Today Marinda asked us to play a game with her. A good sign! It means she's getting a bit better.
We have a history of playing games, usually during vacations. And when the kids were small we used to play games together as well. Marinda was really good at Scrabble at an early age and Tristan loved the money in Monopoly. We play cards with Tristan when bringing him to bed.

Part of Marinda's being sick is her reversal to childhood. That includes listening to Sesame Street cassette tapes (huh, what are those??), watching Annie (the Sound of Music should be coming up soon as well) and now playing games. It's fun though, because some good family memories are centered around playing games. One summer Herman and Marinda were fierce scrabble competitors, staying up til midnight to finish the game and fanatically counting points. Last vacation the kids, Herman, and his parents were playing a dutch game appropriately called "People, don't get annoyed!". It was hilarious to hear them laughing and joking. Here's a picture of them:

The other day we tried playing Trivial Pursuit. That was a big disaster, seeing as the game was from the year 1995 or something like that. We just didn't know a single answer!
I'm actually a poor sport at a lot of games. If any real insight is needed I'm totally lost and I get grouchy as well because I can't win. How sad is that! But I love the family feel of playing a game together, it makes me like everything is in it's place and all is right with the world.


Well, we are in for some major changes! Herman heard yesterday that he's the man for his dream job which means we will be moving sometime in december. Wow!
It's a big change, pretty much all aspects of our life will become different. Different house, different schools for the kids, different church and so forth and so on. We're looking forward to it though. It's about time Herman found a job in which he can really show what kind of a person he is! He'll be working in maintenance but will have the added challenge of coaching people who need support in getting their life back on the rails.
Our kids have mixed feelings about the changes. Especially Tristan, he's not looking forward to it. Tristan likes stability, a certain amount of sameness in his life. This change is quite major for him. What we have to take into consideration real well is his growing baldness and his hemofilia. The school he is at now has fully accepted these things and there's no teasing or uneasiness or anything. A new school means informing new teachers and kids and you can't tell beforehand how they will react.
Marinda is still really sick with her Pfeiffer. She's looking forward to the change though, but she's always in for something different. She has made up her mind already about where she wants to go to school. We have to see how that works out seeing as we don't know where we're going to live yet!
As for me.... I'm excited, nervous, worried and trying to let go and let God. I'm the planner in the family and have already made lists of the things we need to do and what things to pack first and we only heard this news yesterday! I will have to find a new job as well. I don't really mind that, but the whole idea of hardly knowing anything at this point makes me kind of nervous. And knowing we're leaving makes me look at our house, home, work and family rituals with fresh eyes and helps me appreciate what we have.
I sincerely hope that what we get will measure up!

A day in the life

I work on monday, tuesday and thursday. Herman leaves the house at 7.30 because he starts work at 8. If I'm feeling fit and sane I get up at around 7 and first wake up Marinda, who has to catch the train at 8. She had a terrible habit of getting out of bed at the last possible minute which left me running after her telling her to eat her breakfast, brush her teeth, pack her bag and hurry to catch her train. It drove me mad! She's doing better now with that, but getting out of bed in the morning is definately not her favorite thing to do. Tristan has picked up on her habit and now has to be pushed out of bed at 8, which really is too much on the late side. This morning was a good example of that. Besides him not getting out of bed quickly, we also had an argument about what he should wear. He prefers jogging clothes whereas I would much rather see him in a pair of jeans. I won the argument today......
Tristan and I leave the house around the same time, 8:25. He bikes about two minutes to school, and I bike to work in about half an hour. If it isn't raining that is. If it is I take the train which takes me approximately the same amount of time. But standing up in a fully loaded train is not my favorite thing to do. I work until 5.30 and then come home to Herman cooking supper in the kitchen. That works out pretty good!
On the days I don't work I try to leave the house early and go to the gym. This works at least once a week and always makes me feel better about myself. The rest of the day is spent doing housework, reading, blogging, grocery shopping, cooking, visiting, or whatever else grabs my fancy. I love those days. I have the house to myself and can do my own thing. Even though I can be quite sociable, I have also discovered I really need my OWN time, no kids, no husband, no friends, just me, myself and I.
Writing it down like this makes it sound pretty basically boring. Don't even know why I bothered! Except that maybe when I read this a couple of years from now it'll help me remember the details of our ordinary little life and make me smile to remember them.


Today I thought I'd write about my family, that is, the family I grew up with!

(my mom and dad in nepal a couple of years ago)

My mom and dad are working in Ethiopia right now, back "home" I guess. You can view their lives on their website I see my parents at least once a year. Can't imagine what life would be like without e-mail and Skype. That way we can at least keep in touch!

(all of us kids, with our kids!)

Lise lives here in Holland. She's the great mother of two kids, Justin and Alina. We rediscovered eachother a couple of years ago after she had major surgery and I was able to help her a bit. Also that fact that we both have kids and can share our experiences binds us together. I'm jealous of her natural gift for motherhood. I tend to make a mess of mothering unfortunately. Thank goodness kids are forgiving!

(Lise and Alina)

Renzo is my amazing brother. You can see what he's up to on his site I strongly suggest you take a look at it! He's an artist. Besides making great art, he's also somebody who always manages to cheer me up. Worth his weight in gold!

(this is a picture Renzo and Chris at my birthday this year)

Joy doesn't have an english site, but really should because she has some amazing stories to tell. She has been doing a lot of travelling and working in countries like Liberia and Ethiopia for MSF. She just moved to Uganda with Chris. When people see us I hear we look alike. Judge for yourself! Joy is my style icon.

(Joy-Desta and I)

Of course there is so much more to say about my family than these short notes. I love them all and I'm glad that the way we grew up has given us a special bond, despite our differences. I love shocking people by suddenly speaking english when I get a phone call from one of them. When I'm with my brother and sisters I always feel I can really be myself, my dutch self and my international self. All the pieces of me fit into place and I feel a more fun and complete person because of it. Thanks you all!


I have one little sick chickabie here in the house. Marinda has mono/kissing disease/pfeiffer (whatever name you choose to give it). For now it means she has a major throat infection and a high fever, poor girl. She feels utterly miserable. She was at my parents in laws house this weekend, bless them, but is now home again. So I get to mother her and try to get her to eat and drink a little so that she'll get better. I'm kind of counting on this taking a couple of weeks, and I'm really hoping that she won't have too hard a time catching up at school when she gets back! It would be a real pain if she flunked this year because of it starting off so badly. The dutch school system divides the year into 4 blocks with different classes in each block. So if she's sick through one of those blocks then she'll have a very hard time catching up.
Meanwhile Tristan is off at camp with the 7th and 8th grade classes of his school. I keep wondering how he's doing. He's never been much of a camp kid, contrary to Marinda who has gone from a very early age. Tristan has spent numerous nights at my parents in laws, but never anywhere else. I hope he's having a good time! It's only for 2 nights, but it feels strange not to have him around. Tomorrow he'll be back and I'll get to hear all his stories. Though, knowing him, he'll probably answer in monosyllables and get bothered with me for asking him so many questions. Oh the joys of motherhood!
Now I'll just head back on down and see if I can get Marinda to eat some chicken soup. That seems to be the american remedy for sickness. That and jello, if I remember right. Did you know that every culture has their own types of food that they advise when you're feeling sick? It's fun to see all the differences. My dad used to make lammetjespap (lambs porridge), which is basically a smooth soft porridge made from flour, milk and a little bit of sugar. It always worked for us!


Our trip to Ethiopia will be the first out of Europe experience for us as a family. We go on a short holiday almost every year but the farthest we've been as a family has been to Germany! When Marinda was two we went to Greece with her, and when she was 8 she and I went to Nepal to visit my parents. So for Tristan this coming vacation will be the first time for him to fly.
We've had some great vacations here though. The idea has been to visit a new province of Holland every year. That's one way of getting to know my native country! And Holland can be quite varied in all its smallness.
My absolute favorite vacations have been to Texel, one of the islands here. I love the sense of space you have on the island, and the fact that you are just a bike ride away from the beach. Just wonderful! Add some great friends and then you have an ideal mix.

For some reason, I can't put words underneath the pictures, so here's the explanations:
1. view of Texel from a boat
2. this years vacation in Belgium with my parents in law
3. Tristan really LOVING his icecream!
4. A day on the beach
5. The best friends ever to go on vacation with


Today is sunday so I thought I'd write about church. The last 13 years we have been members of a church in Utrecht called De Schuilplaats (The Shelter), a small evangelical group of about 70 people. And a shelter is just exactly what the church has been to us. When we first came our relationship was in shambles. Lots of dedicated pastoral care has helped us come where we now are. But now we both feel that it may be time to move on and spread our wings a bit more. We've done practically everything that can be done in the church varying from being church group leaders, organizing church weekends, lunches, brunches and dinners, doing sunday school, hanging up the decorations, welcoming people at the door, leading the Alpha course, doing the sound, making coffee and so forth and so on. Doing all those things has kept Herman and I committed. It's much easier to go to church when you have a task to do or an obligation to be there!
Over the last year I have been putting aside a number of my tasks and I have found that to be really refreshing. It also makes me think about the real essence of what churchgoing is about, and why I go to church at all. On the one hand not going to church every week makes it easy to just not think about God at all and to "go with the secular flow", on the other hand there is the challenge to go beyond habit and find out what my relationship with God is really about. Sometime later I may try to put that part of my life into words.


Despite the fact that I wrote I have lost 15 kilos in the last year, weight still remains a HUGE issue in my life. It started during Marinda's pregnancy. I ate a lot then, partly because I was "eating for two" and naively thought I could get away with it, and partly to cover up a multitude of feelings that I was having.
After I gave birth to Marinda I was quite severely depressed for two years. I gained a lot of weight in that time and it became a really big deal. A big part of the years since then have been spent eating away a lot of issues instead of dealing with them.
That still happens to me regularly. I eat when I feel happy, eat when I feel sad, angry or dissappointed. Eating is very easy! One of the reasons that I finally managed to lose weight this time was because I got to the root of a certain issue and that finally helped me to get to grips with my weight as well.
I so wish that that would be end of my weight problem! Unfortunately it isn't. I still have to deal with myself, with who I am, and how I deal with things, and that means that sometimes I grab the candy, cookies, or whatever eatables are lying around the house and try to eat away the uncomfortable feeling that something is not quite right. Sometimes it seems a lot easier than actually dealing with the feelings. "Seems" is the key word in that last sentence!
Anyway, why I am writing this..... I'm not sure really. Probably because today was kind of hard because I saw a lot of bald kids, and because I saw where Hermans dream job is and I'm worried he won't get the job, because Marinda has been feeling sick for quite a while and I'm worried about her, because I'm tired of my job, and because I have PMS?
So now I've written it down, maybe I can keep myself from overeating the rest of the day!!


A couple of weeks ago I was at home feeling exhausted. Sometime in that week somebody asked me what kind of things I enjoyed doing. I couldn't give a decent answer at that point. A while later I realized that something that has always helped me has been to write things down. The last two years I've written lists of resolutions (or goals or dreams) to keep me awake and keep me aimed. If I don't look at those resolutions often enough I find I get so caught up in the daily routine of living that I forget to really live. So, remembering that, I decided to buy myself a brand new notebook, the cutest I could find, AND a new pen (never mind the fact that I have about 100 pens lying around the house) and start up a new list. That notebook, with all the things I've jotted down inside, has really helped me rediscover the things that give me energy. And the last two weeks have been spent putting some of my resolutions into practice.
Ever since the tv series Lost has been shown on dutch tv I've been wanting to follow it. But due to bad timing (and kids and husband wanting to watch other things) I've never managed. Now I just watch in from the internet! Simple, but very effective and fun. If I hadn't written it down I wouldn't have done it...

Yesterday on my way to work, I walked by the market. Usually I walk by with a feeling of regret because I supposedly don't have the time to have a look (I really like markets!). Now I took those couple of minutes and even bought some flowering plants for my office. So that little decision will give me weeks of pleasure because of my office looking more cheerful. I find a lot of the joy of life is in the little stuff. Mind you, I also have a number of BIG resolutions. Like visiting the States, going to visit my sister in Uganda, wearing a ball gown, going skiing, becoming a color consultant (I love the thought of taking an insecure person and brightening them up by using the right colors), and driving a really really fast car (or driving in Germany where there is NO speed limit on the highways!). Such fun to think of these things coming true!

And to my great pleasure a number of last years resolutions have been resolved! We're going to Ethiopia this Christmas for a family reunion and I have managed to lose 15 kilos. YEAH!!!

A bit of this and that

No pictures today, just a little peek into my day. Wednesdays are my day off. Usually I go to the gym in an attempt to keep fit and keep my weight down. But I woke up so tired I decided to give myself a break. I know though, that that is not very smart because I probably would have felt a lot better after giving myself a good workout! But all in all it's been a good morning. Marinda had to go the doctor and afterwards I treated us to a cup of coffee in the shopping center here. And then we ended up going into shops and buying stuff. Got myself a nice winter jacket! I usually hate shopping so it's great to run into something kind of by accident. Tristan will be coming home from school soon, wednesdays are always half days for elementary school kids. I'll feed him and then he'll probably go out to play soccer. Meanwhile I have a ton of housework to do. Definately not one of the joys of my life! Herman and I share household tasks pretty equally because he works parttime as well. He cooks most days of the week for example. Tonight is my turn and seeing as he's not here and my kids can be picky eaters, I'll probably make something real easy.
All these details are fascinating, I'm sure, so now I'll just stop going on and on and start getting on with hanging up my laundry, dusting and vacuuming.


Just back from a relatively tiring day at work. I am a volunteer coordinator in a project in Utrecht, which is one of the bigger cities in Holland. I work three days a week. I'm in charge of finding volunteers and setting them to work assisting the elderly, handicapped or poor in the city. I have about 125 volunteers and 500 clients a year. This has been my job the last two years, before that I worked for the same organisation but then I helped people build friendships. When I really stop to think about it I sometimes feel I'm investing a lot of energy in supplying people with a luxury (instead of feeding the hungry or doing something more noble like that). On the other hand it's also nice to make a old lonely person happy. Like today when an old man called and asked if we could please find someone to go to the hospital with him because he was scared of going alone. We found someone and made him very happy!
It can be quite confronting to be working with and for older people the whole time though. Sometimes I feel like I'm 65 and growing older every minute. So I keep my eyes open for other job opportunities.
But, as you can see, I do work in a beautiful old building in the middel of a historical city. How many people can claim that?


Some pictures of our home and garden. We live in Houten, which is a small city perhaps, or a big village. I guess that depends on what you compare it too! When we first moved here 5 years ago I always felt I was on vacation when I arrived home or looked out the window when eating breakfast. Even biking to work has its joys when you pass tiny canals with swans, little bridges and some meadows with cows and sheep in them and a farm or two. All squished up together in small proportions as usual in Holland! Our former house was in the middle of the city, with two bedrooms, so this house felt like a little paradise when we first got in. After 5 years you get used to anything, so now we are of course aching for a change. Hopefully sometime in the next two week I will be able to report that we will be moving closer to Hermans family home. That all depends on if he gets his dream job or not. Then we will be in for a lot of changes, including a new house. I wonder where we'll end up !


Herman is my husband of fifteen years. Those fifteen years have been anything but easy, we have had an immense amount of differences and difficulties to overcome. And yet I am proud to say that we are still together and have grown closer despite all the trouble. Not without a little (lot) of help from church and professionals though. If there's one thing that we've learned, is that it's a good thing to ask for help!
I fell in love with Herman because of his beautiful brown eyes and the sparkle in them, and because of the fact that he was an exciting experienced "older" man. Growing up in Africa left me out of touch with the age group of over twenties!
I love him a lot for his patience and utter loyalty to me and our kids. He's a great supporter and always willing to change, even though the change may be slow in coming. Someone once compared us to a steamship and a sailboat. I'm the sailboat; with a puff of wind I'm off coasting along feeling free and blythe. Herman is the steamship: steady and dependable and not easily turned off course. When we take the time to look at our differences and see them as qualities we make a real good team!


Tristan is my soccer hero. I've just come back from the soccer fields with him. He made a good goal and made me a proud mother!
I actually don't like soccer much but have grown to like it just from having to hang around the soccer field with Tristan. Because of his hemofilia we go to all the games. Last year I even hung around at every soccer practice. Turned me into a real soccer mom. But there's nothing like bit of pride to turn you into a enthousiastic fan!!
Today the whole subject of his alopecia came up again. Next week we'll be going to a special day for kids with alopecia. He's slowly getting used to the idea. We'll check out the wigs, scarves, bandanas and makeup that they have to cover up bald patches and see if we can find something really hip for him to wear.
Tristan is a real boy. He delights in making obnoxious noises, something which regularly reduces me to helpless laughter. He loves soccer, and is either playing that or hanging out behind the computer. (with only one computer in the house this can regularly lead to loud arguments about whose turn it is!). No more gentle cuddles from him. He grabs me around the waist and practically strangles me. And he's almost as tall as his sister, and she's 5 years older!
But he's a great kid, and great fun to have around.


Marinda is my fifteen year old gorgeous daughter, as you can see from the picture. She is a treasure and a trial at times. Very very independent, smart, fun and wise. We get along well, something that I'm very grateful for considering the bad start that we had together. I was depressed for two years after she was born, and wasn't much of a mother. But nowadays we have movie nights and slather ourselves in lotions and potions while watching something soppy (though we both like CSI as well!). And she manages to tell me how to run my life and sometimes will listen to my advice to her.
I see some of myself in her, and others tell me she has the same mannerisms that I have, but there's a lot in her that keeps me surprised and on my toes. She's great with kids, for example, something that I have not yet managed to be!
And I'm continuously amazed at how gorgeous she is. Anything she does makes her look good! Was I ever like that?!?


I never realized how fun this could be! I've just spent half an hour rejecting all kinds of pictures that I want to place on the blog, only to come to the conclusion that I will have to make a supremely flattering one! And I spent all day yesterday thinking about the kinds of things I would write on this blog.
I've decided on writing around themes. So each day I will pick one aspect of my life and go into a bit of detail about it. And, if I think it's worth the while, I will also chat about little daily happenings that, to me, are worth mentioning. It's really give me something to look forward to! Somehow gives me the feeling that I can really share something about my life. I don't know where that need comes from. Maybe it's just inherent to being human.
It's late now, so I'll keep this short. Tomorrow I'll really get a start, and probably add a picture or two. I get cheerful just at the thought of it.


Something that I've been having a hard time with lately has been Tristans alopecia. To put it bluntly, my little boy is going bald. Writing that down makes it sink in even more. He's gotten some bad genes from his parents unfortunately. I have given him hemofilia, which means his blood doesn't clot well, and Herman has passed on the alopecia that his dad has. The weird thing is that hemofilia is a much more serious illness. The alopecia only affects his hair growth. But it's just so darn VISIBLE! Which, in some ways, makes it more of a handicap that hemofilia is. This summer has been hard. The bald patches are growing and are becoming more and more difficult to cover up. He has a hard time trying to cope. It's hard to see my son suffer and have nothing at all that I can say or do to console him. He's a wonderful kid, and I'm so glad he's able to verbalize what's going on in his head, but regularly I wish I could grab a hold of God and force him to do some major healing quickly.

Why write a blog?

So why write a blog? Actually, writing one has been on my list of things to do for about 3 years. Before that I wanted to write a diary and never got around to it. I like the thought of sharing my thoughts with the big world out there. Besides that, it helps me keep aware of what I'm doing. Writing things down always keeps me grounded, something which is can be very neccesary in my life!
I'm going to use this blog to reflect on my life here in Holland. I'm purposely writing it in English (instead of in dutch, which might seem more logical, seeing as I am a dutch person after all). English will give me that bit of distance to objectify things and there's less chance of some dutch person I know reading this and maybe getting their feelings hurt or anything like that!
I hope this will work out. And anybody out there reading this, please feel free to comment!