Day 216: Dutch + Sushi + Ikea

Ooh, doesn’t the title of my day just sound so romantic? Maybe for a middle life couple with kids!! I guess any time alone together could be considered a date, right? So today was one, long heck-of-a-date!

Jeff and I are taking a Dutch class together. We decided to walk to class today from our house. Half way there, we remembered we had bikes! Why didn’t we think of that? I felt so dumb! We are so not conditioned to using our bikes as a means of transportation. Jeff still thinks of riding a bike as something that children do around the neighborhood or something you use for exercise. It’s a good lesson though, how our minds think in ways that might limit how we actually see the world from our own narrow vantage point when there might be better options we haven’t even considered.

We are so not Dutch yet and must stay here longer until riding our bikes becomes a natural choice to get around this small town. I’m kind of embarrassed that it’s not already! Maybe when the weather gets warmer.

As we walked home, we stopped to buy some frites to share from the organic market that takes place on Tuesdays. They were so sweet and delicious and hot! We walked a bit further and close to our house is a cute little Japanese store with limited hours. It was open today so we peeked in and learned that they serve meals too.

We enjoyed a spontaneous sushi lunch with hot tea, and shared what we loved about Sunnyvale and Holland and what we missed and didn’t like too. I’m always assessing what’s best for the family and think about the choices we are making and have to make moving forward. I sometimes get confused with the details and wanted to bounce ideas off him. I’m sure Jeff thinks I think too much, but he humored me nevertheless.

It was a great conversation, and what I discovered is that we have to live in the moment and enjoy where we are and what we are doing no matter what. Sounds obvious but sometimes I really long for home, and get confused because I have two homes now. And the grass isn’t necessarily greener somewhere else, right Julie? So instead of longing for something else, I choose to refocus on the gifts of the present and to continue to be thankful.

I think that’s a good lesson for anyone.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu

My present moment at 1:30 pm was exhausted from 3 hours of Dutch drills and my “psychology” appointment at lunch! But I was content, and maybe delusional, to agree to go to Ikea this evening. I don’t like shopping and I don’t like Ikea, but Jeff needed a few things for his office and I figured we might as well extend our date after work.

I wanted to see if they were advertising their meatballs, but they weren’t of course! The news just reported that some of their meatballs contain horse meat. Yuck! For some reason, that disgusts me and made me curious. Notice what’s missing from their menu!

We spent way too long there, as always, but had a much more pleasant experience than usual and actually enjoyed some friendly customer service. We drove over to Jeff’s office to deliver the loot late at night, so we could park on the sidewalk without too much traffic! His office is looking great and the nighttime view of the Amsterdam canals made the present moment perfect.

How is your present moment? If you feel stress, practice what Charlie taught me: 7-11. Breathe in for 7 seconds and blow it out for 11 seconds. Cool, right? Namaste.

Day 188: Wishes Come True

It was about this time last year that I was evaluating my life and making wishes and plans for the upcoming year. I believe in having goals and envisioning what you want to help shape the direction of your life.

Our kids were/are at an age where they are more self-sufficient, and there is time to do more for myself and as a couple. Our routine was fairly typical and normal and routinized, and I had the hang of it and was looking for some “excitement.”

After the kids went to bed, I would finish picking up the house, doing dishes, cleaning up clutter, processing paperwork and miscellaneous stuff like that. I would then tend to watch meaningless tv or play mindlessly on my iPhone while Jeff would work on his computer or read, all normal relaxing things to fill the evening hours.  I found this comfortable, yet kinda boring and I don’t believe in boredom.

So I said to Jeff, “I want to do something with you. I want us to do something together, like do a project, take a cooking class, do a puzzle, learn something – I don’t know. I just want to do something with you besides sitting on the couch.”  He thought I was crazy. He reminded me that we do, do things together all the time, which was true, but I wanted something for just him and me, that we could do together. This must be a girl-thing. I don’t think guys think like this. 

Little did I know, what was in store for us from this one little wish. Who knew that we had to move to the Netherlands to take a class together?

Our Dutch class meets once a week for 3 hours. We chat, we write, we listen, we learn and practice and laugh together. Half way through the lesson, we take a break and walk over to Douwe Egberts, to grab a quick cup of coffee and try to order in Dutch.  We have friends in our class, including a couple native Chinese speakers that Jeff enjoys practicing and refreshing his Mandarin too!  This makes it feel like a weekly happy hour, and we look forward to going every week.

This past weekend we took our books and went to study together at a restaurant and made time for each other and learning – something good for both of us, that we both enjoy. We write texts to each other in our attempted Dutch and we encourage one another to keep on trying.

I’m so glad that we chose to come on this adventure together and to build new memories and shared experiences.

our Dutch book

our Dutch book

Dreams do come true.

What are your dreams?

My next big dream is to have a beach house (or a lake house) and play the guitar by the fire pit outside. There. I said it. I hope this one comes true, too!


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.


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…





Have a great week, y’all! Dream big

Day 167: I AM Still Learning…

I think it’s always important to learn something new, try something new, go somewhere new… keep adapting and changing, otherwise life gets boring and I don’t believe in that word.

Today I started my new Dutch class. I will be taking 24 lessons, 3 hours each for the next several months and practicing and speaking a little bit more each day. I’m counting on my Dutch friends and family to speak to me in Dutch and not laugh at me when I try to speak back to them in Dutch. I understand some but can’t really speak it or write it.  Wish me luck!!  


Today I decided to be Dutch too, and rode my bike to class. Luckily there wasn’t any rain – just gray skies and cold weather which actually isn’t “so” bad anymore compared to adding rain in the mix. I guess I’ve changed my expectations and am adapting, although I still don’t like this weather and find the dreary skies quite heavy. I long for sunshine but accept what is and will make the best of it, like riding my bike! 

To reward myself for riding and not having to pay for parking (which also irks me) I spent the money instead on sushi for lunch and took it home, yet next time I’ll have to buy a little more as I’m still hungry! 


It was nice to have a quiet afternoon before kid pickup, just me and my sushi and time to write about my day.  I hope you have a wonderful day, learning something new and doing something nice for yourself and hopefully you’ll share your joy.

xo Adriana



Day 100

Day 100 – Today was a busy day. This is an image of my desk which captures a little bit of my messy little world. It has my new Dutch book, dreaming of my first trip to Hawaii, a few Dropjes, my paper organizer that I still love, my Stella & Dot clutch/purse that carries my wallet and essentials and can be easily transferred from tennis bag, to car, to school, etc., fun sunglasses, and lots of papers! But back to my busy day…

This morning I had my first dutch lesson with Ilse. Finding Ilse was such a cool story. I was playing tennis with a friend and I mentioned we were moving to Holland. She asked if I knew Ilse and that she taught Dutch. I told her I had met Ilse at our church and had seen her at school, and riding her bike all over town, but I didn’t know she spoke Dutch and hadn’t really talked with her much. But the next day I saw Ilse at the Kindergarten playground and reintroduced myself, explaining my story and now the rest is history. She agreed to tutor me and today was my first lesson. She came to my house for an hour+ and we chatted in Dutch while drinking tea and coffee. I learned the alphabet and dipthongs, and practiced asking questions and used lots of repetition. My brain really had to think and I loved learning something new, even though it was challenging. The other cool thing about Ilse, is that she introduced me to another woman who is also moving to Amsterdam with her husband and 4 kids. I love how our little world is so connected. My new friend and I met a couple weeks ago and introduced our kids and will hopefully be neighbors in Amstelveen soon. I love my friends and how we’re all connected.

While Ilse was hear tutoring me, the gardner came to remove our favorite tree that has been infested with a nasty bug called thrips. This made me really sad because I loved this tree. Is it weird to love a tree? But really – it had character and was architecturally beautiful with great “bones” and has been with us for 11 years. But the tree had been dying for the last several years. I have great memories of C climbing to the top and J finding a middle branch to sit in and read a book. It used to provide a great shade canopy over our patio for our many BBQs and potluck dinners, but recently it just provided shadows. With the tree gone, our patio is very bright and the yard looks so much bigger. I guess that’s a good thing.

J was home from school today with a fever and double ear infection. I’m thankful that I was easily able to bring her to the doctor and get antibiotics for her within a few hours. This is one worry I have moving to Holland – will we be able to have as good and quick health care there and will I be able to communicate with the health care professionals? I guess I better keep practicing my Dutch.

And the sun was shining brightly today, so little C was able to go out to baseball practice this evening. I’m hyper aware of the sun shining and that my son gets to play baseball and that he probably won’t get to play in Holland. I’m aware of the changes that are coming and I feel a bit melancholy, even though I want the changes that are to come, I don’t want them to get here too fast. In a way, it makes me enjoy what is even more. I like that.

At the dinner table tonight, we talked about our 100 days left in the states and what we want to do before we leave. We came up with 3 more plans: 1) Big C decided that he wants to have his birthday party be a movie and sleepover party. 2) Little C came up with a guest list for his Laser Quest party and 3) We decided and booked tickets to Colorado to see Jeff’s grandparents and family before we move. It was a lively discussion and felt good. But now I’m exhausted. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get to play tennis and “relax” a bit!!

Good night. Sweet dreams. Tot ziens! – A.