Thought I was ready…

January 21st, 2012 → 11:38 am @

As I’ve mentioned, my youngest has started school. I have been waiting for the tears and they haven’t come. So I guess that makes me ready for the next phase right?

However, knowing myself a bit, I find this suspicious. I usually have to cry when I make transitions, and a lot.

Tonight. There I was.  A friend of my husband’s was visiting with her 2 year old son. We were just ending diner when she mentioned that she needed a small buggy. I spontaneously said: You can have ours. We don’t need it anymore.

So I went to get the buggy and as I was taking it down from the hook, I could feel the tears starting. I pushed them away thinking – great – I can give it to someone that can really use it.  I put on a smile, showed her how it worked, how small it was, and to always tell the airlines that it fit in any overhead bin (really does!). She kept asking me if I was sure. I kept saying that I was.

All of my buggy memories started coming back. It’s been everywhere with us.

Then they came. The tears. They came and came. I hid in the kitchen trying to get a grip. Didn’t help. I could hear that she was getting ready to leave so I called for my youngest daughter.  I asked her (through my tears) if we could give the buggy to the little boy. She’s usually really happy to give away things if it’s to someone she knows. Of course, she picked up on my tears and started crying and said no. It was still her buggy. (I’m sure if I hadn’t been crying that this conversation would have been different)…

My husband came into the kitchen to see what was going on and found us together.  I told him that I wasn’t ready. Then I told his friend the same thing and she hugged me for it. Said it was so beautiful to see me crying over the buggy (???) and told me to promise to keep it forever.

Now, I may not do that, after all –  it’s a 10$ buggy from Zellers – in fact it’s my second, as the first one broke.  But I will wait.

I’m actually not ready yet.

(pic of The Buggy coming soon…)

Blog &Daily Life &My kids

Moms can’t get sick… Or should we?

January 16th, 2012 → 11:41 am @

In the last month, I have swallowed more cough syrop, taking more tylenol, inhaled more nose spray and sucked on more throat things than I have in the last 5 years. I’ve even had a week’s worth of antibiotics and no drinking. Yes – it’s been that kind of month…

And now – I’m camping out with a bruised rib despite all of the above. Who knew that coughing could bruise a rib. I thought they were bones – hard and un-bruise-able. hurts like hell… Luckily my nice doctor gave me some strong painkillers and I’m functioning again with a big smile on my face.

Because really, a sick mom is still a mom.  Some things are supposed to function all the time. us. And when we don’t – disaster. Kids don’t understand, husband tries to help but strong woman thing gets in the way. Life doesn’t work. It’s not like we only have one role to fulfill or get a replacement for. We are meant to have strong bug free bodies. We (I) take for-granted that we (I) can do everything all the time. I don’t plan for sick days. I don’t plan for not physically being able to do things.  (And yes, I know that, in the big picture, I am very fortunate.)

I mean I try to eat healthy foods, go out with friends, take my vitamines, exercise, but this year, that hasn’t been enough.

And how does one really recover?

- Spend one week in bed. Really?

- Take it easy… uh ok…

Having said that – it’s a great time to learn about letting go.  The mess, let it go… Diner time, let it go…. Arguing with the kids, let it go… Exercise, no go. Laudry, still clean underwear? let it go. No excuse needed to sit on the couch and watch tv.  And lucky me, the painkillers I’m on are ok to combine with a glass of wine. Thank God!

Hmmm… this is actually sounding like not a bad deal.

Mom’s should get sick more often!!!

Blog &Daily Life

Turning 4 means starting school in NL

December 12th, 2011 → 11:50 am @

My daughter will be 4 in a couple of weeks. It’s a huge milestone in this country as it’s also the day that you start school.  We don’t have a September start for everyone. The kids literally roll in on their 4th bday.

It means that the teacher has a group of 4-5-6 year olds that work together and help each other. When a new 4 year old starts, he/she is assigned to a “bigger” kid who helps them understand how the system works. It’s like a buddy system.

The class is a combination of pre-kindergarden and kindergarden. The kids are split into “youngest”, “middle’est” and “oldest”. The “oldest” group starts getting ready for grade 1 and most kids take about 2 years to get there. Some stay longer, some leave before that time.  Grade 1 is a September start. That means, for example, that my daughter who is starting school now will likely take 2,5 years to get to grade 1 instead of a short 1,5 years. She’ll be an “older” grade 1 starter. (They like to label here…) which I think only has benefits.  Who wants a 10 year old heading to high school?

It works. I must say that when my oldest started school I found this a bit weird. Like anything unknown, I questioned the idea of having such a diverse age group in one class. Now, I think it’s a good system. The kids aren’t at all busy with getting to Grade 1. This gives the school and parents a chance to have a good look at the child in question to determine if he/she is ready for the next step without there being any stigma attached to it.

But – I did mention that my youngest is starting school. I think the consequences of this are much bigger for me then they are for her.  She’s super ready (she says). That’s what I will write about in January – when she’s officially in school.  This week she’s just “practicing”….

 

Blog &Daily Life &My kids

The Piets

November 27th, 2011 → 12:01 pm @

I want to talk a bit about The Piets (English would be Pete’s I guess…). These are part of The Sint ritual that I recently wrote about.  There are Crazy Piets, Messy Piets, Hungry Piets, Funny Piets, Sneaky Piet, Grouchy Piets, Sad Piets, Forgetful Piets, Tired Piet (me), Piet’ettes, Music Piets, School Piets, Dancing Piets, Present Piets, Singing Piets, Marching band Piets – but I’ve never seen a swimming Piet. That might ruin the make-up effect…

I was thinking the other day that they are just like the Smurfs. Except for the “controversial color” thing.

The great thing about the Piets is that there is always an excuse if you “accidentally” leave the letter the kids wrote to The Sint on the counter (Forgetful Piet), or if you go completely nuts and throw everything around the living room before filling the shoes (Messy Piet and super fun!), Late Piet is used when you’ve just plain old forgotten (friend of mine this morning after a night out…).  So I am actually starting to love The Piets. We even had a “Before Piet” come and leave a message that they weren’t ready for our house yet. (Read, I didn’t have my act together). Worked like a charm and gave us 3 more days grace!

We were watching the Smurfs on TV the other day and the legend says that they have existed “as mythical creatures” for a long long time.

So I wonder who came first – The Smurf or The Piet?

Blog &Daily Life

Think you have present problems?

November 22nd, 2011 → 12:03 pm @

There are some great things about living abroad, sharing cultural differences, learning lots of new things but the yearly traditions can get complicated.

In Holland we have someone called “The Sint” who looks an awful like Santa but totally isn’t. He arrives by boat from Spain with his “Piets”, the Sint version of elves but they are black (from the soot from the chimneys???) – Anyways, that’s not important.

 

The important thing is that the guy comes 3 weeks before his birthday and hangs out around the country, sending the kids into a frenzy. Imagine that Santa filled the stockings not once but 8 times. I mean, seriously. Jeez Louise (as a friend of mine once said). It’s huge, a mega country-wide production.  There is the Sint news channel at 17:40 every night on national tv. They come up with a different story each year that freaks the kids out that there will be no presents. This year the story is about his lost book (i think…) – so he doesn’t know who’s been good.  A lot of Santa stuff going on. But apparently the Sint was here first.

Anyways – the coming in on the boat is really great. The cities and villages go all out, there is energy in the air, the Piets give out small cookies and candies and often know the name of the kids (we live in a small village!).

 

There is dancing and singing, tension and excitement. I can almost get into it. THEN…

The kids put out there (stinky) shoes at night. They fill them with fresh apples (hence the reason I used the word stinky) and carrots, leave notes about what they want and sing songs (all day long).

 

They wake up very early to check if the Piets have left a little gift in their shoe. No = major crying. Yes = well that’s obvious.  There is a calendar available on-line of “when” they come. Very handy. 2x a week is more than enough. Then on December 5th, his birthday (i think), he leaves a big bag of gifts at the door. A big knock, the kids freak out, and there it is – the Bag. The bag is full of gifts for the kids. Some kids get 10 gifts each, some get “only” 3. We favor the 3…  The kids open the gifts like it’s Christmas, we eat some traditional sweet stuff and that’s a wrap. Well not quite. You see he also leaves the country, the next day.  We’ve managed to skip that event so far but I suspect it might be on the radar this year. There are also some other nice things that the big kids and adults do. They write poems for each other and make “surprises” but we haven’t gotten there yet so I can’t say much about it…

THEN we have Christmas. Man. I mean, I love Santa, so I need to do the Christmas thing but even I have to admit, it’s a little much. But Santa doesn’t exist here. He’s the Sint. So we’ve done the “well if you don’t believe then”… story and my kids believe in Santa and on the 24th of December we start all over again. Less fanfare, no tv news about him, it’s all me. And I love it! But, as i said, it’s a bit much.

So. To sum up. 4 kids x 8x shoes x 3-4 in the bag gifts + 4x socks and Santa. Pffff… Yes, I have an excel sheet. And also not to overlook, 2 birthdays in that same period.

So you think you have present problems??? Welcome to my life.

 

Blog &Daily Life

Living in a cloud – literally

November 21st, 2011 → 12:08 pm @

Did you ever dream of jumping into a cloud, sitting in a cloud, walking through a cloud? They look so soft and welcoming…

Let me tell you what it’s like.

I never consciously decided to live in a cloud – but I have been for the last 4 days. I mean living in Holland has it’s pro’s but the weather is not one of them.

For some reason a cloud has settled over the country. It’s so thick that you get wet having a walk and that you can’t see more than 50 meters ahead of you (in fact I read that an important soccer game was cancelled because they couldn’t see the ball…). Never mind about catching a glimpse of the sun…

And did you know – it’s cold in the cloud. My very good,super warm enough for Canadian winters, winter coat just doesn’t cut it. Add a hat and mittens and I’m still cold. It’s called dampness – and I tell you – it doesn’t get much better than it does here.  It has no respect for coats, layers, more layers, more coats. It just plows right through until it hits your bones. So I spend my days attached to a hot water bottle. I have a sheepskin seat cover for my bike that keeps my bum warm, a hat that covers my ears, the thickest mittens and the tightest coat (so that it can’t seep inside). If I bike fast enough, I can generate enough counter heat production to keep the dampness at bay (temporarily).

And the Dutch. They don’t even feel it.  They always say – aren’t you the Canadian with the -25 degree weather? How can this be cold…

I’ll take dry cold and dry heat over this any day.

Blog &Daily Life

Laundry

November 3rd, 2011 → 12:22 pm @

Some time ago, I decided that I would do the laundry every 10 days (or 7 if really necessary). I didn’t feel like washing and folding every day – the idea doesn’t make me feel good.   I once mentioned to a friend in an email that I did the laundry once a week and she thought that I meant that I literally did one load once a week and couldn’t figure out how that was possible with 4 kids. I explained that I did laundry all day one day a week… Then she said, I thought that you fit a lot of clothes into your machine like you do with content in your book :-) – I thought – what a great thing to say about my book…

So how does one only wash every 10 days…

- Have enough underpants and socks for everyone.

- Spend the whole day doing loads of laundry but really it just means that every 2-3 hours (washers and dryers are not very fast here in NL) that I load and re-load.

- Don’t bother with separating colors and whites. We have no whites and I wash everything cold.

- I pick a day that I’m likely to be around every 2-3 hours – though sometimes that’s decided by the spilling out of clothes from the laundry hampers… hmmm maybe I should get more hampers…

- The dry clothes get tossed onto the couch.

- Once the kids are in bed, the clothes await folding.

- I put on a pre-recorded favorite tv show, pour myself a glass of wine, and fold. Sometimes I call my mom while I fold.

The only thing I’m not so good at, is putting the folded clothes back into the closets… This can take up to 3 days. As I write, there are a bunch of folded clothes calling out to me but I’m ignoring them. I will however try and put them away tonight while the kids are getting ready for bed!

And this is what happens when you do laundry every 10 days and your dryer breaks down… 

And the socks… Let’s talk about that another time… (and before you say anything.. this picture was taken some time ago… I now have same colored socks for everyone!)

Blog &Daily Life

2 hours of SHOES

October 24th, 2011 → 12:28 pm @

Wouldn’t you love to have the opportunity to try on the most beautiful shoes in the world for as long as you wanted without a pushy impatient sales person breathing over your neck???  Well that’s exactly what I got to do this saturday at my friends Dante and Francesca – Italian and designers and producers of beautiful shoes under the brand name Nora.

 

They took out all of the samples they had in my size, lined them up and watched as I tried not to salivate over the beautiful leather. Even the ones that I thought, hmmm, not really my style – were totally my style.

And of course that wasn’t enough, we got in the car and drove to the store that has even more (as this first shoe event took place in their kitchen!). More beautiful shoes – I found the pair I was looking for and seeing it didn’t feel right to leave with only one pair, I forced myself to get a second.

Today I am wearing one of the pairs as I work by myself at home, behind my computer. Bit of a waste but I feel great!!!

 

Balance &Blog &Daily Life

Big plans

October 19th, 2011 → 12:32 pm @

I had big plans to post at least a couple of tips a week. Every day would be even better… Course I forgot that the kids are home all week and by the end of the day when everyone is in bed – I am totally done. So – for this week … no tips. I’ll be back at it on Monday morning sharp!

Here’s a pic of me and the kids on the bus home from the Library and Science & Technology museum…

 

Balance &Blog &Daily Life &My kids

Julia and the Groceries

October 12th, 2011 → 12:36 pm @

Here’s Julia and the Groceries. Or should I say – The Groceries and Julia!

 

Blog &Daily Life &My kids