Day and Night

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This was the view from my morning hike with friends. Isn’t it gorgeous? I love these walks so much and feel so energized afterwards. We all loved having time together again with our kids back in school.

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This is the view from my night walk with Christian. He decided he wanted to go running, so we went out together. He ran around the track and I walked as I was still full from dinner. I’m loving this part of the transition and having a big kid. See, there are perks moving out of the golden years!!

Good night and good morning to all my Holland Friends! I hope you have a wonderful first day back at school and that you send pictures and share stories! Miss y’all!

First Day of School at 3 Different Schools

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I love the first day of school. I love the excitement and thrill that comes from change. I love back to school shopping and picking out new papers and pens and notebooks and clothes. I think I love the sense of newness and wonder and magic associated with starting over, anticipating what is to come. For the kids, they’re excited to find out who their teachers will be and what friends will be in their classes and who they will meet. It’s a bit scary not knowing and so there is a bit of anxiety as they begin again… just enough discomfort to help them keep their eyes open widely and observe and soak up all the newness. I absolutely love it and think they do too. We’ll see.

I loved getting up early and taking the kids to their new schools and helping them find their way, although they didn’t really need me. I just needed to be there a little bit.

Juliana was the first one to drop off at 7:20 am. She stood in line at the middle school quad outside and got her new schedule, and locker assignment. She shared it with me and found her friends, and off Jeff and I went. At lunch time, she texted me to tell me everything was great. And after school, she said how happy she was and excited to return tomorrow. That’s always good news.

Christian was next to drop off at high school!! WTH! That scares me. He’s not ready, I mean I’m not ready for high school. He’s more than ready. I dropped him off, even though he wasn’t sure where the quad was and he found a friend and together they went off to discover where to get their schedules and to settle into high school life. Just like that. His last four years in school are beginning and I’m fully aware of how fast four years goes by. He came home and was missing the ISA, wishing he was still there instead of here. I hope the newness turns into more comfort over the next few day and he finds his new rhythm. I’m sure he will. He did have several good stories to share.

After dropping off Christian, we dropped off the car at home to walk Charlie to elementary school. We anxiously waited at the corner for Jessie and Sydney to walk together. I had a minute to FaceTime with Jen in Amsterdam, and she shared well wishes for Charlie’s first day. That was really cool, especially for me, since I’m still “house” sick for Holland and missing my friends there. 😉 Thanks, Jen!!

Once we began the familiar walk down the street and to the elementary school, I started to feel at home again.

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It felt right. It felt exciting to be walking and watching and observing our routine, back in step again. I was so happy bringing him back where he wanted to be, like we were giving him a gift. I was excited walking into his classroom, the same classroom and teacher that both Christian and Juliana had before him with one of the best teachers around. I felt comforted and at peace and he was beyond thrilled and happy to be there too, especially with Sydney and Dylan and Thomas in his class. And at our family dinner tonight, he said he couldn’t wait to go back to school again tomorrow. Music to my ears. Don’t we all want our kids to find peace and happiness?

I Am Home.

I Am where we belong.

I Am (almost) content.

Actually, I was happy to drop them off and get them settled and actually had coffee with a friend.

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We then volunteered at the Junior High School for an hour, and then I did some grocery shopping. But then I felt so sad that they were gone. I wanted them back, noisy and chaotic and all. It’s kind of like when they were babies and I just wanted a break from them, and once I had an hour or two to myself and my thoughts, I was good to go and wanted them back again. The same feeling came over me today.

Yin and Yang.

The good thing that came from that feeling, was that I got the house back in somewhat order before they came home, and went to Trader Joe’s to pick up their favorite orange chicken for dinner tonight and I was well prepared and rested for their return. When I went back to pick them up, I was excited to see them and hear their stories and to love on them again. The joy was back.

And with that, we’re back. Back in school. Back to starting new routines. And ready for the world!

Hope y’all had a great day! I wish you well.

Namaste.

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Last Day of Summer

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Today was our last day of summer vacation. The kids all start at three different schools bright and early tomorrow morning. We are all excited and a bit anxious and sad to not be returning to our International School in Amsterdam and seeing all of our friends there again.

We enjoyed a day with friends down at the beach on the Santa Cruz Wharf, where Juliana participated in the Hawaiian Outrigger canoe paddle races.

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She was invited to try it out last week at Vasona Lake and really enjoyed being on the water with her friends. I think I would love it too, however I loved just watching her and being a proud mama today.

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We ate lunch at Woodies on the wharf, and then tried to stay on the beach for awhile, but picked a spot that wasn’t good for swimming and was covered in flies! Jeff had a bit of a cold, so we decided to take off around 2 pm and enjoyed a sandless and flyless drive along the coastline before heading back over the hill.

Of course, I waited until the last minute to get school supplies for the big kids, so we stopped at Target along with the rest of our town. Luckily it wasn’t too painful and we got to catch up with some old friends while scouring the aisles for deals. We spent so much less today than we did in Holland. Things are so much cheaper here and more readily accessible.

The kids got their backpacks and supplies ready and picked out clothes for the first day and laid them out so they would all be ready for the structured morning tomorrow. We shared an early dinner with our family – April and Steve and the girls, and talked about walking to school together in the morning. I can’t wait!

School begins and so does a little bit of quiet time with a few hours to myself! I hope everyone with school aged kids has an easy transition… especially the mamas with college kids beginning!!

Aaaaahhhhh……Namaste!

Birthday in Berkeley and Views of San Francisco

We celebrated our friend Christine’s 40th birthday today in Berkeley. It was nice to catch up with friends we haven’t seen in awhile and to hear and share stories of work, travel, literature, and new babies. I got my baby fix, holding C & A’s beautiful little one and watching Juliana hold an itty bitty little one. My favorite photo from the party was of two children ponied up to the bar, chatting away with the bartender. So innocent and cute, and don’t you love the bar sign all lit up?
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After the early afternoon party, we walked around the town a bit and then headed over the old Bay Bridge, paying our $5 weekend toll to experience probably our last ride over it before they open the new span next month.

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I never get tired of he views of and through the city. We spotted a cargo ship that might be carrying our container from Holland. It is scheduled for arrival today in the Oakland port. Let’s just hope one of them is ours. I’m really ready to resettle all the way back into my cozy nest.
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Jeff is so good about navigating through the city. We decided to drive over to the west side for an early dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Thanh Long, for garlic noodles and roasted crab. I kept taking pictures along the way and texting them to Tricia, reminding her of our city and where she used to live…I wish she still lived close by!!

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After dinner, We walked a block to our car. I needed my beach fix, so we then drove along Ocean Beach and up to Land’s End to soak up the sun and incredible views on a remarkably warm day.

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20130817-214734.jpgFlowers along the walk…I love walking, as you see so many more details than when you’re driving.

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We drove by Fort Funston and along Highway 1 into Petaluma and Moss Landing and through the new tunnel that is now open near Devils Slide. I had not been through it yet and it gave us something new to experience. It’s amazing how foggy, wet and damp it was in this part of town. Coming back over the mountain, the sun was shining again, so we cut over through Woodside and saw an incredible sunset filled pink sky. Silicon Valley is a gorgeous place to live.

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I Am (almost) happy to be home again…

Biking in California

El Camino is a major thoroughfare that connects the towns through Northern California. However, in our part of town, there isn’t a designated bike lane. I noticed a woman trying to get to work on her bike last week, and cars had to slow to wait to pass into the next lane to get around the biker’s slower speed. The bikers are allowed to share the road and cars are to share the road too, however I don’t find this practice very safe. I keep dreaming of enjoying grocery shopping with my bakfiets when it arrives, but I don’t want to be hit by a car!

On another nearby road, the city pretends to have a designated bike lane, but the lane is marked within the car lane, saying “share the road.” If a biker is in the car lane sharing the road, really they are consuming the entire lane despite the painted stripes, because a car cannot safely pass as there isn’t any room to pass.

Tonight Jeff and I were on a date and we saw a bunch of cyclists congregating in Sunnyvale near the Sports Authority parking lot. On our way home from dinner, we saw throngs of cyclists riding up El Camino towards Palo Alto. Some had helmets, most did not. There were kids on the road, as well as Burley Bike trailers towed behind parents. Some bikes had lights yet most did not. The police were out nearly every block, some protecting and others writing tickets.

Tonight was unusual, as cyclists don’t ride in packs down El Camino, as it isn’t a bike friendly route. When I got home, I looked up what was happening tonight and learned there was a biking group sponsoring a Jungle Ride from San Jose to Palo Alto, trying to build and strengthen the biking community. The bikers took over the far right lane. Traffic was slow for the cars and it felt chaotic after 8 pm, when the planned Jungle Ride took place. It’s a pity that they even have to plan such a ride to raise bicycle awareness.

Tonight I really missed Holland. They might not be as good at customer service, and offering enough places to go out to eat without a reservation, but they are really good at facilitating a biking culture that is serious business. California has something to learn from Holland, and I sure miss riding there.

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Hiding Place

Do you have a place you like to hide away? Sometimes I want to be like a hermit crab and climb into my shell, away from the elements.

4 more days until school begins. I am anxiously awaiting this new beginning, like a miracle drug. I feel like maybe once the kids go back to school, I’ll start feeling normal again. Right now, I still feel quite unsettled and don’t foresee this feeling going away right away.

I’m waiting for the kids to establish their routines.

I’m waiting for our cargo shipment to arrive from Holland and through customs by the end of the month.

I’m moving stuff around and in and out, and making space for our stuff and selling and giving away our old stuff. I’ve become quite a good shuffler.

I’m waiting to establish new exercise routines for myself when my schedule opens up.

I’m working on establishing boundaries and limits and managing competing priorities.

I’m waiting for company to arrive.

My hiding place is my backyard right now. I love sitting alone and with Jeff and just hiding away, pondering all the life changes happening right now.

I wish you well in your life transition moments, and hope you find a place for some quiet thoughts too. Remember to breathe!

Namaste.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

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There are just a few days left of summer vacation and I’m soaking in every minute with the kids. I’m excited for school to start again and to provide structure to our days, but at the same time I’m dreading it. With the end of summer, comes early morning wake up calls, rushed breakfasts, homework and sport schedules and the mad dash of it all. I’m not looking forward to all that busyness and having less time together. I actually really enjoy my kids and spending time together and am going to miss them when they go back next week. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll also enjoy my alone time again, but I’d much rather have them with me!

Today we were appointment free and headed to Santa Cruz to enjoy the kids’ pick of playing on the Boardwalk, riding the rides, playing in the arcade and eating fair food. I’d say life is good! I hope they enjoyed their time together as much as I did. I loved seeing and sharing their joy and excitement, and especially loved the Giant Dipper and Log Ride, even though I felt sick afterwards from the roller coaster. The weather was just perfect!

I Am Content.

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California Beauties

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Tonight I chose to walk to pick up Charlie from a friend’s house, instead of driving as I normally would. I wished I had the bakfiets to ride, but at least it should be here by the end of the month. Instead, we walked hand in hand through our neighborhood and ran into some friends along the way. The sun was shining in the tree tops and caught my attention. I absolutely love natural light and holding hands with my baby!

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Charlie found these fresh eggs in his friend’s chicken coop and collected them to bring home for us. The figs were also from their yard. How lucky are we?

Another friend dropped off fresh tomatoes from her garden. I love that they share their bounty with our family.

Thank you Ling and Val! We love our gifts!

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Life is good.

High School Orientation

Today Christian attended high school orientation all afternoon, followed by a pep rally where parents were also invited to attend.

Being in the gym, surrounded by eager freshman and encouraging and thoughtful upperclassmen, as well as kind administrators still didn’t make me feel quite ready for the experience. I am fully aware that this stage is the beginning of the end. He’ll always be my baby, but it’s time for him to grow up and learn independence and to be with his friends. I just pray he finds a great group of guys to enjoy the experience together and stays out of trouble, study’s hard and does good work.

He did great today! And I think I did ok too!! Good luck, CJ. Live it up!!

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Discipline and Self Control

This week has been a week of learning and practicing discipline. And I’ve realized I’m not that good at it. I thought I was good at, but I only want to be good at it and still need practice.

I want to be disciplined at eating the right portion sizes. I want to be disciplined at working out everyday. I want to control my yelling when I get frustrated with my kids. And I want to know how best to discipline my kids.

This last thought is where I am most curious and want to learn more. My family is in a state of transition. I know we all are, but moving back and having kids turn into Tweens and teens and starting new schools has brought more changes. I used to have more control over choices and decisions but now their little minds have grown, as they are supposed to, and they have opinions and ideas that are different than mine. Go figure.

I was reading another blogger’s post on discipline around the world and clicked on a link regarding love and logic, a disciplinary approach to raising kids, that piqued my interest. Of course, I didn’t have time to read all of it, but what I did read mentioned that what we are trying to teach our kids with discipline is really self-control. We want them to be responsible for themselves and being responsible for their own behavior is no different than teaching them to be responsible with their school work, chores, and relationships.

So this weekend, I began practicing different discipline approaches and didn’t think of my teaching as discipline, but rather teaching my children self control. I used words to describe expectations and gaps and tried to make connections between their behavior and our reality. I practiced not yelling and reacting and patience and my own self-control.

Huh.

Maybe my kids will teach me a thing or two about self-control. I’m paying attention and learning too, I hope.