Day 190: Challenge Day

I wasn’t looking for lizards today, nor was I looking for a challenge. But sometimes you’re confronted with things you don’t expect. Some make you laugh, and some make you sad. The lizards made me stop and smile and ponder what they were doing there in the middle of the Leideseplein in an empty field and all over the walls. I’ve never heard of them before nor had I seen them in a guide book. They were just there and they didn’t seem to belong, but they were fun to see. I got a kick out of this little surprise.


The Leidseplein Lizards!





Leaping Lizards – kinda creepy when you’re not expecting them!

My challenge day was not so fun. It was definitely a challenge and made me very uneasy and nervous and sad. I don’t wish to share the details of the private challenge, however I do want to share the experience of dealing with it.

I had to practice several different skills to address it, face it, process it, accept it and wait.

Waiting is challenging in itself. Not having control over a situation is another challenge. Feeling hurt and staying positive and calm is another challenge. Staying neutral and unemotional was another. So within the main challenge, were several other challenges to deal with along side the main issue. And there were several people involved and several possible outcomes to consider.

And in the end, right prevailed.

Being loving won.

And learning and experiencing and growing bloomed.

And for the person(s) who created the challenge, I wish you peace and love.

We need more love and less anger.


Day 189: The Dutch Resistance Museum

20130130-235011.jpgPatty and I went to the Dutch Resistance Museum today in Amsterdam.  It was supposed to be a Girls’ Day in the city, but several of the girlfriends had to stay home because there is a nasty bug going around and several of the kids stayed home from school. I hope everyone is feeling better and staying healthy.

As part of my Wanderlust Wednesdays, today I wanted to learn a bit more about history. I have to say I still feel overwhelmed and intrigued and curious about World War 2, especially now that I’m living in Europe. I was trying to make sense of the timeline and to make personal connections between the German occupation of the Netherlands and how my mom’s family was affected by it and how they chose to leave the Netherlands for a better life in America, 15 years after the war ended.  Some of the connections I was pondering included 9/11 and gay marriage and bullying in schools. Of course, I’ll have to think a bit more and for a longer period of time to address these connections more deeply, and develop my own thesis… perhaps another blog post when it’s not after midnight!

I have to admit, my making sense of it didn’t quite make much sense just yet, but left me thirsting for more knowledge. I still have more questions than answers.  I’m sure I could study this subject for years and still not know everything!  I know I feel compassion for the Jewish people and for all who lived during the Hitler days. It must have been very difficult to be who you were and to be proud of your identity. I feel compassion for the people who did not know any better or didn’t know how to best help those who were discriminated against without fearing for their own safety. If you have any resources to share to help me learn more in an easily, digestible way, please let me know!

My biggest take away is that so many people and groups of people were affected by hate and discrimination and oppression. I can’t say that I understand evil and evil motives, but I know they exist.  I just hope that I can live my daily life in such a way that I can stay positive and share the light of love and hope and faith with all whom I associate. And when I make a mistake or hurt someone, I hope that I have the power to apologize and make things right.

I hope we all continue to bring sunshine out into this world the best we know how and spread love, not hate.  Namaste.






Day 188: Wishes Come True

It was about this time last year that I was evaluating my life and making wishes and plans for the upcoming year. I believe in having goals and envisioning what you want to help shape the direction of your life.

Our kids were/are at an age where they are more self-sufficient, and there is time to do more for myself and as a couple. Our routine was fairly typical and normal and routinized, and I had the hang of it and was looking for some “excitement.”

After the kids went to bed, I would finish picking up the house, doing dishes, cleaning up clutter, processing paperwork and miscellaneous stuff like that. I would then tend to watch meaningless tv or play mindlessly on my iPhone while Jeff would work on his computer or read, all normal relaxing things to fill the evening hours.  I found this comfortable, yet kinda boring and I don’t believe in boredom.

So I said to Jeff, “I want to do something with you. I want us to do something together, like do a project, take a cooking class, do a puzzle, learn something – I don’t know. I just want to do something with you besides sitting on the couch.”  He thought I was crazy. He reminded me that we do, do things together all the time, which was true, but I wanted something for just him and me, that we could do together. This must be a girl-thing. I don’t think guys think like this. 

Little did I know, what was in store for us from this one little wish. Who knew that we had to move to the Netherlands to take a class together?

Our Dutch class meets once a week for 3 hours. We chat, we write, we listen, we learn and practice and laugh together. Half way through the lesson, we take a break and walk over to Douwe Egberts, to grab a quick cup of coffee and try to order in Dutch.  We have friends in our class, including a couple native Chinese speakers that Jeff enjoys practicing and refreshing his Mandarin too!  This makes it feel like a weekly happy hour, and we look forward to going every week.

This past weekend we took our books and went to study together at a restaurant and made time for each other and learning – something good for both of us, that we both enjoy. We write texts to each other in our attempted Dutch and we encourage one another to keep on trying.

I’m so glad that we chose to come on this adventure together and to build new memories and shared experiences.

our Dutch book

our Dutch book

Dreams do come true.

What are your dreams?

My next big dream is to have a beach house (or a lake house) and play the guitar by the fire pit outside. There. I said it. I hope this one comes true, too!


Day 187: Yoga and Tea

Who knew that yoga and tea went together?

I’ve had 3 cups of tea today and each one made me smile.

The first cup was served after my yoga practice. We all sat on the ground and enjoyed a warm cup of tea together. I loved this and think its a great way to rehydrate and start your day.


The next cup I had while working on the computer before picking up the kids from school. I received a box of tea for Christmas from Karina and just realized it’s called Yogi Tea! How appropriate. Each tea bag has a saying attached to the string, and I feel like I’m opening a fortune cookie. I love the little messages!


I just sat down to relax after dinner, cleanup, homework help, and finishing the baskets and baskets full of laundry, and tucked the kids into bed. Aaahhhh…cuddled up on the couch with my flurry blanket from California, with time for one last cup of relaxation before bed. Here’s the last little tidbit of Yogi Tea knowledge to share with you…


I hope you had a good day and found some time to exercise and relax and enjoy a quiet moment!


Day 186: Sunday Family Day

How was your day, honey?

Our day was full and I wouldn’t exactly call it a day of rest, which is what we originally planned.

Charlie and Christian had friends sleepover last night. For some weird reason I was excited to get up early and have coffee and make them all pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon. I remember how happy my Grandma used to be when she made food for us. I had that same feeling today. The little boys had so much cooking with me and flipping pancakes in the air. We were all laughing together and breakfast was fun.


While enjoying breakfast, we also watched the men’s final Australian tennis championship. Wow! They are so strong and powerful, focused and intense. I loved watching Murray and Djokovic play and wish I could play like them! The games lasted for almost 4 hours…kinda like running a marathon. At the same time, since I can’t sit still, I cleaned up breakfast dishes and began making my first pot of pea soup, or erwtensoep as they say in Nederlanse. In order to make it, you boil dried peas with bacon and a bay leaf and salt for 45 minutes. While they are simmering, you chop up a carrot, an onion, a leek, celery root and fresh parsley. All of the veggies are then added to the pot for another 30+ minutes until they are nice and soft. Then I took a hand blender and puréed it all together until it was thick and creamy. Meanwhile, I boiled the rookworst ( sausage) to add to the soup.

Barbara and Dennis joined us for a late lunch and we finished the whole pot less one small cup! I didn’t even have time to take a picture to show you! Luckily everyone loved it because my kids had never tried it before. I’m so glad they love another Dutch dish!

We had quite the busy day. After everyone left, Jeff and I went for a run together in the slush. It rained last night and this morning, and our winter wonderland turned to slush. The white covered ground came back to life again and the top of the canal was flowing with water, although you could see ice still a few inches below the water. To think that we were walking on the canal last night and now it is unsafe is crazy to me. Running was a bit challenging because some patches were icy and slushy, but it felt so good to run again. (Sorry – no pictures to share)

Finally, Jeff and I went out for a quick (romantic) date night to study our Dutch. Seriously, we listened to our Dutch CD in the car and drove around to find a place that was open on Sunday to grab a drink and do our homework. We found a great local bar, and made friends with Ike, our cute Dutch waitress who was thrilled to help us learn. She was so much fun and kept coming back between helping other guests and telling us the informal equivalents to the formal sayings we were learning. We liked the atmosphere of the local pub and restaurant that has been in Amstelveen for 125 years, but OMG, the place smelled like an ash tray and no one was smoking. I think it’s because of all the heavy wood and rugs as table cloths that have absorbed years of smoke and never have been cleaned. It reminded me of my Oma and Opa’s house growing up, because everyone used to smoke indoors with the windows closed in the 1970’s!! When we came home, the kids told us we stank! They were right,unfortunately! Too bad, because we really like the place and want to hang out there more often. We’ll see…





Have a great week, y’all! Dream big

Day 185: Here I Am On Ice

Today was a crazy, fun day. I love when things just come together. All 3 kids had plans today but I think I was the luckiest one. CJ was having a friend over to spend the night. His friend’s mom dropped him off and she stayed for a cup of tea and a long leisurely lunch. Juliana was supposed to go to a birthday party but wasn’t feeling well and decided to stay home. Poor girl! Charlie was invited to go ice skating, but I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it happen. Besides the logistics, it was also snowing quite heavily and I was afraid of going out on the ice, even though I know my friends say it is safe!

We decided to be brave and give it a try and drove over to Barbara’s house. I passed a salt truck on the highway for the first time and my car was pitted with salt. That was interesting. Seeing the snow covered fields was beautiful.

We got to Barbara’s safely and I helped Charlie put on his new ice skates. It has been 2 years since he first skated. I brought Christian’s new skates (that were actually big on me!!) and decided to skate too. Once I saw that the lake was frozen and black (which means good) and Charlie felt safe, I felt free to explore and skated off with Barbara. I LOVED IT! I couldn’t stop smiling and didn’t want to stop, even though the wind was blowing and it was freezing outside! I was having so much fun, and I had never done anything like it before. I loved seeing Charlie have fun too, throwing snowballs, skating and sledding with his friend and being helped by the Dutch locals. We were outside on the frozen lake and I felt like a kid!! It was wonderful, and I felt so lucky that Barbara wanted to share this truly Dutch experience with me! Thanks, Barbara.





Here is a little video of me living in the moment, happy as can possibly be. I wish you all this much joy!! Thank you Barbara for a magical afternoon!

The ice skating and ice hockey continued on the canal out front tonight with friends because tomorrow it’s supposed to warm up again and the chance might be gone, until who knows when. Life is good!




Day 184: Happy 6 Month Expat Anniversary

It was 6 months ago today that we left California for this wild adventure. I am thankful for this journey and experience and am glad we chose this decision, despite all the work and logistics and home withdrawals and adaptions we’ve had to make. I am loving learning Dutch, making new friends, and traveling and living in my mom’s home land. Life is good! Thank you all for supporting us and sharing this journey together.





Day 183: Some Things I Love About Holland

There are several things I Iike about Holland. Today I was happy by finding beautiful and inexpensive flowers and precut veggies ready for cooking. Not only do I like that they are ready to go, but also that I don’t have to think of which veggies to include in the mix.

After grocery shopping, I was able to put together a Thai yellow chicken curry with mixed vegetables in 20 minutes!

I also picked up a winter season special to make homemade pea soup, which is very popular here. All the ingredients you need are nicely packaged into one container. I never liked pea soup until I recently tried it again at Ineke’s house and loved it!

When you need something sweet and salty, these are two of my favorite Dutch treats: Stroopwafels and Drop!

Looks like I love food and flowers! I also like seeing people biking everywhere, but I didn’t take any pictures of them today. What do you love about Holland?

Day 182: The Arts & Music & Drama

Today Juliana invited Jeff and I to come watch her drama performance. The good news is that she invited us. The communication process at her school is less than stellar! Only about 5 parents came to see the performance, out of 40 kids between the music and drama classes. How sad because I know other parents would have liked to have been part of the celebration had they known about it!!

The kids had to write their own scripts, work as a team, memorize their lines and perform in front of an audience. Each skit carried a meaningful message. After the shows, the teacher had them think about their work and performed an after action review, identifying best practices and lessons learned. She made them think about the significance of their work and why it was important. I loved this process! And I loved their responses.

What I learned is that music and the arts are an important part of a child’s learning. I know sometimes they want to cut these programs from school budgets and its a tragedy. The kids were learning to practice, rehearse, be part of an ensemble, perform, and to feel a sense of accomplishment and a sense of pride! They worked on team building skills and learned how important it is for every member to show up and do their best. I loved being a part of the audience and a part of her learning process.


After watching her perform, I headed up to the city for the day. This guy got on the tram next to me smelling like pot and holding a joint in his hand! I think this is legal here!!

Wednesday is now my Wanderlust Day. Every Wednesday I plan to go into Amsterdam and walk around and explore and get lost. I want to figure out how to navigate around the neighborhoods and know how to find my way around. I’m not so good with a map and there is so much to see and learn about in this magnificent city! I met up with my friend Cami and we wandered round Leidseplein and ended up at Blue. This is a great place to see a 360 degree view of the city. I love the wide open feel from high above and there aren’t many places like this. I highly recommend you check it out!

Happy Hump Day!!

Day 181: Classmates

There were highlights and low lights today. Both involved learning. Some learning came easy and some came the hard way, where you wish for a rewind button or a do-over!

Let’s just say the morning was rough. I learned what didn’t work trying to get everyone out of the house. There was lots of whining and delay tactics and missing items and complaints strewn everywhere. There was yelling and stress (mostly from me!) and snow to slow us down. And by the time we dropped the kids off, no one was happy and that’s no way to start a day. D you ever have days like this??

I felt sad afterwards, and later decided that just as we won’t go to bed mad, we won’t start the day off mad either. From now on if things aren’t going right, we’ll wait until after school or work to resolve whatever the daily issue is, so that we can better enjoy the day.

So when I picked the kids up from school, I apologized for how the day began and explained why I was frustrated and sad and explained what needed to change. They all agreed, surprisingly. No one likes to stay mad and we usually resolve conflict pretty quickly, thank goodness! What I learned, was that I (still) need to micromanage the details of the morning routine (which I hate), and be a better facilitator. Kids might know what they need to do, but actually doing it in a timely fashion is another story. I practiced my parenting skills by facilitating and guiding and managing expectations for the evening routine, and guess what??? It was such a peaceful night and the house is clean and organized, homework was reviewed and completed, and there was time for reading and play! Why do I forget and want to check out? I think it’s because its exhausting telling people what to do and how to do it and to repeat yourself, but it works! Lets just hope it lasts!

Phew! Now that that lesson is over, the more fun part of my day was going to Dutch class today with my friends and husband! I don’t think we’ve ever taken a class together, except for Lamaze class but that doesn’t really count! It was so much fun learning and practicing together and taking a break to get coffee. Our teacher is really good and the conversational style of learning flys by so quickly! The class is three hours long but when she says its time to go, I don’t even feel like its been that long and I want to keep on going! I hope the feeling lasts!! I really want to learn Dutch and practice every day, especially now that I have this really cute Dutch partner!