We've been blessed with lots of flowers lately. A friend has the lovely habit of giving great bunches of flowers every time she feels there's an occasion to celebrate. And she uses almost every situation to create a celebration! This one was to celebrate the fact that we got a house. Then last week another friend dropped by to give Marinda an encouraging bunch of flowers because she's still feeling sick. And today I got two bunches of flowers as a thank you from my volunteers at work.
I love a great bunch of flowers. The colors are great, inspiring and give a lift every time you look at them! And in Holland we're blessed with flower stalls around every corner where you can get a big bunch for very little cash. It's lovely!


The smell of frying salmon is floating up the stairs, almost making me nauseous. Herman is frying up his dinner. He came home late so I fixed the kids the ultimate easy meal of macaroni with ham and cheese (REAL cheese and REAL ham, none of those packaged thingys here!). Tristan is off to soccer practice and I've been doing odd jobs keeping myself busy. Laundry and dishes and suchlike. Kind of peaceful to do these routine things!
I have a huge shopping list of things I still "need" to get before going to Ethiopia. Like new underwear for example. Ridiculous really, but suddenly I find it appalling that my underwear is falling apart and I feel I cannot confront my mother with my shreds. So new undies it must be. (I know, I know, you really don't need to know these details!) I will not get thongs though. I still cannot get used to them and only wear them when in desperate need (like with white pants) or when I think it will make me feel sexy (though often the effort is wasted, because Herman is not particularly charmed by the state of my butt------ yes, I know! Even more information you don't need!).
Making a list is satisfying though, because I get the feeling that I have a good overall picture and I have the great satisfaction of checking things off when I have them done. I'm even one of those people who when she does something that's not on the list, writes it down anyway just for the sheer pleasure of checking it off!
I'm now off to do the last thing on my list for today, clearing away the laundry. Hope you have a good day!

What to write?

I'm finding it hard to know what to write because so much is going on I don't know where to start and I live in fear of boring my readers. I guess I should go back to my original reason for writing, which was more because I wanted to and not so much because I wanted to "entertain" people. So if I go back my original motivation then I think it will do me good to write about two little hopeful things that happened today.
I got a call from somebody who has a foundation for Third Culture Kids. She's giving it up because she's moving out of the country, and has approached me to see if I can take over some of the work. It sounds like fun, it also sounds like something I would like to do, and am capable of doing, but it's not paid! But I'm going to explore the possibilities anyway and see where we end up. It would be funny if this came back in my life because a number of years ago I was quite involved in the whole missionary kids/third culture kids networks and I had imagined myself doing something quite like this. I'm not very very excited yet, because I'm pretty sure finances are going to be a big problem, but who knows what this will lead to?
And secondly I got a mail from this same person giving me the adres of somebody in this area who was looking for people with a similar background to mine. So I sent off a quick mail. Maybe person will be my first non-family contact in my new home town! You never know. And I found out that there's a womens meeting in this town in january. I've enjoyed them here every now and again, and will go visit it there and maybe mix and mingle and find some new contacts. Hopefully it will not be filled with older ladies in flowered dresses :-)
There, at least I've written down my hopeful things of the day. And I just remembered another one! We had job interviews today and have decided who is going to be my replacement. And I'm quite happy about her! That makes it easier for me to let go of my work, feeling confident that my replacement will be able to carry on what I've started (don't mean to sound arrogant, just conscientious!).
Enough for now. Time to see if I can get rid of this headache!!

My favorite position .......

What a morning!

My goodness, I'm sitting here behind the computer still panting from a sprint to get ready for a soccer match. We overslept quite badly and were all rushing around to get ready. Then the phone rang and we found out that the opponent had cancelled the game. Now we can all turn back to normal again. I can now get undressed, take a shower, have breakfast and re-start the day in a less frantic state of mind.
I have to laugh though. Things like this often happen. I get into a tizzy and then something comes along and helps me calm down, or things don't turn out as bad as I think. This is a recurring theme in my life. I think I have to experience it until I learn that I don't have to get into a tizzy!


Herman came home last night from one of his goodbye parties. He had a real good time and I couldn't help but feel jealous. And then I felt bad about myself for feeling jealous! I don't like to think of myself as being a person who can't enjoy other peoples pleasure, but always wants that pleasure for herself. But sometimes that kind of envy does pop up in me. So I look at Herman in different ways. In one way I see that my husband is enjoying himself, receiving a lot of praise for the work he's done. People are telling him they're going to miss him, there are farewell parties being planned, he's getting gifts from colleagues. And he's so calm and comfortable and relaxed and looking forward to the change! And the other part of me looks at all that and then gets sour and miserable wanting it for myself, and wonders if my life will ever pick up........ nasty old part of me!!
I'm thankful I can share it with Herman though and he's very understanding. He realizes that I don't have the same things to look forward to in our new home that he does. I'm so glad he doesn't get upset with me for being envious! Bless him for being big-hearted.

Extra work

I have to work extra hours the next couple of weeks. Turns out I don't have enough vacation hours to make up for our trip to Ethiopia. It's not exactly convenient to have to work extra right now! I'm tired enough as it is.... And it's not like I'm really being very productive either. My mind is all over the place and I have a hard time concentrating and raising enough patience to cope with my volunteers at this moment. I don't like the way I'm acting at work right now. Short-tempered and easily annoyed. I don't know if anybody notices, because I'm pretty good at hiding it, but I know that's how I'm feeling and it's affecting the way I look at my work and at myself. Guess I need to give myself an inner makeover!
On the bright, lighthearted side.... Yesterday I bought a new red shirt and bag to travel with to Ethiopia. Red is my absolute favorite color and I got a kick out of deciding what I want to wear on the plane. How silly is that! But I haven't flown in a long time and it feels like an event which is worthy of new clothes to me :-)
Imbetween all the hectic moments here I try to find some time to remind myself that I am going on vacation soon!

My kids

Here's some more pictures of my kids. They're old ones, Tristan still has his hair in these pictures! But you can see they're still great and can be real silly together.
Lately they've been getting along better. It was weird, when we moved here we assumed they would get along better because they each had their own room (they shared a room in our last house). But the reverse happened. Having their own territory only seemed to increase the number of arguments! Now they seem to be "rediscovering" eachother, much to my joy. I will take into consideration that a period of strife may still arise, but I'm enjoying the peace while it's here!


I wrote this when I was just in Holland.

I stagnate
here in this place.
The times are changeless
the days pass by
with boring monotony.
There is none
of the heigthened awareness
the great expectancy
the simple joy of being alive.
No raging storms
no blazing sun
no solid friendships
or tearful partings.
simply time
just passing by

I stagnate.

Alternative Date

Herman and I went on an alternative date this evening, to the library! I come there a couple of times a month, but it's not Hermans place to be. But it was an easy option to grab a look at magazines about houses, to see if we could get some good design ideas.....
That totally didn't work! All the magazines were filled with dark greys and browns. Most definately not my choice of style, and not even Hermans style (our styles differ, but we agree on this). It saved us money though, as we were planning to buy some magazines to help inspire us. Now we'll just rely on our own common sense and see where it gets us.

One of the things I'm going to miss about living here is the library. I have this sneaking suspicion that the library in our new town will not carry quite as many english books as I would like. This library doesn't either, but I'm glad for every english book I can get my hands on. Obviously I could buy them, but I consider that to be a pretty big waste of money, seeing as I read so fast. And if I bought every book I ever read, then I'd have to be a millionair :-)

Last summer we were in a monastery with a really old library. We weren't allowed near the books, could only smell (you know that musty, booky smell) and see them from behind a gate. Some had been laid down in a glass case to admire safely. I find the thought of those old old books thrilling. It would give me such a rush to hold one in my hands, realizing that it has been treasured through the centuries. It's like holding a real live bit of history in your hands. Cool!

4 days

We have 4 days in december to prepare the house so we can kind of live in it in january. That kind of puts a strain on us! The house needs painting and new carpeting/floors and of course it's handier to have that done before you put in all the furniture! So we've asked friends and mostly family to give us a helping hand. Hopefully that will work out well.
I can tell the stress is getting to me, lots more headaches than usual the last couple of weeks. This coming week should be pretty quiet though and saturday will be spent in the shops deciding what colors we want to use in our house. That should be fun, but I'm still having an enormously difficult time visualizing myself living in our new house, so picking out colors is really hard! I don't know why I'm having such a hard time with this move. Somehow I just can't manage to get really excited about it, mostly just nervous and uptight. And I find myself worrying a lot. Even when things work out pretty well, I find new things to worry about! Find myself thinking of some kind of quote "sufficient to the day is the evil thereof" or something like that. In other words, I shouldn't go "borrowing" trouble when there really is no reason to. Easier said than done I suppose! (well, lo and behold, I just googled my quote and found out it's biblical!)
Be not therefore anxious for the morrow:
for the morrow will be anxious for itself.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Matthew 6:34


Today Sinterklaas came to Holland. My kiddies, who are way to old to believe in him, had a good time watching the show on tv. I love it when they can still get into these "childish" celebrations. Tonight they will be putting out their shoe (dutch version of a stocking) for Sinterklaas and his black helpers to put a gift into. As small children they used to put down their shoe and then sings songs to make sure that Sinterklaas would pay attention. They get to do this every saturday until the 5th of december which is when the official celebration is.

I like this time of year. Sinterklaas is a family oriented creatieve celebration. Traditionally, (when kids are older and don't actually belive that Sinterklaas comes from Spain every year bringing gifts for them on a big steamship) we draw lots with eachothers name on them and then buy a gift for the person. Presentation is very important. You have to write a poem, and make a gag gift out of it. It's the perfect time to jokingly tell people off or make fun of some aspect of someones life. This year we will be doing this with the kids for the first time. I'm actually kind of nervous, seeing as we've never done it with our small family before.

A lot of times in the past having people around has helped us function better. We have been pretty uptight and there have been a lot of underlying tensions. Having people over helped alleviate the tension and helped us to function better, maybe because we put our best foot forward? The good news is that we're doing much better now! We laugh a lot more and there's a lot less arguing going on. All the more reason to treasure the things that we can do together!

New House

Today we're going to pick out tiles for the renovation of the bathroom and toilet in our new house (all lovingly paid for by our rental agency, how cool is that!).
Boring house, isn't it! It certainly needs some extra attention on the outside and the inside. But as you can see, the garden is pretty nice (for dutch standards) and there's more room in the back as well as a shed, and we have a little bit of space around the houset. Our house now only has a garden in the back and the front, nothing on the side because it's stuck in the middle of a row.
We're totally charmed by the orange front door (not!) and especially admire the way the people before us made the house seem so welcoming and open.....
Today I will probably plant some tulips in the front, back and side of the house. I bought these a number of weeks ago because I wanted something to look forward to in the spring. We'll probably also plant an apple or plum tree somewhere in the garden and enclose it so that we can have some more privacy. As well as that we've been checking out the dutch version of e-bay looking for secondhand floors, couches and kitchens. So our house will be new to us, old to others! Limited budgets make for creative home makeovers. I'm starting to look forward to it more and more though, and I'm happy about that!
Come by and visit sometime!

Roller coaster

I seem to be on a roller coaster of emotions lately. Today I was mostly in a dip. PMS maybe? We got our vaccinations for our trip to Ethiopia. It was actually quite fun to do, despite the huge amount of money we had to pay (as much as one of our tickets!). Luckily our insurance will cover 75% of the costs. Long live the dutch medical insurance system!!
I cleaned some of the house at 8:30 this evening. Ridiculous really. Cleaning in the dark is not very effective. And then when Herman came home after his farewell party at his volunteer work, I snapped at him and was not very nice at all :-( I apologized quickly, but couldn't help but feel very guilty.
Now my daughter is standing next to me (Hi Mom! love you:-)), reading (and typing) over my shoulder. I guess that means I should stop and get her to bed.
All in all this is practically a post not worth reading. I will do better another time!

Job applicants

Today I had the "honor" of interviewing 3 of a number of job applicants for the job that I will be leaving behind in january. It's a funny position to be in, talking to people who may be sitting in my chair in a couple of weeks! And also fun to read the letters from the applicants and be really really critical. And then sit behind the table watching people squirm when you ask them difficult questions (not really though, usually I'm pretty nice).
All in all my colleagues and I saw 6 applicants, none of which really appealed to them or me. Tomorrow they will be interviewing another 8 people. My manager took the effort to tell me that I had made a great first impression when I applied all those years ago, and that she was still really happy with me. Needless to say that made me (the compliment junky) feel pretty good.
All this also makes me wonder how it will be to sit on the other side of the table, wanting to be the one to get the job. Usually I like applying for jobs though. Something in me likes to rise to the occassion and do my best to impress. It's the attention seeking part of me that enjoys it I think!
I wonder what my new job will be. I havn't found anything yet that really appeals to me. Maybe I will even revert to being a secretary for a while while looking for something else. Time will tell!

On the sofa

Marinda was feeling sick again today and called me at work and asked me to come home earlier. I couldn't manage (luckily Herman was home earlier than I was), but to compensate a little I spent a lot of the evening sitting next to her on the couch huddled under a blanket. I'm cold all the time, should probably turn up the heating, but feel guilty about it because it's 20 degrees inside according to the thermometer. So instead I suffer in silence, or cuddle up to my feverish daughter :-)
Tristan joined us after he took a shower and we sat together and ate popcorn and watched Hollands Next Top Model (yes, unfortunately, that plague has also hit us here!).
I'm hoping Marinda will feel better tomorrow though. She's so big she doesn't need us to stay home every time she's not feeling well, but I feel really bad leaving her home alone if she's really sick. It's touching to see how she kind of loses her sense of independence and really needs a mommy around. She was so independent, even as a little child, that it's fun to catch up on some mothering every now and again.
Tristan on the other hand, does not like to be alone at all and is very bothered if we leave him at home. The weird thing is that he is "sicker" than Marinda with his hemofilia and alopecia but is never really sick. And Marinda, who has no genetic disorders, is often home with migraines and that kind of stuff. And now it seems like her glandular fever is acting up again.
Oh well, we will cope, like we always do! And try to make the best of it as well by grabbing the good moments when we can.


A fantastic friend of ours is making a "goodbye portfolio" for us. Just like her to do something like that! Today she was in church taking pictures of me doing my chores for the last time. I had to hang up the church decorations and greet people at the door and I ended up pouring the coffee as well, so she had enough to do! And she's already collected all the pictures that she has made of us in the last couple of years. Pictures of our wedding anniversary, the tapas evening we organized together, the ladies night we had at her house a while back and a number of other occasions. As well as that she's taking pictures of us here in our house now, doing all our mundane things. It might sound boring, but I know we will really enjoy those pictures once we've moved! And besides that, I often use pictures to inspire me when I post something on my blog. So it works out well in every way. I have actually been bummed because I've already packed up my albums and don't have any fun old pictures that I can write anecdotes to.
Prepare yourself, sometime in december you may be bored witless by the plethora of pictures of people you don't know appearing on this blog!

New resolution

I've been letting my weight creep up again the last couple of weeks. It's just been too easy to give in to all the food that's in the house. That means I'm eating lots of candy and pretty much anything else that's lying around! It's so weird though, because although it tastes good and feels comforting in some way, it doesn't "hit the spot" (wherever that may be!!). And just today I realized that we'll be leaving for Ethiopia in 5 weeks, and I don't want any extra weight on me. I guess it's a matter of pride in some way. And somehow being heavy has always made me feel ashamed of myself and less able to cope. Although losing weight has not brought the dramatic change that I hoped it would. I'm still just me! The most important thing is after all, my concept of myself. If I'm feeling selfconfident then I also look better.
I guess weight gain gives me a sense of visibly failing. And in the past it has definately been associated with not doing things right, or not being good enough. And eating is a way of coping, of not dealing with what's going on. That's why it's not really so weird that I have been eating badly lately, what with all the action in our lives! I want to work on coping better while not being too hard on myself. Hopefully people like me for being me, and not for being thin(ner)!
Some other time I'll post some pictures of my different looks in the past.

Church group 2

We had our last church group evening tonight. It was only the third night that we had met, but it was beginning to be fun. I guess that's part of saying goodbye. You leave the good behind and as well as the bad (or maybe a better word would be less pleasant!) We had some laughs tonight in addition to some serious conversation about experiencing God. And again I realize how inspiring it can be to be with a group of people and feel free to talk about what's going on in your life, to joke about christian excesses, and be willing to ask eachother difficult questions as well. I'm hoping we'll find some good (christian) friends in our new town.
Herman was checking out churches and became kind of discouraged. There's a lot of older traditional churches in the area, but we're looking for one with a more evangelical tint to it. I'm not discouraged yet, just really curious to see where we'll end up. We've spent most of our married lives in the church we're at now, and a bit of change will do us good I think!
I had a good talk with a sister in law today as well. She called to congratulate us with our new house and we ended up really talking, instead of just chatting. Makes me feel hopeful about the contact with family after our move. Maybe it will be a chance to get closer to them, and maybe they can be friends in a way that I don't expect. I guess I have to be open to a lot of things the coming time!


Nothing peps me up as much as listening to great old 80's hits. I have an aversion to housework, but if I turn the music on loud it will usually get me going. First I have to get off my butt and turn the music on though, and sometimes that's a challenge in itself!
I used to play the clarinet and have attempted to play it again over the last couple of years but somehow that has never really turned out well. I manage to play for about a week and then my clarinet goes back into its case to gather dust for another year or two. A couple of weeks ago I actually put it on the internet to sell. That was quite something because the case alone is so jampacked with memories that I have a very sentimental connection to it! It's covered with stickers from different countries I've been in.
Funny how objects can carry such memories. For example, I'll always be grateful to my mom for lugging around a lot of childhood pictures, report cards and essays I wrote. I hardly ever look at them, but I love knowing I have them! And when I do open up the box, the smell of the old paper immediately brings all kinds of memories to mind.
I'm rambling, so I think I'll stop and get myself to bed. That's probably the wisest thing to do right now!

Lesson learned?

It took a drive back to our new town today to remind me of a lesson I had hoped I had learned! The thing is, I was really not too happy about the rental house that we looked at. The smallness and the location didn't agree with me. It felt almost claustrofobic to sign my name to the lease. So I decided I needed to go see the house one more time to see if that would help me change my mind. I asked one of my wisest friends to come with me.
On the drive over I was complaining about how bad I felt about the house, and yet that I also knew it was the only realistic option to take. She reminded me of something our therapist taught us, namely that you can choose to support something even if you don't feel quite comfortable with it. Like with raising kids for example. Herman and I often have different opinions about what is right and was is wrong and what kind of disciplinary actions need to be taken. We used to get into arguments about the differences. I always felt that I needed to agree with a disciplinary action in order to be able to put it into effect. But there's another way out of the dilemma. I can choose to support Hermans choice while not agreeing with it, especially if I see that it's something that's very important to him and not as important to me. Am I making sense? At any rate, it has helped me to look at our differences and how we deal with them with different eyes.
In the case of this house the conclusion is as follows. I choose to support everybodies wish to move to this house, even though it has its disadvantages. I don't have to force myself to like the house as much as the others do, I can still not be very happy with it, but my choice is to go along with this decision. It gives me tremendous peace of mind to do it like this!
So the decision is made, we'll be moving to our new rental house in January. Pictures will be posted as soon as we have decent ones. All offers of help will be greatly appreciated!!


It's pretty gorgeous here this year. Last year there were storms very early in autumn and the trees were bare in no time at all. No beautiful colors to be seen! This year there is color everywhere and I'm just soaking it in. Spring was miserable, the summer was wet, so a nice crisp autumn is just perfect.
I love the seasons. I get grouchy if winter doesn't feel like winter, or if the summer is too wet. Funny how one can get used to the change of seasons. Didn't have but two when I was growing up, wet or dry!! It'll be strange to celebrate Christmas in the sunshine this year, but I'm really looking forward to it for old times sake!

Houses, houses, houses

Just exhausted from looking at 5 houses today! 4 of them were "buy" houses, 1 was a rental. It looks like we'll be going for the rental. Besides it being cheaper on a monthly basis, it was also in better shape than the other houses we looked at. My goodness, what a lot of work needed to be done to some of them! This rental house also needs work, the kitchen especially could use a big makeover, but otherwise it's in pretty good shape. A lick of paint will do miracles.
The weird thing is though, that our living room gets smaller with every move we make. We first lived in a house in Utrecht which had a nice L shaped living room with plenty of space, but only two bedrooms and with a shower in a closet. Our present house has 4 bedrooms, and a decent (but brown colored) bathroom, and a much smaller living room. And the new rental has an even smaller living room but bigger bedrooms and also a bigger garden.
So where are we supposed to stall all the company that we get so often (ok then, not that often, but still... I like to be hospitable!)?!? We'll be bulging out of the house every time we decide to celebrate someones birthday, or we'll be forced to celebrate everybodies birthday on a sunny day in july when we can fill up the garden with people as well.
I guess every house has it's advantages and disadvantages and a dream house on our budget is not very realistic. But I'm kind of having a hard time giving up the idea of having a bigger living area. Gives me a closed in feeling, despite the fact that there are fields, forests and even lakes pretty close to the house.


I'm not much of a fan of corny poems, but I like the one copied down here. I think mostly because I used to smile a lot. In my yearbooks one of the things that was written down most was "I love your smile!". I lost a lot of my smiles in the years past but seem to be getting a much better grip on smiling despite the circumstances. In fact, one of my resolutions is to smile more! That includes smiling in stores and on the street. It may sound absolutely normal to you, but in Holland we have a pretty cold culture. If you smile at somebody you often get a startled look and a shaky smile back or no response at all.
My resolution to keep smiling was also greatly supported by a gift that I got from my brother and sister. A little sign that reads:

"A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear".

I couldn't agree more! I've got it on my desk now, to remind me. I have it facing the door to my office so that others walking in will also see it and take note :-)

Smiling is infectious,

you catch it like the flu,

When someone smiled at me today,

I started smiling too.

I passed around the corner

and someone saw my grin

When he smiled I realised

I'd passed it on to him .

I thought about that smile

then I realised its worth,

A single smile, just like mine,

could travel round the earth.

So, if you feel a smile begin,

don't leave it undetected

Let's start an epidemic quick,

and get the world infected!

Marinda in action

YouTube - Spirit and Soul -Dance Mix

Klik on the link and see my daughter, second from the left, on tour in Hungary with her christian dance group. (it starts off dark, but there is more to see after a couple of seconds!)I'm so immensely proud of her! It always moves me to see her dancing, I'm not even sure why. Maybe it's also part envy because she does it so well and I always feel like such a dork when I'm on the dance floor! But it also the pleasure I get from seeing her do something she's good at. Makes me smile every time I look at her. She's not dancing right now, also due to her bout of glandular fever. Instead she's playing the guitar a bit more often. I love hearing music in the house! Makes me feel like we are doing a good job of raising our kids, instead of letting them ignorantly stagnate in front of the tv and computer (as you can tell, I have some doubts about the adequacy of my childraising skills....).
Well, hope you enjoy watching this!


I went to the sauna today with a friend. A couple of years ago I wouldn't have dreamt of going. No way was I going to show myself naked to the world! But on the other hand, the whole concept of a sauna also attracted the alternative, slightly rebellious side of me. So I went for the first time with this same friend to a very small sauna with very few people and loved it. And now we've turned into sauna specialists. We pore over sauna sites on the internet, comparing advantages and disadvantages, looking for the one place that has all the facilities we love. Today we were at the largest sauna in Holland for the second time, and we still havn't used every sauna that they have there. We don't go very often, it's a real treat (often it's literally a treat, because it's her gift to me)
The funny thing is that the sexuality of nakedness pretty much disappears when you see so many naked bodies in all sizes, shapes and forms. I always find it very consoling that everybody is entirely different. I have yet to run into the perfect female or male form, it just doesn't exist (except in magazines, but then the airbrush does its miracles!). And it's very relaxing to be so focussed on physical wellbeing. The cares of life seem to disappear into the warmth and the steam.

A weekend in Zeeland

A couple of years ago I went to Zeeland with my brother, sister and our boys. It was a good weekend in a little trailer close to the sea! It was mothers day that weekend and my brother bought a rose for us mommies. The boys had a great time in the swimming pool close by. We went to the beach and got blown away by the spring wind.
The boys are a real handful together. We don't even let them sleep over with eachother because they work up such an energy that a couple of hours is draining enough! Around this time, when asked, my sisters son would say he wanted to grow up to become Tristan. What beter compliment can one ask? We're going to have to wait a while before we manage a weekend like this again. There's another little baby around now, and one little trailer can only hold so many people ;-)
Looking forward to the next time though!