Labor Day Weekend, California Style

This three day weekend we chose to stay close to home and to take it easy. Do you have a Labor Day ritual that you celebrate?

Yesterday we had our first tailgate of the college football season.

We brought lawn chairs and tables, coolers filled with beers and waters and food, as well as our portable BBQ. It was a hot day in the sunshine filled stadium.


Today the kids enjoyed swimming with friends and making new friends at the pool. Later we shared a delicious healthy dinner with our BFFs. I love when my kids get along with my friend’s kids and our husbands enjoy each other too. This makes me so happy.


I loved the simplicity of our staycation with friends and am so excited that we have one more day to relax as a family before heading back to our normal programming.

Happy Labor Day! Live it up and enjoy this wonderful life. xo

Slowing Down Saturday

The rain came today and baseball was cancelled. This made me so happy. I like not being busy just as much as I love running around.

Instead of watching Charlie’s game, all five of us gathered on the couch  to watch Saving Mr. Banks. I loved this movie and I loved being all snuggled together eating popcorn and snacks and just relaxing on the couch with the shutters closed during the middle of the day. It felt like we were being sneaky and that we should be busy doing something else. But I’m trying to slow down and to not be so busy and I must say I love it, despite the initial anxiety I feel.  The movie ended and we had 30 minutes to get ready before our friends arrived for dinner. Everything worked out well and dinner and our company was fabulous.

I made crepes this morning with the kids and played tennis with Juliana before the rain came. This made me happy. Afterwards we went shopping for gluten free items as we’re trying this new way of eating to help Juliana with her joint issues and to help me be supportive of her and hopefully lose a few pounds. I had fun shopping with her, having her share with me everything she found interesting. It took me a few minutes to be patient with this, as I was busy exploring new items too, but once I relaxed and gave in to the interruptions, I felt thankful and grateful that she wanted to be with me.  She is amazing and I’m so lucky to have time to spend with her.

Jeff smoked a beef brisket on the smoker for 8 hours today. He made his own BBQ sauce too. The entire house and neighborhood smelled mouthwatering delicious.  I love that he loves to cook with me.

Life is good. Today was great and I am thankful.  How was your day? What did you do that was fun and enjoyable? Hopefully you had some time to relax and just enjoy all that is good. 


Home Sweet Home


Jeff came home today!! Our family is complete. I was glad that we came home first and got settled and over jet lag and that he stayed back to close up shop, so to speak. He handled the packers and movers and cleaners and final walk through. I am blessed to have a great life partner and I’m so thankful he’s home with us again. I bet I’ll be able to sleep better now!

We had a wonderful homecoming dinner with our family friends and our beloved shared Traeger smoker!!




Life is good and simple!

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 340: Family + Sun + BBQ = Life is Good


The sun was shining and it was so gorgeous out today in London. Nate and Becky have this fabulous roof deck and we sat outside nearly all day and soaked it all in.  Her family came to join us and we all enjoyed being together.

Becky is an amazing hostess and planned and organised a wonderful BBQ for us. I loved watching Juliana work with her auntie,  cutting fruit to make a fruit salad and slicing the bread and making a tomato and basil salad.  Seeing them work together made me aware how grown up my little girl is becoming, and watching them bond together reminded me of the importance of family and how much I miss them.

There was so much food and everyone was so content just being outside, that it was a double BBQ kinda day.  Jeff and Nate grilled twice and we never wanted to go in.  We celebrated CJs birthday and Ant and Emma’s anniversary and Nate and Becky’s new place.  Some people went for a walk around the marina and others went to the local pubs for a few pints, and Charlie fought his fever again all day.  All in all it was a wonderful day of togetherness. I am thankful.


Day 263: More Vitamin D Please!


I am going to remember this saying when it gets cloudy and gray again this week.

But today, the sun came out to play almost all day and night. Life is so much better with sunshine. People are just happier all around.

When we woke up this morning, we waited for the rain to pass and then headed out for a bike ride with Patti Beth and her family.

20130414-220853.jpg This is an old fashioned tram that runs through Amstelveen on the weekends.

20130414-221036.jpg This is the Jonge Dikkert – a fancy restaurant in Amstelveen.

We wanted to see the cherry blossom trees in bloom, but because of all the rain and cold weather lately, the blooms are delayed. We did get to enjoy a few blossoms, but not the field of color we expected.





The cherry blossom orchard is a memorial to all those who lost their lives in the tsunami in Japan in 2011.


We rode our bikes through the forest and to the pancake house. So many people were outside, enjoying the nice weather today. If you live in Amsterdam or nearby, this is a great place to visit with your family. Boerderij Meerzicht they have a playground, outdoor seating, coffee, dessert, and really delicious Dutch pancakes served a hundred different ways!


And if the day couldn’t get any better, we met up with friends for a rooftop BBQ. Sitting in the sunshine, listening to music, and having having a couple drinks felt so good! Thanks Cami and Rich for inviting us over!


“Happy is the new fancy.”

20130414-221950.jpgGirlfriends – you make life so sweet! xoxo

Day 164: What We Like Best So Far

We’re wrapping up winter vacation and have had a couple days close to home.
Today we were talking about what we like the most about living abroad.

We realized that there are several benefits and several costs, but we’re still ahead in terms of benefits.

I would have thought that what we liked most was having to do with travel and seeing Europe. But our responses were varied, and yes, that is a huge benefit but it wasn’t our top pick. What we like the most is the opportunity to be on this journey as a family and having more time together with less distractions. Jeff’s commute is shorter. The kids are all at one school with the same drop off and pick up times, so there is less time back and forth between locations. As for sports, they practice right at school, so there is no driving all over town at competing hours and there is no traffic between school and home. When one kid has practice and the others don’t, there is a comfortable building for the rest of us to stay in and chat with friends, buy a snack or coffee from the cafeteria, and/or go to the library to work on homework or read. Basically there is warmth and entertainment and ease. In the evenings, I am home more than I was back in California. I’m not out hosting Stella & Dot trunk shows, not attending PEO or PTA meetings, and our family is together for dinner most nights. The stores are all closed by 5 or 6, except for Thursday evenings, so there is never any errand to run at night. And even the grocery stores are closed by 7 or 8, so it forces you to be prepared. No late night Target runs!! All of this is HUGE, and I had no idea. I AM content.

Our living space feels larger here than in the US, probably because of the floor plan even though some rooms are smaller. Jeff has a dedicated office and each kid his own room. There are also three levels to the house which gives us room to spread out and not disrupt each other as easily. I think this makes a difference too, to our happiness quotient. Now if we only had a garage and bigger yard, it would be even better, but I guess we can’t have it all.

We are enjoying time together, and not just traveling, but the simple things like baking, cooking, eating, playing, riding bikes, exercising, and even doing chores together. We work together and play together and I’m really liking how this works, for now. I know it won’t last forever so I’m just soaking it all in and enjoying the moments the best I can (in between the tantrums, and bickering and loud noises that come with the territory!!). Again, it’s perfectly imperfect… And I like it. When does school start again?!?

Tonight the kids and I rode over to the mall on our bikes, in the dewy, wet, cold fog. We had to get a few things and Jeff needed the car to find a place to buy propane for our new hand-me-down grill!! Yay! We haven’t grilled in 5 months and boy have we missed it!! Thank you Kim and Jeff for sharing yours with us before you move off to Singapore!!


Our first night of grilling – now if I can learn what the cuts of meat are at the grocery store, we might even enjoy a Really good BBQ!

What do you like best so far? So far as what? That’s for you to ponder and decide…

Day 18: Family Day in Schijndel


We just finished spending nearly 12 hours with family and we’re all talking about when we can get together again. That should summarize how much fun we all had today.

I love how the Dutch entertain. It’s very laid back and there is no sense of hurry or rush. People sit together and really just enjoy one another’s company and that’s entertainment. The young and the old together, drinking coffee, working together, eating together and playing together. I’m not used to sitting still for so long at any given time, so this is new for me and I am beginning to become more comfortable with it.

Today we enjoyed coffee and homemade delicious chocolate torte cake with homemade whipped cream soon after we arrived at Gerard and Anita’s house. Afterwards, Anita set out a lunch buffet for us which included some new foods to taste like filet americanse, and kruiten boter (which I hope I’m spelling correctly!). Several types of Hagel slag were also available and we all made our own sandwiches or broetjes as they call them. Oh and sandwiches are made with butter, which I remember my mom making but I forgot about it. We typically make sandwiches with mustard and/or mayo. I love doing things differently and lunch was delicious.

After lunch, the kids all went to play the Wii, and Risk and Twister. They played outside with balls and a hula hoop, and everyone played together, including the high school girls. This was impressive as the girls are beautiful and sweet and interested in family and being together. I loved that they weren’t too busy or too “cool” to want to hang out. I’m impressed and thankful and J Is making plans with K to get together again next week. Love it.

After lunch, Opa Tijn came for a visit. We all sat out on the patio and enjoyed another cup of coffee. Opa Tijn doesn’t speak any English and just talked to us in Dutch like we understood. One day we will understand better but for now it was just fine. Anita and Gerard did a great job bridging the language barrier and we all enjoyed just being together.

When Opa Tijn left to go to a party, we left to go to Rio and Helma’s house to visit and check out the dairy farm. We all had so much fun.

The kids rode on a tractor and learned how the harvester machine worked. They got to pet and feed the cows and learn how
milk production works. I got to be Rio’s helper for the evening milking at 6 pm. 20120812-224125.jpg

Stella & Dot on the farm!!

The cows are milked twice daily, once in the morning at 7 am and again at 6 pm. It was a very cool experience. Little C was having fun riding a pedal go cart around… Just good old fashioned fun. And then they all went swimming and moved the trampoline close to the pool so they could jump off and into the pool. I think they had a great day! I know I did.

And the day wasn’t even over yet. There was still time for a BBQ! Lil’ C loved helping Gerard with the grill and CJ was happy using the deep fryer to make fresh frites. The girls all helped with setting the table and bringing food out. We had a large variety of mixed meats and sampled our first frickadel (spelling?) sausages topped with frites sauce, onions and curry sauce. Yum! Dinner was amazing and BBQing felt like home.

The days are long here in the summer and we didn’t leave until past dusk at 9:40 pm! I hope we didn’t overstay our welcome. We were just having too much fun to leave! Thank you G&A&R&K for sharing your day with us and for all the delicious meals. Thank you Rio and Helma for having us over for drinks and snacks and sharing farm life with us. We had a wonderful day with y’all and look forward to seeing you again at our house.

Life is good!!


The cute and loving farm dog!