Day 45: Summer

4 years ago today we moved to Amsterdam,with fear and excitement in our hearts. This was what prompted me to begin blogging and I have been enjoying sharing my days here for more than 4 years now. 

Today we drove back from Southern California to our home in Northern California. It’s always bittersweet to say goodbye. We had a great vacation with family and wish we lived closer to each other.

Do you live close to your family? Would you choose to live close to your family if you could? I would, even though I am happy where I am.

nAMaste

Vacation?

I was at the grocery store tonight and the clerk asked me if I was working a half week this week.  I laughed and actually told him I was working full time this week, because my kids were home from school and this was NOT my vacation!!  He laughed and the lady behind me smiled too, pointing to all the food she was buying for her kids and told me that they just won’t stop eating.

This was my third trip to the grocery store today. I took Juliana with me the first two times, and by the third trip, I just had to go alone. Charlie asked if he could come with me, and I thought how sweet it was that he wanted to be with me and then thought more wisely. I needed a moment to myself, even if it was just pushing the cart mindlessly through the store without interruption.

Jen Hatmaker made my day when she posted this on her Facebook Status today:  “This afternoon, I snuck out of my house and drove around in my quiet car by myself and ate crackers. It has come to this.”  I could TOTALLY relate.

I struggled today between wanting to be in the moment and present, enjoying my kids and wanting to pull my hair out. Juliana noticed my angst and asked me what was wrong. I told her nothing, but I was fibbing and she knew it. I thought about what was bugging me and it was EVERYTHING!! I haven’t been alone in 2 weeks and this feels weird.

I didn’t want anyone else asking my opinion, or asking me to look at something or ask me to buy something. I wanted to be selfish and alone AND be with her at the same time and I was totally conflicted!! Every time I went to move the cart, she was there. She wasn’t doing anything wrong but trying to be with me and shopping with me and I just wanted to be alone with no one asking questions and no one blocking my path.

And then I was frustrated by myself for not enjoying my sweet daughter who wanted to be with me and shop with me and bake with me.

After all, isn’t this my dream come true??  Sometimes our dreams need space. Because this was my dream come true and I felt stuck and trapped and I needed to snap out of it. Quickly.

So I did.

I told her what I was feeling and apologized for being short and explained my challenge in raising teen kids who have their own wonderful ideas and know everything. She wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was just agitated by her presence and questioning that interrupted my thoughts and planning and then I felt badly for being irritated.

I apologized and asked for a little break and she granted my wish and understood. I started decluttering my house and getting rid of the chaos that surrounded us, and I felt order returning to our “vacation house.”  Then I suddenly felt better. She gave me some space. I got to work without interruption and she was still with me, baking with her friend. And I felt peace again and told her thank you.

She gets me. She loves me. She understands and validates me and forgives me when I am short-tempered.

This is the best vacation. I am thankful.  Just keepin’ it real. Namaste.

My Business Trip

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I got back last night from my “business trip.”  That’s how I described it to Jeff and in a way, it was a mom’s networking business trip, in addition to a mini-beach vacation of course.

I came back refreshed and renewed. The kids’ noises didn’t bother me as much today. I was excited again to pick them up from school and to take them to and from their appointments.  I enjoyed their company and hugged them more and was a lot more patient. I think it’s so important for mamas to have a break from their routines and to spend time with their girlfriends alone without husbands or kids. It makes us better mamas because we are able to recharge, refocus and to come back home, ready to give unconditionally again when we return.  

I was hugging on Charlie before bed, and in the car and just loving him up today. When I tucked him into bed, he said, “Boy mom, you really like me today.”  I said, “I always love you and I’m so lucky to be sharing this life with you everyday.”  He gave me a big hug and proceeded to tell me which cookies we should bake for Christmas, as he was studying a cookie recipe book that I had on the table tonight. I love that he’s making plans for us.

When I came back from my trip away from my normal routine, I felt thankful for my husband for taking care of our family by himself while I was away, in addition to all he does on a normal day. I’m thankful that my kids had fun with their daddy and were spoiled by him and I’m thankful for my community of friends at home who helped out too. Of course I missed them, but I was so happy to just be me and to have some time to sit by the water and to play with my friends and to reenergize, without anyone needing anything from me.

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I enjoyed the time with women who know so much and who shared with me their life stories and where they are at with kids in college, getting ready for college and SAT testing, driving, and living abroad and all that good stuff.  They shared their stories of going back to work and finding balance and their choices and they just helped me to ponder all of the possibilities.  I respect these women and their choices and love that they are different from me yet we all share a love and passion for volleyball and our time together.  I felt like we had these mini-breakout sessions, as you would at a conference, yet this time we were at a beach conference for 3 days.

Everyone needs a break from their routine and this type of business trip was just right for me.

Do you have any breaks planned? If not, start gathering your ideas and your friends and create some space and time to get away. The experience and rejuvenation and connections are priceless.

Namaste.

Life is good and I’m so thankful.

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A Real Vacation

Hello Friends!  Did you miss me? I missed you.  It felt really strange to not write for a few days and it felt totally liberating too.  I enjoyed a real vacation and wanted to savor the moments with my girlfriends and to keep everything private, during the time I was away. 

I went on a yoga retreat with one of my very best friends in Cabo, San Lucas, Mexico. 

Everything was awesome and words can’t describe the fabulous experience. I am filled with gratitude and came back rested and relaxed and filled with joy.

My parents came to stay with my kids and to support Jeff, getting them to and from school, fed, loved, and to all their appointments. They were so lucky to have 5 days with their grandparents, being spoiled and loved day after day. I was thankful that they took the time to be here and that my kids were well taken care of. I was able to enjoy myself without worry because I knew my job was covered.

Stacey and I have been friends for 18 years, which is hard to believe since we’re only “29.”  We both lead busy lives and don’t talk as often as we’d like, but when we get together, it’s like no time has passed at all. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing – we just enjoy each other’s company, sharing stories and laughing and playing together.  Being on vacation with her and 8 other girlfriends was just magical.  I am so thankful that she invited me to join her in Cabo to create and share more memories together.

We enjoyed doing several hours of yoga each day, listening to the sounds of the ocean and wind, feeling the warmth of the air, and practicing with amazingly strong women. We called ourselves the Yoga Mafia and laughed at the silliness of it all. These girls are amazingly strong, beautiful and graceful yogis.

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We ate delicious Mexican food and drank homemade watermelon juice everyday.

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We sat by the pool, drank shots together, ate chips and guacamole and enjoyed each other’s company.

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We paddle boarded and did yoga on the water in La Paz, even while being scared by jelly fish, puffer fish and sting rays.
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We were pampered with outdoor massages in the privacy of our house.

We danced the night away at Cabo Wabo, and danced in the moonlight on the beach until 3 am.

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Life is good. Love this life. Love my girlfriends and family and am ever so thankful, especially for my BFF.

Hope you have a wonderful week and take good care of yourself. xo

Namaste.

Nesting

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Oh my gosh… I had such anxiety today.  I am going on vacation tomorrow and leaving everyone behind. This created such anxiety for me and I wish it didn’t. I am so excited to go away and yet I’m scared to leave and feel guilty, which is so stupid. I don’t believe in all this fear and worry, yet it swept over my body even when I was telling it to disappear. It was just there. Hello anxiety. I don’t like you. 

So I went to yoga first thing this morning to let go of the stress and felt great the whole time, even after I left the class. I went shopping to gather all the groceries for the week, and drinks for the baseball game tomorrow, because I’m the team mom and won’t be there. And then the anxiety creeped in. I want to go but I don’t want to leave my kids and family. All of a sudden, it took over and I found myself making dinner for everyone and stuff for lunch for the rest of the week for my gluten free child, in case no one would know what to make for her. I felt like I had to provide for everyone, have all the laundry done, and the house clean and in order before I leave, heck before I even packed!!

I was definitely nesting. That’s the feeling you get before you have your first baby, where you want to have all the comforts and food ready to go.  April came to the door to visit, unexpectedly, and asked me what I was doing. I told her I was nesting as I was sweating over a hot stove, not sure why I had 5 pans going at the same time, when it was a 100 degrees outside and there was a fundraiser dinner for the school tonight too that we could have gone to instead. I never cook like that. I made hard boiled eggs, gluten free pasta, brown rice, regular pasta, pasta jambalaya and steamed artichokes. Something is really wrong with me!  At least I was aware — that’s usually half the problem, right?  I was laughing at myself.  

I had all the laundry done and folded, even the mismatched sock basket, while cooking and washing dishes and chatting with April and Val, who also showed up. I laughed that two of my friends came by to visit today, who I haven’t seen in awhile and just enjoyed their company, instead of worrying and continuing to pack. I know I was being irrational and I actually really loved having the distraction, even though I knew I was procrastinating and still had to pack. Yin and yang. Living in the moment.  That’s what it looks like.

After they left, I was out of time and it was time to go and pick up the kids and run to an orthodontist appointment. And since it was 100+ degrees outside and the ice cream shop was right next door, of course we had to stop in and enjoy the moment. There was still time to pack. At least dinner was already ready to go. 😉

I came home and finished packing – ta da!!  Just in time to finish cleaning before my parents arrived. They came to town to take my place while I’m gone. I’m so, so thankful and lucky because they are so capable and willing and loving and helpful and my kids and husband love them.  I had lists written out with all the schedules for the next few days and I shared the details with them after dinner. Man, when you see your life in writing, it’s crazy to see all the logistics.  No wonder I feel anxious.  I have to let go of my responsibilities and it feels so weird.

But I’m good now. All is well. My parents arrived and Jeff came home from work and we all shared a nice dinner together. The kids are in bed and I leave first thing in the morning. I haven’t decided if I will write over the next 4 nights, but if I have internet access, I will do my best. I haven’t taken a break since I began blogging 785+ posts ago. 

Thanks for reading and sharing and laughing and listening. I hope you have a great rest of the week and feel good!  xo

 

Day 156: Adaptable and The Art of Negotiation

The kids have been home with me for 2 weeks now. I’m feeling shiny!

I wanted them to choose what they wanted to do on their vacation today, and they had three options to consider. I think they practiced and might have learned a bit about:

Negotiating
Not screaming or crying to be heard.
Listening.
Giving in.
Making a group decision.
Bargaining.
Picking what’s good for the whole.
Choosing.
Deciding.

They made a decision with a little gift of chocolate from one sibling to the next. Hmmm… I guess they learned about bribery and influence too. But they decided, and I was pleased with the process.

They decided to go to an indoor water park called Duinrell, about 30 minutes away. It felt kind of strange to be driving in the rain and feeling cold but feeling good about swimming and sliding and burning off some energy in a heated pool. We were all happy to be doing something together, out of the house. But when we got there, there was a sign that said they were closed. The place was too crowded and it would be unsafe to add more bodies. We could wait for people to leave and then go in, but still it would be over crowded. We chose to leave, even though our friends were already inside. A tough decision but remarkably we all easily agreed.

I was proud of the kids for being adaptable and flowing with what was. I think that’s a great life skill – we can’t always control what happens but we can control our reactions. And they were so cool. We decided to go with Plan B, which was what one of the kids originally wanted to do in the first place! Ironic how that works! And he got chocolate too!! Lucky kid.

We came home and changed out of our bathing suits and flip flops and put on layers and layers and warm shoes and umbrellas and headed into Amsterdam to go to the Nemo museum. It’s like the San Francisco Exploratorium, with hands on science exhibits and exploratory fun. Even though it was a crowded Christmas holiday off with everyone there, we used our museum cards and enjoyed a couple hours together playing and having fun.

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Afterwards we met up with Jeff at his office so the kids could see where he works. We went for dinner at THE Mexican restaurant in Amsterdam.

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It’s hard to come by Mexican food here and we sure miss it! The restaurant was called Los Pilones, in case you are looking for Mexican food too, or know of another place to recommend. We enjoyed a margarita (but it tasted nothing like Steve’s!!) in honor of Stacey’s birthday, and ate some chips and salsa and guacamole. It was pretty good and the ambiance was definitely nice. I think we’ll go back until we can get good Mexican food back in Cali!

Happy Birthday, Stacey!

Day 41: Big Kids Now

Two days into vacation, and I’m realizing we have big kids now. They are more independent and less needy which makes it easier. On the other hand, they all have big opinions and more needs that they tend to vocalize over and over again, which makes it harder.

I like to just go with the flow, especially in Hawaii; to have a general plan, but one that can change. The kids want to know what’s coming when and to have a say in the process and decision making. That’s probably ok with one kid, but when three kids are barking orders and I’m trying to please everybody, including my husband who hates the sand and being hot, it’s a bit more challenging to make everyone happy.

What I learned very quickly, is that I need to manage their expectations a little better. They just want a little bit of control over their world and knowing what we’re doing for the day helps them to feel more at ease. Duh… I’m the same way. It helps me to help them too and then we’re all happy.

So today we decided to spend the entire day on Waikiki beach without getting in the car. It was wonderful! We rented umbrellas and chairs, paddle boards, a paddle boat and a raft. We brought our lunch and a cooler with drinks and relaxed all day. It was perfect and we all had smiles on our faces!!

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