Day 217: I Love the Sun!!

The sun peeked out again today and I wanted to do my happy dance! When I don’t see the sun for awhile and then it shows up again, it makes me extremely happy! I am a warm weather girl! When Jeff was looking to go to business school, I begged for Stanford and not Chicago or Harvard! I don’t do well with the cold and gloomy skies.

Today I showed up at a function with a lavender, North Face down vest (trying to add a bit of color to my gray and black outfit), and my long, black, down filled North Face coat(that I wear everyday!!) and my friends teased me saying it wasn’t THAT cold! They just don’t know me well enough yet and they’re from Minnesota, so they just don’t understand! 🙂

Here are some pictures of the beautiful sky that cheered me up today, as I’ve been homesick since Friday. I also bought some Vitamin D tablets today. I feel better now!

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So beautiful, right? I would take pictures of the grey skies so you can see what most days look like here in the winter. No wonder people look so forward to the spring here! At least it’s starting to stay lighter, longer. Summer is coming!!

Day 216: Dutch + Sushi + Ikea

Ooh, doesn’t the title of my day just sound so romantic? Maybe for a middle life couple with kids!! I guess any time alone together could be considered a date, right? So today was one, long heck-of-a-date!

Jeff and I are taking a Dutch class together. We decided to walk to class today from our house. Half way there, we remembered we had bikes! Why didn’t we think of that? I felt so dumb! We are so not conditioned to using our bikes as a means of transportation. Jeff still thinks of riding a bike as something that children do around the neighborhood or something you use for exercise. It’s a good lesson though, how our minds think in ways that might limit how we actually see the world from our own narrow vantage point when there might be better options we haven’t even considered.

We are so not Dutch yet and must stay here longer until riding our bikes becomes a natural choice to get around this small town. I’m kind of embarrassed that it’s not already! Maybe when the weather gets warmer.

As we walked home, we stopped to buy some frites to share from the organic market that takes place on Tuesdays. They were so sweet and delicious and hot! We walked a bit further and close to our house is a cute little Japanese store with limited hours. It was open today so we peeked in and learned that they serve meals too.

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We enjoyed a spontaneous sushi lunch with hot tea, and shared what we loved about Sunnyvale and Holland and what we missed and didn’t like too. I’m always assessing what’s best for the family and think about the choices we are making and have to make moving forward. I sometimes get confused with the details and wanted to bounce ideas off him. I’m sure Jeff thinks I think too much, but he humored me nevertheless.

It was a great conversation, and what I discovered is that we have to live in the moment and enjoy where we are and what we are doing no matter what. Sounds obvious but sometimes I really long for home, and get confused because I have two homes now. And the grass isn’t necessarily greener somewhere else, right Julie? So instead of longing for something else, I choose to refocus on the gifts of the present and to continue to be thankful.

I think that’s a good lesson for anyone.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu

My present moment at 1:30 pm was exhausted from 3 hours of Dutch drills and my “psychology” appointment at lunch! But I was content, and maybe delusional, to agree to go to Ikea this evening. I don’t like shopping and I don’t like Ikea, but Jeff needed a few things for his office and I figured we might as well extend our date after work.

I wanted to see if they were advertising their meatballs, but they weren’t of course! The news just reported that some of their meatballs contain horse meat. Yuck! For some reason, that disgusts me and made me curious. Notice what’s missing from their menu!

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We spent way too long there, as always, but had a much more pleasant experience than usual and actually enjoyed some friendly customer service. We drove over to Jeff’s office to deliver the loot late at night, so we could park on the sidewalk without too much traffic! His office is looking great and the nighttime view of the Amsterdam canals made the present moment perfect.

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How is your present moment? If you feel stress, practice what Charlie taught me: 7-11. Breathe in for 7 seconds and blow it out for 11 seconds. Cool, right? Namaste.

Day 215: Still life

How often is your home still?

How often is your mind still?

Mine both don’t like to rest.

But here is a still life shot of our living room, quiet, still and somewhat comfortably orderly for my standards – perfectly imperfect with crooked cushions and squished drapes.

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I sent the kids upstairs earlier than usual so I could possibly practice resting my mind with a book tonight, before falling asleep and finishing 327 little last minute tasks – you know the ones like empty the dishwasher, fold a basket of laundry, answer an email, kiss one more kid goodnight again…all on your way to go do what you originally set out to do but got distracted along the way??

I can’t wait to go plop down on the couch and be still and hopefully get to bed before 12:45 am. Maybe that’s why I’m tired… Hmmm.

One last thought (before reading)…this image is like a housewife receipt. Kids are fed. Dishes are done. Clutter is picked up. Here’s your receipt. Namaste.

Day 214: I Need A Day Do-Over!

It’s 8pm and I wish it was bed time already! It’s been a long last day of winter break with the kids and I’m so excited to go to yoga tomorrow morning and begin this do-over thing!

You know how some days you just feel off? Well today was my day. And I have to say how thankful I am that most days I don’t feel like this. I also had a long, tough parenting day…they’re good kids and they were pushing their boundaries today and didn’t want to do what they were asked to do. It’s all ok, it’s just part of the growing pains and maturity process, and boy am I tired! I think parenting is harder too when you’re tired and not feeling your best. Can you relate?

There were some fun points amidst the chaos. Charlie is passionate about science and we did a science experiment together, just for fun. This moment made me proud and countered some of the reading tantrums that occurred today.

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We had a nice grilled dinner and Jeff prepared everything while I worked on a project. That made me smile! I am thankful that he took care of us, AND even poured me a glass of wine!

The last moment that made me laugh while being frustrated was when Christian put on my boots to go outside and then couldn’t get them off his huge feet! His foot is bigger than mine now and I don’t know why he forced his bare feet into my rubber Hunter boots, but he did, and they wouldn’t come off. They wouldn’t budge. Charlie tried. Juliana tried, and I tried. No luck. I thought my boots were going to have to be cut off his feet.

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Luckily Jeff was home and was able to get them off without falling out the door and down the stairs and this made me laugh!! I wish Juliana would have caught a photo of him!, The house is quiet now… And my boots are both ok. I’m thankful for school again tomorrow. And you? Hope you had a good weekend!

Day 213: Baby It’s Cold Outside

It’s vacation time and it’s freezing cold outside! My kids would happily choose to look at an electronic screen all day, if I let them. But the mean mommy thinks kids should be doing other things besides focusing their eye balls all day on flashing lights and images. Back in California, I’d just say go outside and play and get some fresh air. But here it’s really cold, and even I don’t want to be out there, nor do I really want them playing by the partially frozen canal. Yes, I know they can put on layers and gloves and scarves, and hats and that there’s no bad weather, just bad dressers… But I guess we’re just lazy dressers and really not used to this level of cold.

Yesterday I told them that they were going to “have” to read before getting on their computers and video games. You would have thought I asked them to do 8 hours of chores. Our family has a motto, work then play. But all they wanted to do was play! Eventually they came around, but man, it was a challenging parent day!

Today, we actually enjoyed family reading time together, and the pain was gone! They got to have their screens back because they did the work first. I was content. But then I said it was time to do something else after an hour+ of e-play time, and they should do something together like play a board game. They said I was old fashioned, and that maybe I played games as a kid but they didn’t think that was a fun idea at all! Really? Am I that (old) fashioned? Probably so. I didn’t insist that they play a game, but I did insist they choose something other than electronic devices.

Th good news is they did find some great ideas. They went outside and juggled a soccer ball for awhile together. As it was really cold out, this didn’t last long. So they came in and asked if they could make guacamole. I said yes, as long as they cleaned up after themselves. it was cool to listen to them work together and to observe the process, without interfering which was challenging for me!

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After they were done, and some friends came over, guess what they wanted to do again? Yep – you guessed it! Back to the computers to play Minecraft together. At least they were practicing sharing and had done research learning how to build different structures. I don’t get it, but maybe I’m just old fashioned! Where’s my Atari?

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And the girls? They were upstairs being creative with technology too – downloading the Harlem Shake song, making up their own dance and recording themselves with an iPod Touch! I guess i do love it, but I sure do miss my tape recorder and stereo!

What do you think about kids and technology? Is it a good thing? Do you set limits? I’m still learning by doing and don’t quite have it figured out yet. If it was warm outside, I’d say go outside and play!

Day 212: Transitioning

Our friends left today. I didn’t sleep well last night, thinking about them leaving and not wanting to sleep through my early alarm to get them to the airport on time. There was no need to worry. I woke up before the bell went off, and we had plenty of time for last minute hugs and kisses.

It was sad to see them go after 14 days together. It was also ok for them to go back home. There was that swirl again of yin and yang. Happy and sad. Ok and not so ok. It’s how life works, and slowly I feel like I’m getting the hang of this part of it at least. I understand it and flowed with it, and transitioned more quickly than usual. Knowing we’ll see them again in 4 months helped a lot. It provided hope and anticipation that filled the gap of sadness and emptiness, looking forward. It also helped that we had dinner plans with our friends in Amsterdam tonight.

After doing several loads of laundry, relaxing and reading a bit, the kids and I ventured out to the Friday market for some true Dutch treats, before shopping for appetizer fixins’.

20130223-000117.jpg Frites with sate sauce and one order with fritesaus.

The other little one chose a hot, freshly made stroopwaafel.

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It’s still freezing outside! I can’t wait for spring to arrive!!

Day 211: Down on the Farm

It feels like Friday today, but its only Thursday. My timing is off because the kids are off from school this week and April and Steve are here on vacation with us. But the sad part is that they are leaving to go back home tomorrow. But I told the littlest one we couldn’t be sad today because we have to enjoy the moment. She agreed, until it was bed time and she looked at me with her big brown eyes, full of happiness and sadness all swirled together. And the big tears started rolling out, until Juliana told her to look up to stop the tears. It kinda worked but not really. We all just felt it, and hugged and agreed to not really cry until tomorrow.

Today we wanted to just chill at the house and didn’t get dressed until after lunch time. Everyone was happy just hanging out together.

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When we finally decided to get out and enjoy the sunshine, we were shocked how cold it actually was. But we braved the literally freezing temperature and (ad)ventured over to the forest to explore Adventure Island and the goat farm. We all had fun being outdoors, but had to keep moving so our hands and feet wouldn’t freeze.

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20130222-001838.jpg Enjoying the mama pig and the baby pig nudging her to move for milk access. So funny to watch.

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