The Fault In Our Stars

Have you read or seen The Fault in Our Stars?

There are so many great quotes and moments in this book and movie.

I loved the book for several reasons, but mostly because Juliana loved it so much and read it 8 times.  It was hard for me to read it just once. I finished the book a short while ago and promised her I would read it before watching the movie with her. She had to wait a very long time.

Tonight was the night to finally snuggle on the couch and watch it together.  The movie made me cry, but not in the sappy parts. I cried when they got to Amsterdam because I’m a sap (according to Juliana) and wanted to be back there again walking on the canals.

I’m also weird in that when I read a book, I take forever and take notes. I don’t know why I take notes, but I guess I hope I’ll remember the main parts that way.  But I don’t. At least I have my notes and the good news is, I found them again before writing this post.

Here are a few of my favorite sayings from the book:

“Worry is another side effect of dying.”

“The world is not a wish granting factory.”

“Two emotions – love and fear.”  I choose love.

“Amsterdam was a city designed for movement and activity.”  Love, love, love Amsterdam!

“There is no try. There is only do.”

“I believe the universe wants to be noticed.”  I see you.

“I’m on a roller coaster that only goes up.”  I wish.

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”  Grief is a tragic, beautiful side of life. We are so vulnerable when we are grieving and we discover our true nature that sometimes is masked by our daily routines and reality.

“Okay? Okay.”

What is your favorite quote? Namaste, BeLovers.

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

Day 347: Last Night in Holland

All my bags are packed and weighed.

Boarding passes are printed and passports are ready to go.

The car is coming bright and early to bring us and all our luggage to the airport.

My day was filled with anxiety and sadness as I prepared to let go and leave Holland behind. I felt so much stress in my body, even though I’m happy to be moving back home. It kind of feels like breaking up with a boyfriend that you still love, but you know it’s time to move on, but you still feel sad breaking up, even though its the right thing to do. Does that make any sense? All I know is that anxiety is real and not really any fun. And the quicker it leaves my body, the better. A few deep breathes helped, but it took awhile and isn’t fully gone yet.

It’s time to leave Holland, but I fell in love here. I liked my life here and my friends and all that Holland had to offer and I’m extremely sad moving on and leaving my friends, even though I’m happy for the next phase too. I think that’s what creates the anxiety. I have so much to love about California and my friends and family and life there too and I’m excited to see everyone again and be back in my home again.

I’m so thankful for having had the experience to live in Europe for a year with my family.

So as Jen and Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

So I took a shower and cleaned up and off we went to enjoy our last night in Holland. Live in the moment, right?

There were three things I wanted to do…take a boat ride, take a family picture on the milk meisje bridge and eat bitterballen one last time.

We took the 5 tram into Amsterdam and met up with Ton and Loes for a boat ride through the canals. It was a gorgeous and warm evening and they made my dream come true. I am happiest on the water and felt my anxiety melt away. Thank you Ton and Loes for sharing your boat with us and giving us such a great going away present!




Afterwards, Loes took our family photo on the bridge by their home on the Herengracht.


And finally, we went to discover Loetje in Amsterdam, for bitterballen.

My night is done.

My heart is content.

My journey in Holland is complete.

It’s been a wonderful year of exploring and discovering and loving life.

I Am. Thankful.

Thank you for sharing the journey with me.


Day 346: 2 More Sleeps


I didn’t intend to post my post so quickly. We were coming home on the tram from Amsterdam and some how it posted without any content. At least I had a thought for the title for today, and now here is the rest.

After 2 more sleeps, I’ll hopefully be going home. There was an accident today on the runway at SFO and the airport is currently closed. I pray for the families who were on that plane and are suffering from the panic and injuries and tragic deaths.

Whenever something sad happens, I always feel like I shouldn’t be sharing something good…like I should be still.

I’m having my moment of silence…

We worked all morning again today and all our bags are packed. I’ve been weighing and moving stuff from bag to bag to get the proper weights down in each. We have a little hand held scale so we know our limits. The laundry machine is still whirling… Probably won’t stop until we leave! Small, little, slow thing.

Summer finally warmed up here. After working this morning, we all went for a bike ride to my favorite place.


Charlie rode in the bakfiets (the way cool Dutch moms get around town!) because he was pretty tired today. We should probably try to get him to bed before midnight… Maybe next year!! We rode through Ouderkerk along the Amstel river to our favorite little restaurant on the water, Loetje. We enjoyed bitterballen and frites, with cold beers for the adults and ice cream for the boys.


I love being on the water and in the sun… A perfect day!


After we stopped for a snack, we rode along a bit further along the Amstel river and then cut through a farm road to get back home. I love the open spaces, winding river, and farm animals along the way.

After riding for awhile, we came home to shower before meeting up with Ton and Loes for dinner at Momo near Vondelpark. Dinner was fabulous and we enjoyed sharing dishes and sampling all sorts of beautifully and artistically displayed dishes.

Since it stays light out so late and we were enjoying our family, we walked over to De Balie for more drinks and to people watch near Leidseplein.

It was a great, summer evening and we sure enjoyed our 2nd to last evening in Holland for awhile….


Thanks to April and Steve for meeting with aT&T today to set up our Internet and cable for when I get back home, so I can keep on writing! And thanks to my mom and dad for driving to Sunnyvale to get our house ready and to be there to welcome us home in 2 more days. I am so lucky! Love y’all!

Day 344: American Pride on the 4th of July


Happy 4th of July! I love the red, white, and blue. And fireworks and friends and freedom! And BBQs and guacamole and drinks and fun times shared together.

I worked with the kids all day today, cleaning out all the kitchen cupboards and preparing for our big move in 4 more days. And then I spent a few minutes freshening up, preparing hamburgers and salads to bring to the Fourth of July party at Bob and Danielle’s today. Juliana made April’s best chocolate cake to celebrate all the birthdays this month and last, and off we went to enjoy our friends and Independence Day. I was so busy today, that I didn’t have much time to feel homesick, even though I missed singing Firework with Jessie on top of our lungs this year, out in the field in Cupertino!! It was jacket weather- cold in Holland today, and it didn’t get dark until after 10:30 pm…just a bit different from California!! All is good…

I’m thankful for our friends, our time in Holland and for our freedom. Hope you’re enjoying the holiday wherever you are!!



Day 342: This Moment

Today is my baby’s 14th birthday. That means 14 years ago I was in labor about to become a mama. My dream was to be a mama, and he gave me this title and gift. I was so in love with him and still am. As he grows and develops, I continue to learn how to do my job and learn how to let go and let him be who he is too. I adore him and love who he has become and admire him. He is kind and gentle and loving and is a good example for me and our family. He is truly my gift and I am thankful for his presence.

Today we celebrated his life in London and Amsterdam. He was happy getting to be with his Aunt and Uncle and his family. As we walked home from the tram spot, he realized how lucky he was to celebrate in two countries. We had a nice breakfast with Nate and Becky before they went to work, and then walked over to have lunch at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant, The Narrow, near the Limehouse Marina in London. CJ loves food and chefs and he loved the experience and delicious food. Last night, we took him to Jamie Oliver’s Italian place too. And for dinner, he chose Indian food from Seven Spices in Holland. I think he’s been quite, well loved!!

Happy birthday, CJ! We love you!


Selfies on the airplane.

Day 338: Greetings from London!


No rest for the wicked…We are in London for the next few days, visiting with Uncle Nate and Aunt Becky. This is our last European vacation before we move back to California in 10 days!  We are so lucky to be able to travel and spend time with family in such a great city.

Today we were busy packing and cleaning and doing laundry and shopping. We took the 51 tram to Station Zuid and took a train to the airport. It’s so easy and inexpensive to travel this way. We flew into London City airport which is smaller and so much easier to travel through than Heathrow. We took the DLR train to Limehouse and walked in a light drizzle to see our family.

Life is good!

We had a wonderful Indian feast and enjoyed the views from Nate and Becky’s new place. Tomorrow we will explore more of the city. TGIF!!

Hope y’all have a good weekend!!  Goodnight, from London.

Day 336: Paris – Day 2


It was another gorgeous day in Paris. I just like the vibe of this city and don’t even have to really do anything but just be here, and it makes me smile.

I love the light, the sunshine, the buildings, the people, the sound of the language, the food, the shops, the architecture, the history, and the sounds of cars driving down the cobblestoned streets. I love the way Parisian women dress. I just like being here.

Today Juliana and I wandered around Montmartre again. We stopped for bread at Coquelicot for breakfast and wandered in and out of the quaint shops. Today was the first sale shopping day of the season, we learned, and the shops were quite crowded. We enjoyed the early morning browsing but hated the crowds mid afternoon.

We hung out by the Garnier Opera theater and explored the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps mega department stores. Because of the sales, we could hardly move and it was a bit overwhelming.

The glass dome in the Galeries Lafayette.


We managed to have a wonderful lunch on the 9th floor outdoor terrace at Printemps and enjoyed the panoramic views of the city.



Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain so we wanted to be outside as much as possible.

Sampling a salted caramel and rasberry macarons from Laduree.

We took the metro back to our studio to relax for a couple hours before heading back out again, even though we were tired. I’m so glad the Christine told us to try the best falafel place on the planet (outside the Middle East). We ventured around Marais and loved the Jewish side of town. The shops and streets were so cozy on Rue des Rosiers, and we arrived just in time to avoid long lines and got a table at L’as du Falafel. The falafel was so moist and the eggplant dish I ordered was delicious. Thanks, Christine!!

After dinner we wandered up Rue du Temple and then up Rue de Rivoli toward the Hotel De Ville. I’m amazed by how old and huge the buildings are. From there, we had to see the water and walked along the Seine and across Pont Neuf to see and touch the locks of love. We both love that place. The sky was gorgeous and people watching was entertaining. We would have liked to stay out later to watch the sunset and to see the buildings all lit up, but it really doesn’t get dark until after 10 pm. And our feet were tired… So we took the metro back and are enjoying our quiet time together. I’m so thankful to have such a kind and loving daughter. She’s at such a great age and I already treasure our time together. Thanks for coming on this journey with me, baby girl.

Je t’aime Juliana. xoxo

Day 331: Brugge – Celebrating 16 Years of Marriage

16 years ago today, we threw a great party with all our friends and loved ones. It was one of my favorite days. We smiled, we laughed, we cried, we danced and danced and celebrated and brought everyone together to celebrate love – my favorite virtue.

We’ve worked hard to maintain our friendship and love, struggled and cried and fought and played and argued and danced and moved and had babies and traveled and made several new friends. We keep discovering and learning and laughing at ourselves, keeping life fresh, funny and new.

I think the secret to our marriage is that we both appreciate each other and respect one another, and truly love each other, despite any frustrations we face. I think these qualities are important in any relationship, and we’ve been lucky!

Thank you Jeff for loving me and going through this life journey with me and our three babies. Life is good and I’m thankful for you and our family.

We are celebrating with our little family this year in Bruges. I booked a REAL castle with a family room for us to enjoy that Patti Beth told me about. It’s so cool!! Thank you for the idea my friend. I love it.

We made it through Belgium just in time for our scheduled, last brewery tour of the day at De Halve Maan, that was especially booked for Jeff’s anniversary gift.

The family brewery was established in 1856 and is the only remaining brewery in the centre of Bruges. We ran into traffic in Antwerp, which is always a bottleneck, but luckily we found easy parking and they still let us in. Afterwards, we got to sample the blonde beer and the kids had some creme brûlée.


Hope you have a wonderful weekend and happy anniversary to Mom and Dad, Kris and Pat, and Dani and Sean this weekend. Love you. xoxo





Day 330: Last Day of School


Today was the last day of school for my kids in Holland. It’s significant to me for several reasons. It is a milestone that we’ve reached as a family and I’m hyper aware of the end of our journey in the Netherlands.

We had several goodbye celebrations to mark the end and transition and to maximize our time with friends.

The hardest part is letting go and hearing Charlie cry from the pain of realizing he won’t see his friends again for a very long time. He made some really great friends here and trying to help him accept and process the loss of such strong connections is difficult, especially when I feel the same way.

Goodbye to all my Holland friends until we meet again. Goodbye to all my expat soul mates who understand this journey and can relate because you’ve been there with me and get it!

And as Jen said to me this morning as the day started, don’t cry because its over, smile because it happened. Great advice that carried me through the day, despite the heavy sadness.

Safe travels my friends until we meet again.

Full house
Best friends