It’s Halloween!

I’m all about living in the moment, but I have to tell you, I’m glad this moment is over. This was one long moment. It started again at 5:45 am with a morning visitor, so excited that it was Halloween TODAY! And we had to know about it before the crack of dawn, just in case we forgot. I mean, we’ve been preparing for this moment since mid September, but were able to put off the minions and Scream character until October 1st – a more meaningful time to begin the anticipation and countdown until the BIG day, today!

Charlie was outside this morning setting up his graveyard in the grass to make our house more spooky. He had his costume packed to take with him to school for the afternoon costume parade and was filled with excitement all day.

I enjoyed the parade, seeing all the children dressed up with their teachers and parents and family witnessing the annual event in the hot autumn sunshine.
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The little ones were my favorite. They still had cute and innocent costumes whereas the big kids were dressed in more spooky attire.
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I spent the day getting ready for our annual Halloween dinner party. When the kids were little, we began hosting a dinner for all the neighbors so that not everyone had to cook and clean on Halloween night and we could celebrate together in out little community.
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It was a fun way to start the celebration.

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We’d gather at our house and then the kids would go out with their friends to collect treats with an adult or two.

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I typically stay back and hand out candy and visit with whichever friends feel like staying. Tonight was no different. But this year, Jeff took the Beerfiets (also known as our Dutch Bike) to hand out adult treats along the way.

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I think everyone had a great Halloween! I know I did… and now this mama is ready to rest. Just for a moment.

Happy Halloween!!

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The Grass Just Is

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The grass just is.

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It isn’t greener on the other side. Right, Julie?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s just different shades of green or brown and alive and dead and wet and dry. Seasons change. Grass gets cut. Grows back. Has weeds and dead spots. Ages. Renews. Comes back again. It’s just grass. 

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It just is.

 

 

Happy Hollandween!!

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I love Halloween and it’s fun to be back in the States for this holiday this year.

The kids spent the afternoon making decorations to display in our front yard that involved spray paint, cardboard, cheesecloth, and creativity.

Charlie went with a friend to go trunk or treating at the Presbyterian church. Trunk or treating is where families bring their cars to the parking lot for an hour with their trunks decorated and they hand out candy to the kids when they come by. I’m sure he had a great time.

And Jeff and I went to a Halloween party dressed as Dutchies – I went as a milk meisje including the wooden shoes and Jeff dressed as a Queen’s day fan!

Can you tell we miss Holland? Barbara, I was thinking of you when I got dressed as you wore a similar hat on International Day at school that I loved.

Happy week of Halloween! What will you be for Halloween?

Reality

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.
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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.

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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!

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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

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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.
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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?!?

Namaste.