Day 343: The Space Between

I’m in that space – that in between place, living in the moment and preparing for the next chapter amidst the chaos and joy, filled with anxiety and peace. I think they call this transition. Christine described it as liminality in her blog today as she prepares to move her family and transition to a new community in another state. I totally understand what she’s experiencing. You can read about her transition here: Christine’s blog

My toe nail polish is chipped, my hair is wild and curly, the laundry machine keeps whirling, and the sorting and organizing and tossing has begun and I haven’t worked out in weeks. The kids are loud and a bit crazy, I might add. And I think they actually liked seeing me come a bit undone. I can laugh now, but could you see my head spinning?

One of my mottos is to work hard, first, then play. And today I did just that. I organized and shopped and packed and cleaned all day, knowing that I had something fun to look forward to later.

Barbara invited me to join her for dinner and a boat ride. I can’t even tell you the peace that came over me, being out on the water one more time, and spending time with my dear friend. This was the best anti-anxiety medicine ever! Thank you, Barbara!! You made my day.

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Our routines are shaking, our community is changing, and in 5 days I’ll be on another plane heading back home. I’m excited for what’s to come and a little anxious too. I’m sad to be leaving a part of my soul behind with the friends and community that have loved me and my family in this short year. And I’m ready for what comes next, whatever that may be…to hug my family and friends, to resettle in our cozy, little home, and to enjoy all that California has to offer.

Namaste.

Day 319: The Joys of Presence

Here I Am. Am-ing. Just being, and enjoying the journey that unfolds. I love to be in the moment, but am not always comfortable not having a plan. But I am loving the process of flowing with whatever comes my way and am always so pleasantly surprised with how life twists and turns.

I have a friend here that is full of life. She is always smiling, loves her life, her kids and her husband. She is athletic and enjoys entertaining. She makes time for herself, her kids and her husband. And her eyes sparkle. I love being around her and love that she knows what it’s like to be an expat, because she was once one too. And I think because of her experience, she understands me and has reached out to me, making me feel at home here, inviting me to join her for coffee, lunch, dinner, paddling, swimming, ice skating, and today a Sunday morning tennis match. I am so thankful for our friendship and admire her and learn from her and enjoy her company. I am going to miss you, Barbara. Thank you for being my friend and kicking my ass today at tennis! Rematch?

…..

After coming home from tennis and sharing a cup of tea, Jeff and I went on a spontaneous date to the Trompen museum in Amsterdam. We took the tram into the city and walked through Oosterpark to the museum, holding hands. The architecture itself was gorgeous, and the artifacts from the Dutch colonies were very interesting. Afterwards, we stopped in a Biergarten for some biterballen and cold beer from the tap. We are enjoying having kids who are of the age that they can stay home alone. We were only gone for 3 hours and it was perfect! Here are some photos from the museum and around town.

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Oosterpark

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The Royal Tropical institute is very fascinating, highlighting the tropical areas of the world, focusing on the former colonies of the Netherlands such as Indonesia, Surinam, India, and others. I especially enjoyed seeing the different religious and philosophical influences and seeing the different artifacts. I think I would enjoy studying how they interrelate and making connections between the different beliefs. One love, one world. Namaste.

How did your Sunday flow?

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Leidseplein – waiting for the 5 tram to head home.

Day 186: Sunday Family Day

How was your day, honey?

Our day was full and I wouldn’t exactly call it a day of rest, which is what we originally planned.

Charlie and Christian had friends sleepover last night. For some weird reason I was excited to get up early and have coffee and make them all pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon. I remember how happy my Grandma used to be when she made food for us. I had that same feeling today. The little boys had so much cooking with me and flipping pancakes in the air. We were all laughing together and breakfast was fun.

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While enjoying breakfast, we also watched the men’s final Australian tennis championship. Wow! They are so strong and powerful, focused and intense. I loved watching Murray and Djokovic play and wish I could play like them! The games lasted for almost 4 hours…kinda like running a marathon. At the same time, since I can’t sit still, I cleaned up breakfast dishes and began making my first pot of pea soup, or erwtensoep as they say in Nederlanse. In order to make it, you boil dried peas with bacon and a bay leaf and salt for 45 minutes. While they are simmering, you chop up a carrot, an onion, a leek, celery root and fresh parsley. All of the veggies are then added to the pot for another 30+ minutes until they are nice and soft. Then I took a hand blender and puréed it all together until it was thick and creamy. Meanwhile, I boiled the rookworst ( sausage) to add to the soup.

Barbara and Dennis joined us for a late lunch and we finished the whole pot less one small cup! I didn’t even have time to take a picture to show you! Luckily everyone loved it because my kids had never tried it before. I’m so glad they love another Dutch dish!

We had quite the busy day. After everyone left, Jeff and I went for a run together in the slush. It rained last night and this morning, and our winter wonderland turned to slush. The white covered ground came back to life again and the top of the canal was flowing with water, although you could see ice still a few inches below the water. To think that we were walking on the canal last night and now it is unsafe is crazy to me. Running was a bit challenging because some patches were icy and slushy, but it felt so good to run again. (Sorry – no pictures to share)

Finally, Jeff and I went out for a quick (romantic) date night to study our Dutch. Seriously, we listened to our Dutch CD in the car and drove around to find a place that was open on Sunday to grab a drink and do our homework. We found a great local bar, and made friends with Ike, our cute Dutch waitress who was thrilled to help us learn. She was so much fun and kept coming back between helping other guests and telling us the informal equivalents to the formal sayings we were learning. We liked the atmosphere of the local pub and restaurant that has been in Amstelveen for 125 years, but OMG, the place smelled like an ash tray and no one was smoking. I think it’s because of all the heavy wood and rugs as table cloths that have absorbed years of smoke and never have been cleaned. It reminded me of my Oma and Opa’s house growing up, because everyone used to smoke indoors with the windows closed in the 1970’s!! When we came home, the kids told us we stank! They were right,unfortunately! Too bad, because we really like the place and want to hang out there more often. We’ll see…

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Have a great week, y’all! Dream big

Day 185: Here I Am On Ice

Today was a crazy, fun day. I love when things just come together. All 3 kids had plans today but I think I was the luckiest one. CJ was having a friend over to spend the night. His friend’s mom dropped him off and she stayed for a cup of tea and a long leisurely lunch. Juliana was supposed to go to a birthday party but wasn’t feeling well and decided to stay home. Poor girl! Charlie was invited to go ice skating, but I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it happen. Besides the logistics, it was also snowing quite heavily and I was afraid of going out on the ice, even though I know my friends say it is safe!

We decided to be brave and give it a try and drove over to Barbara’s house. I passed a salt truck on the highway for the first time and my car was pitted with salt. That was interesting. Seeing the snow covered fields was beautiful.

We got to Barbara’s safely and I helped Charlie put on his new ice skates. It has been 2 years since he first skated. I brought Christian’s new skates (that were actually big on me!!) and decided to skate too. Once I saw that the lake was frozen and black (which means good) and Charlie felt safe, I felt free to explore and skated off with Barbara. I LOVED IT! I couldn’t stop smiling and didn’t want to stop, even though the wind was blowing and it was freezing outside! I was having so much fun, and I had never done anything like it before. I loved seeing Charlie have fun too, throwing snowballs, skating and sledding with his friend and being helped by the Dutch locals. We were outside on the frozen lake and I felt like a kid!! It was wonderful, and I felt so lucky that Barbara wanted to share this truly Dutch experience with me! Thanks, Barbara.

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Here is a little video of me living in the moment, happy as can possibly be. I wish you all this much joy!! Thank you Barbara for a magical afternoon!


The ice skating and ice hockey continued on the canal out front tonight with friends because tomorrow it’s supposed to warm up again and the chance might be gone, until who knows when. Life is good!

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Day 172: Nieuwjaarsduik or New Year’s Dip / Dive

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Vinkeveen Lake – A sunny day for a freezing dip.

People say to me that it seems like I’ve settled quickly in Holland and that it feels like I’ve been here forever.

I’ll tell you my secret.

It’s family and friends that helped me to feel like I belong here and that Holland is also my home.

Home is where the heart is and having friends and family that love you and support you and want to drink coffee and wine (or margaritas) together, and to share meals and to play and explore together makes all the difference.

I AM home.

I’ve been so very lucky and fortunate to have family that helped us to adapt and helped us get our house furnished. They helped to make us feel welcome and came to visit us multiple times, and have invited us to their homes for dinners and birthday celebrations and this made us feel a part of this country, right away and at home.

My friends from the States connected me with their friends living close by, and their friends reached out and brought us gifts and invited us to their homes for coffee and dinner conversations. Thank you Simone, Ruth, Birgitta, and Pauline.

I’ve also been able to make friends through our school, our neighborhood and through tennis, and I swear, that makes all the difference in the world. My new friends are not only expats either, for which I’m also thankful.  I love that we’ve been accepted and welcomed and have been able to experience Dutch culture and language and friendship.

Today I’m thankful for Joseine and Barbara. They are both Netherland Natives and are friends, whose kids are friends and who have made friends with Charlie. See how that works?  Joseine introduced me to Barbara and Barbara invited me to her home today to enjoy a Dutch tradition of welcoming the New Year by jumping in the lake for a New Year’s Refreshing Dip – for all who are brave enough to endure!  Thank you Barbara for inviting me to be a part of this fun and exciting day. I only wish Jeff could have been in town to be a part of it too.

I think you’ll enjoy the pictures of the adventurous spirits who celebrated this tradition and those who chose the saner path, bundled up on the side with warm glasses of gluhwein and warme chocolademelk, with cameras in hand.  Be well, my friends, and Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

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This is Charlie – thinking about going in, although he touched the water with his foot and chose to warm up in the hot tub first. Smart boy!

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These are the cute, beautiful and smart girls who took pictures from the side!

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I love this picture!!! Look at the lighting. This is a father and son duo – and I think there is just something pretty cool about this bonding experience!

Charlie’s Jump!

OMG – It’s so cold!

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Yippeee! Look at the lighting! It was 30 degrees outside and who knows how cold the water was. Juliana took this picture.

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This guy was “warm” inside the kitchen. What a great place for a fish tank.

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Barbara is so creative and made these for all the brave participants! I love it!

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Check out my big, brave, Dutch boys!