Saturday, November 27, 2010


Saris are beautiful, mystical, and intriguing. I have always wondered how they work, and longed to see one up front and personal. Tonight I got better than that; I got to wear one. A gorgeous soft pink sari from Mary. Mary is Joe's cousin, and is married to Ram, who is from India. Mary has introduced many of her family and friends to Sari's, and I'm so thankful this Thanksgiving to have a chance to also experience it.
left to right: Me, Mary, Kelsey

In the near future Mary is going to India for a visit, and offered to get me my very own Sari. I am thrilled! And it doesn't matter that I'll probably only get to wear it occasionally. It's one of those things that will be fun to own, just for those rare occasions.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I've been an anti-runner all my life.

It started in high school, when running a mile was mandatory in PE. I was in pretty good overall shape, but running just made every single thing in my body hurt.

As years went by, I remained an avid anti-runner. Many things contributed to my attitude:

-why run, when there are so many other exercises that are more fun
-running is boring, and hurts every part of my body
-I married an anti-runner (who also avidly believes in the motto: why run, when you can ride a bike?)
-And probably the most important thing that has held be back from even trying, is that little voice in the back of my mind telling me: you can't do it. It's too hard.

Sure, I have read other people's blogs who say thing like; if I can do it, anybody can do it. I called their bull. Sure, they can, but not me! I even tried to run a few times, only to prove to myself running really isn't for me.

Something changed a few weeks ago. My cousin Catherine (well, she's actually Joe's cousin, but that the same difference) came over for a bike ride. We were all geared up and ready to go, when a thunder storm rolled in, and tornado watches were going off all over town. Plus it started raining. Not wanting to give up our opportunity for a workout, she got it in her mind to drag me out running. I resisted. The voice in my head came back. But reluctantly I let her convince me.

We started down the street, and when the rain picked up, I was hopeful we'd turn back. But Catherine had her mind set on taking me down a path along the creek. As we were making progress, and I was surprisingly okay physically, the little voice turned up the volume. Catherine was an amazing coach, pushing me, encouraging me, and not letting me stop. And a miracle happened. I did in fact survive. Sure, I was sore , and slow, and out of breath... .but I was alive!

The Catherine made a prophecy: now you know you can do it, and you WILL do it again. Now, just to make sure we're all on the same page here: we're talking about 2.73 miles. No marathon by a long way, but longer than I had ever run in my entire life. A week later, I did the same run. This time I was without my coach. But I now had the desire to prove to myself that I really COULD do it. Winter rode her bike along side, to keep me company. And on the uphill home stretch the mail man was going down the same street, so he motivated me to go faster and keep up.

Getting a little bored with the same path, I decided to go to a new location the next Saturday. Winter and I headed out again, this time to the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. We went for the mountain biking, and after 1 loop of that, Winter was too tired to do it again. So instead, I ran on the paved path, while she followed. I'm not sure how long this run was, but probably about the same as the first 2.

Last week I took my friend Sandra the opposite way along the creek, and discovered just how close we live to the huge Russell Creek Park. Since it was her first time running, I couldn't get a feel for how far or fast was going. So the very next day, I attempted the 4 mile loop all around the park. The biggest mistake I made: bringing Winter and Ginger on their bikes, while it was 50 degrees outside, and they didn't have the appropriate clothing. Poor Ginger was crying, and Winter wasn't in a much better mood. We had to keep stopping for this reason or the other.

This morning I wanted to attempt the 4 mile loop again, and see how fast I could do it. AGain.... nothing impressive in most people's books, but for me it was allright. I did the 3.9 miles in 44 minutes. That's an 11 minute mile. Pretty sucky... but I did it. And I can only get faster from here. This last month's running experiment has opened my eyes, to the possibility that running might not be evil. It's fun to set goals, and try to better them. It's also fun to accomplish thing I never thought possible. Shoot, some time in the future, I might even decide to attempt a half marathon or something. Although, not too soo in the near future!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Big changes

Okay, so every since my "picture a day" ended I have been a slacker again. I was really hoping to have started a new habit with that, but good habits are hard to form, I guess. So the last few weeks I've been busy trying to get everything ready for Holland. The most annoying thing I've had to do, is getting all sorts of documents ready, and sent off.

This morning I headed to the INS to get a certified copy of my naturalization certification. I figured if I went early, it would be faster for traffic and also waiting time. Since I got my citizenship while still in Boise, I had not been to the local INS office. Traffic WAS great, and the line WAS short. However, it seems like I was doomed to get assigned to the slowest INS worker in history. The lady that was supposed to be helping me, even started helping some other people, twiddle her thumbs, and generally just walked around for no reason. Finally after 45 minutes, I finally got my 2 certified copies.

Now with Thanksgiving just a week away, I realize how numbered our days in the US are. It's exciting, but also scary. Big changes are coming!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


My to do list is too large! All the different legal processes need official documents, apostille stamps, bank statements, bank transfers, acceptance letters, applications, employer letters, passport copies etc etc etc.
To minimize my anxiety level, I've made "sticky notes" all over my desktop on my computer. Still, some things take time, and I'm starting to get stressed that I won't be able to get everything done. Next week I have an appointment with INS to get certified true copies of my naturalization certificate (so I can renew my Dutch passport). We are also in the middle of negotiations with the renters of our new house in Holland. We are so excited to have found this place, and they have agreed to give us a great deal of €875 /month. This is only €100 more than a bare house would be, and sooooo much better! But looking at overall progress, I'm positive that we'll get it all done in the next 6 weeks. But still..... a lot to be done

Friday, November 5, 2010

My helper

A few months back I posted that I'd found my house. This was an apartment arranged through the University. The problem with it was that it is located in the middle of downtown Rotterdam, above a casino of all places. After seeing just how small it was (2 bedrooms + study), I decided that although this is our easiest option, it would not be the best.

Zoetermeer is a town located 15 miles north of Rotterdam. It's where my dad lives. And 3 of my cousins with their families. And my aunt and uncle. And the temple is there. And the ward has a lot of young families. And overall the town is very family friendly.

When I first started looking for a rental house there, options looked grim. Generally speaking, Dutch rental house are "kaal" (bare). When they say kaal, they MEAN kaal! Floors are concrete- no tile or carpet or wood. All light fixtures have been removed. The kitchen has a sink, and that's it! No oven. No stove. No microwave. No fridge. No freezer.
The philosophy behind this kaal method, is that renters won't want to have someone else's carpet, or kitchen. I don't know why anyone would rather do all that work and spend the money to practically renovate a rental house. Maybe if you plan to live in it for the next 20 years.....

My dad has been my front man. He has found us a great deal on a car, a 1989 Volkswagen Golf. At first it seemed smartest to forego a car altogether. A car will make things a little more complicated and expensive, but worth it nonetheless. Just imagine all the times our American friends come to visit (hint hint). We'll actually be able to join them on outings. Plus, public transportation can add up quickly and is less than ideal. With that being said, I still completely plan to use my bike 95% of the time. The car will be there for large semi-monthly grocery stock-ups. And for visiting far away relatives and friends. And maybe, just maybe for miserably rainy Sundays. Joe's main form of transportation will be a moped similar to this
I used to own of of these bad boys. And loved it! It saved me so much time over biking.

My dad also found the lead to the perfect house. It's currently for sale, but the owners don't want to have it sitting vacant. It comes with flooring, lighting, a fabulous kitchen, and even curtains! It's move in ready, reasonably priced, and right next door to my favorite cousin Talita's house. The only possible snag, is the fact that it is for sale. Were they to sell it, we might possibly have to move out. That would be bad. But I'm going to stay optimistic, and hope for the best. My dad just looked at the house today, and we need to work out the details, but I'm really hoping it will be ours for the next year.

The view
Living/Dining room, with heated tiled floors!
Kitchen with LARGE oven (for Dutch standards), microwave, dishwasher, and fridge. The only thing lacking is a freezer, but there's another solution for that.... (see below)

Master bedroom with huge built-in wardrobe. Most Dutch bedrooms have no closets whatsoever, so these wardrobes will save us from buying closets
Bathroom with a separate tub and shower! And the shower has a glass encasement! Very deluxe.
And the prize of all prizes: a laundry room!!!!!!!!!!
I can't say enough how happy I am about this. Most commonly, washing machines are located in the bathroom, and clothes are hung to dry. Hang drying clothes is something I refuse to do in "het koude kikkerland". It's hard enough with a dryer to keep up with all the mountains of dirty clothes. This little gem also has space for a small chest freezer. That will save me daily trips to the bakery.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sugar high

Halloween is a pain, but I survived!! Not a small feat. There was temptation all around, but through some miracle I manage to only have 1 kitkat, 1 twix, and 1 roll of smarties. See, I'm on this thing again, where I try to (for the most part) eat only healthy stuff --yes, dark chocolate IS healthy!!

That's not the important part though. The important part is that we survived the costume drama, sugar-high children, and black baths.
Winter waited until 15 minutes before the trunk-or-treat to decided she did in fact want to get dressed up. She had borrowed a different costume from her friend last week, but returned it to that friend on Wednesday without informing me. With some last-minute help from Grandma, we pulled together a Snow White. See how the dress is somewhat short? That's because it's Ginger-sized. She pulled off the black hair very well!
For Sterling I was a litte more prepared. He decided to be a vampie bat last weekend, and borrowed the bat shirt from the Morphises. I actually went to wally world to complete the costume with black pants, black face paint, black hair spray, and vampire teeth.
Ginger was by far the easiest to please. She just wanted to be a princess. A dress, makeup, and some glitter later we had ourselves a princess. If only they were all that easy to please!
For the most part we celebrated Halloween on Saturday, since actual Halloween was on Sunday. However, Winter's friend invited her over to go trick or treating. So last night Winter and I snuck out together. She borrowed her friend's costume, and became a leopard.
What to do with the mountains of candy?
The first few years I would ration the candy. 2 pieces a day, or whatever. This didn't work for me, because it drags out the candy practically until Thanksgiving. So a few years ago, I made a new rule: You can eat as much candy as you want/can, for 1 day. At the end of that day, everything that's left is going into the trash.
I like this new method. The kids are only on a sugar high for 1 day. There's no continual whining about when they can have their pieces of candy for the day. And I don't get tempted to steal their candy either.
Sterling told me it was wasting candy to throw it in the trash. But I think it's wasting your body to eat it.

disclaimer; by no means am I perfect at resisting sugar and other temptations. It just happens to be, that this particular weekend I did good, and I'm giving myself a little pat on the back.

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