I used to (and still do) love watching reality TV and talk shows. I used to watch The Real World, when it was on MTV way back in 1992. I liked watching The Real Housewives of the various cities, Survivor, Big Brother, The Bachelor, Kate Plus Eight, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Sister Wives, The View, Oprah, And most recently Bethenny.

I love people watching and hearing their stories. I’m curious about how people choose to live and interact and just be. I find everyone fascinating and I love the little glimpses into other peoples’ lives and seeing how they cope with life challenges and daily events. I love psychology and am always curious. I am especially curious about people who are different than me, whether their differences stem from race, ethnicity, religion, interests, careers, family, and or political beliefs. I love learning how people are raised to believe what they do and I try to find similarities and connections that lie between us.

I used to watch a fair amount of TV, until around 2007 when I discovered Facebook. Then my attention moved away from the reality of those I didn’t know to the reality and good life stories of my family and friends. These were and are 100% more exciting to me. I like that people tend to share the best of their lives in this open, semi-private online forum. I find it very entertaining and addictive, as there is always something new to discover and I don’t want to miss a thing. Instagram and Twitter feed my curiosity even more. I like knowing what people do and experience and how their lives are similar or different to mine.

I’ve always shared stories on Facebook and love being connected to friends and family near and far. I think of Facebook as a repository of the highlights from my years. When I first began sharing, I used to think a morbid thought, that if I died my kids would have a scrapbook from the highlights of our life, organized and laid out in a chronological order. That’s still true, but I don’t think of it like that anymore.

Last year I decided to open up my life and share my reality and lifestyle with my Here I Am blog. It began as a way to document our journey as we moved overseas for a year and to share our story with family and friends. As I wrote every day, I discovered joy in the process or writing and sharing and reading comments from readers. I found a connection that I wasn’t expecting and I loved it.

People have asked me to continue writing and tell me that I bring joy to their lives, and that I make them think about their own life. Friends have shared that they look forward to receiving my daily updates either right before they go to bed or first thing in the morning if I write too late. Who knew that writing and sharing and knowing that people liked what I had to say would bring me joy? Thank you for this gift. I like knowing that I have followers and hope that I continue to inspire you.

Writing each day is like a daily meditation. It’s a way to practice living in the moment and being present and thankful for whatever life brings my way. Thank you for encouraging me to continue sharing my life story and creating a little pop of reality “tv” for you. I’m glad you’re here with me, sharing the journey. We’re all connected…I read something today that said something like when it rains, it rains the same on all of us, whether we are good or bad, rich or poor, we all get wet. We’re all the same, despite our differences. I like that. Namaste.

Charlie was home sick today so our plans changed. Instead of school and tennis, we got to snuggle on the couch and watch a movie together. Then Charlie’s friends from Amsterdam called him from Istanbul and Colorado via FaceTime, as they are on vacation this week. Technology is great!!

Inspired and Content

Sometimes you need a friend or two to inspire you.

I was inspired by Reid today on the tennis court, when she beat me over and over and continued to share tips on how I could improve my game. She was a great coach, and I can’t wait to play with her again. She was determined and hates losing and was really good. She met her goal, which inspired me to find a new tennis goal myself, like to win (more than once)!! 😉 And to control my shots by not hitting so hard and being more consistent. Great skills that should transfer into real life too. Thanks Coach!

Elizabeth also inspired me today. We made time to get together for some girlie time – you know pedicures and lunch and chit chat. I haven’t had a pedicure since before I left Holland and it was much overdue.

Sitting side by side, with our feet soaking in warm water with rose petals and lavender scented bath salts, we relaxed and caught up on so many topics. With our polish still drying, we decided to continue our date next door for some lunch because neither of us was quite ready to go and we definitely worked up an appetite from all that “work” and still had so much more to talk about.

Sometimes you need someone who can listen really well and that understands you and has a lot to share too. We talked about raising kids, living in neighborhoods, being busy, planning parties, volunteering, family, local restaurants, cooking joys, exercise, and figuring out when we could meet up again. We talked about being real, slowing down, and enjoying the gifts we’ve been given and being thankful for all we have versus longing for something more. After we parted, I kept thinking of all she taught me and felt gratitude for having a great friend who thinks somewhat like me. I felt thankful for the friends I have in my neighborhood and for the relationships that have grown over the years in our little town. I went home and made a sausage tortellini soup for dinner because she mentioned this was one of her family favorites and was something I’ve never made before. Thanks for the great idea. We loved it!


I ran into another friend at the local grocery store today too. Chatting with him and catching up made me thankful that we have lived here long enough that we run into people we know. It feels good to have a home base again where people know my name.

Debbie stopped by today to drop off a magazine. People don’t just drop in anymore and I miss that. She stayed for awhile and we talked about how the Dutch people always make time for a cup of coffee and one cookie. I love that tradition and want to do more of that here. She stayed for 20 minutes and then was on her way again. Next time I’ll offer her coffee or a cup of tea, as I was happy that she came by to visit even briefly. I love spontaneity and the art of conversation.

We live in a great community, and even though we never meant to stay here, I’m glad that we did.

Who or what inspired you today?

Not Busy and the SLO Life


I’m living the SLO Life… that’s my new motto… to slow down and not be so busy.

I used to live in SLO town – San Luis Obispo, California and it truly felt like that. There weren’t any drive through restaurants. They wanted people to not be in such a hurry. Stores closed early and it was a sleepy college town. On Thursdays, the downtown turned into a Farmers Market and the students and families and townspeople would gather and stroll and visit and socialize. It was so much fun. There was a sense of calm to the city that I love and miss.

But I’m bringing the feeling back to Sunnyvale. I’m living the SLO life and slowing down, if that’s even possible. I just don’t want to be busy just to be busy. I don’t want to be bored and I also don’t want to be running around from task to task, responsibility to responsibility, from practice to practice, from meeting to meeting. It’s kinda like the feeling you get with clutter, where you need to free some open space because every nook and cranny is stuffed… that’s how I feel with life. I need some more open minutes to breathe and rest and to have more meaningful time without the rush.

I’m still busy and don’t think I can ever sit really still, but I’m slowing down my way, by not trying to do 101 things at once. For example, today I went to yoga and then to the Asian market to gather special ingredients to cook some new Thai dishes that I’ve never made before. I wanted to learn something new and make Rad Na, a dish that my kids love. I wanted to spoil them and make a family meal.

This brings me joy. That was it. That was all I really had to do today. I cooked a couple new dishes and cleaned up all the mess. I had a list that had several other items on it, but nothing else was really a priority.

By having open space on my calendar and by being home, I had time to talk with my mom on the phone for an hour. I wasn’t busy. I could cook and wash dishes and chat. It was an unexpected gift.

This afternoon when I picked the kids up from school, the house was orderly and I had time to sit and listen about their day. I was able to help Charlie focus on his homework and sit next to him and read. When he was tired and feeling sick and not wanting to go to soccer practice, I let him be. And we sat longer on the couch and read and snuggled. Because he said I liked doing that. I wasn’t busy. I wasn’t rushed. I wasn’t pushing him. And the space created peace and rest.

Juliana and I had time to work together on a project because dinner was already prepared and no one else needed anything. I didn’t have to say no, I’m busy. I got to proactively say yes. I got to be present and helpful and had unexpected time shared with my daughter.

I chose to skip my meeting tonight because there were too many conflicts. It was hard to say no and to cancel, but it was what was best for my family tonight. And because there was no conflict, we all got to sit down to a candle lit dinner and enjoy hearing about Juliana’s trip, Christian’s cross country meet, and Charlie’s math songs. Tonight there was time to focus on the important things in life. We did it. We created it and made it our own. Living the SLO life… today until tomorrow?!?


Letting Go…Growing Up


It felt like dropping my baby off at kindergarten tonight. Juliana’s on her way to Catalina with 85 friends from junior high school.

The kids are all giddy and the parents are standing by anxiously watching and feeling all the mixed feelings of excitement and joy and fear of letting go and letting them grow up.

They are on their way and we are left behind to watch and admire and wait for their return from their journey and share their stories.

Juliana has the best science teacher who is motivated and excited to share her passion with young ones and is
escorting them, along with several chaperones over night and through the weekend. They’ll drive all night on two busses, arriving in Long Beach bright and early to take a ferry over to Catalina island for some science exploration.

I know she will have fun. She has travelled without us before and loves her independence and time with her friends. She packed herself and is so happy to be going on this adventure. Watching her confidence makes it a bit easier to let go because I know she’s safe and has no fear, but it’s still challenging for me to let go, even though I want to and am. No drama…no fear…letting it go. Letting her go.

You go girl! You’re growing up and I am proud of you. Live it up, sister. xo


So California


This picture captures California culture in so many ways. We were shopping at Smart and Final, a store that offers restaurant size supplies to the general public. Everything is big! As part of environmental awareness, they no longer offer bags. You have to bring your own or buy a bag, just as in Holland. We left our bags in the car and decided to just carry our things. The bag in her left hand contains frozen strawberries to make healthy smoothies in our new Vitamix blender. Making healthy food choices is so Californian too!

This car is a classic old fashioned California car. I asked Juliana to stand in front of it to capture an iconic California image. I also liked that she’s wearing a Coca-Cola shirt. So Americana! I loved the trees in the background and the sun light shining through the sky. Today it was almost 80 degrees outside and gorgeous.

I do love California! What do you love about where you live?

What’s Your Mism?


Tonight we somehow got on the topic of religion at the dinner table. We were talking about all the different beliefs and what they mean and who believes what and why. Two nights ago we debated and explained politics and whats happening with our government. Did I tell you I have very smart kids? Or should I say thinking kids? They have opinions that are different than mine, they ask lots of questions, and they think for themselves which I love and which also presents interesting conversations.

We talked about how religions are shared based on what family you’re born into and how they believe. Sometimes children choose to follow the same beliefs as their family and sometimes they branch out and choose to believe differently. We also talked about knowledge and philosophies like Buddhism and Taoism and also the belief that there is no higher power. The cool thing is they are not afraid and add greatly to the conversation.

They asked why we believe what we do and questioned whether they had to believe the same way we do. I told them for now we will share our journey together and one day they may choose a different path that works for them. Part of our journey is also exploring and experiencing other faiths and beliefs that are shared with us and those that arouse curiosity in us. We believe in the celebrations of life and enjoy the rituals we are invited to witness even when they are different from ours. We feel like honored guests and respect our loved ones for being who they are and are filled with gratitude when they invite us to join with them as witnesses to their faith journey

I shared that we have chosen one path and one mentor that provides a foundation for our family. I also shared that we believe in one love, one people, and that we are all connected despite any perceived or real differences.

And that’s when Charlie said, “ok, can we be done with all these misms now?” I laughed and we changed the topic of conversation. Enough deep thought for one night. How do you celebrate your mism? :-).

Halloween Homework Club

ThIs afternoon I picked up the bike pool (like a carpool but on the bike) from school to bring our friends to our house for homework club.

We had three kids and their heavy backpacks in the front and Charlie on the back with a helmet and me pedaling. I wish I would have had someone take a picture. I felt like a bike taxi or a tuk-tuk, with the kids all giggling and wanting me to go faster and slower.

I had the table set with Halloween plates and cookies and grapes and drinks for when they all arrived.

They sat down at the table for a snack, followed by an hour’s worth of homework, with a few minor interruptions, but for the most part they stayed focused and worked together and independently, asking questions of one another and sharing stories. I loved being a part of their little circle, observing how smart they each are. I was impressed that they still had the discipline to sit still and work after a full day’s worth of school.

Afterwards we all went outside to play and get some sunshine. Aren’t these flowers beautiful?


They had a Nerf gun war, running and chasing and hiding, ducking, and dropping to avoid being hit. They climbed fences and ran around cars and came up with strategies. Kids are so creative and I love arching them interact and be outdoors playing.

They also played with Charlie’s new trash can figures that I don’t understand, but are all the rage in his mind. He bought them with a gift card he received for his birthday from Toys at Us. I’m trying to help him learn the value of a dollar and how to make choices with his money.

I like our neighborhood gang! They are great kids, all with such unique personalities.

Do your kids play in your neighborhood? What do they like to do?

Living Imperfectly


This image is from my calendar hanging in my kitchen this month. It says “The real secret to the fabulous life is to live imperfectly with great delight.” The second quote says “the great thing is, once we let go of being everything, we have the opportunity to be gloriously ourselves.” The girl in the picture is holding a list that includes things to do, to be, and to have.

I just love this for so many reasons. I love the colors and textures. I love the art and the quotes. I love the thoughts.

If we let go of expectations and are kind to ourselves and our family, we can live the fabulous life. I love this concept. I’m working on getting enough sleep, limiting over scheduling and exercising most everyday. I’m practicing saying no and being ok with not pleasing everyone. Oh, how liberating despite the initial discomfort. Perfectly imperfectly living in the moment.

Here’s what happened this morning while sitting in my rocking chair, drinking my coffee. Charlie came by to surprise me with a toasted bagel to share, that I wasn’t expecting. Isn’t he sweet?


Today we left the day open with few expectations and the day unfolded beautifully and felt like it lasted forever. Jeff and I went shopping for dinner ingredients. We came home and he smoked some delicious ribs and we enjoyed a quiet family dinner.


20131013-221217.jpgHomemade BBQ sauce

And look what Juliana and I had time to bake together.

20131013-220908.jpgMagic Bars! My favorite dessert.

I won’t post the picture of my dishwasher filled with liquid soap and filled with thousands of bubbles vs dishwasher detergent. And I won’t tell you who actually did it, but it did provide a bit of unexpected surprises for the day if you know what I mean. We’re still learning by doing, I guess.

How was your day? Mine turned out to be fabulous! I hope you found joy surrounding any imperfections. Have a good week and be gentle with yourself.




What do you look forward to each day? Do you have a routine that makes you happy?

One of my favorite rituals is drinking coffee with Jeff. It’s not just the act of drinking coffee. It goes much deeper than that. I start anticipating the morning cup of Joe the night before. At the end of the day, as I reflect on all that has happened and begin to think and plan for the next day, the thought of coffee together first thing when we wake up makes me happy.

Some nights we grind the beans the night before and set the auto timer on the coffee machine before we go to bed. This way we wake up to the smell of the aroma.

Most mornings Jeff will get out of bed first to make me coffee. I’ll stay where it’s warm and check my phone while the coffee brews. It’s like a little present that I know is coming and I’m excited every time it arrives.

It’s the little things, I swear.

Making me coffee is one way we connect before the show begins. Isn’t everyday a performance? For this little daily moment, shared ritual and token of love, I am thankful.

Oh, I can’t wait for our coffee tomorrow morning! What are you looking forward to doing?