follow the game or keep up with the penalties. I got so frustrated I kinda gave up. I say kinda because I kept the bouts running in the background while I drank wine and chatted on the phone. Perhaps being in the same room as Derby counts for something!
Some good came out of that frustrating evening. I was told that the RockCity Rollers were having their first scrimmage of the year and that Fresh Meat and Smokey Bacon were welcome to come and watch. I was really excited to watch another bout in person.
The night started out a bit rocky. I sat in the stands and was completely alone. One of the players skated over and asked me who I was. I told her and she said ” Oh, OK. Welcome” then skated off and said to a teammate “I don’t know, she is English” (she said all of this in Dutch, of course). I wonder if she understood what I had said.
At this point I wished I had brought knitting. I felt very outside. I feel like this less and less now. But its a combination of not being Dutch, only passably speaking the language and being Fresh Meat that made me kinda wish I could blend into the bleachers. I wanted to be there, but not be “that weird English chick sitting alone in the corner” (and for those of you wondering: I am not, in fact English, I am American. But “English” is a generic term for anyone who speaks English).
Before the bout actually started one of the Fresh Meat trainers who was playing in the scrimmage skated over and told me that I was sitting in the wrong spot. I should be sitting with the other players and officials (and one random dog) in what is the Derby equivalent of a dugout. I was so grateful! I would have given her a hug if that wouldn’t have been weird, and she was on skates, and we were separated by a wall. You get the idea.
I changed locations and things immediately got better. People started talking to me! It was a shame I couldn’t stay till the end but I had Power Yoga at 9:00. Everyone was just starting to warm up a little to the “little English Girl”. I’m so glad I went. I was able to keep up with what was going on and the rules started to actually make sense.
I was surprised and a little sad that I was the only one from either Fresh Meat or Smokey Bacon to come. It would have been nice to have a group.
I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon studying the rules. I finally read the rule book from beginning to end. It a warm and sunny day and I was able to sit outside and read while the kids played. I have that scrimmage to thank for my ability to grasp the concepts finally. I was able to read the rules and the example situations and know what was going on. I’m very happy with that. I still don’t feel completely confident in my ability to pass the written test but I am getting much closer.
This was an extra practice. There was something going on that was preventing us from meeting but it got cancelled. I honestly didn’t really know any of that till a few days before. I am very glad we had a practice though, 2 weeks away would have been far to much!
This was a particularly fun one. The first half or so was like a boot camp. I love boot camp. I am a big fan of movement and pushing my body as far as I can and then a little further. I’m a bit nuts like that.
Instead of the normal fitness routine (boring) he just called out different things. All of them were the things we had been practicing like planking and squats but in a random order and repeatedly. It was so much more interesting.
Then we did some endurance training. This was seriously fun (in a deranged nut job way). We skated as fast as we could across half of the track then fell to a knee and spun around on our belly. In the end (if all goes well) we are laying on on our stomachs looking at the direction we came. When the whistle blew we jumped up and did it again. Back and forth for ages! Then we took a brake and didn’t it again.
At the water break I asked the trainer if we were doing more. He said “don’t hate me!” My response was “It’s like boot camp. I love boot camps. I do this style of thing a few times a week”. If they really want to learn how to make us cry they should check out Body Pump at the gym! Goodness, I can’t even imagine what would happen if my favourite instructor was given a room full of people on skates and told to wear them out!
After that we went over the things that would be on the basic skills test. I fell on my butt jumping over the obstacle. I was told that we have to be able to jump over the cones stacked 3 high, if i had to guess I would say about 6 inches. It took some doing but I finally managed. Now that I have done it a few time I’m confident that I will be able to the day of the test.
I actually find my confidence growing more and more. Perhaps I can pass basic skills on the first go! I’m not pinning all my hoped and dreams on it, though. After all, I haven’t been on skates since I was a little kid. It would be unreasonable to expect me to master this level of skating in only 15 weeks at 2 hours a day. Still, would be nice!
We didn’t attempt our 27 in 5. I was told that this was because it was an “extra practice”. I was very sad! I was kinda using that as my way to judge progress.
I was traveling back home in Dallas visiting family and we decided to go out to eat. I asked if the restaurant was kid friendly, because I have kids and I am not going to take them somewhere were they are going to be miserable and make everyone else miserable as a result. I was guaranteed that it was, in fact, kid friendly so off we went for a dinner out. Apparently, “kid friendly” means a colouring sheet and 3 crayons.
I live in the Netherlands where kid friendly really means “the kids will be well entertained so you can enjoy your meal with minimal stress.” Restaurants like this are everywhere and they make my world a nicer place, but you kinda have to know where to look.
Bij de Neut in Westerhoven is pretty amazing. Great for the kids but the atmosphere is very “grown up”, meaning that the play areas are well hidden but easily accessible. The feel of the place is really fun. The Dutch word is “gezellig” and it is a wonderful word. It doesn’t have an exact English equivalent, it means. “cozy”, and “warm” and “welcoming”. A place or a situation can be gezellig. It’s a fun word. Give it a whirl sometime.
There are three main rooms. 2 with play areas and 1 without.
Walking in and to the right you find the biggest of the rooms. It is loosely seperated into two sections. Directly around the play area there are small bistro style tables, perfect for a coffee or wine while the kids burn some energy. The other part has more traditional square tables.
There is a padded area for little kids.
And beautifully hidden is the big soft play.
yep. Thats a soft play. Amazing! I never would have believed there was so much fun hidden away back there!
There are stairs in there that lead to a little cinema. There was nothing playing on the afternoon we were there but it was really slow that day.
There is a new addition since the last time I was there. A whole room in the back with yet another play area! It has the feel of a beach vacation complete with a boat ( with a soft play inside)!
The play area is so fun!
To the left of the entrance there is also a big room with more seating. There is no play areas inside and it has a much more “adult restaurant” feel.
What about the food, right?
I was also very impressed with the food. My daughter ordered the “kid pancake” and I ordered the “margarita pizza” . Her pancake came with fruit, 2 kinds of sweets, whipped cream and syrup. She nearly lost it when the waitress put it in front of her. I really think her brain was overloaded with joy, she literally just stared at it.
MY pizza was HUGE! I’m not ashamed to say that I very nearly finished it. Just in case you are wondering, that is a ramekin of mayonnaise on top of my pizza. I just put it aside and pretended not to notice it. It must be a Dutch thing.
What really impresses me about this place is the little touches that make the atmosphere interesting and yet very mature at the same time. It doesn’t feel like a kids playground but the level of whimsy is so high that my 2.5 year old daughter found the atmosphere delightful as well.
And I almost forgot about the ice cream.
There is a patio but it doesn’t have any play equipment.
Put this place on your list. I can’t wait to go back with both of my kids. My son would love it (in fact I felt a little guilty about going while he was at school). Bij de Neut could also be enjoyed by people without small kids. I would take visiting family or kidless friends here for a dinner out with the family and I know everyone would have a really nice time.
Cheers! To eating out with the kids and actually having a relaxing time!
Some Practical Information:
I was able to get some skate time apart from derby practice this week. Someone also participating in either Fresh Meat or Smoky Bacon posted a link in out FB group about a 70’s roller skating disco night. I thought is sounded like a great way to spend an evening. Practicing skating, getting to know some of the other freshies and listening to some cool music. What could be better, right?
Well, some of that happened.
The roller disco was happening on 2 nights. I knew that some people were going on Friday and the rest of us were going on Saturday. It was a shame I couldn’t go on Friday but I already had plans (I personally knew some of the ladies going on that night). I really didn’t let this worry me, though. I’m social and always game to make new friends. I posted a week before that I had bought my tickets. I also wrote that I was going to be driving and would be happy to drive the group. CRICKETS.
I started to get a sinking feeling that I would be there alone. Luckily for me, a friend of mine was able to join me at the last minute. We ended up having a really great time. I got to skate just for the fun of it, something I haven’t done since I was a kid. I realised how much I enjoy skating. It was really nice. There was a girl, probably aged 8, there tearing it up. She was so amazing. Spinning around and doing tricks. I had serious skate envy.
As you have probably guessed, no one from Roller Derby showed up. I would have felt a little rejected but luckily I really don’t care that much. My self worth has never been tied up in other people and I’m not about to let that kind of thing start now. It did seriously burst my “roller derby community” happy bubble and I am going to be very hesitant to make plans with anyone I don’t know personally in the future. It’s fine that things come up and I know that everyone is busy but it would have been nice if the people that were supposed to be meeting me there would have at least let me know they couldn’t come. That’s kinda common courtesy. In situations like this I really start to feel like an outsider. Not only new to derby but in The Netherlands.
Oh well. I am awesome, my friend and I had a great time and they missed out (for whatever reason) on a load of fun.
Yep, I’m wearing my Derby skates, because they are awesome and I love them.
More of the same form last week, really. Pack skating with Smokey Bacon and skating in a line handing off a ball. The last nearly half of practice 2 instructors asked us what we were having trouble with specifically and we got some one on one help. That was really helpful. I focused on transitions, skating forward and then turning so that you are skating backwards and then back the other way.
my 27 in 5?
25 BABY!!!!!!! I skated 25 laps in 5 minutes. I’m continuing to do better each time and I’m really pleased with that.
I am starting to get a little nervous about the skills test. I came to the conclusion that I enjoy going to the practices so even if I don’t move forward, I’m fine. I realised that I will miss the practice test and the final practice because I will be traveling and that’s a shame. Couple that with my injury a while ago and I am going to cut myself some serious slack.
This was the first practice that the weather was really nice. I was so sweaty. I kid you not, I had knee sweat. First time that has ever happened to me. I can only imagine how stinky our gear will be by summer!!
After practice we had another rules class. Oh my, I suck. Every time I we have one I say that I will buckle down and learn the rules. But then 2 weeks go by and I have done nothing! I have about 2 hours after the kids go to bed to get everything done and I guess this has always just been pushed to the bottom of the list. I need to get better about that.
So thats it for this week. I’m out of town again next weekend. I plan on going to practice but I will have to see how my kids do when I get home.
Either way I am almost done at this point with Fresh Meat (at least possibly the first round). I look forward to much more Derby in my future!