One Love

Today I was validated. Over and over again. This is a great feeling, one that we all want, and I am thankful for the experience and this one beautiful life I’ve been given. Thanks mom and dad, for giving me this opportunity to live it up, to love this life and to laugh out loud!!

Today was chaotic and great.

I flowed. I loved. I was present. 

I enjoyed my family and friends and work and yoga. It doesn’t get much better than this.

My friend chose to come stay with me last night and left today, and before she left, she surprised me with this gift that I found on my desk after uber came to pick her up and take her to the airport, so that I could be at my kids’ sporting events.

During our short time together, I shared with her that I haven’t been blogging as much lately and that I’ve been sitting with the feeling of accepting this slower pace, and not quite giving it up and not quite sure the direction it would take. I have been blogging daily for 4 years and lately have slowed down and am figuring out what the future holds.

She gave me this gift of a journal and a sticker with my favorite thought, One Love. She gets me. She wants me to continue to write, even if I choose to write privately and she encouraged me to continue my passion and to consider writing children’s stories, based on the parenting practices we shared, and practice every day.

Thank you, Jen, for this gift and for the inspiration and spark and for choosing to come spend time with me! 

I love you!   One Love…let’s make America great, one moment at a time!! xoxo

Picking Up Where You Left Off

Do you have friends that you don’t get to see or talk to as often as you’d like, but as soon as you pick up the phone or see each other, it feels like no time at all has passed?

Apryl called the other day and we had ten minutes to chat before kid pick up. We hadn’t spoken for months but both of us are aware and thankful for the few moments and just pick up where we left off, as if no time has passed. I love this about us. We’ve been friends for 15 years but don’t live near each other anymore, which is sad and typical of our transient lifestyle. But we have a shared history and comfort from being true friends, that it doesn’t really matter how often we chat, text, email, or see each other. I miss her though.

Today Jen showed up for a visit and I have been excited all week, just anticipating her arrival. We haven’t seen each other in over a year and now she’s staying with us for the next couple of days. I am so happy that she’s here and when I saw her again, we gave each other the biggest hug and never stopped chatting until she almost fell asleep from the time difference. I guess we’ll have more time again first thing in the morning! I just want to soak up all the stories and hear all about her new life back in Minneapolis. We were BFFs in Amsterdam and loved hanging out there together. I’m so glad she chose to spend a few days in Cali with me before her conference.

Next month I get to see my BFF Megan! She’s a busy working mom with four kids and we hardly ever get to chat and barely even text, but when we do, watch out world!! We are unstoppable. I cannot wait!

These are just a couple of stories and there are so many more, right girls?

I think the secret to having these kinda moments is having had and shared some deep and meaningful experiences that build these great foundations and friendships that withstand time passing and our busy chaotic lives that get in the way of connecting more regularly. None of us have expectations of each other and we know and appreciate that we are all busy, and when we do make the time for each other, even if it’s only five minute or five hours, it’s as if no time has passed at all.

Love you sisters!


Day 323: What You Give, You Receive


I believe in positive thinking and focusing on what’s good, even though I’m not naive and know that not everything is really good. I feel that by thinking about and paying attention to what’s right and what’s good about others, I have the opportunity to celebrate these gifts every day and I find happiness this way. And by celebrating the goodness and the light in my little part of the world and more importantly those around me, I receive the gifts back. It’s an amazing process that I’m still learning and hopefully sharing and creating with you. And let me tell you, the journey of acceptance is amazing and rewarding.

I am blessed.


Tonight my friends had a party in my honor to celebrate our friendship together in this short year. All 20 people who were invited attended. We all wanted to be together and we’re all so busy but made time for dinner and dancing. Some of us had guests just fly in tonight. Some are flying out first thing in the morning. Others had recitals and swim diplomas and a 100 other things to do on a “work” night, but everyone came. I was so touched and honored and I kept wondering how that happened. I know that when typically you throw a party, usually at least 25% will not be able to show up for one reason or another. But tonight… 100%! Thank you, friends for your presence!!

Carolyn and Jen planned a wonderful dinner party at what felt like someone’s house. It was an intimate setting just for us, in the middle of Albert Cuypstraat at Saskia’s Huiskamer. You’ll definitely want to look this place up if you need a place for 25 or less. The table was set with beautiful floral bouquets, and gift bags for each guests. It was intimate and warm and the ambiance was perfect. Everyone was asked to wear something orange in honor of our new Dutch heritage.

We enjoyed several courses and after each course, we would get up and switch seats so that everyone got a chance to mingle and chat with one another. This was brilliant! Through out the night, my friends got up to share a story about how we met and how we became friends. I think I cried several times and was so touched by their meaningful words. I love our community of friends and what we’ve created in this short year together.


After dinner, Jane turned on the music and we danced the night away until the next day! We had some wild fun together with our orange boas, the white silly looking stuffed horse, the orange wig and the orange sunglasses.


Thank you all for being my forever friends. I will miss you all and will take you with me on our next journey and hope y’all come visit me in California. I love you!!


Day 315: So Happy When the Sun Shines

I am a California Girl – it’s the place I’m happiest, but I have to tell you, today made me pretty happy to be in Holland.  Amsterdam is such a great city. It reminds me a bit of San Francisco, with all the charming neighborhoods with quaint restaurants, locals and tourists mixing, interesting architecture, and just a cool vibe.

My day started with sunshine, and a bike ride into the city.  I met up with Jen for my second pedicure since we moved here 315 days ago.  It was very relaxing and we had fun chatting about what it was like moving here and how many suitcases we brought with us on the plane. I think she beat me!! Just a tip – be sure to know how many suitcases you’re allowed, what the weight limit is and if they weigh your personal items. Otherwise, you might end up paying fees equal to the price of another international fare, right Jen?

After our pedicures, I figured out how to cycle into the centrum to meet Jeff for lunch.  We found a delicious Spanish restaurant with a table outside in the Jordan area.  I loved it because the food was different and new to us, the service was quick, and the streets weren’t crowded.  We tried Spanish tortillas made with potatoes and topped with goat cheese and mushrooms. So yummy and filling.

My orange bike parked in the shade by Jeff's office on the Keizersgracht

My orange bike parked in the shade by Jeff’s office on the Keizersgracht

A view of the Westerkerk near the Ann Frank house

A view of the Westerkerk near the Ann Frank house

Cool architecture in the Jordan

Cool architecture in the Jordan

Lunch with my honey

Lunch with my honey

Beautiful canal - Keizersgracht from Leidseplein

Beautiful canal – Keizersgracht from Leidseplein

Don't you want to be one of those people sitting on the terrace by the canal?

Don’t you want to be one of those people sitting on the terrace by the canal?  I love the bikes and boat and the guy sitting on the wall. Our friends live right here!! How lucky are they?

Ending the day out on my patio watching Charlie play outside and seeing Juliana bake. Life is good.

Ending the day out on my patio watching Charlie play outside and Juliana enjoying herself baking double chocolate chip cookies. Life is good. Cheers!

Day 53: Van Gogh and Friends

We visited the Van Gogh museum with two other families today, which for me, was a HUGE success just to coordinate and execute the event itself before the museum closed. 


Juliana and Van Gogh

I was fascinated watching our lively group move around the museum, especially enjoying the 4 young boys and Juliana with their Treasure Hunt map. Children are more than welcome at the museum and were given a treasure map, a writing board and pencil to discover clues to uncover a secret word. At the end of the treasure hunt, they received a prize – a post card they could choose from their favorite Van Gogh’s masterpieces.  Even watching what they picked entertained me. I liked seeing what drew their attention, and by them picking, we got to have a conversation afterwards. The treasure hunt was a brilliant idea and occupied their attention, taking them from floor to floor and exploring the different works of art. They all became Van Gogh “Experts”. 

One connection I had with Van Gogh, came on the first floor of the museum. When you first walk in, the room is filled mainly with art from other artists. What intrigued me was what was written on the wall about Van Gogh, and his interest and relations with the other artists and why they were important to him. He mentioned that he learned from the others and wanted to collaborate with them. He looked for kindred spirits and wanted to exchange ideas.  

‘People strengthen each other when they work together, and an entity is formed without personality having to be blotted out by the collaboration. … We don’t actually work together, but we have similar ideas about many questions’

This made me think of the friends I choose to surround myself with – I want to collaborate and share ideas and help each other and promote one another. I want to make life better for all of us and enjoy the company of other women creating the same type of “art” as me – creating a balanced, happy, family life and supporting each other through the messy process. I don’t want to take away from anyone else or necessarily copy anyone else, but I want to watch and learn and adopt and create best practices. I used to do this for work once upon a time… hmmm… I like this knowledge sharing thing.


Girlfriends in Vondelpark

I also really liked the simplicity of Vincent’s work (he used to sign his paintings with only his first name – much less informal which I tend to appreciate!). I liked looking at his brush strokes, the colors and contrasts and details. When we walked over to Vondelpark afterwards, I especially noticed the colors of the trees changing to fall already. Already? Oh, and the light is changing too – it got dark much earlier today.  Change is good.  


Fall is coming soon

And before I close out today, I wanted to remember Christopher Stevens and his family – the US Ambassador to Libya. We were warned, as Americans, to stay away from the Mueseumplein today as that is where the US Consulate is located. We didn’t want fear to stop us and we thought if we felt afraid, then we would leave the area. When we arrived there today, the front of the building was being guarded by several police on horseback. The flag was at half staff and there were barricades surrounding the building. We did not feel threatened, but we did feel saddened for Mr. Stevens and his family, as well as the other Navy Seals who were killed in the attack.  Rest in peace…Namaste…thank you.


US Consulate in Amsterdam.

Day 33: First Full Week of School

I like new beginnings. I like starting over and I like change. I like keeping things fresh and exciting. How about you? What do you think of change? Does it make you smile? Give you anxiety? A little of both? Hmm…

Today the kids started their first full week of school, and my new, long-legged super model friend, and I hit the gym! We decided we are going to check out all the local gyms, try out the free trials and then decide which one is best. It only took us 1.36285 hours to go through the formal process to register.  We had to schedule intake interviews, and evaluation interviews and have a hand scan and pay a deposit and sign our life away and photocopy our id and walk through the building and ponder the thought of co-ed mandatory naked saunas, all before we could jump on an elliptical machine for 38 minutes. Thank God, we had a nice glow and a little glistening action to make it worth our while. And you’d be surprised how much you can learn and share while working out side by side – laughing at the craziness of it all and trying to get our machines to function in Dutch. 


After working out, I went shopping and exploring at a new grocery center. It took my 8.5 minutes to figure out how to pay for parking and whether it was free or not.  Finally paid my 1 Euro and shopped at the Lidl and C1000, rushing to get back to the car before I received a ticket. I think the Lidl is a discount chain as the displays were in boxes/pallets and I didn’t recognize the brands. Hopefully the food I picked up is tasty!  I learned the hard way that I should have deposited 50 cents to get a shopping cart from outside the store before filling my arms full with stuff! They didn’t have carts or carriers inside the store. And of course, I didn’t pack enough reusable bags so had to buy more! You’d think I’d learn by now, but no! I was just going in for a couple things plus 37!

I had a few more chores to do, like calling for a family doctor, checking into soccer leagues for Char, and finding some tennis friends for me. I called the recommended doctor, listened to the message in Dutch and had no idea whether I should press 1,2 or 3 as all the prompts were in Dutch. A man answered, was probably the doctor, as I asked if he spoke English. Yes, sure, no problem. I introduced myself and explained we needed to register with a town doctor as required by residence, and he said, sure – call back tomorrow as I had called the emergency line!!! Oops! Oh well, at least he was kind and seemed to understand this stupid American!  

I had better luck with the soccer league and was able to have Char go over to the field after school to practice with the local team. I learned that the team only speaks Dutch, which I loved and he hated. I’m hoping that he warms up to the Dutch and makes a friend or two before giving up. We met Kelly from Atlanta and her kids and had a very nice conversation. It’s kinda fun to compare stories how we got here, how we picked our homes, what the move has been like, etc., etc. 

I’d say we’re getting somewhere and I see a structure starting to form. Just finished doing homework with the little one and trying to get the kids off to bed at a decent hour!  We’re still staying up way too late and morning comes way too soon.




Cloudscape out back at 8:45 pm

Hope you’re all enjoying your new routines too, whatever they may be – and hey, if you haven’t shaken it up in a bit – go ahead, shake it, shake it! You might like it!