I learned a few things after Sundays practice. I really thought I had been working my core at the gym but obviously not enough. I hurt across my lower stomach and lower back. I have tried to rearrange my gym time to focus more on my core and legs. I am still lifting weights, even thought I know that this wont help me with Roller Derby. I still want nice arms and big shoulders. But that is a post for a different day.
I visited Turn Left Roller Derby shop on Thursday to get some information about protection. When I had first decided to start Roller Derby my husband and I found a “fresh meat package” online for 170 Euros. It included skates, knee pads, elbow guards, writs guards and a helmet. Knowing nothing about Roller Derby or what I would need this sounded reasonable and about what I budgeted to get started. Around 200 Euros for all my gear.
Man was I wrong.
I borrowed protection gear last week and I was able to see first hand how important safety gear is. We practiced falling and we were told to fall on our knees and lean back (like a rockstar sliding across stage). Makes sense because we don’t have protection on our backsides but our knee pads are huge. You lean back because if you fall forward and your hands hit the floor your fingers could get rolled over and you could get really injured.
After seeing the importance of the safety gear and how robust the stuff I borrowed was, I really researched the cheap “Fresh Meat package” we had seen online. I couldn’t find any real information about the brand and the knee pads looked really small. The prices for everything seemed really standard at all the online skate shops and there was no way everything should cost under 200 Euros with skates. I decided to visit the local skate shop and have a look around.
I was helped by one of the owners, a really nice British lady named Emma. She was really helpful and I didn’t feel pushed or pressured into buying anything. She said that the big tickets safety items were the knee pads and the helmet. I asked her about the pads included in the cheap package and she called them “an injury waiting to happen”. She said that people who buy those pads end up with an injury before Fresh Meat was even over and they leave Roller Derby because of it. They didn’t sell any of the cheap brands in the shop because they have a commitment to safety. I’m glad she was so nice, this felt more like an honest conversation than a sales pitch. I could tell that she really loves the sport and has a very real interest in helping women enjoy it as much as she does. All this was done with my 2 1/2 year old “big helper” touching things and making messes.
I decided to buy all my safety gear there at Turn Left Roller Derby Shop. Their prices seemed in line with what I had seen online so I knew that I wouldn’t be saving a significant amount of money by shopping online and I wouldn’t have my gear in time for Sundays practice anyway. Emma had me try on a ton of different knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards. I am so glad I didn’t try to buy them online. The sizing is completely different that I would have thought. I would have gotten the wrong things for sure but since I didn’t have any idea how everything was supposed to fit I probably wouldn’t have realized that nothing fit properly until it was to late to return it (because it was worn and scratched up). There really isn’t anything better than one on one help from a knowledgeable person. Plus I was supporting a local business and the Eindhoven team sponsor and those are good things. In reality I saved a ton of money by shopping there because I wont have to replace things that certainly would have had to otherwise.
This is a link to their website: Turn Left Roller Derby Shop
So what did I buy and what did it cost?
Helmet: 49.50 Euros
Mouth Guard: 22.50
Elbow Pads: 31.50
Wrist guards: 27.00
Knee Pads: 80.10
Total Spent on pads and protection gear: 210. 60 Euros. * Note: People participating in Fresh Meat get 10% discount at this shop because they sponsor the team. The prices I listed are what I paid with this discount.
Yikes, right? Believe me I know.
I still have to buy my skates and I was told I would need to budget between 200 -250 Euros. Those will have to wait a few months. I just can’t afford to spend any more right now. I have my basic roller skates that I got used and those will work for a while longer. I have a birthday coming up (hint, hint, hubby!)
I knew that there would be start up costs because you need gear in any sport but I had no idea. It’s probably a really good thing that I didn’t know until after I had made the commitment because I would have talked myself out of it for sure. I have it now, though and I as long as nothing horrible happens I wont need anything else for years. Also I see this as incredible motivation to love Roller Derby and do well!
Practice Week 2:
This was one of the hardest workouts of my life. It’s a lot of the same things I do at the gym but add in skates and a higher intensity. Lunges? Skate and drop down touching a knee to the ground and then get up again without stopping or falling over. Pretty much a lunge on crack. Squat? Hold a “derby pose” which is basically a deep squat for 5 minutes while being held at the hip and pushed around the track then switch. Oh, and in order to get you hands on the person in front of you, you pretty much have to be in a squat yourself. 5 minutes. Each Time! I didn’t make it. More of the same. A basic gym workout but taken to a crazy Roller Derby level. And then we also had a basic gym workout, but on skates. Push ups, planking (regular and side) sit ups, leg lifts …… If you aren’t hella strong at the beginning of this you will be by the end!!
Then there is the skating lessons. And the falling lessons, I have a particularly hard time with these for some reason.
And did I mention at any point that the track is outdoors? It’s hovering just above freezing here. My toes went completely numb and my fingers turned an interesting shade of red.
I loved it. Every crazy minute of it.
It felt more fun this week than last week. I chatted with the others (there are about 9 of us). We laughed and lightheartedly complained about how we were going to be sore. It was fun. At the end we played a Dutch game that is kinda like “red light green light”.
I can’t wait for next week.
I have always had a bit of a love hate relationship with Dippie Doe: Best. It’s a fun place and my kids both love going there. In fact, if I ask my son where he wants to go on a particular day he will almost always request Dippie Doe. It’s like a small amusement park for kids. There are rides inside and outside so it’s good in any weather and there is plenty to keep kids entertained.
So there is the love, where is the hate?
When it gets crowded I find it very overwhelming. The music, the children screaming, and the rides spinning overhead, all in a very compact environment gets to me after a while. Oddly enough I tended to avoid the place during winter because every time I went, it seemed to be very crowded and that’s a shame because I really struggle with finding fun indoor places. We were there only a few days ago and it was very calm and even I enjoyed myself. I have decided that I need to be more open to going there in the future.
Another big issue I have is that there is very little for younger kids to do there. There is a small ball pit with a tiny slide and that’s kinda it for them. I still have to really keep an eye on my 2 1/2 year old there and she still struggles in the soft play a little. I pretty much know that if I go I have to have an active role and actually participate in the play. This is not something I generally like to do. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing with my kids but I like to encourage independence while they play as well.
So why does my son love Dippie Doe? Rides and a giant soft play indoors and tons of play structures outside.
The inside has 3 rides, a giant slide and a multilevel, padded, climbing structure (the British call it a soft play because everything is padded). The rides depend on height. Both of my kids need a parent to ride 2 of the indoor rides and only my son can ride the other. This means that whenever one of my kids want to ride something they have to first come and find me. First world problems, yes. But I still find it slightly annoying.
The outside area is really great, though! It’s like they gathered a ton of really great playgrounds together in one spot. There are also different rides depending in height. My son is about 110 centimeters and he can ride all of them except the big roller coaster (and before you ask, it’s big considering the place).
You can bring your own food but you can only eat it in certain areas. Inside you can’t eat your picnic on any of the tables. There are a few blue benches you can sit on and eat. Outside you can always eat food from home. There are plenty of benches and picnic tables or you can bring a blanket.
They sell all the normal stuff that all these places sell. Deep fried burgers and french fries and such. I choked down a burger at one point and I decided it was very nearly the worst thing I can remember eating. Last time I was there I got a brie sandwich on a brown roll and it was actually fine (but how do you mess that up?). They have these “pizza rolls” that my husband likes. It looks like an ice cream cone made of pizza dough and filled with tomato sauce and cheese. I tasted it and it tasted like a so so pizza. Don’t expect anything healthy in this place.
We have year passes for Dippie Doe. It was a real struggle to make the decision to renew them this year, honestly. The kids do love it but last year my daughter really was to young to enjoy it. And in the winter it was always so crowded. It is really great in the summer but there are no shortages of really great places during the summer. We went during Christmas break to decide and we went for it. The kids really do love it and my daughter was able to play on her own (with her big brothers help). We got our year passes during a special promotion so they only costs 100 Euros for the family and that does make it one of the less expensive indoor play places. I’m sure we will get our money worth out of the passes. It also covers the man made beach Aquabest just next door. We haven’t been yet but since it’s covered by out passes I need to put it at the top of out summer list.
So there it is. Dippie Doe. Great in the summer, decent in the winter and I would wait till your kid is around 3 (there are much better places for little kids)
Some Practical Information:
I have been spending quit a lot of time at the gym recently and I love it. Unfortunately I realised that I was beginning to focus on the wrong things. This little patch of fat just below my butt. That tire I can’t seem to get rid of. That loose flab on the underside of my arms. These are the things I was beginning to focus on as I spent my time lifting free weights in front of that huge mirror.
This is not what I want to be. I started my weight loss journey (over 25 kilos ago) as a way to be healthy and more active. I never had the goal of a perfect body or a 6 pack so why now? With much self reflection I decided that I needed a focus that was more skill based and less superficial.
I needed a sport.
Something that I could channel my hyper competitiveness into a more productive outlet.
Enter Roller Derby.
Fresh Meat is the beginner course for Roller Derby. I don’t know about other places but in Eindhoven it is a 15 week skating course, after that I will be required to pass a skills test in order to move on to the next round of training. Tonight was the first lesson.
This is going to be rough!
I haven’t been on 4 wheel skates since I was a kid. We spent time skating, learning a basic stop and practicing falling and getting up. The falling surprised me but I don’t know why. It really only makes sense, right? I will fall, a lot probably. I need to learn how to do it with as little injury as possible.
There was also a workout. This I was comfortable with it, but it was a challenge doing it on skates. Squats, planking, pushups and sit ups are all part of my normal gym time. Doing all of these things on 4 wheels made these standard workouts much more interesting and I enjoyed that. We also spent a bit of time working on our balance. Thank you power yoga! I was able to deep breath my way through a series of what ended up being a few of our yoga moves but on wheels. This also added a different dimension to the same workouts that I am used to doing. Physically I feel up to this new challenge.
The Dutch will be an obstacle but I think it will be good motivation for me to work harder. Everyone was really great about the fact that my Dutch is shaky. When an instructor needed to help me directly or correct something I was doing they spoke in English and several times I was asked how I was keeping up.
I really enjoyed my first class tonight ( bruised butt and all) and I am going to sign up for the 15 week training course. I think this will be a really great opportunity to practice my Dutch, make some new friends and put all my gym time to good use!
We meet on Sunday evenings. I will be updating weekly. Stay tuned!
I am tired. Not really physically but just tired. Every day is starting to feel the same. The rush to get the kids to school, lunches packed and dog walked. The rush to get the house picked up just enough for it not to look like a frat house after a big party. The rush to get to the gym so I can squeeze in some exercise.
Shit. Its time to start dinner.
Got to walk the dog and pick up my son. Finnish dinner, cuddle on the couch for a bit then bedtime.
We have a good routine and we all like it generally but after all it starts feel like Groundhog Day. Am I right?
So every now and then we take a mental health day. A day in the random middle of nowhere to switch things up a little.
Up at 6:30 but instead of packing lunches and organising backpacks we are baking muffins.
8:05 but instead of attempting to wrangle 2 kids into full winter gear for the dog walk and walk to school we are colouring.
Some of these special days we may stay in our pj’s all day. Read books and play with Legos. Do some crafting and baking. I love these days.
Today, on our mental health day we are going to a Christmas Market. A super special outing during the week (I hope it will be less busy than on the weekend).
These are days that I look forward to. They are a chance for me and the kids to break out of our routine and spend some time together. Recharge our batteries and remind ourselves that life is supposed to be a little random and fun and unscheduled. A chance for me to hear my kids laugh more and get extra cuddles.
These are the days that remind me how amazing life is.
This is my favorite indoor place to take the kids. We live there (I’m only exaggerating slightly). We are there every week at least once but sometimes as many as three times. There are a number of reasons for this. I live in Veldhoven and Ballorig is a seven minute drive from my house. It is so totally awesome having a huge indoor play place so close. It’s big, there is loads to keep the kids entertained and the staff is really nice.
But first a story:
My kids are only two years apart so that means I had a very active toddler while I was huge pregnant and at the time we didn’t own a car. The Netherlands is extremely bike friendly and has really great public transportation but the lack of a car definitely made it more difficult to get out. I was having a lot of trouble keeping up with my son out in public but at the same time I knew that I couldn’t really keep him in. Ballorig: Veldhoven had their grand opening one fateful Saturday and had free entry for that day. My husband and I took our son and we bought our year passes that same day. I honestly think it has been the best investment we have made (except the car. I do love owning a car!). That was 3 years ago.
So what makes Ballorig: Veldhoven so great?
The space is a major bonus. There is loads of seating and its spread out so even when it’s super busy you never really feel cramped. And all along one wall there are comfy leather couches. Sit on a couch and read a book while the kids play? Yes, Please!
There is also lots of windows along one side so there is nice natural light.
There are 3 main play areas: The play area for the under 4 crowd, the big kids play area, and what translates to a “climbing volcano” ( a friend of mine finally told me what these are called and I love it).
Here is a picture:
The big kids play area is really nice and big. Everything is padded so it’s really difficult for kids to hurt themselves. There are several different slides, trampolines, giant legos, so many different things!
The area for kids under 4 is really nice as well. It’s big and open and padded. I have spent a lot of time in this area! There is a small padded wall around it with one main entrance/exit. This works really to keep super little kids in but once they have mastered walking its pretty easy for them to escape.
There is also an enclosed soccer field, a fun ladder climbing area and cars to ride. I found the cars very annoying when I first started going there. They cost 1 Euro for a ride and I found it irritating that there was an extra cost for a ride inside somewhere I had just payed to get into. My kids have since leaned that they can push the cars and they take turns pushing each other. I think this is better anyway.
You can not bring your own food and drinks into Ballorig. The food isn’t great, honestly. The french fries are generally good and the gezond sandwich is fine (it’s what I get in a pinch). They have standard fried snacks and “kid food”. I really wish they had more healthy and better tasting “adult” options. My kids love the food but I rarely ever eat there. It really doesn’t bother me much that they don’t have food that I want to eat, it’s a treat for the kids and thats fine with me.
When you want to order you walk up to the counter and order and they give you a buzzer. When your food is ready the buzzer will vibrate and light up and you go pick your food at the counter.
I have a pretty sweet time at Ballorig right now. My son is 4 and completely capable of running around the place on his own. My daughter is a very adventurous 2 and I no longer have to follow her around the place. I actually bring things to keep me busy during the time I spend there (sometimes up to 5 hours). Lately I have taken up knitting again because I have extra time on my hands. I even managed to repair my daughter beloved knuffel bunny there while she played. It’s so amazingly awesome.
Definitely check out Ballorig: Veldhoven. It just might save your sanity on the cold winter days!
Some Practical Information:
Update for season pass holders:
You can’t store your points on the cards anymore. There is now an app for that. There is an app for everything, though. You need to download the app and then bring your phone and your childrens cards to the front desk and they will load the points onto the app. There is good and bad in this. I generally hate putting extra things on my phone so at first this annoyed me. But now the points from both cards will be combined so that’s good. Next step, hopefully, is to scan the app at entry and get rid of the cards completely. Hopefully they will manage that soon.
I almost called this “What a Difference a year makes” because, well, a year has made a huge difference in our lives here in the Netherlands. Of course a year makes a difference, right? Yes, I know. But I tried to take my kids to the Sinterklaasfest at Weverkeshof: Nuenen last year and it was a bit of a disaster. I rarely feel like a complete and total outsider in The Netherlands but on this day I did. I felt like a social failure and I was bringing my kids down with me. If you have ever lived in a foreign country you have had those moments. They suck. Luckily Weverkeshof is pretty great with or without Sinterklaas and the kids had a great outing. That day, one year ago, was saved by my kids ability to see the good in things but this year I was determined to do things differently. You can read about that day by clicking here: What I learned from my kids today
So what were the main changes?
Well, I messaged them and made sure we were going at a good time. This has been a huge step for me in the last year. My confidence level has grown dramatically. In the past I would have been unsure of my Dutch so I wouldn’t messaged them. I decided that if I felt unable to message them in Dutch I would do so in English. They will almost certainly respond in Dutch but thats what Google Translate is for! I mean, yes, I’m foreign. The reality is that they don’t really care. I just want my kids to have a fun outing, just like they do. It took me ages to realise that it’s OK that I am here, Dutch or no Dutch.
But speaking of my Dutch, it has also improved dramatically. I have been taking classes for the last year and I am overall pleased with my progress. Pretty much I can ask for things and if someone speaks to me I can generally understand them and sometimes even respond appropriately (although often in English) instead of standing there looking like a deer in headlights.
I have also decided to embrace the the Dutch. Instead of being pushed around and out of the way because Dutch people seem incapable of standing in a line properly, I shove with the rest of them. A beer in the middle of the afternoon at a kids event? The old me cringed but looking around I noticed a great many adults enjoying an adult beverage and why not? It definitely made the day better! My kids screaming at each other in the middle of the room about who had control over the red crayon? Yep, I have learned that kids will be kids and they all act like crazy little monsters sometimes. Not a huge deal and my ability to stay calm and smile is way more important then their ability to do so.
The Dutch just seem more relaxed than where I came from. It’s awesome.
I was amazed at how differently everything went. We had a really great outing.
The Sinterklaasfest at Weverkeshof: Nuenen takes place between the intocht (the arrival of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands) and Dec 5 ( the night he delivers presents). During that time this great little farm is transformed into a Sint residence. His room is set up so kids can actually see where the man is sleeping while he is in town. There are also rooms set up for his helpers Zwarte Piet and a toy wrapping room (where the magic happens)! Children can meet and sit on Sinterklaas’s lap. He sings songs with them and interacts with each child. There is juice and pancakes and colouring. Music and dancing and kids having a great time. It was great. Everyone was so happy and having fun. It felt like a real community atmosphere.
Weverkeshof: Nuenen is really great even without Sinterklaas. It is a working farm with chickens and goats and donkeys. They also have a really fun playground.
The kids had a blast. My son is now 4 and in school so he is very interested in Sinterklaas this year. He coloured Sinterklaas a picture and gave it to him. It was really sweet. Sint unrolled it and pointed out different things. His main helper put it in the naughty and nice book. My son was so excited!
They coloured and played and ate pancakes.
Did I mention the horse? Sinterklaas travels by horse while staying in The Netherlands, it’s name is Amerigo.
This isn’t the only “residence” around. I hope to take the kids to a few more before the 5th. My son will love it and I am really enjoying watching him experience Christmas this year. This is the first year he has had a real understanding of what’s going on and it’s so much fun!
Go check it out. You won’t be sorry!
Some Practical Information:
Want to know more about Sinterklaas and Christmas in The Netherlands?
Now that we have our fancy museum cards we are on a mission to check out as many of the “kid proof” museums as possible. This is a huge list and is going to take us some time, luckily there is no shortage of study days and school breaks to use up! The Discovery Center Continium: Limburg wasn’t even on my “must visit” list until a friend took his son and sent me a few pics. We went on the next possible day.
Science museums are great for kids but they can be a little tricky to plan. They need to have enough to do to keep the different age groups interested while having nothing that can get broken or hurt the title kids. Continium checks all the boxes. There are plenty of buttons to push for the littlest kids, things to explore and figure out for the bigger kids, and things to build and take apart for the bigger kids. On the day we went we there with a 2 year old, three 4 year olds, and a 7 year old and everyone had a great time and stayed well entertained (while hopefully learning something in the process).
The actual museum is seperated into 4 main areas. Honestly it didn’t feel like there was much of a rhyme or reason to the exhibits but they were all really interesting.
In the area to the right of the entrance there was a place you can learn about how water is processed, thee are giant robots you can make talk and gesture, there is even a bed of nails to lay on!
There was a bus to “ride” (you sit in it and watch a little film), an area to explore how the inside of the body works, and so much more random greatness.
The area to the left had a much more “hands on” science feel. There was all kinds of stuff to do in there. Things like “if I pump this and then press this button this shoots up in the air” and a ball that floats on a fan. There was also a small water area to experiment with.
There is also a hall with puzzles and blocks. This was a little to advanced for my kids so they didn’t stay here long.
Also on this level there is an exhibit room for a changing exhibit. At the time I went it was about the history of communication. There wasn’t much for the kids to do in there but is was interesting to see all the old cell phones. It made me really appreciate my smart phone!
Downstairs (you can see the stairs in the picture above) there are 3 rooms. One is a place you can eat (more on that later), one is a room where big kids can build different things, it’s based on age and the parents have to help (and there is an additional charge). The room my kids spent the most time in my friend called the “chill out room” and for good reason. There are different stations all with a different activity. One station had legos, one had a peg wall where you could build a marble run, one had a an area to take apart small electronics. Its a cool little room and gave all of us a chance to breath after all the mad running around we were doing upstairs.
At the entrance there is a really great touch screen tv. I think my kids could have played with his for hours.
You have 2 options. Thee is a small cafe outside the museum but still in the same building. They serve soup and sandwiches and other basic packaged food. There is an outdoor seating area that I’m sure is nice during the summer. There is also some things for the kids to play with outside so thats another bonus. The day we went it was rainy but my kids were still very excited to go out and explore.
You go to the counter to order and pick up you own tray.
You can also bring in your own food. There is a nice little room inside the museum and down the stairs set up to eat in. It was nice and quiet and had big windows. I always try to bring my own food. Eating with two small children is a bit of a pain, I find myself saying “sit down and eat your food” about a million times before they finally just decide they are done and just run off leaving me to pick up the mess and it can make for an expensive day. Plus eating out at an unknown place is always a bit of a gamble, I’m likely to spend 20 Euros on food that all of my kids will deem “yucky” and then be screaming hungry in and hour so we have to do it all over again. Packing a lunch saves so much frustration (I can’t be the only one this happens to).
Compared to Nemo: Amsterdam.
Science Center Nemo is our favourite museum. We can’t actually go to any other museum on Amsterdam because my kids scream for Nemo (I think they can smell it or something) so whenever I visit another science museum I naturally compare the two. There are pros and cons of each. Nemo is in Amsterdam and I love Amsterdam so this alone is a huge plus. Nemo is a beautiful building, it’s bright and open and really nice to be in. Compared to Nemo, Continium feels a little dark and cramped. Nemo is very open so it’s very easy for me to stand in one spot and keep up with the kids. I really have to follow the kids around Continium because everything is in its own little area.
Continium does win on a lot of points, though. There is MUCH more for the littler kids to do in Continium. It has a better mix of activities for the different age groups. Parking is free at Continium and if you have ever parked in Amsterdam you know that is a huge deal. Continium is also slightly closer and thats always a good thing.
So I’m mixed. I would go back to either happily and I’m sure my kids would as well.
There are a few things that I wish I had known before going.
You have to walk through a lego store to get into the museum. My kids were content to merely look at all the lego sets that were completely put together and drool but if your child is going through an “I want” phase be prepared.
There are stairs.
I went with a stroller and this was a mistake. There is no elevator at the front entrance and when you walk in the door you are confronted with stairs. I got really frustrated about this. I learned later that at the back entrance there is an elevator you can take from the outside down to the main floor (which is sublevel).
The desk to buy your ticket is on this level (as well as the cafe) and to get up into the museum there are more stairs. There is a separate elevator inside to get up the the 1st floor but by this time I had already stashed the stroller in the coat room.
Some Practical Information:
We had a great day at Discovery Center Contium:Limburg. It will make a great option for a rainy study day. I really recommend checking it out. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Don’t have a Museum card?
You can get all the information here: The Museum Card
Intersted in other museum fun with the kids?