More Settling Processes

Today the kids all went to the Doctor’s office. Did you know that if you move outside of the United States, that when you return you must have a TB test in order to enroll in school? Well, now you know. All three of mine had theirs today and have to go back in 48-72 hours to have the test read. Can you tell who loved this the most? I was actually happy that he was a bit scared and needed some coddling. I’m not ready for them not to really need me just yet!!

I thought it was within 24 hours but I was wrong. Once we get the results, I can officially enroll the kids in the California public school system!! WOOT…. so exciting.

I’m not really all that excited for school to start. Not that I’m not craving for a routine and structure, but the thought of having 3 kids at 3 different schools with 3 different start and pick up times is enough to stir up some anxiety. Not to mention all the extracurricular activities they tend to enroll in along the way. I wish it was like the old days when kids just went outside and played with the neighborhood kids. No need for organized sports and over scheduled agendas. I learned the hard way that in order for them to have friends, they have to participate in structured groups because that’s what everyone does around here. Most parents don’t allow their kids to just go outside and roam and play. I think that’s just messed up. I love when my kids ride their bikes to the park and drop off cookies at their friends’ houses just because. I like the old fashioned way.. ok, I’ll get off my soap box now.

After the doctors appointment, our friends from the Netherlands who are originally from Los Altos came over to visit with us.

It was nice to catch up and to see the kids play again. It’ll be weird to not go back with them to school in the fall, but we did enjoy a few hours together in the sun and pool.

One last little tidbit from today… while shopping at Trader Joes, one of my favorite grocery stores, I came across what they call Belgian treats, and that we all know and love as Dutch treats… maybe not the cookie butter, but definitely the cookies! I love Trader Joes and all the interesting foods and drinks they carry.

Life is good!



The highlight of my day today was swimming with the kids. Typically I sit on the edge and watch them, talking with friends, or reading a magazine eating a snack and having a drink. But today I decided before we left that I would also go swimming.

I actually love swimming and the feeling of being in the water once I’m in. I just don’t like being cold and having to redo my frizzy hair afterwards. That’s what happens when your an adult. Kids don’t think of these things. They just enjoy the pure fun of being in the water.

I swam 15 laps and and also played with the kids. We touched the bottom of 13 feet in the deep end. We did handstands and back flips and got water up our nose. The volleyball was thrown around for awhile and we had water gun fights. I gave Charlie a piggy back ride and held Juliana like she was light and little again.

I loved being in the pool today with them and thought of Irma and how much she loved the water too. It’s great to be a kid (at heart!).

When was them last time you went swimming? It’s never too late for some fun!

Stuff and More Stuff and Finding Space for Stuff

How much stuff do you really need and why is it so hard to throw stuff away? And have you ever noticed how long it takes just to sort stuff to decide what you actually need and what you should pitch? That’s what we did today. Moved books and boxes of boring stuff that have been sitting for so long taking up space. We need to make new space for when our shipment arrives in a few weeks and we’re moving bedrooms and my office to make room for growing kids. This takes time and it’s incredibly tedious and boring. We worked on stuff all day and are still not done. I think it drove me a bit crazy.

I did so well with limited stuff when we moved away, even though I missed having the stuff around me like easy access to Sharpies and scotch tape, paper products and pens. Seriously? How many pens and pads of papers and sticky notes does one family need? I’m sure not as many as we are hoarding. And for some reason I don’t want to throw them away because they’re still good (and taking up space) and you never know when you might need them. How can I change my thinking? It just so happens that as soon as I throw them away, I’ll need them… probably not really, but that’s what I tell myself in order to hold on to the 5 pairs of scissors and 10 pads of post-its and the list goes on.

We sorted through 2 kitchen junk drawers, my office desk drawer, the craft drawer, shelves of books, the entire pantry, and all the miscellaneous cables, wires and old electronic items that we’ve been collecting over the years.

We’re sorting through papers and photos and just plain sorting and purging and categorizing.

Are we done yet? I wish.

I think the secret is to stop buying and bringing in more stuff. I’ll let you know if it works and if you have a secret solution or process that works for you, please do share! I could use all the help and space I can get.

Aaaahhhhh…. stuff it! 😉

California – I Love You

Have I told you how much I love California? I absolutely love this place. There is so much to see and do and explore in this beautiful state. I think this is my favorite place on earth.

This weekend we drove from Northern California to Southern California. It takes 5 1/2 hours to drive from my house in the Bay Area to my family home in Thousand Oaks along Highway 101. People in SoCal refer to the highway as THE 101, but NorCal folks prefer to leave out THE article and just call it 101.

Before we left Thousand Oaks, the kids all enjoyed swimming in Irma’s pool with our adopted family.


I loved the feeling of being together and in the water and the sunshine. Christian also enjoyed going for a bike ride with his expat friend from Korea. We kept procrastinating leaving, as goodbyes are never fun.


One of a Thousand Oaks.

I wanted to leave early enough so that we could stop in my favorite city along the way.

San Luis Obispo is where I graduated from college and I absolutely love this college town. I hope we have a home here one day. This is my favorite place because people seem to be so happy. There is a peaceful, zen feeling in SLO town and I want to live where the pace of life is SLO and simple, with natural beauty surrounding you everywhere.

We arrived in time to stop for dinner at Firestone Grill on Higuera Street and sat outside on the patio with the sun still shining. The air was cool enough for light sweatshirts.

Afterwards, we strolled down town and the kids stopped in the candy store, Rocket Fizz to pick out some fun candy and Jeff stopped in the adult beverage store to pick up some fun brews that Steve told him about – Tap It, a new microbrew from SLO. We also had to walk down Bubble Gum alley for the smell of Cal Poly nostalgia.


Continuing on our journey, I actually appreciated the sun shining on my face and the wide open spaces and rolling hills. Jeff always appreciates the fog rolling over the Santa Lucia Mountains from the Pacific Ocean.

Our new minivan is like flying first class. The kids enjoyed their music and DVDs with headphones, Jeff loved XM radio and listening to classic hits, and I loved playing Candy Crush, perusing Facebook, texting my sisters and reading magazines.

It’s good to be home in California again.

I am happy.

A Time For All Seasons


Today we celebrated Irma’s life with friends and family, sharing stories, tears and laughter. We gathered at church and heard readings and eulogies, reminding us of the seasons of life and that there was a time and place for everything. There is a time for birth and a time for death. There are boundaries to life and our time is limited. There is a time for grief and mourning and sadness and there is a time for renewal. There’s that yin and yang thing again.

Being together brought us much comfort.

I was very happy that we chose to drive down South to celebrate Irma’s life with our adopted neighborhood family. We mourned her passing while enjoying stories of her life on earth. This is a lady who learned to scuba dive at 65 and traveled to Saudi Arabia to work for five years rehabilitating people through aqua therapy, ahead of her time. She wasn’t afraid and welcomed new opportunities to live it up when most people would chose to rest. If I think about how she continued to reinvent herself and to explore the world, I feel young and free to dream too.

What will I become next? What will I chose to do with my beautiful life?


What will you chose to do now and in 20 years?? What a gift she gave us. Enjoy the rest of your journey, Irma. We sure enjoyed celebrating your life today.


One Year Ago Today…

One year ago today we were on an airplane, beginning our magical journey to the Netherlands. We were at the airport, crying as we said goodbye and filled with a bit of anxiety, not knowing what to expect exactly.

As we were coming back home a couple weeks ago, I cried again before we landed, so sad to be leaving behind the life we built and enjoyed overseas. I’ve been busy every day since we’ve returned, however I don’t feel quite right or settled yet, even though I’m having fun and am happy to see friends and family again. I feel like I’m on the outside looking in, and everything looks and feels familiar but in a different way. I’m hyper aware and that feels a little strange too. For example, I notice things I would have never paid attention to before like the sheer size of Safeway and the American flag flying everywhere.

I think moving back in the summer time was a great idea, but not having any structure or camps set up for the kids has presented a few challenges. I’m working on that and things are getting better already. I’m sure I’ll feel more normal, next year!! Lets just hope it doesn’t take that long.

How long does it normally take to resettle? Anyone know? I’m sure it depends… I’ll just try and be patient and not worry about it. For now, I just feel mixed.


Mid-state Fairgrounds, Paso Robles

Being Home

Tonight we went to see the construction progress on the San Francisco 49ers football stadium.


Last time we saw the field, they had just begun excavations. It’s amazing what they can build in a year’s time! The stadium is near our home and driving by in our new minivan and going to Chick-Fil-A for dinner tonight was the entertainment for the evening. We sat outside on the patio, enjoying the gorgeous, California weather. I appreciated not having to cook tonight, and more importantly, not having to do the dishes. It’s the little things that make me happy!

Home sweet home.

Baylands sunset

Good night, friends!


Today I felt like this flower. Wilted.

Still standing, but feeling kinda heavy.

Nothing in particular but lots of little details that added up to a lot. We had a busy weekend with Jeff returning home, car shopping and buying all day Sunday and Charlie’s birthday party and all day and night celebration yesterday.

Today had the refrigerator repair guy, the Sears washing machine repair guy and the bathroom remodel repair guy all over throughout the day. I had my three kids and two of their friends bopping in and out, and trying to get the kids to read and help with chores in between today was a bit too much for me.

I am exhausted!! Calgon, take me away!!

We still managed a family dinner, our first one with all of us together again, just the five of us at home, which I loved, despite my nag session.

Even though I feel wilted, I know how good life really is. Hope you had a good day! xx

Life and Death

Today was bittersweet.

We celebrated life and death on the same day. I felt conflicted. Happy and sad. Yin and yang.

Charlie celebrated his birthday today, so excited to be celebrating his special day that he woke up early around 6 am waiting to go see his birthday surprises that awaited him on the traditionally decorated kitchen table.

I’m not sure what time exactly, but sometime this morning, Irma Kackert began her journey to heaven at the age of 97. Irma was our family neighbor and a mentor to women all around her. She traveled the world and taught swimming to over 1000 children.

We all admired her and feel sad letting her go, even though she was ready. She used to read my blog regularly and would send me private messages thanking me for my writing and sharing my journey. My words helped bring back memories of her traveling days and she would share her stories with me. We had a connection and mutual admiration of each other and I’m going to miss her dearly. God bless you Irma and your family as they adjust to life without you on Earth. You will be missed.

Charlie enjoyed his special day with a pool party and friends. How fitting that he also enjoys the water, just like Irma.

Thinking back to the day he was born and remembering how we didn’t know if he would survive, helps us to really celebrate and enjoy life. He taught me grace and to live in the moment as that was all I had back then for his first two years of life. He gave me the biggest gift, that I enjoy and cherish to this day. Thank you, Charlie! I adore you.

So live it up my friends.

Celebrate life, love and each other.

Godspeed Irma…and be sure to write!


P.S. Photos courtesy of Juliana and Kristine’s Facebook posts today.

Buy a Vacuum, Get A Car Free


I texted my parents today, telling them we bought a new vacuum today. My dad asked if it was electric or push. I told him it needed gas, and was very expensive! It came attached to my new car!!

One of the selling features of the new Honda Odyssey 2014 model is a built in Shop Vac with a hose that stretches the length of the car. It also comes with a sunroof, widescreen tv, cool box for drinks, and seats 8. I didn’t want another minivan, but after sitting in the SUVs with third rows, nothing compared to the Honda. I have big kids now with long legs, and they need leg room and extra seats to carry friends. We tend to carpool and have friends and family over quite frequently who like to travel with us. We also like to take long road trips and having 3 kids sitting side by side doesn’t make for an enjoyable trip. We also don’t travel lightly and need room for five suitcases plus carry-ons. I think we’re going to like our new wheels!

Life is good!