Happy Earth Day!

20140422-224952.jpg

 

I love any reason to celebrate life and why not choose today to celebrate our beautiful Earth. Not that I did much, but I did have the opportunity to be present and outside thanks to Charlie.

20140422-224828.jpg

We have a new, comfy outdoor couch which is so amazing, because we all want to go sit on it everyday, which makes us go outside. I hope the newness doesn’t wear off.

Today Charlie insisted that we go sit outside for awhile when he came home from school. It was just the two of us and this was the last thing I wanted to do. I had a list in my head a mile long of the things I was hoping to accomplish before his baseball game and picking up Juliana and Christian from their events, and getting ready for my meeting tonight, not to mention the dinner I had not yet planned out.

But his little voice saying, “C’mon mama, come outside and sit with me.” I could not resist. My list was now at the bottom of my priority list and I didn’t care.

I went outside because I truly believe in living in the moment and being present and practicing this concept as often as humanly possible even when I really don’t want to. We went outside. I brought my project with me. But of course, I put it down on the table once outside because a certain little someone wanted to sit on my lap and feel the sunshine together.  He wanted my undivided attention and I surrendered. I felt the warmth of the sun shining down on us and loved every minute of it. Soon we were snuggling, playing hide and seek in the shadows from the sun, wrapped up in each other, hiding our faces and trying to see each others’ eyes in the dark. I lifted my arm that was providing the shadows and the sunshine seeped in and showed me his one little eye, his little nose and big lips. I could have stayed there all day. We laughed and played and enjoyed the moment before rushing off again.

And that was the highlight of my day. He helped me to rest and sit still and I helped him to relax and rest too after a long day and before his game. It didn’t last all that long, but it was just enough.  He soon ran in to get dressed for his game, and I lingered a bit longer, enjoying my little slice of heaven in my backyard.

20140422-224841.jpg

Happy Earth Day! I hope you got outside and enjoyed Mother Nature. xo

20140422-224922.jpg

20140422-224939.jpg

 

Thank you Charlie for helping me to stop and smell the roses today, that I would have otherwise missed. You are my sunshine and I love you.  Congratulations on your two big hits tonight! You’re a hitter now!

20140422-225020.jpg

GGG – Day 12 – Nature

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”
― Vincent van Gogh

20131112-232455.jpg

It’s Day 12 of my gratitude gift giving and today I am giving thanks for the beauty of nature that surrounds us.

20131112-231944.jpg

20131112-232146.jpg

I keep smiling as I watch how the trees are changing daily.

20131112-232238.jpg

I’m admiring the small blooms in my yard and appreciating the colors that brighten our yard.

20131112-232014.jpg

20131112-232127.jpg

I’m loving the light shows as the sun rises and begins to set.

And I’m aware, which is really cool, because how often do you really pay attention to your daily surroundings? The leaves are falling now and the grass is covered in colors of fall.

20131112-232221.jpg

Life is beautiful, especially when you see.

20131112-232051.jpg
Do you see what I see?

What do you see in your part of the world?

GGG – Day 3 – Nature

20131103-190656.jpg

Gratitude Gift Giving (GGG) – Day 3 – How do you enjoy and appreciate nature? Where is your favorite place to be?

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Do you feel a calling to be outdoors? Do you feel peace when you’re near the water, the forest, the hills, open spaces?

Where is your happy place? Where do you go to feel like you’re just a little part of this big, wide, open universe?

My favorite place to go in nature is the ocean. I love the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. I love seeing the sealife and smelling the salt water in the air. I love looking out and not being able to see anything else but water and not knowing where it ends. I love watching the sun setting on the horizon and imagining the daylight being transferred to another location on the earth. I love being on the water, especially on a paddle board, but I’m just as happy on any type of boat.

But today we explored the majesty of the redwood trees in the forest of Big Basin, in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
20131103-192141.jpg
Knowing that some of these trees are older than the Mayan Civilization made me feel so insignificant. Our lives are such a small part of the bigger world, but we feel like we are so important right now! Standing next to these trees that have been around for over 1500 years is amazing. Some of the trees are over 250 feet tall. I loved looking up at them, standing inside a circle of them, and hiking through the forest and admiring all their different varieties.

20131103-191057.jpg
I liked the shadows, the darkness and the light flowing through them. I liked the old and the new, and even the fallen.

20131103-191605.jpg
Hiking with our family at this place less than 35 miles from home filled me with joy, even though the process of getting us all out the door today together was quite the challenge! It was worth the work and effort and I think I can say we all enjoyed our family outing.

20131103-191843.jpg

Today I am thankful for the beautiful parks of California, and for family time exploring some place new. What or where are you thankful for?

Day 270: Beautiful Day in Amsterdamse Bos

 

 

Sometimes not having a plan is the best plan of all.

This morning we were up early to get Jeff to the airport by 7:45 am on a Sunday morning!  He has meetings back in the States this week. I wished he could have taken me along, as I’ve felt a bit home sick, and I hate the feeling of him being so far away, even though I’m fine on my own. Jeff and I were commenting how strange it is that the roads from our house to the airport are now second nature. When I first arrived, I was afraid to even get in the car to drive less than a mile to the grocery store. I couldn’t read Dutch, wasn’t used to traffic circles and couldn’t tell what the traffic logos meant. Now, it’s all good and I got him there on time, and back home again without the Navigation system! Oooh….ahhh… just kiddin’.

Charlie had a friend sleep over last night and they had fun eating American pancakes, playing Mine Craft and video games and loved being in their pajamas all morning. I was liking just hanging out too, procrastinating shopping and cleaning as we have a house guest tomorrow night.  Luckily Patti Beth suggested we get out and go for a bike ride since the weather was so nice, otherwise I could have easily wasted the day away being lazy. I’m soooo glad we went out as you’ll see the highlights below from our wonderful, unplanned day.  What I thought would be a short ride, turned into a 6+ hour adventure in the sun!  Life is good, especially with family, friends, and good weather!

20130421-225939.jpg

The cherry blossom trees all bloomed since last week and Blossom Park was gorgeous today!

 

The location of the trees is known as Bloesempark (Blossom Park), located in the south-east of the Amsterdamse Bos, between Burgemeester A. Colijnweg and the pond that’s known as De Poel. At the time of planting, each tree was given a name: 200 have Japanese women’s names, while the remainder have Dutch women’s names.

20130421-230001.jpg

peaceful

 

20130421-231110.jpg

I noticed two trees that had pink blossoms on opposite sides of the park. The rest appeared to have white blossoms.

20130421-231213.jpg

white blossoms with lots of people out today enjoying the gorgeous weather

 

20130421-231242.jpg

The entrance to the park is over a footbridge that we are standing on. As you walk behind us, there is a large circle with a half wall for you to sit and enjoy the views.

20130421-231434.jpg

The boys were playing catch in the circle grass area between all the trees. We saw one woman explaining to her child what my boys were doing, as I don’t think many people play baseball in Holland. There are baseball teams of course, but most children play field hockey and soccer (football). Can you see the ball in the air?

Thanks to Chris and Patti Beth for bring a bag full of sports equipment and snacks to entertain the kids!  After playing catch, the boys ran off to play hide and seek in the bushes. Don’t you love hide and seek?

On the opposite side of the Amsterdamse Bos is a place they call Fun Forest. They have ropes courses for use, however you have to have a reservation to do the serious courses with cables and helmets. Today was so beautiful out, that of course they were fully booked. The kids still had fun playing on this small version that exposed them a bit to what they can look forward to next time when we plan ahead.

20130421-231523.jpg

focused and curious

 

20130421-231548.jpg

even the big kid liked climbing around and playing!

20130421-231617.jpg

This one was crossing with a cookie in her hand!! 😉 They were very hungry as we hadn’t planned on being out so long and lunch was long overdue.

20130421-231805.jpg

We ate lunch at De Bosbaan and had a great view of the racing waters. There was a rowing competition going on today.

20130421-231830.jpg

After lunch we rode our bikes through the forest again and let the kids play on the workout equipment. Charlie loved playing on the rings and doing flips, and I loved watching the horses go by.

20130421-231909.jpg

There is so much to see and do in the forest. This part has an adventure island where the kids can pull themselves across the water to the island and run around and climb and swing and cross bridges and platforms over water. The kids had a blast!

20130421-231933.jpg

Look at them all working together! I love this kind of old fashioned fun.

20130421-231943.jpg

This windmill is part of the infamous restaurant, the Jonge Dikkert, in Amstelveen which is on our way home as we headed out of the forest. What a gorgeous site.

20130421-232012.jpg

Queens Day is coming up and the children of the town are preparing their places on the streets to sell their second hand goods. It’s the one day of the year that people are allowed to have a “garage sale.” They are not allowed otherwise, so this is a big deal! Up and down the road as we rode our bikes, we saw tape and chalk lining areas for upcoming sales! I can’t wait to go see them all!

20130421-232030.jpg

The red part of the road is the bike path! How great is that? Where the lady is walking her dog, is for pedestrians and is where the children are claiming their space for Queens Day sales.

After 6 hours of wandering through the city, we finally came home in time to get to the grocery store before it closed. Most stores are closed on Sunday. When I got to the store today, many of the shelves were empty. All the fresh bread was sold and so were all the salad fixings.  Crazy!!  But we were able to make do and find other items to start off the week, fresh!

20130421-232107.jpg

This is a picture of the kids checking out Charlie’s class’ art work that we purchased last night at the Art & Wine & Cheese Fair. Charlie was so excited that we won the auction for this piece and was proudly showing his sister the part he created. I LOVE this Mandala piece and all it represents and can’t wait to take it back with us to America!!

A mandala can take many forms, from elaborate Buddhist sand works to the stained glass windows in Catholic cathedrals. Mandala means “circle” in Sanskrit. Typically they are created in the shape of a circle because the circle is a potent and universal symbol of wholeness and eternity.They are also most commonly symmetrical and are used to aide spiritual meditation. These mandalas have a focus on color, shape and pattern to create a sense of symmetry and wholeness. Each student created a piece of the mandala and they were put together to create a whole.

I am truly blessed to be living in Holland right now, soaking up the sun, enjoying my friends and kids and all that is good.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend and get outside!  Namaste.

 

Day 175: Beauty in the City and New Drivers Licenses

It was cold and sunny this morning and the lighting was beautiful. Jeff and I had an appointment with the town hall to turn in our California drivers licenses in exchange for Netherlands licenses. It felt a bit weird handing them over, but that’s what’s required. They want you to do this exchange within 6 months of living here and we’re fast approaching that milestone. How did that happen so fast?

If you’re an expat in the Netherlands, the agency that handles this process is called CBR and the forms can be found on their website: CBR.nl. Once you receive a letter from them, you can schedule an appointment with the town hall. You need to bring the CBR letter they send you with the application information, your passport, drivers license, residency card, and a copy of your 30% ruling, along with a passport photo. And don’t forget your 45€! All went smoothly.

On for the good part…here are some beautiful pictures of the snowscape and sunshine today. I loved the lighting and the colorful, patchwork, scarf covered tree.

20130116-174843.jpg

20130116-174853.jpg

20130116-174910.jpg

20130116-174920.jpg

20130116-174929.jpg

20130116-174939.jpg

20130116-174945.jpg

20130116-174954.jpg

20130116-175105.jpg

The other beautiful things I discovered today were at the Museum of Handbags and Purses in Amsterdam. A few girlfriends got together to explore the museum and to have lunch afterwards. Happy Birthday, to Carolyn!, I hope you enjoy the photos!! My favorite was the Diet Coke Purse, the lucite box bags, and the old Holland school bags(boxes) that used to serve as desks and supply boxes.

20130116-175457.jpg

20130116-175509.jpg

20130116-175515.jpg

20130116-175521.jpg

20130116-175537.jpg

20130116-175546.jpg

20130116-175555.jpg