International Night

Tonight was International Night at Charlie’s school. We chose to represent Holland and brought the bakfiets, served Hagel slag toast, and pretended it was Queen’s Day. We dressed up and shared stories and made friends.

I thought Charlie would be more into it than he was, but it was a bit overwhelming. The kids were swarming, the music was really uncomfortably loud, and the crowds were ginormous!

Charlie had made a prize grab box with toys for the kids like he saw on Queen’s Day. We didn’t charge the kids of course, so everyone wanted to play again and again. Charlie decided he didn’t want to be any part of it and went outside to play. I didn’t blame him. They started ripping the box apart! Savages!! Or just happy kids?

It’s amazing how many cultures and countries were represented tonight!

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I ❤️Holland!

Snuggle Up

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Look at this dog. Isn’t she the cutest? She wrapped herself up in this blanket by spinning around and finding a comfy spot on the couch covered in her blanket. It made me want to go snuggle with her!

Who do you want to snuggle with? I think everyone should have someone to snuggle with and spread the love.

Good night my friends. Snuggle up. xo

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Three Wise Women

There are definitely more than three, but three women came to my mind today. Vicki, Thuy and Susanne.  I want to share their wisdom with you too.

Vicki is a woman who lives in my neighborhood. She and I would see each other as we walked kids to school in the morning. She walked her grandchild and I walked my three kids. Every so often we would have time to chat as our walks were in sync. I used to wonder if I should go back to work and I asked her if she worked when her kids were young. She told me that she didn’t and she had advice for me. She said if I didn’t really need the money, then I should continue doing my mother’s work and be happy that I was raising children and that was good enough. She said, and this is the best line, that has stayed with me forever:  

“The more money you make, the more money you will spend.”  

In our consumer culture and always wanting more, this was brilliant advice. I think of her words often as they spoke to me. I think women must also choose what makes them happy, and if working makes them happier than staying at home with children, then they should go to work and be happy. For me, I’ve always wanted to stay home with my kids, but felt like I should be doing more and I struggled with what was best for my family. Hearing Vicki’s words, helped me to be ok with my choice to stay home and I try to remember these when I start to get restless.

I tend to get restless often and like change. I like to shake things up and discover and learn new things and redefine myself. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it creates angst. I am not ready to go back to work just yet (or if ever) but I start to think of what else I can or should do. I am in the stage of my life where my kids are older now and don’t need as much help from me, but their schedules are so flexible and still need rides and help with homework and meals at sporadic times. I can do my work and help them and still have extra time. Susanne mentioned that she finds happiness by helping others, outside her own family and recommended that I find ways to help others too. I think she’s brilliant.

“Helping others creates happiness.”

I volunteer 2-4 hours per week, but maybe this isn’t enough. I am thinking about Susanne’s words and seeking out other ways to help others and have a couple ideas. 

One of the ways I volunteer is helping out at a thrift store that PEO owns and operates. All donations and sales go to support women in education. I love this mission and I love being part of this organization. I really do enjoy helping out and being part of something good and am happy every time I show up. Today I was working with Thuy, and we were talking about the 40 bag challenge and how I have been trying to fill 40 bags of stuff to create more open space. I was telling her how I’ve been cleaning out drawers and bins and collecting bags of stuff to donate to our shop. I was telling her how our house was small and that I like it that way and that I don’t need a bigger house, but just need less stuff. She shared that she also has a small home and that she tries to limit the amount of stuff she brings home. I was telling her how one designer once told me as we were redesigning my small office, that I should limit the space I was planning for my magazine storage, because the more space I had, the more space I would fill.

“The more space you have, the more space you will fill.”  BRILLIANT and SIMPLE advice.

I took her advice and limited the storage space and still think of purging vs. saving my magazines because of what she said so many years ago. As we continued talking, we discovered that she used to work for the company that designed my office, and that SHE was actually the woman who had come to my house many years ago and shared this brilliant advice that I still heed today. Who knew??  What a small world, right?  She is so smart.  I can’t believe we shared this connection too.

All these stories are connected and I’m thankful for all the women in my life.

More Money = Spend More.

More Spending = More Stuff

More Stuff = More Space.

Spend Less = Collect Less = More Open Space.

Life is Good.

Happiness = Helping Others.

Be Happy.

 

 

 

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Charlie was so happy today, he was bouncing off the walls. While I was tired and not quite prepared for the Leprechaun’s arrival, he sure was. He set the trap and was sure to remind me multiple times that he was hoping to catch him last night. 

He set a pretty mean trap, but the sneaky little devil got away after creating such havoc in our house.

Charlie kept singing and dancing all day and never took his hat, mustache or chops off all day. I love his joy for the holidays and he inspires me.  We should all share in his joy and have something to learn from him.  I had to go into the attic this morning to bring down our limited St. Patrick’s Day decorations. He asked for green shamrock pancakes too, and I couldn’t resist. I love a kid with spirit! We had shamrock raviolis for dinner too!  Life is good and especially green today.

Hope you were kissed by the Irish and that good luck follows you wherever you go!

xo

 

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Green shamrock pancakes.
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Shamrock raviolis for the kids.

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Corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, onions and carrots in the crock pot.

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Life is beautiful! Live it up.

Leprechaun Traps

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Where did this tradition begin?  Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and Charlie has made yet another Leprechaun trap. He’s hoping to trick the little trickster into his trap and catching him. I wonder what he would do with him if he caught him?  What would you do with a Leprechaun? Do they have gold? Will they grant you wishes?  I think it’s one of those fun little mysteries that is quite intriguing to kids.

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At some homes, the Leprechauns like to play tricks and mess up the house by putting the chairs on top of the tables, turning the toilet water green and tee-peeing the house with toilet paper.  Usually, they leave little treats or coins for good boys and girls.

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I wonder if the Leprechauns will arrive tonight at your house or mine.  Enjoy the giggles and the magic and mystery.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

“May the blessings of each day
Be the blessings you need most.” – Irish Blessing

Sunnyvale

The town I live in fits my spirit. It’s called Sunnyvale and doesn’t it just sound like a happy city?

It makes me think of sunshine and conjures up the feeling of a small old town, which it once was, filled with orchards and open space.

I like this place because it is a large, multicultural, caring community with great parks and a responsive and kind public safety team.

Today I was up early before sunrise to drop Juliana off for a field trip. I came home and went for a walk and watched the sunrise and watched our city come alive.

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20140315-214128.jpgThese ducks were looking for breakfast in the park.

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Love the look, feel and smell of lavender.

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Good morning, sunshine!

Baseball opening ceremonies were today too and it couldn’t have been a more perfect day.

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The youngest t-ball player threw the first pitch to the oldest player in the league. Can you see the ball in the air?

Let the games begin! I love this season and being out on the field with the kids and friends and beautiful weather.

After Charlie’s baseball ceremony, I headed over to the tennis courts to co-host our match. I love watching our team play almost as much as I love playing. It was 83 degrees and hot today, so I was thankful to be an observer and cheerleader. The ladies won and played some great tennis.

As I was leaving, I noticed this field next to the courts that I absolutely love. Check it out and you’ll see part of the reason why I love Sunnyvale…

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And ending the day, here is the pink sky moon rise in Sunnyvale. Good night.

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What do you love about the city you live in?

Laugh Until You Cry

How often do you laugh so hard that you start to cry? I love love love this feeling.

Usually this happens to me when I’m overtired.  I start laughing at something silly and cannot stop. And the more I laugh, the more others around me start laughing which makes me laugh even harder because they are laughing at me and then they are so surprised that I’m laughing so hard that they start laughing harder too. It’s a contagious circle and I love it. I love this feeling, as long as I don’t really start to cry!

Tonight April was over for dinner with her family and we were playing Telephone around the dinner table with the kids. We were laughing so hard, I was afraid that someone might choke. I got such a kick out of watching everyone whispering in each others’ ears and laughing and being confused at what was said and watching and hearing the transformations occur.  I loved this game.

What makes you laugh so hard you start to cry? Tonight was good and my belly is sore from all that laughing.  Have a great weekend, everyone!  

 

xo

Live It Up Right Now Because You Can!

Did you live it up today? What made you smile?

My day was full of smiles.

Today was a day to celebrate – but isn’t every day?

It reached 81 degrees out today and felt like summer!

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Jeff’s grandparents celebrated 71 years of marriage today. Isn’t that amazing? I called them from the baseball field and we chatted for 20 minutes which is a very long time!
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They grew up in a time where every minute on the phone cost a lot of money, so I appreciated every minute we shared together.  They read my blog every day – Hi MamMam and PopPop!!  I asked them what their marriage success tips were and they said that they listened to each other and did what each other asked of each other (most of the time). They just choose to get along and to take care of one another. I think this is brilliant advice.  PopPop reminded me that I’ve been married for quite awhile now and asked me what I thought made for a successful marriage and I told him that we were going on 18 years already, and that we really liked each other and were each other’s best friend and that we really just liked being together. He said that he thought I then knew the secret too. And we laughed. This made my day. I loved hearing them tell stories and love how they look out for each other. I want to live my life that way too, forever. PopPop will be 94 and MamMam will be 90 very soon. I think they are very wise and had some good advice to share today. Way to live it up!

I wandered around the field collecting trash as I chatted on the phone, which made me feel good and it didn’t take too much time. I probably picked up at least 50 pieces…isn’t that crazy?20140313-222909.jpg

MLs birthday was today too.  We spontaneously found some time to go get a pedicure together.
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We got to enjoy some pampering and chattering and time together celebrating sweet her!  I love time with friends and love birthdays for an excuse to get together, not that we really need one.  My toes are thankful!!

Debbie’s birthday was today too! Happy Birthday, Debbie. Let’s celebrate tomorrow since I didn’t get a chance to stop by for a visit today.

The kids are getting very busy with their sports and I’m loving seeing them in action.

I love that they are part of teams and are outside running around every day with their friends. Team sports are such an important part of growing up and I’m thankful they have all found a place to practice.
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Life is good.

Live it up. Love it Out. and Laugh Out Loud!  Namaste

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Riding home from school with Charlie today in the bakfiets.

It’s almost Friday – are you smiling yet? 🙂

Space and Surprise

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Sweet Jasmine is blooming in my yard.

I’m trying to not be busy.

I’m trying to not fill my schedule.

I’m trying to keep my house decluttered by picking up every little thing and washing every little dish and keeping up with every little piece of paper.

And I LOVE the simplicity of it all. Even though this still means work. Do it now or do it later, eventually it has to get done and I’m liking the results.

I love how things are flowing and I feel the stress melting. I want to keep creating space because it feels good and I’m doing the things I love and want to do.

For example, I played tennis this morning with friends and then stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up stuff to make a simple dinner. As I was loading up my trunk, I heard someone calling my name and there was Jeni, with a big cheerful smile. We haven’t seen each other in months. She asked me to come join her for a quick lunch and I said YES!!

It was liberating to not feel tied to a schedule and it felt great to be able to say a spontaneous YES because I’m not (too) busy. Luckily I hadn’t bought ice cream, but the other frozen things could wait in the car and not defrost as we caught up again.

We sat and chatted and ate a quick, healthy, early lunch and then we were both on our way again. That was really cool and made my day.

By creating space and not feeling rushed, the joy is coming in.  I had time to put the groceries away, take a shower, pick up, check email and ride my Bakfiets in the sunshine to pick up Charlie from school on his early out day and even to watch him play soccer for awhile while I chatted with friends.

We rode home and had a snack, did some homework and cooked dinner together and I even cleaned all the pots and pans and put them away right away before the next events.  My mom was and is always very efficient and has this great capacity to get things done. I think her secret is more doing and less thinking and procrastinating, like I typically do.  She doesn’t get distracted and she doesn’t make excuses in her mind, like I do. I like her and was channeling her energy today. I even chose to fold laundry and put it away when I had an extra 15 minutes, surprising myself. I typically prefer to wait and let my piles grow, while I check Facebook or email. But now my space is clean and organized and I’m surprised how easy it was, at least for today.  Space and surprises. Hmmm… hope you had a good day and created some space too.  What would you do if you had more free time?  Just curious…