I had to drive today, something that always makes me slightly nervous. We don't own a car, and I only have my drivers license since three years or so, so lack of practice and experience tend to make me anxious in the car. Something I try desperately to hide from the people we borrow a car from, as I'm sure they would feel a huge amount of trepidation about loaning me the car if they knew how nervous I was!
I'll never forget my first drive after getting my license. Optimist that I was, I decided to visit my brother who lived about a 45 minute drive away. The drive would include driving in a residential area, driving on the freeway, and driving on some country roads. A nice mix for getting some real experience! So I loaded the kids in the car and got on the road.
Let me tell you, it was a nerveracking experience. I only made it through by the grace of God and the calmness of my then 13 year old daughter. She remained calm, quiet and encouraging while I became more and more tense and even terrified at times. The problem was that the car I drove in was a car that drove on gas. The car I learned how to drive in drove on diesel. That car kept driving whether I had my foot on the pedal or not. This car SHUT DOWN!!! every time I came to a stop. And I had to stop so often!! It was really a nightmare. Every stoplight I approached I prayed would turn to green immediately so I wouldn't have to stop. And when I did stop and the engine shut down it sometimes took me two or three times to get my engine going again. Can you imagine how aweful I felt? I knew I HAD to drive home, there was no other option, but I felt like jumping out of the car and walking home, weeping and wailing the whole way. I finally made it home, to a husband who looked at me askance, seriously doubting my driving skills.
The one thing that I did do though, was get right back in the car the next day and drive again. I knew that if I didn't I would probably never drive again, I'm really not kidding. And part of me had a really good gloat when the engine of the car shut down when my husband was driving a couple of days later. It was a very consoling moment!

Friends, old and new

I've written about friends before. Today I had an old friend come by. And this time I mean a friend from way back when (back in the days of RVA). We hadn't seen eachother in at least 6 years and this time he had his wife to show off with. It was fun to catch up with him, get to know his wife, and realize that some friendships can handle huge breaks and still be there when the time comes to meet up again! He is part of a trio of brothers, all of whom have a special place in my heart even though we rarely talk.
As for new friends.. I havn't met any potentials yet. But who knows what may come! I may have some colleague that turns out to be a friend, or maybe there's somebody living in the street that I havn't met yet. I don't miss friends yet. Maybe family is filling up the space thats usually reserved for friends.

Tristans birthday

I went for the luxury solution to Tristans birthday today. Bowling AND swimming AND french fries AND icecream. A houseful of kids is something I find unbelievably exhausting, especially boys! Put two together and it feels like you have six. Never mind if you have six in the house.... I don't know how moms do it! Since 4 years I go for the easy solution of organizing every birthday party of his outside the house. Swimming pools and indoor playgrounds are heavily featured.
It's different with Marinda. With her we had a lot of sleepovers. Make-up, games, a soppy movie, lots of candy and chips and there's not much hassle.
I remember once Marinda had two boys and two girls over to sleep. Herman and I slept in the attic but heard the boys roughhousing downstairs until deep in the night. I then made a vow never to have more than one boy over to sleep at any time. So far I've managed to keep it.
Tristan has one friend over right now. They probably won't get much sleep, but that's the way it's supposed to be I guess. I felt a slight pang of guilt though, when the boys mother called to tell me when she was coming to pick him up and then assumed they were already in bed. Meanwhile, they were outside jumping on the trampoline. There goes my reputation as a good mom (ha!).

Impression of a busy weekend


I was reading a blog from somebody who was making her own chicken soup. She wondered if anybody else had ever created their own recipe. That kind of had me scratching behind my ears! I cannot imagine anybody using a cookbook for every meal, or am I an exception? I don't use a cookbook except as a source of inspiration. I feel compelled to change every recipe I ever come across. Sometimes it's because I can't afford the ingredients, or I don't have them, or I don't like them. So I use the gist of the recipe and then toss in a lot of stuff of my own.
Lately it's become a real challenge to cook for the family. Usually Herman cooked about 3 times a week, now it's just me. That means I have to think a lot harder and bring in some more variation.
My creative cooking has lots of family memeber disgruntled though. They just don't appreciate it! But I know that cooking will turn into a major trial if I have to cook the same meals all the time. I can at least make it fun by tossing in a strange ingredient or trying new combinations. I'm no chef though, lest you think that I'm a culinary princess!
But I am proud to say that we are at least eating at the table. I have managed to get back into the habit of setting the table and eating together. Much better for our family dynamics.


Yes, we have curtains! And they're hanging up!
Today has been such a fruitful day in the house. We got a floor down (well, Herman did. I just handed him the floor boards and hung around trying to be helpful. Sometimes I succeeded). Herman fixed our bookcases so that the tv would fit in. He hung up the rails for the curtains. I ironed the first curtains and resolutely decided NOT to wash the second pair. No more ironing, thank you! I had to go buy a new iron because it had a layer of burnt gunge on it from ironing too many polyester clothes at the wrong temperature. (I sincerely hope other make this same mistake...)
Anyway, it gives a real sense of fulfilment to get some more things done around here. Sunday we're celebrating Tristans birthday and it will be nice to have people over in a house that we feel happy about!


My first meme! I got tagged by Melanie. (Thanks Melanie, now I feel like I really belong in the blogging world!). And being tagged has finally forced me to figure out how to put a hyperlink in my posts.
Well, this meme asks me to name 6 quirky things about myself. You would not believe the amount of time I have spent thinking about this. Maybe due to the fact that I have this terrific head cold which limits my range of thought quite badly. In fact, I'll name these colds as my first quirky thing.

1. Head cold
As a child of my parents I claim partial ownership of this particular way of having a cold. It's not your average runny nose, coughing type of cold. No, we bring it up to another level. Colds hit my eyes, but only one at a time. That means that I walk around with one red, glazed, swollen, burning, teary eye for a day or two, and then, when I think things are getting better, the other eye gets hit. It's hard to be taken seriously when your eyes are two distinctly different sizes and leak spontaneously! People look at you worriedly and then ask if you're all right. Then the nose run. I have frequently felt a strong desire to stick a tampon up my nose, it's that bad! Some people may be able to work with a cold. It's not something that I think my colleagues would appreciate..

2. Lyrics
I love singing along to songs, but am a total dingbat when it comes to lyrics. For years I sang "I can see clearly now, the rain has come". Or what do you think about "smoke is sin" instead of "smoky sings"?? Or "Although we've run to the end of the road"?

3. Reading
I read obsessively. Some people do not think of this as being quirky, just annoying. I have read while biking, while frying pancakes, while cooking, while hanging up the laundry. In a car, in a plane, in the train, while walking along the street. Any place, any time, is a time for me to read.

4. Humor
I have a vulgar sense of humor. I like dirty jokes and double entendres. I cannot however, tell jokes. I am very very proud of myself when I manage to make a group of people laugh, I think of it as quite an accomplishment!

5. Math
I have a traumatic aversion to math thanks to my sweet 4th grade teacher who had her own unique way of getting a point across. The result is that anything that has anything to do with math can almost have me hyperventilating. You can ask me what two plus two is, and I will know, but anything beyond that dissappears in a big bog of fear. I am exaggerating only slightly...

6. Whistling
According to my family, I cannot whistle properly. It has become a standing family joke to laugh at me when I'm whistling. Evidently I pucker up my mouth in an absurd way and produce a breathy noise that they love to imitate...

That's it for my quirkiness for now! I would now like to tag Michelle, Sharon, Lise and Renzo


I am inspired to write about alcohol because I offered my kids some Breezer tonight. Before you all fall back and faint, and get ready to call child protection services.... let me assure you that I don't do this often! Tonight I was half hoping that the alcohol would kill the virus that has been plaguing Marinda ;-)
There's a more relaxed attitude to alcohol here than there is in the States (as far as my knowledge of the States goes anyways). I remember that it was a big no no in all the american churches we went to and that the churches were expert at explaining that the Jesus turned water into wine story was really a Jesus turning water into grape juice story. In a lot of churches here real wine is offered at communion, and church social gatherings offer beer and wine as beverage choices. I grew up with wine, beer, and even a pipe smoking dad (he doesn't smoke anymore)! Not that I drank a lot, I still don't. I have actually never been drunk, which has caused some people I know look at me with something that approaches awe and perhaps even dismay.
But to come back to the Breezer... I figure it's better to let the kids find out that drinking alcohol can be a part of a normal social life, and it's not to be reserved for huge drunken binges. So they have been offered tastes every now and again. Marinda will be eligible to buy her own alcohol in a couple of months (yes, months, not years! Alcohol is available here from 16 years of age). I have no idea how she will handle alcohol when/if she starts going out and it's readily available. Somehow I don't see her losing control of herself while drinking a lot. But you never know! It can be surprising what kids get up to when you're not around.

Got a job!

Well, I've got a job on March 1st! Not the job I applied for actually, but a job replacing a sick person within the same organisation. So at least for now I'll have my foot in the working world and hope that something more permanent will come along soon. It's always easier to apply when having a job then it is when you don't have one. It's less hours than I hoped, less salary, no compensation for travel costs and no mobile phone, but I will make do. It's not like I have a a ton of people knocking on my door wanting me to work for them!
This picture is of the inside of the building I'll work in. It used to be a bakery, so there used to be all kinds of delicious cookies and cakes placed in the wooden shelves. I like the look of the place, it has a sense of history.
Just knowing that I'll be going to work is giving me an energy boost. I want to make sure I use the next two weeks well as far as fixing up the house goes. I can't wait to have my own room fixed up, so that we can finally put the computer and the second tv where they belong and I can finally add all my pretty colors and doodads. Now it's just a room with a huge pile of boxes in it! Next week we will have a number of people helping us out. Thank goodness for friends!


Here's me giving Tristan his injection. He gets an intravenous shot of clotting factor every other day, or at least three times a week. Herman and I both took an "injection course" to learn how to do this. You'd think that injecting him three times a week would make us really aware of his illness (hemofilia) but actually the opposite is true. I tend to forget I need to inject him even though we've been doing it for about 7 years! Of course, that may just be a sign of repression on my part.....
We handle his illnesses with a certain casualness though, that some people may find a bit frightening sometimes. Tristan plays soccer, goes swimming, stays at home alone, and plays outside without us really knowing where he's at. The only concession that we did a while ago was to get him an SOS bracelet, so if something dramatically bad happens at least people will know what number to call. For the rest we treat him like any other child. Thank goodness he does well with our sometimes lackadaisical parenting!


Almost got a new job today, but I still have to await the final verdict. I had to wait so long for a phone call, that I was sure that I didn't get the job. But it turns out they couldn't make a choice betweeen me and the other candidate. And there were other circumstances playing a role as well. On the one hand it's nerveracking, on the other hand it's a great relief to know that they see my potential and want me there. I should know more by the end of the week and will definately let people know!
Part of me is relieved that I get a couple more days off, for the silly reason that I just checked out season 2 of Lost from the library and I am looking forward to some lazy time watching that. The other part of me just wants to get out of the house and to work. I need work as a place to feel appreciated and feel that I'm using my talents. Being at home makes me feel like a guiltridden useless underappreciated person. That should sound familiar as I do keep going on and on about how much I like being at home :-)
Ah, well.... tomorrow I'll do my best to balance housework, Lost, and attention for my husband and kids, and try to make it as fulfilling a day as possible!


Today I went to a funeral. The thirteen year old son of a colleague had died. He was severely handicapped, physically and mentally, but evidently made a huge impression on a lot of lives. The room was packed with people waiting to offer their condolences.
My colleague is not religious, so the memorial service was more of a remembering of who her son was and how he had impacted lives around him. I came expecting to see very few people and left surprised and maybe also a bit humbled by the amount of people that were there.
Writing about it now makes me realize that I often give too much value to peoples opinion of me. I seem to crave recognition from a lot of people, not just a few. But this boy, despite (or probably because of) his handicaps managed to touch a lot of people. From the taxi driver who drove him to school, to one of his fathers students who only saw him a couple of times. His smile and cheerfulness were enough, words were not neccesary. I guess he was a good example of "letting your light shine".

Coming Week

Another week is coming up when I will be at home, jobless. Although I do have a second job interview on tuesday, so things are looking up for the weeks after! If I do get this job then I hope to start immediatly. And my main motivation is not even the finances, but the fact that I need the structure in order to stay sane. I wish I had the discipline to create my own rhythm, but I desperately need other strutures to keep me up and at them!
One of the things I really need to do is go to the gym. I have gained about 12 pounds since my lowest weight last summer, and it's bothering me. Not bothering me enough to change my eating habits though, even if I have made some vain attempts. Getting some energy from going to the gym should be of help. Getting that bike ride in the other day was a start anyway! I saw some people rollerblading yesterday and it reminded me that that's something I like to do as well. I will check out the roads here to see if that's an option. There's no use in rollerblading over cobblestones, which is what a lot of the roads here are made of. I've tried it before and I thought my eyes would shake out of my head. Not an experience to be repeated!
Today we will be biking to church since it's another gloriously sunny day. I will take my camera this time and hopefully take some picturesque shots to show here. Yesterday we were in a village close by which needs to be framed and mounted, it's that cute! And the funny thing is that it's a village I lived in when I was about 2 years old. My sister was born there (the only one in the family to be born in Holland!). I will get our old adres from my parents and see where our old house is. So Herman and I do have some roots in common, in a very small slight way!
Now I will stop rambling and start labelling my old messages, making it easier for everybody to see what I've written about in the past (as I'm sure you're all really curious :-))

Bike Ride

I worked up the energy to go on an exploratory bike ride today and didn't regret it! Had a big grin on my face and regrets because I didn't bring along my camera. I saw some scenes that I would have loved to share with you. What to think of 5 farmers in blue overalls with yellow clogs (yes, clogs!), leaning on their rakes, standing in front of an old barn. Or a washing line in front of an old farm with long johns hanging on it. Or a grandmother, busily wiping down the shutters on the house (that sight alone fills me with admiration, seeing as I love housework so much!). And this windmill, by the side of the road (without the seats in front of it, too cold out today!). I passed a farm where they make old fashioned farmers ice cream and another where they make cheese.
The goal of my trip was the lake close by and it was well worth the effort. The sky was blue, the shores of the lake were covered with tan colored grasses, there were white swans floating on the deep blue water. It was quite poetic, and made me realize how pretty Holland can be. In the summer you can take a bike ride across the lake on to the next village. Next time I will bring a camera and see how well I do in promoting my new "home". Can I tempt anybody to come on a visit?

Rain, rain go away

Do you know the childhood rhyme: "Rain, rain, go away, come again another day"? That's kind of what I want to say all day here. It's grey and gloomy and affecting my mood. I've just spent two afternoons napping on the couch, deciding that is about the most useful thing I can do in this weather! It's actually not very useful. Especially today I woke up feeling groggy with the phone ringing in my ear, only to have it be someone who talked solidly for about an hour. It only added to my grogginess. I don't understand how people can talk so much and not notice it about themselves. I truly think they hang up thinking that they have had a meaningful two-way conversation. I remember one of my clients from work telling me for ten minutes how good a listener she was (meanwhile not letting me get a word in edgewise!). People (including me) can be as blind as a bat when it comes to their own shortcomings. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise, otherwise it might be hard to live with yourself!
It does surprise me however, to see how some people seem to have no sense for body language. I'll be edging away, turning my body sidewise, slowly backing off, looking over shoulders avoiding eye contact, repeatedly trying to end a conversation and the person will just keep on talking! Sometimes I find it immensely frustrating, but sometimes it also intrigues me. What's going on in that persons mind? Do they really not see? Have they not learned how to interpret signs? Or are they so lonely that they don't care if you don't want to hear it, they just want to talk?!?
Every once in a while I will do the same. I will sense somebody pulling away but decide to continue talking anyway! My need to talk then becomes more important than their desire to listen.... But mostly I try to listen. I have quite a deep rooted fear of being thought of as being boring and longwinded and will usually only talk more if I'm certain the person listening really wants to know. Unfortunately, that can also leave me feeling frustrated because not everybody will bother asking more questions even though I'd love to talk some more. Maybe that's why I like blogging! I can just "talk" without being worried if somebody really wants to know or not!!


I went to boarding school in Kenya for two years. Two great years, I might add! Today I discovered a video on youtube about that school, RVA. Made me get all sentimental. I showed my daughter. She was inclined to want to go there as well. Didn't surprise me, she'd probably do great! It's always strange to realize how differently I grew up compared to my kids, and it regularly gives me a jolt to see how life is so different now.
Watch the video and maybe see what I mean. Some of you will recognize this, others definately won't, but the video represents an important formative part of my life!


(I'm afraid you're going to have to cut and paste because I can't seem to figure out how to get a link in here! Tomorrow I'll ask Marinda to give me a hand.)


I actually took the time to play a game of Elfenland with Tristan tonight. Really, if I wasn't feeling so guilty for neglecting him so much, I might actually feel proud that I managed!
We're not a very gamey family. Usually games are reserved for vacations or an astounding amount of boredom on the kids side. Boredom was the instigator tonight. Herman was watching soccer, Marinda was watching something else and Tristan was tired of the computer.
Playing this game with him made a very homey end to a pretty normal sunday. About the first one since we moved, I think.
We actually got to church and made it through the church service (Marinda became ill last sunday). Came home to the smell of freshly baked bread (thanks to the bread maker). Then we had unexpected guests (which meant that we spent a frantic half hour vacuuming the living room, doing the dishes, and cleaning toilets) and the day is now coming to an end after a game with Tristan.
Onwards and upward to more of these sundays (without the frantic cleaning though).

New Job

On Thursday I just "happened" to go the the volunteer center here in my town to talk to the coordinator to see if she could help me find a job. We talked for about an hour. Then I looked through all their volunteer jobs to see if there were any appealing organisations. Suddenly she "happened" to remember a job offer in a city close by. As it turns out the closing date for applying was the coming friday and I knew the organisation because I had sent an open job application months ago. To make a long story short, I talked to the director on friday morning, sent my letter and resume an hour or two later and the next day received an invite for a job interview. Pretty nice set of circumstances, isn't it? Of course there's no knowing if I will get the job, but the location is great, the pay is the same as I was getting, they want somebody a.s.ap, and the hours are exactly what I wanted. Hmmmm, maybe there's a Higher Hand involved?
I was/am going slightly crazy at at the thought of spending many hours at home, so the thought of having a job soon is very comforting!
I will keep you posted, let you know if this really works out or not!

p.s. This is a picture of me at work at my old job. It's a real victory for me to post a picture of myself not looking my best (e.g. weighing a lot more...). I figure, what the heck! If I'm going to bare my soul on internet I might as well show what I have looked like as well.....