Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hamburg Volleyball

Catching up on my blog is not something I enjoy. These type of blog posts quickly turn into boring step by step accounts of things that happened, rather than the emotion filled posts, when I write while things are happening to me. Anyways...

Since I didn't have my computer on my easter weekend trip to Hamburg, I don't have any other option than to kind of summarize everything that happened. Every other year, the church organizes a regional volleyball tournament in Hamburg. Teams come from all over Europe, including Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Holland, and Belgium. Most of those countries' main language is German, and of course the Dutch speak Dutch. But the one common language is ...... you guessed right: English.

We left around 3pm, and apparently many other people decided to go on holiday for Easter weekend, because we saw a LOT of this

A trip that should have taken 5 hours, took 7 hours. We had fun in the car though, blasting music on the awesome stereo in Anouk's car. It was Emma, Christa, Anouk and me in the car. We each brought our ipod, and just jammed to the music.

I've debated whether or not I should post this following photo, but I found it pretty funny
Our area brought 2 women's teams. I was part of the "B-team", which had all the fun girls. Unfortunately 1 of our players got hurt riding her bike, and 2 others canceled, so we were left with just 5 players. This of course meant that we were at the mercy of substitute players. Some games we were lucky and had super players. One game we got a player that was worst than having no one in that spot. In the end we did okay, and won the loser's pool (5th place).
But volleyball is only part of the equation to a fun weekend with many other LDS folks. The first night we had a "bonte avond", with skits and other fun activities.
I even participated in 2 mime skits with Emma and made a total fool of myself.
The second night was the dance. Anytime I attend a dance, I get somewhat frustrated with the fact that dance partners are hard to find. Set aside that fact that not many guys can dance, and just consider the fact that I'm a married woman, and not trying to hit on a man when I ask them to dance, makes the options smaller. I usually stick to just dancing with men who know me, to avoid the awkwardness. I was able to find a few men willing to dance with me, and had fun with that, but at one point ended up flat on my back. I was wearing my stiletto heels, and somehow the heel of my left foot had gotten caught in between my foot and shoe of my right side.
Sunday morning we had a little Easter breakfast at our hostess' house. Complete with dyed eggs!
The apartment we stayed in had the coolest bathroom. Apparently this old building didn't used to have a bathroom, so they had to maximize the space they did have.

Sunday after church a bunch of Dutch and Swiss people hung out on a grassy field by a lake. It was so fun to get to know some new people.
They even brought a rope for tight-rope walking
The Swiss liked to surprise unknowing loungers by piling on top of them
The lake was very picturesque.
The weekend was a big success with fun volleyball, people, and activities. Next time I'll definitely bring Joe along!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring

Somehow another blogless week has slipped by. It keeps happening! My dad moved out of the last house him and my mom lived in together over the weekend. They both have small apartments, and of course had built up large amounts of stuff over the years. Even with moving every 3 years or so, I'm always amazed how much crap us humans accumulate. And Sunday we celebrated my dad's birthday at my house, with his apartment still in shambles. We had a full house, and great time catching up with my aunts and uncles.

I know that talking about the weather is somewhat cliche, but I just HAVE to mention it. Somehow my memories told me that Holland is always wet. Always raining. But the past few months it has only rained a few dozen times. And it's actually quite hot outside today. And sunny! I might even get a tan! With this great weather, I've made it a point to try and go out into nature and enjoy it. The variety of green colors. The sun shining through the trees. The cool breeze through my hair. You get the picture.
Monday after school I took the kids to a local petting zoo. It's a privately owned farm, that allows visitors to come for free to adore the animals. They do make some money selling fresh cheese, milk for the baby goats, and a restaurant, but you can also enjoy the animals completely free. I sat with the baby goats for a good hour, just reminiscing the good times we had on the farm. If I had to name one thing I miss about the US, it's our farm. I love the quiet, and the animals, and the view. It awoke something inside me. A sort of desire for nature.

The kids get an extended 2 week vacation. It starts with good Friday and Easter, and goes from there. In Holland they still allow Easter celebrations at school (and taking pictures in the classroom, don't get me started on that subject!). So each child brought their own silverware and egg holder, and they had a brunch at school.
Then I took Ginger's class to a different petting zoo on a field trip.
Even though the kids are in school every day, I still never get out to go shopping. But this afternoon the Primary had an activity, and since church is in the middle of downtown Zoetermeer, I decided to do some clothes shopping. The kids really needed some short sleeved shirts with this wonderful weather! I've never been a fan of spending money on kids clothes, but right now the stores have some great pastel colored clothing.

And that's a lame way to end a post, but it's all I've got.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Good Samaritan

Today I was happy to experience that there are still genuinely honest and good people in this world.

Earlier, I went to pick up Winter on Joe's brommer. I had my phone in my pocket, and Joe even commented on how it was only halfway in there. I sort of mocked him (in my mind) for worrying about my phone, and had all intentions to transfer it to my jacket pocket. Of course I forgot about it, and apparently lost it somewhere along the way.

But I didn't miss it, or even realized it was gone, until Joe came down with his phone telling me the person on the line had found my phone. Apparently the good Samaritan had found the phone in 3 pieces (front, battery, and back) in the grass. She started some detective work, and figured out through text messages that Emma is my sister. (Emma is pretty much the only person I text with, and we text often). So Samaritan texted Emma

"Hallo! Are you Emma's sister? We found her cell phone. Call this number, or else at xxx-xxxx, so she can pick it up. Thanks"

Before Emma had a chance to respond to Samaritan, we got lucky by our laziness. Joe was working upstairs, while I was in the living room. I guess he wanted to help me find my phone (which I still consciously didn't realize was missing, nor was looking for) and to tell me some other stuff instead of walking down stairs and telling me in person. A very strange conversation followed with Joe talking to this girl, who he thought was me, and she must have been wondering why the heck someone was talking to her in English, and then I come on the phone confused, and finally figure out I have lost my phone, and this girl on the phone has it.

I was very happy that she took the time to put this phone back together, she could have just as easily tossed it in the canal. I'm glad she tracked me down, when a different person might have enjoyed some free cell phone minutes and racked up my bill. And I'm glad to know that there are still good people in this world. It's so easy sometimes to just see all the evil going around, that it's easy to forget all the good.

Ordinary?

Some bloggers are really good at writing interesting stories. My inspiration has been a bit lacking. And to show that I do live every day, and not just the fun days at volleyball tournaments, I'll show some snapshots Emma took yesterday afternoon.
That picture just makes me so happy. Even though at the moment I might not have felt it. I'm so blessed to have 3 whiny, loving, beautiful kids.
I grudgingly read a story to Sterling
sometimes you just feel like this

or this
model in the making?
Whenever someone else gets their picture taken, Winter has to pose as well
beautiful sunset behind fingerprint smudged windows
Yesterday was an ordinary day.

The kids went to school.
I caught up on laundry, did some cleaning, and put up with the painters bugging me all day.
I helped Sterling read at school.
I managed to squeeze in a 30 minute power nap.
After school was over, Emma came over (not a super ordinary thing, but yet still normal)
Both Winter and Ginger had friends over to play. Ginger was crying and whining half the time, because she didn't think she has enough toys to play with.
All the kids took showers (a little less ordinary than I'd like to admit on a public blog)
At 5 pm, I was trying to decide what to make for dinner. We decided on pannenkoeken, but realized we didn't have any eggs.
I biked to the store, and spend about 10 times more than planned
Dinner was finally ready at 7pm
Right when I was ready to throw the kids in bed at 8pm, the Home Teachers came over, and stayed longer than expected.
Kids finally hit the hay at 8.45pm
I tricked Emma into staying longer, until it was really time for her to trek back to Den Haag at 10 pm.
2 minutes later, Joe arrived home.
I stayed up too late watching shows on the internet.
Magically I made it into bed before midnight.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Groningen Volleyball Tournament

It's been 13 years, but I still had just as much fun at the Volleyball Tournament in Groningen. It might have something to do with the fact that we WON first place!!! Going undefeated at volleyball is not something that has ever happened to me before. I played with some wonderful ladies, including Emma. And the best part; we were all happy and positive and nice to each other. When the competitive spirit kicks in, negativity easily creeps in too. But not yesterday!
video

Besides the good games, it was also fun to see some old friends. Carla and Melina from Young Women's. My cousin Dennis, and half-uncle Richard who currently lives in Canada. A few people that knew me, but I couldn't recognize or remember for the life of me. And even my very first boyfriend was there... hahaha. Time can do interesting things to a person. Some look exactly the same, while others ... well lets say..... you know....

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fun filled weekend

The past 4 Friday nights, the whole family has gone to volleyball practice. The church in Holland annually organizes a humongous volleyball tournament. All stakes are invited (3 or 4), and many attend. As a teen I loved this full day of play, even though our team never made it past the first round. Now we are living in one of the 3 wards who has good players, and the possibility of winning is so exciting. So as a family we go to practice, and while Joe and I play, the kids run around and generally have fun. Winter is the only one who is really interested in volleyball too, and practices with us.
Emma is leaving the nest, and yesterday was the big moving day. She is moving in with 3 of her best friends, and they got a cute little apartment in Den Haag. Having helped her pack, I was nervous when I saw the size of her room that she would be sharing with her friend.
The sun was out, and we were just a few miles from the beach, so we decided to enjoy the sun and hit the beach. It's amazing to see how many people flock to the beach at the first sign of sunshine.
You can always count on Ginger to come up with the most original outfitThis weekend is also general conference weekend, and with the time difference, we had to wait to watch saturday's session until today. Nice not to have a full weekend of conference! We can watch it anytime on the internet, and the option to pause it to explain things to the kids has been especially helpful. I found that when the kids just watch the talk, they don't actually hear anything. But if I just explain what the speaker is saying in normal language, they can be spiritually uplifted.After helping the kids listen to a talk, I banished them upstairs, and settled down in my own little conference station. I can actually listen and focus better, if I'm doing something else simultaneously. If I don't, my mind starts wandering.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Museums and Dumpster diving

Joe had the whole week off, and time flew by. Monday we went to Amsterdam. Tuesday I took professional photos of a property my dad is selling.
I also helped Emma pack for her big move. She is moving out of my dad's house and in with 3 of her best friends. This is great for her, but I'm a little sad still, because she is moving to Den Haag. Den Haag is only 20 minutes from here by car, but I just KNOW I won't be able to see her as often. No more early morning wake up calls. No more quick visits with the kids on the way home from school.Wednesday I felt so exhausted mentally from all the outings, that all I wanted to do was stay in, and sit on the couch. I have those kind of days too often for my liking. Especially since it sometimes keeps me from participating in fun outings.

Wednesday afternoon, Joe took the kids exploring in some woods by Rotterdam, and they built anawesome fort. I could have enjoyed that time with them, but instead I sat on the couch and looked for summer vacation ideas. Laymoo! Anyways, Joe will do his own blog post on their fort adventures, but I wanted to give a quick sneek peek of the awesomeness.
Yesterday was kind of fun. Joe had to pick up his residency permit at the Immigration office in Den Haag. Afterwards, we visited the Panorama Mesdag museum. It's a panoramic painting of the fishing village Scheveningen in the 1880s. Really high quality work, and fun to travel back in time.
We bought a 1989 VW golf to use while we live in Holland, and although it only has 57,000 miles on it, it obviously is still old.
Certain gaskets and hoses just fall apart after a certain amount of time. Joe already replaced a seal on the engine, but we also needed to replace the main engine fan. It makes a ton of noise! So we went looking for a junkyard. Junkyards in Holland are different from the US ones, because there's obviously less space. Instead of having fields of cars, all the useable parts are taking off, and stored in a large, randomly organized warehouse. Each part has the make and model of the car marked on it.
When Joe came home from taking the kids to school this morning (he has been super sweet and done that for me this whole week), he told me he'd done something naughty and to look into the backyard. I looked, and saw 2 unfamiliar bikes. "Did you steal a bike?" I asked. Of course he didn't, but as he was riding home, he saw a lady putting those bikes on a pile of trash. Today was "grof afval" day (large items), and piles were neatly stacked all along the roads in the neighborhood. Dumpster diving has always been intriguing to me, especially after watching Joe's cousin Katy come home with treasures over and over. So we took the car, and started our dumpster dive. It's amazing what people will throw away. Perfectly nice couches, bikes, lawn furniture, and of course a lot of crap.
We came away with some great finds
A dresser for Sterling's room. Poor Sterling has stored his clothes in suitcases for the past 3 months, and lined up his toys on the floor.
3 bikes, a park bench, table and 2 chair set for backyard, and a boogy board.

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