Day 310: Making Decisions

Life is a journey, not a destination

I had to push myself today to make three “big” decisions and I struggled with the process more than I should have.

I learned that three things affect my decision making process:

1) not having enough structure or pressure to make a decision (I tend to procrastinate and then work better under pressure)

2) having too many choices or options

3) trying to balance the needs and wants of others with my own desires

My first decision was whether or not to go to yoga this morning. Sounds so stupid, but I was feeling down today and didn’t want to go, even though I knew it was good for me and needed to go. I put my yoga pants on first thing this morning to inspire me to go after kid drop off. But I had to push myself three times to actually get me there and I had to actively talk myself into going vs. out of going and felt like I was my own freak show in my head… go to yoga, no go home and have a cup of tea and be lazy. You’re late, no you can make it.   Turn right and just go home, no go straight and find the new studio!  And then I was late and convinced myself I wasn’t going but I’d just drive by anyway to find the studio because I didn’t want to walk in 5 minutes late and I was mad at myself. Luckily for me, the instructor was standing at the door and recognized me and told me where to park and said he’d wait for me.  Can I just tell you how happy I was?  If he wasn’t standing at the door (which I don’t know why he was), I would not have gone in. But there he was and there I was rolling out my matt and so thankful that I kept moving one foot in front of the other despite all my negative self talk not to go.  Phew!

The second big decision I’ve been struggling with all week is when to move back home. I weighed all the pros and cons and discussed it with Jeff and the kids and made a decision, but then second guessed myself. Sometimes even making a good decision is difficult because you have to leave other options behind that have benefits too. Even this sounds stupid to me, but when a decision becomes emotional, it’s harder to feel good about even your good decision because it might hurt others.  I made my decision and then felt sad all day for deciding to return home earlier than Jeff and our original plan. I’m happy with my choice but sad for having to forgo travel plans and time together and leaving Jeff to close up the house alone.

The third decision wasn’t as big, but followed a similar pattern. I wanted to go for a bike ride this afternoon to Ouderkerk and I wanted to go with Jeff and the kids, if they wanted to join me. I knew I really wanted to go and I patiently waited for Jeff to finish his conference calls and the kids to have some down time before asking them to join me again. It doesn’t get dark here until after 10 pm, so I was happy still going at 8 pm. But by 7:30ish, the rest of the family started having second thoughts, the weather began to chill, and the little one wanted to stay home and order pizza.  I stil wanted to go on the ride and see the sheep and open fields and the river, but they all had other ideas. I almost and I think I did say, fine, we won’t go, and then changed my mind and struggled to get out the door with a few little ducklings behind me. But at first no one was happy, except me.  Jeff and I decided to go and the rest stayed back and then two changed their minds and hurriedly tried to catch up with us while one stayed home. I struggled to decide whether to go because I wanted to make everyone happy and in the process almost made everyone miserable, including myself.  In the end, it was a great decision and we were thankful we pushed on despite the resistance and had a fabulous time together. Next time I want to be more decisive and convincing when I make a decision to help everyone with the clarity. I don’t expect them to do what I want, but it would be good for me if I was clear and firm about what I want.  I’m still learning.

Listening to Charlie whistle and sing on his bike because he was so happy made me thankful I didn’t give up and that I made the “tough” choice to go anyway despite the No’s.  On the way back home, after our ride along the river and a stop at a pizza parlor that was open, he rode up next to me and said, “I love you mama.”  He was just thanking me for taking him on a bike ride. Who knew?

I Am Content.

Here are the beautiful pictures from our Friday Night Bike Ride to Ouderkerk and along the Amstel.   Life is good!

Riding into OuderkerkI love this cityAlways love seeing windmills

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love the sunlight as the sun begins to set

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Day 309: Italian Cooking Class

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What I love the most about Holland are my friends!! Today Jane scheduled a cooking class for a group of us. We met at another mom’s house from our children’s school who offers an all day cooking class with wine and dessert included. We had so much fun chatting and watching and working and learning and eating and drinking! The host did all the shopping and pre- prep work, and even did all the dishes! We got to enjoy her Italian accent and learn by watching her work and prepare each part of the several dishes we shared.

She had a recipe booklet printed and a work area set up for each of us. We loved all being together and learning something new. It made me think of my Italian grandmother and how she loved to be in the kitchen and feeding all of her family. I miss her so much!

Here are the pictures from our hands on learning lessons making homemade pasta, pizza dough, canellini, and Italian meringue. We had so much fun. Thank you to Deborah for sharing your Italian cooking skills with us.

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Making a well in the flower and mixing the eggs inside the well and cutting in the flour to make the pasta dough. You have to work really hard to get the right consistency. We used the dough to make the canelloni.

We also made the ragout and spinach and bechamel sauce, as well as pizza dough and meringues! Boy were we lucky!

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Waiting for the dough to rise.

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Assembling the pizza

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Key ingredients

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Working the pasta machine, which is so much easier than rolling by hand!

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Making homemade pasta on this cool contraption!

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Love it!

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Making the meringue.

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Manga!! Salud!!

Day 308: Wanderlust Wednesday – Free Concert and Negen Straatjes and Rain

Can I just tell you that it’s raining buckets full of rain today? Thank God we got out and celebrated the sun yesterday because today is the polar opposite. Flooding and thunderstorms and rain galore!

On Wednesdays in Amsterdam, they offer a free lunch time concert at Het Concert Gebouw, the musical hall right across the way from the Rijksmuseum. You have to line up an hour or so before the show to get a seat, but it is well worth it. I love the feel of being in a theater. It feels so elegant and grown-up! Today, two brothers performed three pieces on the piano together. It was so amazing to watch their passion and talent and joy, not to mention their hands, and to hear the beautiful music they created together. I loved it!

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Waiting in line for the concert doors to open.

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Inside the intimate mini-hall. No photos were allowed during the performance.

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Beautiful chandeliers and architectural details.

After the concert, Jeff and I had a quiet lunch at the theater restaurant. The atmosphere there was really nice with the large windows looking towards the street and high vaulted ceilings. Lunch was very good too… Toasted sandwiches with cheese and chicken and chutney, and one with goat cheese and aubergines, with side salads. I tried a vanilla chai latte for the first time…very tasty!

I stil had some time left before I had to pick up the kids from school. I took the tram up to the Dam square and wandered over to explore the Negen Straatjes, also known as the nine little streets. The stores and restaurants in this neighborhood are very quaint, kind of Anthropologie like. Here is what I saw while I was wandering:

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Cool lighting store.

I left my favorite polka dotted umbrella behind somewhere today! I thought it was in my bag but I mistakenly was squeezing my water bottle and not my umbrella. I hope it finds a good home, although I got soaked walking home from the tram. It’s been pouring ever since! I’m done with this crazy weather and think I’m heading back to California as soon as possible!

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Real rain filter.

Before I go for the day, I want to wish a Happy Birthday, to my sweet friend Michele today! I miss our hikes and chats and can’t wait to celebrate with you soon!

And happy birthday to my cousin Laurie! You always make me laugh and are such a fun person to be around. I love and miss you!

Life is good…live it up while you can! xo

Day 307: Joy On A Bike

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I played hooky today and skipped my Dutch class. The sun was shining and it’s supposed to rain tomorrow and I needed Vitamin D and exercise. Does that sound like a good excuse? Plus now that I’m moving in 2 months, my desire to master the language has dwindled… Not that I don’t want to learn Dutch, but I only have so many days left with the kids in school (think free kid care) and sun shiny days.

I thought you might love to see the beautiful forest by my house from a biker’s point of view. Enjoy!!

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Love the goat farm, and this little guy jumping through the air!

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These flowers are right by my front door and were so nice to see when I came home.

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And to end the beautiful day, the kids and I and our friends walked to the ice cream shop to celebrate the sunshine and warm weather after school. Living in the moment and living it up!

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Life is good, and sweet! Namaste.

Day 306: Sunny Day

It was sunny today, finally, all day. Do you know that in California it is sunny 300 days out of the year on average? And now I take the time to comment and write about the weather more than I wish I did. It makes me feel like I’m getting old, talking about the weather, aches and pains, and talking over my husband and finishing each other’s stories. Do you do that too?

The sunshine and light make me incredibly happy and I was torn going into the Rijksmuseum with Julie when it was so gorgeous out. It felt like a shame to be indoors when we should be outside. But we enjoyed the moment, nevertheless, with the crowds! My favorite discovery today was the library in the museum. I always wanted to be a librarian and could spend hours in a library or bookstore. I loved the spiral staircases, walls of books, the old smells of paper and leather, and two patrons or workers with their laptops. I loved the old and the new.

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Afterwards, we walked from the Rijksmuseum to Albert Cuyp market and enjoyed strolling the street in the sunshine. It finally felt good again and I got my dose of Vitamin D.

We took the 14 tram to Westermarkt
where I left Julie to visit the Anne Frank house and to finish exploring the city, while I went back home for a doctor’s appointment. Good news! I’m going to live – results were negative and I felt relief!!

Life is good.

Happy Memorial Day! We are missing being in the states and BBQing and swimming today. Hope you all raise the flag and raise a glass to this wonderful freedom we all get to enjoy.

Namaste.

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Day 305: A Friend From Home

There is something really awesome about having a friend from home come to town for a visit. Julie arrived this morning and is spending the night. She brought treats for the kids – bubble gum, Jolly Ranchers and Goldfish crackers, that made them so happy. I was happy to hear her laugh and to listen to her stories about her kids and work and family. There is a comfort in having this reconnection again and it makes me excited to be able to play tennis again and share our stories as we enter the next chapter of high school with our kids. Julie and I have been friends since our boys were in preschool and she was one of my role models in deciding to have a third child. I’ve always admired her and am so glad she chose to come see us as part of her work trip to London.

She endured the children’s spring fair with me at their school, and meeting some of my local friends before we headed up to Amsterdam for dinner.

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We dropped the kids off at home and took the tram into the city. The sun was shining later in the day, so it was actually nice to be walking around the canals together.

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This last picture was taken at 9pm at the Westerkerk by the Anne Frank House. So gorgeous out tonight. We enjoyed a nice, quiet Thai dinner before heading back home on the bus.

Life is good. Happy Memorial Day, Veterans!!

Day 304: Family Day in Schijndel

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Family – I’m thankful that there are people that love us and invite us to be together to share meals and conversation and company. The simplicity of just being and relaxing and talking and sharing food and drink together is pretty amazing. Do you ever think about that? I usually take it for granted, but today I really felt grateful for my Dutch family.

We spent the day in Schijndel with Gerard and Anita and their girls. We got there around 11:15 and had coffee and dessert. Soon after we had a nice lunch with hot baked rolls, cheeses and meats, and some even had Hagel slag on rolls. After lunch, Gerard took us to just over the border to Belgium to a Trappist abbey where they make beer. Jeff was in heaven! I was happy because the sun peeked out a few times.

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From there we drove into Eindhoven as we had never been there before. We happened upon the Daf truck museum and spent a bit of time walking around there, exploring this popular Dutch company’s history. Charlie was thrilled!

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We walked around the city center for a bit before heading back for dinner.

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After dinner, Gerard took Char and Juliana to Rio’s dairy farm for a quick visit, at Charlie’s request. He wanted to see the cows, ride the tractor and play on the go-cart. What a lucky kid!! Watching Gerard play with and entertain Charlie made me think of my dad and how he and Charlie always play together. I am thankful for their special relationships.

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And then to finish off the evening, more family came to join the fun. Franca and Henk and their daughter came, followed by Opa Tijn, and then Rio and Helma with their kids. The kids played soccer outside together and we sat around drinking and eating again!

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Life is so good. I am thankful tonight for Gerard and Anita for being so generous and opening up their home to all of us, and to Gerard for showing us around, and for the rest of the family for just being family.

I love you all!! xo