Posted with permission

This is my gorgeous son:

And this is how he makes me laugh:


Sometimes when it feels like you can't sink any lower, you really don't!
This last week has had some lovely "ups" in it. Friends are coming over this weekend and next weekend. We got an invite to a new potential friends birthday. Other friends asked us to spend a day together at Duinrell. And meanwhile I was feeling lonely and neglected.....
Also at work rumor has it that I may be getting some extra hours. Hopefully this rumor will turn out to be true because I have been spending a tiny amount of time looking at other jobs. Having a job which is not satisfying is a drain on my energy levels.
For the rest there's not much to report! Tristan has his last soccer tournament tomorrow. Hopefully he will do well, he's had such a run of bad luck in soccer that I really hope the best for him. Marinda is up and at them again after spending a couple of days at home. Tomorrow she'll go back to dishing up ice cream. Maybe I'll go get some with my mom, who is coming over for a night.
This really is a post filled with irrelevant things.
I will now go make a healthy meal for my kids. HAH! Fries on the menu tonight, with kroket. Fries with mayo of course!!

Favorite Smells

1. My daughters freshly washed hair.
2. The soft fluffy smell of laundry washed with "real" laundry detergent instead of the cheap, cheaper, cheapest kind.
3. The tang of freshly mown grass.
4. The rich earthy smell the ground has when the first rain is just coming down after a long dry time.
5. When going out: my husband smelling faintly of cigarette smoke, beer and cologne. It's a major turn on for me ;-)
6. The lingering smell of perfume in my shawl, after I've worn it a couple of times.
7. The sharp green smell of eucalyptus, sends me right back "home".
8. The stench that comes off of well-used Ethiopian money. Just lovely in its grossness.
9. The thick rich smell of freshly baked stroopwafels or roasted nuts. You can practically lean on it!
10. The sweet smell of tuberose. Flashback to Kenya.
11. Baking onions, garlic and mushrooms. Mouthwatering.
12. Freshly baked bread
13. The rich chocolatey smell of brownies baking in the oven

What are your favorite smells?


I have a friend who lives close by, but we don't visit often. This is mostly due to her debilitating migraines, which keep her cloistered in her room for large amounts of time. How she copes, I do not know, but every time I hear from her or see her she makes me laugh.
Today though, we had some contact through the mail and her last mail just broke my heart. So I decided to borrow my brother in laws car and drive over for a visit. Not knowing if she would be up, or even available for company. I knocked on her door and she stumbled down the stairs in her nightgown with her hair on end and eyes filled with pain.
And then we had a lovely visit. A great two-way visit. Sure, my first intention was to see if I could cheer her up. Something that worried me, because it's not like I'm a radiating beam of cheer and light nowadays. But I wanted to do something!
Lying next to her on her bed in a darkened room was about all I did, but just doing that has given us both a boost. See, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and lonely, and she was in a lot of pain and feeling depressed. By just talking and sharing quietly we managed to cheer each other up. I felt a little less lonely and am reminded that she's only a short car drive away, and I can make this trip more often! And what she needed was a bit of encouragement from somebody and this time I was fortunate enough to have it be me.
Sometimes, when you do something for somebody else, you end up helping yourself almost as much as you end up helping the other person.


I have a new habit with my son. We watch Lost together! That's pretty cool actually, because I can totally not interest any other of my family members in this type of program. He will even watch Star Trek with me!
That seems to be just about the only thing that binds us together these days. For the rest he's acting totally hormonal, and he's only eleven! Marinda was an early teen as well, so I should be prepared, but really, I'm not. I don't think any mother is ever prepared to have her child slam doors and yell and be frustrated for large amounts of time. I have to think of new child-raising techniques to suit Tristan, as he's the almost complete opposite of Marinda. Anything that worked for her will most likely not work with him.
So by the time I have figured it out, my kids will be grown and have kids of their own. And then where will I put my parenting skills to use?

Another sunday

Another sunday spent not going to church. I'm slowly realizing I'm missing it in more ways than one. I miss the rhythm of waking up on sunday mornings and doing something that I perceive as being "purposeful". I miss the sense of companionship and fellowship that comes with sharing something you believe in with others. I miss the chit chat with people I know and who know me. I miss the sense of belonging to a community. I also miss being stimulated to grow in a relationship with God.
I don't have a strong faith life and I see that it's getting weaker and weaker without a weekly stimulus. It's just too easy to not invest in praying, reading the Bible or doing anything that is God related. And even though I can hardly put my faith (or lack of it) into words, I still get the feeling that I'm missing out on something that can be important in life.

Ice Cream

Went for ice cream after dinner today with Tristan and his friend. We have a lovely option just around the corner from our house, 10 minutes walk or a 3 minute bike ride. It's a farm that sells ice cream in a little shed on their property. It has a little playground with a big trampoline and it's located in the middle of the fields around my town. I'll take you for ice cream there if you come around for a visit.
The other option is Marinda's new place of work. She's become an ice cream girl at a restaurant/cafe in the middle of my town. It gave me such a thrill to see her there on her first day of work, smiling her gorgeous smile and serving up ice cream like she'd done it all her life. Something about seeing my kids doing something that they're good at always gives me such a thrill. It bring tears to my eyes every time.

Once upon a time

Once upon a time the dutch christian television network (there is only one) placed an ad, saying they were looking for new faces for their television programs.
With fear and trepidation, sweaty hands and pounding heart, I wrote an application letter. A couple of weeks later, I got a reply. I was selected to do a screen test! Oh glory!!
With even sweatier hands and a heart that was ready to thump right out of my chest, I went and showed off my prowess as the most friendly, charismatic and erudite presentor ever. Unfortunately the network did not feel the same and I was turned down.
And so my dream came to an end. But, to prove it actually DID happen, here in the picture you can see me in action during my screen test. Ummmm.... I am the one in the yellow shirt with the short hair :-)

This and that

Tonight, after work, I got together with a friend. It's been a while since I did that! We sat on a lovely courtyard in the middle of Zwolle, eating tapas and catching up after not seeing each other for about 9 months. She's getting married, we've moved and have been to Ethiopia, so there was plenty to talk about.
It's one of the things I've missed here. We don't have any friends in the area and I can get kind of lonely sometimes. So it's a real treat to meet somebody who knows me and can place everything I talk about in perspective. I got to share about my Ethiopia trip! Just talking about it made me smile as big as I smiled there.
Tomorrow I have a kind of job interview. It could be an interesting development. We'll have to wait and see.
Now I have to get to bed as it's been a pretty heavy duty week with a lot of things going on. My eyes are burning and I'm longing for a nights sleep that is not filled with weird dreams.
Goodnight all!!

Family Pics

6 Random Things

Thanks Dori!!

6 Random Things:

1. My baptismal name is Maria Elise
2. I love goat cheese. Come to think of it, I like goat as well (to eat, I mean!)
3. I used to play the clarinet
4. My daughter has a piercing in her nose. Not a random thing about me, but as I have often thought of getting one, I now get to live vicariously through her.
5. I have ten handbags/purses and about 30 shawls/scarves but only two pairs of pants
6. I cannot think of anything else. When I asked my husband to name something he said "Man, do I have to write your blog now? Then don't bother writing!"

He might just have a point.

The end.

Here are the rules:
Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.

Write six random things about yourself.
Tag six people at the end of your post linking to their blog.
Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

And I hereby tag Fungasa, Lioness, A Touch of Dutch, Mama Chameleon, Our Life in Kenya, and Creating Ms. Perfect.



1. (of a disease) capable of being passed on by contact
2. (of a person) capable of passing on a transmissible disease
3. spreading from person to person: contagious enthusiasm (I don't think so!!)

Need I say more??


A RVA classmate of mine, Melanie, has taken initiative to get some ideas up and running for a 20 year high school reunion. Needless to say, I would LOVE to go!
I lived in Louisiana for three years when I was a teen, and I went to school in Ethiopia and Kenya with a lot of americans so I have a "thing" for the States. The last time I was there was just before I got married. I went back to Carville, Louisiana, with a film crew making a documentary about leprosy. I went to my old school and saw one of my favorite teachers, and I visited with Sharons parents. (I can't remember seeing you, Sharon, were you at college then?). I loved walking through the huge, huge stores. It's a thing of mine. I love going grocery shopping in different countries and looking at all the different foods and spices on offer. Fig newtons for example, cannot be bought here. Icing can only be found in some stores, maple syrup is a rarity, butter flavored popcorn salt.... I have yet to find it. I've read about toothpastes in all kinds of flavors.... not here! We stick to pepperminty flavors or disgusting herbal concoctions that make your gums shrivel. What about the coffee flavors that I read about. My word, I'd love to get a hold of some of those!
So that's at least one thing that I would like to do if I make it to the States. That and drool and drool and drool some more in a bookstore filled with ENGLISH books. Oh my lordy, I think I will feel that I have died and gone to my own personal little heaven.
Besides the sordid materialistic side of me, the personal empathetic part of me (which exists... sometimes...) would also really really like to meet up with old friends, play catch-up and see if my memories correspond with theirs. Because I have noticed that memories can get really distorted through time. And besides that, it makes me feel whole to meet people who knew me back when, as I don't often run into old classmates here in Holland. (that may sound kind of pathetic but I don't mean it to be).
So here's to next year summer, somewhere in the States, visiting with old friends, and enjoying a wonderfully unique break!!


Right now my work rhythm seems to consist of the following:

Day one: get to work, start hyperventilating at the amount of work that is lying there. Groan and grumble about the computer not working, the lack of a good registration system, the fact that people keep coming in and out to have coffee in a room where I'm supposed to work DARN IT, dread going to the toilet because of the lack of soundproofed walls. Work like a madwoman, feel guilty for grumbling, stress, seriously consider looking for another job, and leave feeling frustrated and totally tired.

Day two: start same as day one. Then, as the day progresses, slowly realize that I'm not doing such a bad job, I might actually be able to finish something today, laugh at my colleagues jokes, think "Hey, I might just be able to work something out here", relax a little bit and leave feeling relatively satisfied about what I've accomplished.

Then, after a couple of days at home not thinking about work, start again as day one.

Should I stay or should I go??


My husband called me at work today and announced "Honey, I bought a car!". ??!!?&*%^$#(*&???!!!
What on earth is that about?
After I picked my chin up off the floor I heard the tale.
My parents had proposed us getting a car together. Ours to use during most of the year, theirs to use when they are here on furlough. Not a bad idea, but it needs some kinks worked out. Or so I thought. My mom is arriving on friday and needed a car, so Herman was going to look for a rental. Instead, he just decided to buy a car. Well, why not? We'll work out the details later!
I sincerely hope my parents approve of his car choice. (see picture). It's definately a Herman kind of car.
Here's what I would buy if we had the cash! Only in red of course,
because that is my favorite color.


Well, it took me all of.... let's see, ...... 12 hours to sabotage my weight loss plans.
12 hours. Not a very good score. I think it will take more than 12 hours to burn away 12 kilos. Methinks I must employ more drastic measures and start looking for a dietician. That shouldn't be too much of a problem considering half the world is on a diet.
It's a pretty sad state of affairs that half the world is still starving while the other half has to take all kinds of measures to stay in shape. Wish there was some way to take the surplus from one place and transfer it over to the other. You'd think that it wouldn't be such a problem.
I also wish that knowing half of the world is starving (and having also seen it) would be enough motivation for me to take better care of myself and my environment. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way for me. Somehow I end up stuck in my small little world, worrying about my piddly little problems and I forget to remember how lucky I am and to consider what I can do to help the other half.
I'm becoming philosophical. I will shut up now and try not to eat the apple pie with ice cream that is so readily available. Or the strawberry tart. Or the paprika chips. Or the almond cookies. Or.........

Just finished reading The Promise by Chaim Potok. Excellent, excellent author. If you've not ever read him, then try!


Tomorrow real life starts again. It feels like I've been on a lovely long break! But tomorrow Tristan AND Marinda have to go to school. Marinda has had practically three weeks of vacation, lucky girl, including her week in Italy! Somehow I'm also expecting the weather to get worse now. Like when real life starts it must be accompanied by clouds and rain and wetness. How logical is that?
I think I must also try to get back on track with my eating habits. (Yes, I KNOW I have said this before!!). Looking at the pictures made at the wedding on thursday made me realize that I have really visibly put on too many pounds, and that's just too bad. I don't look aweful, but I don't look as nice as I'd like to look. It's kind of hard though because our fridge is filled with brunch leftovers from this morning, and it's all just so darn good... But there's no way around it. If I want to lose weight, I must eat less. No exercise in the world can compensate for bad eating habits. Maybe I will force myself to post my weight every week, instead of the books that I read. That way I will be making myself accountable. But then I first have to get our scale fixed......................


These pictures of me were taken when I was pregnant with Marinda. We lived in a huge old house which belonged to the hospital that Herman worked in. The hospital's photographer lived there as well and he jumped at the opportunity to photograph a pregnant woman. Actually he wanted me to do them nude, but that wasn't something that I wanted to do! The bit of body that's showing in the pictures is enough I think!
It was a huge shock when I turned out pregnant, because it wasn't something we were planning on and we weren't married yet. And I was only 20 years old at the time. But the whole walking around with a big belly was kind of fun. I used to wear funky overalls, people would stand up in the bus to give me their seat, and total strangers would start a conversation. I was studying at the time, art therapy, and had to work hard to pass the year. The first couple of months of the pregnancy I felt so ill that I threw up everywhere and was exhausted all the time. Then I entered the "blooming" fase (during which we got married) , and I finished the school year half hoping that I would be able to make it to my third year as well. It turned out that I didn't go back to school until about 8 years later. I enjoyed every minute of it when I did!
These pictures turned out to be my one and only shot at modelling. I, like many many girls before and after me, had always dreamt of being a model. Well, these are the results!


I think I just might be clambering out of the depressive stage I have been in for a while. The last two weeks have been a lot better than the weeks before. I don't wake up with a knot in my stomach and dreading the day. I just wish I knew what it was that has made this change occur! It could be the B vitamines, the Ginseng, or the sunshine. All three of these started around the same time, so who knows?? If the sun stops shining and I feel bad again, then I guess my options will be reduced to two. But I'm not willing to stop taking the vitamins or Ginseng for fear of recurring negative feelings :-)
Depression sucks, let me tell you. It's pretty aweful waking up feeling so low and with so little energy. It's also a nasty thing to have as far as relationships go. Depressed people tend to suck the energy right out of others, leaving them feeling almost as bad! Not a good incentive for friendships or meaningful relationships. Luckily my husband has hung in there with me through my different fases and I do have friends who are sympathetic. And mostly my coping mechanism is to become kind of withdrawn and hide behind a book so I'm not even sure how many people notice that I'm out of sorts.
Anyway, hopefully I have reached the end of this depressed fase and I can now move on to a more optimistic world view. I have noticed that I'm looking forward to things and feeling hopeful again. Makes for a so much nicer life!!
Now I'm going to get myself up and at em as far as housework is concerned. We have company tonight, that's always a good motivator! The sun is shining, I'm dressed in a t-shirt with a kikoi wrapped around my waist, slippers on my feet, hair in a ponytail, 80's music is on, the kids are both gone so I can dust and clean and vacuum to my hearts content. And I feel happy enough to do some creative cooking and enjoy the process.
So help me hope that my optimism will keep growing!


Tomorrow is my sister in laws wedding. I will finally be able to wear my red dress (and am thanking God I still fit into it!). This wedding has had its trials and tribulations, especially the last few days. There are churches here where you are not allowed to light a candle, take pictures, play non-christian music or have flowers, can you believe it? It's so inexplicable that I will not even try.
Instead, here are some pictures from our wedding. Enjoy!

(and if you feel an overwhelming desire to read more details about our wedding, you can click here)

Culturally Inept

I went to work today and felt out of place in a very intangible way. I can't put my finger on it but in some way I don't seem to fit in with my colleagues. I'm going to blame this on my cultural ineptness, doesn't that sound great? By that I mean that it sometimes seems like I can't hit the right note with people, somehow I'm just that little (important) bit off in how I react or act. I'm a pretty flexible person, I adjust quickly and can make myself feel at home quite fast, but I have noticed that I can miss the nuance that is needed/wanted to make a connection with people.
I think a lot of how people communicate is subculture. Subculture which is so engrained in behavior that it becomes inexplicable. Or so engrained that if you question someone about it they simply won't know what you're talking about! And I'm not great on subculture, I often just don't get it!
So I'm kind of stuck as to what I should do. Unsure about whether it is actually something I have or have not done, or if it's just a matter of my colleagues "looking the cat out of the tree". (Literal translation of a dutch proverb, which means watching and waiting before forming an opinion or taking initiative). Maybe I should just look the cat out of the tree as well and wait and see what happens!

Currently reading: The Quiet Girl by Peter Hoag (speaking of inexplicable!)


I'm having the funnest time (not good english, I know!) checking out why people end up on my blog. With my Feedjit counter I can see if people pass by after googling something, or if they link through from somebody elses blog. It's really interesting! Just now somebody landed on here after looking under "job offer holland". I've had several hits on my alcohol post for some strange reason. The other day somebody googled "poop art holland" and ended up on this post.
Two days ago I got a hit from a town just 8 kilometers from here which made me kind of nervous. I've been keeping this blog "secret" from most of the people I know here. I like the freedom of talking about my life without having to think too much about the consequences that it may have for the dutch people I know. Imagine my surprise when on my first day of work a colleague said she had googled me by my maiden name and ended up on this blog! I never thought someone would do that because here I mostly introduce myself using Hermans last name. I don't think she's checked it since then, which is fine by me!
I love having people read this though, and thrive on comments, and sometimes wonder how many people might be lurking, or wonder if people think this is interesting enough to come back to and check out again!
And blogging has a lot of advantages. I find myself putting situations into words more consciously than I usually do, and I also take more pictures. Like today, when I was on a glorious bike ride with Marinda (have I mentioned how I love the surroundings here? They're just gorgeous!). I took my camera with me with this blog in mind and I enjoyed myself even more because I was so conscious of what I was doing and how I might write about it.
So now I will leave you with some pictures, so that you can see what I saw today.....

We had coffee and a lemonade at a little stall that also sold homemade jams and jellys. The cash register was a little tin can and trust was the basis on which we paid.

We biked through fields of green and yellow, past old farms, saw cows and sheep grazing, swans on the lake, boats sailing in the water, a windmill, the blue blue sky. We felt the bright sunshine on our shoulders and a fresh breeze blowing in our faces and I was very very happy.


Herman asked me to marry him in Swahili. I was so surprised I didn't know how to say yes anymore! I hadn't expected him to officially ask me to marry him anymore. We had already written our engagement announcement (a poem written in english and dutch) and were celebrating our engagement with our family when he popped the question. It made the celebration extra special for me. Turns out he called the Kenyan embassy in Amsterdam and asked to speak to somebody who spoke Swahili. He then asked the man to teach him how to say "will you marry me". The man had a good laugh and then told him all :-)
We bought our engagement/wedding rings together as well and exchanged them at our engagement party (as you can see in the picture). At our wedding we put them on again, but this time on the right hand instead of the left. No going down on the knees and being presented with a ring here! Dutch "nuchterheid" at its best. Sometimes I pine for a bit more romance in my life, candles and surprise weekends away and gifts on Valentines day. But then I get a grip, take a good look at my husband and realize that we're doing pretty well without the extras. And when they do come (and I have a few poems to prove it!) it makes for some extra special moments.

Lovely Day

It was just a lovely day today. The sun shone, hubby was again busy working in the garden, I baked cookies. We had friends over in the afternoon and enjoyed the great company, the sunshine and we even had supper outside! And then showed them the touristy side of my town.
Just a really really lovely day...............................................

More "clogginess"

Seeing as these days are filled with holidays, I am getting an overdose of dutchness! Today was a country market here in my town. Which means there was a market with people making clogs and selling dutch souveniers. There were people walking around dressed in traditional dutch clothing. There was a stage where dutch clog dances were performed by puffing old people wearing the traditional dutch clothes. There was a stand which sold dutch wisdom tiles. All kinds of wise quotes are written on a tile which you can then hang up in your house. There was a corner with medieval ironworks. And mixed through these traditional things there were the usual food, clothes, bag and jewelry stalls. I walked through enjoying every minute. But then again, who wouldn't with the sun shining like it has and my lovely husband fixing up our garden?
I spent the morning planting the last of my flowers. Herman fixed our picnic table so we can eat outside when the weather permits it. I did a quick clean of the living room just in case our visitors came (they didn't show though, all that housework done for nothing!).
Then, before coming home after visiting the market I bought Tristan some of his favorite stuff. This stuff is the epitome of dutch frugality.
In Holland we have a lovely cookie called a "stroopwafel" which is two extremely thin wafels stuck together with a thin layer of caramel-like syrup. They are best when bought fresh at the market, hot off the wafel iron, with the syrup leaking out. But, in order to make them in the right shape, you often have crumbs left over. So what do enterprising dutchmen do? They SELL THE CRUMBS!! with or without syrup. And this is what Tristan really enjoys eating. So I bought Tristan stroopwafel crumbs with syrup and then ate a nice portion of them myself!

Tulips anyone?

We took a drive today, and this is what we saw:

Currently reading: Readers Digest from 1984. Yes 1984! I found them in the secondhand store here in town, along with a number of other english books. One of them was so annoyingly cloying (it included cutely bumbling angels, for pete's sake!) that it almost made me gag. Hopefully the other books will turn out beter.