Monday, June 27, 2011

Glass of water

Tap water at work comes out luke warm and with a horrible taste. It's barely drinkable. A good solution is to just drink tea instead of water, but with the warmer weather this week, tea is the last thing that sounds good to drink. So this morning I came up with a new system. A system to have a cold, yummy glass of water.

1. Boil water in the water boiler (used normally to heat water for tea).
2. Let the water cool as much as possible.
3. Pour it in a glass, and place in the fridge
4. Wait a few hours and drink.

This works the best if at least 2 cups are in play. While I drink one, the other cools. Sure, not as easy as filtered water from an American fridge, but you do what you can.

Totally unrelated, and a little whiny; the children's vaccination/baby consult company is in the same building as me. All day I show people where to take their precious little babies for their shots. It's hard to watch all these people with their perfect babies, while yearning for my own.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


This morning as I was changing the trash bag liner, I glanced out the window and saw a Magpie by another little animal on the ground. Another magpie was watching from the top of the fence. At first I thought it must be her baby that fell out of the nest, but did a double take when I realized she wasn't trying to help the animal, but pecking at it. It was still struggling, and alive, so I opened the window, yelled at the bird, and ran downstairs. What I found.... a tiny little duckling, laying on its back. I believe that if I hadn't looked out the window at that exact moment, it would have been the end of it's short lived life on earth.
In Texas we raised 3 ducklings from early on, which convinced me we could also raise this one. We couldn't just put it back outside! So now we have her own little area set up in our bedroom, with a heat lamp, water bowl, and soon a food bowl.

Now I just hope she wasn't injured/traumatized to the point of no-return, and will be able to live a long happy duck life.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


With Joe's school is slowing down a bit, I thought it would be fun to have a day out with the family, and really do something the kids would enjoy. After weighing a lot of option, which included climbing woods, festivals, playgrounds, and long train rides, I settled for swimming. The kids have always loved to swim, especially since having our own pool the past few years. There are several waterparks in Holland, and luckily most of them are indoors. I really wanted to go to one that has a wildwaterbaan. This is built similar to a river with rapids. There are bumps and quick descents.
We settled for a Centerparcs pool at the Eemhof. They have several regular slides, and also one of the wildwaterbanen. And what came as a somewhat of a surprise, was that it was outside! And although it rained on and off all day, the water was still warm enough to be comfortable.

An interesting difference between American waterparks and Dutch waterparks, is that the rules are followed very loosely here. At the top of the wildwaterbaan slide there's a sign that says that this slide is only for experienced swimmers. It is dangerous for small children. There's no height limit. Or guards at the top, middle, and bottom bothering you. And if I want to take my 5 year old, who is wearing a life jacket down, go for it!

I lost count after about the 10th time going down. It was a blast, and the kids also seemed to really enjoy themselves. They loved being the decision makers all day. Which slide to do next? Get lunch when they wanted, and finally after a long day of swimming saying it was time to go home. A successful day!

And what was Coco doing all day?
Well, apparently this only lasted about 2 seconds, and she spent the rest of the day entertaining Shamantha's kids and terrorizing the cats. Still, the socializing is good for her!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Don't forget!

When I don't blog, I forget stuff. Fun stuff (or really almost everything) As I was loading the past month's pictures onto my computer, I came across a few fun things we've done, and that are worth remembering.

Sterling has surprised me this week. The biggest Dutch grocery chain (Albert Heijn) constantly has some type of collecction action going. Every time you spend XX dollars, you get some small item. It can include little figurines, or keychains. Mostly it's worthless crap, but their latest action actually has some educational value. For every €10 spent, you get a packet of 4 animal cards. Each animal is part of a category such as "the biggest eater" or "can stay under water the longest". The first few times I got these cards, I would just hand them to Sterling without thinking much of it. I don't shop at this store enough, to really collect them. One day Sterling found out there was a collector's book, and used his allowance to purchase the book. It was sadly empty and pathetic looking. The very next day, I just happened to go to the store with the kids, and remembered that often kids will stand in the store and ask customers if they collect the cards. Sterling immediately got excited and stood at the check out line while I shopped. He was like a hawk. He asked each and every person, and didn't care if they said no. After just 30 minutes he managed to collect 15 packs of cards. This stack helped him fill up his book a bit more. But now he was hooked. Instead of asking to play at a friend's house after school, he asked to go to the grocery store to haggle the customers. He was very successful again, and now has his book filled about halfway, and a large stack of doubles as well. Having doubles isn't necessarily a problem, since just about every kid in his school collects the same thing. The trading happens at school.
I honestly wasn't expecting him to get SOO excited about collecting animal cards. And when I initially saw the book, I thought it would be too difficult to appreciate all the tidbits of info, since it's all in Dutch. How wrong was I !! And I'm so glad it's keeping him away from the video games.

I recently bought the kids a soccer ball, and Joe likes to take them to play across the street. There's a little field there, which is kind of far, yet super close because I can easily see it from my living room window. As the family was playing soccer, another little chihuahua came out. Body is about the same age as Coco. They ran around, playing, biting, and pouncing. It was fun to see Coco take the role of pack leader. Normally she shrinks away from dogs (which might have a lot to do with the size difference).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's normal?

According to the doctor, 2 miscarriages is normal. And so, no testing. It's not until after 3 emotional wrecks that the doctors start taking a woman seriously. Easy for them to say that 2 is normal. I wonder if whoever made that rule ever experienced "just" 1, let alone 2. The doctor was as nice as possible in telling me, and almost made me feel better by telling me those types of tests usually don't give any results anyways, but it still makes me wonder. Would it be different if I had a US doctor? Maybe I AM normal, and this time around I will have no problems. I sure hope so.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A system

I need a system for cleaning. And other household duties. By the time I come home from work and get the kids from school, I feel exhausted. Sure, I don't do much at work, but it's still tiring. The tiredness is the excuse/reason. The state of filthiness in my house is also caused by my high tolerance/ignorance of the true state. For days and weeks I can simply ignore the dirt and dust. And pretend not to see the heaps of unfolded laundry in my living room.

But then there comes a point when a switch is turned. All of a sudden I can see all the dirt and dust. I can't even stand to be in the same room with the heaps of clothes. The kitchen cabinets seem grimy. So I start cleaning, and turn into a military sergeant putting my little annoyed soldiers to work. But the problem is, that the state of filth is so high, that it can't simply be cleaned in an hour. It's so bad, that you can spend 2 hours on the house, and a person walking in, would still think it's a mess. That's because it's the small invisible things that take the most time. Cleaning the inside of the microwave or fridge. Getting dust bunnies from under the furniture. Folding heaps of laundry that have been well hidden. Then there comes a point when I just give up. It's too much. It can't be done. (at least the house is a LITTLE bit cleaner by that point)

I've had good systems in the past. One where I would clean in 15 minute increments. 15 minutes of cleaning, 15 minutes of whatever else. Or the chore system, where kids get daily chores. And they actually do them willingly. But after they have been glued to TV and video games for weeks, the amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth is unbelievable. You would think I'm making them clean all day, when all I'm asking for is 30 minutes. All of a sudden they have forgotten where the rags are, and how to fold laundry. And it's ALMOST better to let them get back to their games and do the cleaning myself... ALMOST.

I feel....

Not sure how to feel.
Excited but scared too.
And skeptical.
Could it really be?
Or will it bring more heartbreak?

There are 2 lines
My heart beats faster
But my mind keeps me in check.
I have to keep my distance.
Don't get attached.
Just pretend I didn't see it.
But I did.
And now I can't think of anything else.

I plan to surprise Joe.
the secret lasts 5 minutes.
I have to share.
But not with the whole world.
it was too painful last time.
and the time before.

But the doctor
She should know.
Because I have questions
Many questions.
Will tests give me answers?
Or just more uncertainty?
I have to try.
it will give me peace.

It's good to write them down.
My feelings that is.
Maybe now they won't occupy my mind.
As much.

If it's still not clear.
I'm "pregnant"
or so the stick says.
I don't think of it that way
Just "late".
That's easier to recover from.

So no reading about the tadpole.
Or it's developments.
I'm not sure I even want to have an ultrasound
And see that heartbeat again.
Just to be crushed later.

But I will call the doctor.
And ask those questions.
And have tests taken.
That's where I stand for now.

Steady life

As the summer approaches life remains steady. The kids still have school for another 2 weeks. I will have to work through the summer, and daycare has been lined up. The weekends mostly consists of playing catch up from the week's neglect in the cleaning and other household duties department. Sometimes we try to do something a little extra, but quite often it's so uneventful that I can barely remember it by Monday. The past Saturday Joe has school in the morning, and the kids had a primary activity. The afternoon disappeared into dreamland. The evening was a little more eventful, since my mom came over. We don't see her very often, because she lives just far enough, that you don't "just drive over". After dinner we did one of Joe's least favorite things; we played a game of Miles Bourne. One of my favorite games when I was a kid. My kids seemed to enjoy it as well.

Sunday is really only a half day, with the morning hours devoted to church. The afternoon usually starts with a nap, and by the time that is over, it's dinner time again. Yesterday the nap had to be skipped though, since my friend Jannicke had her engagement party. Jannicke is a friend from my Young Women days. Not only has she since left the church, but her whole family has. It was a little sad to see that from the previous 8 members in attendance at the party, I am the only one that still goes to church. The only one not to drink alcohol. The only one to see and want the benefits of the gospel in my life. And what is there to say? Especially when most of them consciously decided to leave the church. (as in, didn't just slowly become inactive and fall away) Yet another reason not to raise teenagers in Holland!

Now a new week starts, and the hours will be spent in much the same way as the previous 4. But that's okay, because life is good, and I love my husband and kids. We have everything we need, and even some things we want.

Monday, June 13, 2011

2nd Pentecost Day

It's been funny to see the Dutch approach to holidays. There's 2nd Christmas day, 2nd Easter day, and even 2nd Pentecost day. It's easily explained by the fact that those holidays often fall on Sunday, and the Dutch want to benefit from a holiday with a day off. My guess is that most American's don't even know what Pentecost is, let alone demand a day off work for the 2nd day of that holiday. (FYI, it's the day that the Holy Ghost was sent after Christ's death for the apostles). With 2nd Pentecost (PC) day being a national holiday, the whole family had a day off. This doesn't happen often, not counting Saturdays when Joe usually has to study most of the day.

Instead of just hanging around the house and wasting the day away, we (me) found some interesting things to do. Holland used 2nd PC day as the official national "Castle day". Many castles planned festivals with middle age settings, knights, horse races etc. Unfortunately the weather was being it's typical self, and wet. We opted to check out one such castle, and have the backup plan of visiting a museum. (glad I had the backup plan) As a few dressed up men did mock sword fighting, the slow and steady rain kept coming. My quest to explain that this would have happened in the middle ages as well, didn't work too well. The kids were very pleased when the sword fighting ended, and we could check out the inside of the castle. It was a lot smaller than they expected, and they were a bit disappointed about the lack of grander. They've seen one too many movie about "real" castles.

The small castle didn't provide too much entertainment, so we headed for the backup plan.
No day is complete until Sterling drops a shoe in the water. But don't worry, Joe "can fix anything" A shoe in the water? No problem! He's just climb over the railing and dangle himself upside down of the bridge
Naturalis is a museum of natural history, where the kids did a treasure hunt.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


First off, I want to thank those of you who let me know that there are people who still read my blog. It helps to motivate me!

A little late is better than never, right? As I've mentioned before, Joe and I are not big city folks. All big cities are the same. Sure, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York Central Park, and Milan the Duomo, but when it comes down to it, they are all the same. While Joe was at the SDA Bocconi University, I walked the streets of Milan. Or wandered. I saw the big tourist attractions, and little churches. I rode the metro, and shopped until I dropped. But not at Versache or Prada. At the end of 2 days, I was ready to get back to my suburban home in Zoetermeer

Ben and Jerry's ice cream is coming to Italy for the first time, and the "cows" were giving out free samples
Dinner at a swanky club with the members of the Bocconi case competition

Thursday, June 9, 2011


The hardest part about working, is not being able to be there when my kids need/want me.

Example 1: My phone rings, and it's the daycare. Ginger has fallen down the slide, and her chin is split open and bleeding uncontrolably. Do I leave work and get her right away? How severe is it? Does it need stitches? The daycare advises me to take her to get it glued or stitched at the local First Aid center at the hospital. Luckily Joe has exams this week, and is at home studying. After arrival he informs me the damage is minimal, and not to worry. It's nice that the daycare is serious about my children's well-being, but it's still hard not to be able to assess the situation myself.

Example 2: The school is organizing a talent show during school hours. Right during my work hours. So I have to miss the performance she and her friend Hannah have been practicing for so long. No luckily here.

Example 3: Today was "clothing swimming"day at swim lessons. Of course I put it in my planner, but continued to forget to look in that planner, and make sure they packed what they needed. At the beginning of the week a similar thing happened when the kids went on their fieldtrip, and Winter was supposed to bring a warm coat, gloves, and skigear, to go indoor skiing. Luckily there was another mom who ran home and got her what she needed.

Example 4: A 6 week Summer break is coming up for the kids, but I only have 2 weeks off. Luckily my kids won't get stuck in a day-care because my sister Emma will watch them.

The word Luckily appears much more often in this post than I'd like to see!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

€70 roundtrip

Out of all the handful of people that occasionally read my blog, it was my little sister Emma who was complaining to me that she wanted a blog update. A little ironic, since she's the one I spend the most time with (besides Joe of course). It's not like I have forgotten to blog, but more that every time I think about it, I just don't feel like it. It might have something to do with the amount of hours spent on Facebook, updating my friends and family that way. Or that nobody really seems to read my blog anymore these days. It sounds pathetic, but I gauge the quality and interest of a post by the amount of comments received. And those numbers have been almost non-existent for almost a year now. Of course I didn't start blogging for other people, but it does make it easier to get motivated. And I also feel somewhat like a hypocritical, since I often read other blogs and don't comment. So this is not a plea for comments, but merely a glimpse into my twisted mind.

So moving on to the fun stuff. Last week Joe and I made a trip to Italy. All alone. For 4.5 days. A few months back Joe asked me if he could go to Milan for a case competition. My answer was simple; yes, but I'm coming with! Did you know you can fly roundtrip to Milan for €70? That's almost the same amount as a train ticket from here to the north of Holland! The case competition would be on Monday and Tuesday, so in order to actually see some of Italy, we added the weekend onto the trip. Neither Joe or I are big fans of big city, but love to explore the countryside of new places. Not being very familiar with northern Italy at all, I looked which towns were somewhat close to Milan, found hotels that looked interesting, and rented a car.

Turns out, the hotels were amazing. The first night we stayed in a semi-castle
The next in a B&B that was in its own little oasis (although not done justice in this photo). I wish I could have captured theoverwhelming honeysuckle aroma in a photo!And the last one took the cake. It was in a genuine palace. We were following the GPS and still had 3oo meters to go. Joelooked to his right, and said "whoever lives there, is totally loaded". That's when I recognized the palace from thebooking website, and told him we were actually sleeping there. He couldn't believe it. Neither could I really. So we cautiouslymade our way up the driveway and into the front door. A small flag was the only hint that we were in the right place.
Funny things ride on Italian roads, which really makes Joe happy. First proof, our rental company. A Fiat 500; Surprisingly spacious inside.
The landscape was awesome too. We just turned on the GPS to the hotel location, andproceeded to ignore the instructions all together, and just head into that general direction. Little hillside towns,mountain roads, little chapels, mountain lakes, and vineyards were just waiting to be found.
The prettiest church was somewhere in a little town, and being prepped for a wedding.

We saw the most amazing double rainbow while driving. Unfortunately I wasn't in a better spot to take a picture.
I didn't know anything about Verona, and especially had no idea it was Romeo and Juliet's town. (that might have something to do with the fact that I've never actually read the book) It was lovely though. Unbelievably cute little streets, an amazingly old Arena, and generally just a nice atmosphere.
Juliet's balcony
Whoever said pizza was American food, has never been to Italy. Everything from the crispy crust to the fresh topping made for a heavenly taste. And surprisingly cheap. €6 for a large pizza that's enough to fill 2 people, or completely stuff 1.
The time spent alone in Milan was fun too, but really different. And so, I think it deserves its own post.

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