Kid Sports and Being Present

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Having three kids is really cool and helps you to be really present and aware.

We have a boy, a girl, and another boy.  I like this birth order too because of the age difference between the oldest and youngest of the same sex. It gives me a way to view the present and the past and to use the past experiences to appreciate the present moments.

Watching our third child play basketball today brought back memories of all the previous games we have watched over the years. We’ve observed our kids try new sports, join new teams, make new friends, develop new skills, and move on.

Seeing Charlie’s focus and determination and passion was exciting to watch. The kids are getting better and better as they age and gain more experience.  It was cool to watch him play and to compare and contrast his way of playing with the way his siblings played. I was remembering watching Christian and Juliana play too and felt the awareness that time has passed away – that they are done playing in the community leagues. And knowing that they are done, made me want to really pay attention to Charlie still playing. Does that make any sense?

I feel like having the “baby” connects me to the memories of my first born and gives me another chance to really enjoy their childhood.  It makes me nostalgic and reminds me to enjoy the moments and to continue to be present because I can really see and feel how fast the times flies by.  I was thankful that Christian was sitting with us and observing his brother, “coaching” from the sidelines.

Life is good.

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Day 221: International Sports

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We are all relaxing on the couch, after a long weekend of basketball, basketball, and more basketball.

The kids had a basketball tournament that started on Friday night and ended today at 5:30 pm.

Juliana’s team took first place, and Christian’s team took fourth.

Here’s what I loved about the tournament:

1. Watching the kids play, of course.

2. Observing the games and cheering and laughing and bonding with the other parents.

3. Seeing the kids cheer for one another, and giving each other high fives.

4. Watching our school teams support each other – girls watching the boys games and the girls watching the boys.

5. Listening to Juliana’s team cheer and sing and dance after they won.

6. Looking at the team rosters from the various international teams and seeing the same cultural diversity across teams.

7. Christian was hanging out with the boys from the Germany team, as he stayed over night at their homes during the Bonn games. He now has friends from other schools in Europe.

8. The mandatory social dance on Saturday night and Juliana meeting someone from San Jose, who was wearing a Sharks hat. Small world.

9. Seeing girls be aggressive and play hard, focused and fighting for the ball.

10. Watching my kids grow up, hanging out for hours between games on their own, being responsible for their own belongings and wanting to take the bus back to school to be with their friends instead of driving back with us. They’re practicing their independence in a safe environment.

Sports are so good for many reasons and watching my kids play in an international environment with teams from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Denmark is still amazing to me. These children come from all over the world and most are expats, just like my kids and they’re all brought together through the love of sports. I love that they chose to participate and were picked to play on their teams.

Life is good!

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Day 220: Gouda

We were up at 5:45 am this morning to get the kids up and out the door to catch a bus to Rotterdam for their International basketball tournament today. The bus brought them home at 9 pm tonight, and they are heading back again tomorrow morning bright and early!!

Luckily Rotterdam is only an hour or so by car away from our home, so we were able to see many of the games. Having 2 kids in two different age divisions, helped to spread out the games so that we got to see 4 matches. I loved seeing them play and talking with the other parents, and was exhausted by all the loud whistles, bouncing balls and fluorescent lights. I’m getting old!!

While they went on to watch more games and to attend a mandatory social event, Jeff and I went to explore Gouda before heading back home.

Here are some pictures from this quaint little town that we hope to visit again soon.

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I love red doors and this one is from 1620!!

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Cool architectural details on the buildings that help maintain the old structures.

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Love the canal houses and their reflections on the water. So pretty despite the cold, grey skies.

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These markers are in front of homes and are all over the town and show you where Jewish people used to live. It tells you when they were born and when they were taken by the Nazis to concentration camps and when they died. You can’t help but cry and feel for them and their families and the injustice that happened to them. One part of town had single white roses with a paper name tag tied to each individual rose and laid on top of the markers. There were also small white rocks placed on top, which is a Jewish memorial tradition to let people know they are thinking of them. They used to be used to weigh down letters that loved ones would leave on the grave markers. I hope I captured this memory properly as I learned about this when we visited the Luxembourg cemetery.

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Gouda town church in front of a canal with a goose floating by. So peaceful.

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Angelic door art, with canal houses in the paint reflection.

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Colorful shutters and art on the side of the town hall in the town square.

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A working windmill in town. So cool to see and hear.

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Another view of the town hall that was built in the 15th century.

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Beautiful Gouda cats in the window.

Jeff and I had a great time just strolling through Gouda for an hour and a half. We saw so much walking alone. We found a really cool beer shop that was open for Jeff. He was stoked to find such a great variety of hard to find picks, and the owner was so friendly. We will definitely come back to explore more of Gouda another day.

Thank goodness we chose to stop before just going home after the games, because we were both really tired. I’m thankful that we pushed on and took the time instead of being “lazy.”

To end the night, before gathering all the kids, we stopped at a new trattoria in Amstelveen for dinner. What a small world… The owner is from Palermo, Italy, where my Grandmother was born and where my parents just visited. We had such a great time with them and made new friends. At the end of a delicious, spontaneous dinner, they brought us complimentary, frosty cold limoncello shots.

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Life is good.

I hope you had a beautiful day!

Goodnight.

Day 174: My New Canvas

Jeff came home today after being back in the States for 9 days, and I felt so excited to see him again, like a happy puppy! I had Dutch class today and so he had to take a taxi home from the airport. When I came home from class, he was already home and I felt that giddy feeling when I saw him again. Silly, I know, but its true and I’m still excited to see him after almost 20 years together!

Enough about that!! I wanted to share another excitement. I think today I am writing my 300th blog post. I’ve been writing every day since I started this HereIAm blog. It has become my creative outlet and a hobby I really enjoy. I didn’t know I would discover such pleasure from writing and sharing and connecting and capturing the best moments from my daily life, yet I do. My blog has become like an art canvas, and my words and pictures the colors that fill the page. I typically capture moments with my iPhone which is always with me. At night, I send the pictures to my email account and then create my blog usually from my phone or laptop late at night. Jeff surprised me today and brought me home a new canvas for me to do my work on:

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It’s an iPad mini! I can take great pictures with it, and I added the blogging app and my blog to the home screen. All in one, I can take it with me in my purse, and to school and to my comfy bed and create and connect from anyplace. How cool is that? Thank you Jeff, for surprising me and for supporting the arts! I’m thrilled!!

I took my new canvas to the kids’ basketball games and enjoyed setting it up while they weren’t playing and capturing pictures when they were on the court. We were there for several hours!

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After dinner tonight, we enjoyed dessert from the States – Chocolate Poptarts!! Yum!! Thank you April for shopping for us!! We were so excited by all the loot! And thanks Jeff, for carrying an extra suitcase with you to fulfill my retail desires!! Life is good!

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