The Old Mom

I am now the old mom with BIG kids.

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When did this happen? I see it. I know it. But it’s still hard to believe and I love this stage and I love my kids and danced around the kitchen in my jammies this morning, singing to them, “All you need is love.” I know they think I’m crazy yet luckily they laughed and thought I was funny and little do they know how much I adore them.  I am so in love with my teens and almost tween and love this stage of life. I know they’ll be leaving soon and I am enjoying every minute with them, so be it.

I read the BEST parenting article today by one of my favorite authors, Jen Hatmaker, that made me cry.  Check her out here:

http://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/i-wish-someone-wouldve-warned-me-about-these-big-feelings

You’ll cry too, because she’s funny, real, authentic, and totally gets this parenting thing like no one else.  And she loves women too, just like me and wants to lift each other up and support one another and buy each other wine and high five each other at Target when the littles are throwing temper tantrums.I love her and so does everyone else.  She gets life and is really funny.

I love being a mom. It’s what I always wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be financially independent, knowing I could take care of myself and my family if I had to, and then I wanted to stay at home and raise our babies. Here I am. Living the dream. I love what I do, despite the stress and chaos and craziness that surrounds me some days.

I love being in the car with them and their friends and taking them to and from – most days! Last week, was another story, but today I was good. I took Juliana to her ortho appointment and then we went to get a bubble tea and fried snacks because that sounded like fun to them after school. I didn’t want to be busy. I wanted to soak them in and spoil them while I can. I always struggle with that – not wanting to spoil them and wanting to spoil them at the same time. They were thankful and we had fun together.

When we came home, Juliana was busy tutoring a little girl so Charlie and I went to hide away in his “apartment.” We sat on his couch and ate our snacks and played Mastermind together, which brought back memories for me when my dad and I used to play together. We are usually running around with way too much to do, and yet today we slowed down and just played. Can I even tell you how sweet this was? I am so thankful that Juliana needed a quiet house and that Charlie and I got to hide away together for an hour.

I know I’m writing a lot – but seriously, I really do like and enjoy my kids and today was one of those BIG FEELINGS days. We were at a funeral on Friday, and at a Special Needs Brunch on Sunday and I am still missing Chase every day and am fully aware that life is fleeting and messy so while it’s good, I plan to love on them and live it up every day while I can.

Charlie made me cry tonight when he decided to make dinner for himself and Christian. He wanted special plates to make the meal look fancy. We cooked tempura shrimp and he molded rice in little cups to neatly place on the special plates.  He placed the shrimp in a star pattern and used a brush to place the sauce decoratively on the plate. He was so proud of himself and served his brother in his room, while he studied. He was like a little, proud, Master Chef, Jr. I loved this connection and loved that they share this bond together.

This old mom is content. Life is good and IS what you make it to be and I’m okay with things changing and aging. I am living it up today and everyday and loving this one life right now. And you? Are you living it up and loving it out wherever you are right now?

Namaste.

Friendvestments

I am rich!!

I just got home from visiting one of my BFFs and my daughter said to me on the late car ride home, “Boy, you must really love her to drive an hour and a half to meet her.”

I acknowledged her wisdom and agreed with her. I told her that I was lucky enough to have friends that I love just being with and don’t care what we do. For example, as we were driving to go see my friend, she called me to say she had to stop at the car shop. I told her no worries and that I would meet her there. And so we did. Her kids all jumped in my car and I got to play with them while she finished her work. When she came back to my car, she gave me a hug and said she knew we were best friends when we could have fun just hanging out in the parking lot. I love that she was comfortable enough to go to the car dealer when she knew I was on my way to come see her and that she knew I would be perfectly fine with that.

This is life at its best. Friends helping friends. Friends sharing the journey. I love this life.

The rest of the day we enjoyed watching the kids play and catching up together like old friends do.

My favorite part of the day was when the mothers and daughters and furry babies sat on the couch together sharing stories. None of us wanted to leave.

Friendvestments. Jeff came up with this cool term when I was telling him about my wonderful day. It means time spent investing in building friendships, which provides the greatest returns of all.

I am rich!!

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Thank you for my gifts, M!! xoxo

Togetherness in Full Tilt

I love my crazy family.

We have been together in hotel rooms for the past 4 nights and have had messed up schedules and are still going strong. We’ve had our woes of togetherness but are still in love and ready to keep on exploring.

Today we moseyed on home and stopped at places we wanted to see along the way. We enjoyed the journey and didn’t focus on the final destination.

Our first stop off the beaten highway was Santa Margarita. We wanted to see where the Pozo Saloon was located. The drive out here was gorgeous.

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It was fun to drive down roads we’ve never been on before and to imagine what it would be like to live in a remote part of a town.

From here we continued on and stopped to tour the Firestone Walker Brewery. Again, this is a place we always want to visit, but we are typically focused on the destination and don’t want to stop and slow down. Today we slowed and enjoyed a tasty lunch and brewery tastings.

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As we drove, we were invited to celebrate Chinese New Year with April’s family. We were then excited to be home, but weren’t done just being on the road, as we had one more curiosity to explore.

ML and her family were camping at the beach and we decided to stop in for a quick happy hour and to wrap up our vacation with friends. This happy hour did not include food nor drink – just an hour of togetherness walking and talking and watching the sunset.

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I loved that my family rallied to stop at the beach one more time and to visit with friends! I am lucky!!

And finally, we hurried up to make it home in time to enjoy dinner with April. She had prepared dumpling fixins’ and we arrived in time to help with the assembly. We all had a blast!

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And now, even I am tired and am so happy to be back in my own nest again with all my little chickens in their coops. We are fully baked! Time to rest.

Life is good, living it up every day, every way I can. Hope you’re doing the same. xoxo

Summer Nights

Why wait for school to end? We are celebrating summer right now.

No homework for the littles and a couple more finals for the big one. Charlie insisted I come outside to shoot some hoops with the entire family. I thought I was going to catch up with bills and paperwork but someone “needed” me and how could I resist his sweet little voice and demands? All 5 of us took a break to play together and I loved it. Juliana thought we should go get ice cream too, and her daddy is too sweet to say no. So guess where we are with everyone else in town?

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YOLO!! Living it up. Loving it out.

I love summer.

Life is good.

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Girl Friends

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Girlfriends, I love you! I am so thankful to have so many wonderful friends to share this journey together.

We all cross paths for a reason and coming back to my hometown and seeing friends from kindergarten all the way through college, along with my sisters and cousin and mother and nieces and daughter just filled my soul.

I looked at each and every one of you and felt thankful that you were here today and was thanas
We enjoyed time just being together, as women do, sharing stories and smiles and memories. We enjoyed the music, the glowing warm fire, and the ambiance.

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Thank you for coming out today and tonight! You all are adored. xo

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Gratitude Friday

I am thankful it’s the end of the week. How about you?

I just wanted to thank you for reading and sharing this life journey with me. Thank you for your comments both posted and shared privately. I love knowing that your thinking about your life and living it up, making time for yourself and others and loving it out. Thank you for inspiring me to keep on writing and sharing and connecting, celebrating the good despite the imperfections in our perfectly imperfect world.

I am thankful for Julie celebrating her birthday and sharing her lunch time with me and ML. I loved seeing her being so happy and loved in her new work environment, living it up! It was great to catch up again and celebrate together.

I am thankful it’s raining, even though that meant no tennis practice today. We need the rain and it’s refreshing to have it for a short while. I am thankful that we lived in Holland where it rains more frequently and I now enjoy rainfall and the memories it brings back to me.

I am thankful for my fun husband who took me on a date tonight. We went downtown in the rain and sat in the window seat at our favorite Thai restaurant. We had time alone to chat and catch up after a hectic week and he made me laugh. I still love being with him, like that feeling when I just met him and yet it’s been 20 years! I love that feeling.

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I am thankful!! What are you thankful for today?

Expat Best Practices

Today I was inspired by this article written about what we can learn from expats. Here is the link:

http://www.theage.com.au/travel/blogs/the-backpacker/what-we-could-all-learn-from-expats-20130711-2psde.html

Maybe I’ve shared this already but I can’t remember. One of the things that being an expat did for me was give me a life sentence… kind of like a death sentence but in reverse.  I felt like I was given a gift to live in the moment, to be fully aware of what I wanted to do with my life and to do it right now and not wait.

When we were getting ready to move overseas, I stopped being tired and busy. I made time to do whatever I planned or dreamed and did it. We went to Hawaii and came back the day before our anniversary. We then drove 6 hours to Southern California the next day on our anniversary to celebrate my cousin’s wedding. Before, I would never have done something like this. I would have used the excuse that we just got back from a trip and we were exhausted, and it was our anniversary and blah, blah, blah.  Instead, we went. Just like that. And enjoyed our family and the journey. This type of event and thinking happened over and over again before we left.

And then we continued living like this the entire year we were expats. We lived and worked like we were on a permanent vacation. We didn’t know when our time would end, so we kept doing whatever our hearts and minds could dream of doing. We lived it up. My new motto.  Sleep when you’re dead. My old motto that I still carry. I have lots of these little statements. Maybe I’ll make a list of them one day.  They help guide me and remind me to live it up, love it out and have no fear.

That kind of connects to the life/death sentence. None of us know how long we’ll live, but we live our lives sometimes like we have forever and we don’t. So I chose to live it up now while I can, while we’re healthy and curious and have a thirst for experience and connection. We should live this way…fully present and aware, adapting and changing and growing every new minute.  What a gift of life we all have… it’s up to us how we choose to spend our minutes.

So back to the article… I’ll summarize what I found to be the best practices that The Backpacker shared about expats:

Expats are:

* Friendly, open people eager to make new friends immediately without pretension

* Fun to be around. They are curious and want to know your story and want to know about their new culture and land

* Adventurous, risk takers, and gutsy! Expats have to leave their home land, pack up their belongings and start new. This is uncomfortable and they do it anyway.  I love this – do it anyway mentality…so what if you’re a bit scared, unsure… try it anyway

* Try new things – new food, new languages, new rituals

* Have an attitude to “Just Do It” like Nike says – stop thinking about it and planning it and just do it

* Live life like you’re on a permanent holiday. Think about that… isn’t that a great idea? We have to do the work and study, but then what? Play!! Travel!! Explore!! Enjoy!!

* Love to hang out and socialize with friends, living it up

* Tend to enjoy themselves and welcome the revolving world of friends with a culture of openness. I love this and live this statement.

I miss being overseas and having the title of a current expat. I liked the experience and the friendships I made and miss them so much, even if everyone is away on summer holiday. I plan to incorporate these best practices into my daily life, living a more normal day to day life back in suburbia. I plan to keep living it up, loving it out and enjoying this beautiful world every day. I plan to fight the negativity I see in the media and continue to spread joy and love every where I go.  Thanks for joining me and sharing the journey.

Namaste

“Grateful people are joyful people; the more joyful people are, the more we’ll have a joyful world.” – Brother David Steindl-Rast

20130718-222830.jpgThank you Michele for sharing Shasta with me today.  ;-). Thank you Val for having Christian over and spoiling him and for all the books. Thank you Christine for happy hour and my delicious succotash salad. Thank you Ling for the gorgeous Dahlias from your yard and the steam buns for Charlie. Thank you to all 6 kids who came over for dinner and filled my house with joy.  I love this life right now.  😉

Life’s A Beach

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We made it to the beach today, my happy place. I loved the drive over highway 17 and through the mountains and down the other side. I was expecting fog, but the sun had already broken through by 11 am when we arrived.

We caravanned down with three other vans full of kids for a 14th co-ed birthday party. There were 16 kids and 4 adults.

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We spent the entire day together, just chatting, watching the kids and soaking up the sun. I think I loved it just as much they did.

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Kelly and Kate ordered Subway sandwiches for everyone and brought snacks, drinks and cupcakes for dessert to celebrate their children’s birthdays. I so appreciated how easy they made everything look. They thought of everything and were so relaxed. The kids had boogie boards and beach balls and had a blast being in the water together.

The water was a bit too cold for me, but I did at least stick my feet in. I couldn’t bring my paddle board as I still don’t have a car to transport it. Hopefully next week I will.

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Kelly and Kate were also very diligent about keeping eyes on the kids at all times, making sure we had an active head count knowing who was where. The lifeguard came down to tell the kids about rip currants and safety. It was nice to know there was an extra set of eyes watching over our large party. And the kids were all such good, kind, considerate kids. I loved watching them all interact, especially when they all agreed to put on their party hats. They haven’t become too cool just yet!!

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Life is good.

Where is your favorite place to be?

Day 273: Living it Up at the Rijksmuseum and in the Sunshine

I have a motto – Live It Up! We only get one life and we have limited time, so we better live up every minute and choose to do what creates happiness for ourselves, our friends, our family and our community. Right now. Every damn day!

Some of my daily sayings include:

Let it go.

Do you want to create a connection or conflict?

It’s all good.

Yes.

Life is good.

What made you happy today?

No worries.

So what?

I love you.

Can I have a do-over?

God bless you.

I’m sorry.

I made a mistake. Can I try again?

Do the right thing. Choose the harder right.

In 20 years, this won’t matter.

But I digress… One of the best things I’ve learned so far is to live in the moment and to enjoy what you have and where you are. Right now. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Be in the moment and live it up. And I do. And I do my work and take care of my responsibilities and I have fun, every day in some way. If the mama’s happy, everyone is happy. Am I right??

Today I rode my bike for the first time from Amstelveen into Amsterdam with my friends, and i was so proud of myself. I’ve been a little intimidated and finally faced my stupid fears and went, like all the other Dutch people! We met up with Cami at the Rijksmuseum and hired a tour guide for five euros each to give us the highlights of the museum. I highly recommend this option for your first visit. We also all had museum cards, which get you into the museum for free and avoids the queues. The museum just reopened after ten years of renovations. There were lots of problems and bureaucracy that postponed the reopening, but finally last week it reopened again and it is marvelous. The architecture is amazing, and was almost as entertaining as the art.

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The arrangement of the collections are now organized by combining paintings, sculpture, crafts, and historical objects chronologically. Together, they tell the story of Dutch art and history Ina more contextual iced and meaningful way.

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This was the first piece that was highlighted. It is from the Middle Ages and depicts the Virgin Mary expressing sorrow. The majority of the art produced in Europe during the Middle Ages was of a religious nature.

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This painting is from the 19th century and was created by George Hendrik Breitner. Its interest comes from the use of photography to structure the painting. The veiled woman in the front is significantly larger than the other figures and was originally a maid, but was transformed into a well to do lady as requested by the art dealer. In this time,maids and the wealthy folks were not seen on the street at the same time of day. So this was cutting edge!

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Van Gogh’s self portrait and a few of his pieces were displayed. Most of his art is in his own museum, and is temporarily at the Hermitage while the VG museum is being renovated.

We climbed up several flights of stairs to see a 20th century airplane that was designed by the Dutch.

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We were all fascinated by how they got the airplane onto and into the building on the highest floor. They took it apart and rebuilt it over several months to get it to fit indoors.

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The best part of sightseeing with a tour guide, is that they highlight details that you might otherwise overlook. I’ve seen Vermeer’s The Milkmaid before, but this time I noticed the broken window and the light coming through the cracks, and the Delft tiles on the floor. I loved the woman’s hands and the stillness and simplicity of her pouring milk.

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This scene by Jan Steen is awesome and provided my lesson for the day. This painting is called the Merry Family. I love that everyone is being silly and jovial and playing together. The paper hanging from the mantel tells the moral of the story: “as the old sing, so shall the young twitter.” The young will copy and mimic their elders. What will become of our youth if we set the wrong example?

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The masterpiece of the Rijksmuseum is Rembrandt’s Nightwatch painting. The room where it is hung is where it was originally showcased. The entire room is dedicated to Rembrandt, the master of capturing light and darkness. You could sit in this room and stare for hours and see something different every time.

Speaking of light, the sun was shining so warmly today and brightly that we had to go outside for lunch and soak up the sun. I’ll leave you with a few more pictures from this glorious day. Namaste and I hope you get a chance to see the newly reopened Rijksmuseum.

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And after the beauty of the Rijksmuseum, nature finished the day with her beautiful, final curtain.

Life is good.

Day 236: Celebration of Life

Today one of my blogging friends wrote about her mother’s celebration of life that is happening this weekend. Her beloved mom died this week and we all felt her pain. We also learned so much about the art of living and appreciating what you have, even in the darkest light, as her mom struggled and fought cancer and in the end peacefully and gracefully surrendered to her calling. This family rallied like no other, and came together to love one another and to support each other through the process, enjoying the gift of unexpected, unplanned time together with sisters and cousins, nieces and nephews, and being thankful for their wonderful mama.

Through their story and journey, I continue to learn and value living in the moment and accepting what is. We might think we have a plan, but really it’s not our own. What we have to do is continually be present, live in the moment while looking forward, loving ourselves and one another, and adapt to what comes our way, with grace.

Life is a mystery…and I’m going to keep on living it up…celebrating life every damn day!

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Three people shared this quote with me today at different times… And my daughter took the liberty to make this image my wallpaper on my iPad. It wasn’t my plan, but I guess I’ll accept it with grace.

Namaste… How are you celebrating today?