Today, or maybe tomorrow, is the first official day of our vacation. Not that we're going anywhere...a move and a trip to Ethiopia have depleted our wallets for now. But we are free from work for three glorious weeks! To celebrate Herman is now slouched lopsided on the sofa, snoring away.
I took a long bike ride with my Dad today which included farm lanes, a bicycle ferry, views of the lake, an old village, a museum, and more farm lanes, all within 30 kilometers (which was about the length of our round trip). No need to get bored in this area of Holland!

We will spend the coming weeks fixing up the garden, clearing out the attic, celebrating birthdays, having great friends over, going swimming, catching up on our photograph albums (so very very optimistic of us) and sleeping, sleeping and sleeping. Marinda will work at the ice cream place and I will manfully try to keep Tristan from spending too much time behind the computer and the tv. A battle I feel I have already lost.
I'm not sure how much I will be posting. Lately I've noticed it takes more effort than usual, and I feel I might be ranting and raving a bit too much. So I'm giving myself the leeway to blog if I feel like it, and not blog because I "must" (I mean, it's not like anyones life depends on me writing about whatever happens to hit my fancy!)

Now before I forget, I would like to praise my husband to the skies for being the very very handy man that he is. He took leftover laminate flooring from the bedrooms and transformed it into a huge desk/storage space in the attic (with lighting underneath!!). He bought a secondhand bookcase and rebuilt it to fit underneath the eaves of the attic. He hangs up stuff, fixes stuff and pretty much caters to our every handyman whim. I love him. (Ik hou van jou Herman!)

Have a good summer everyone!


My birthday is coming up (august fourth!) and people are beginning to ask how I'm planning to celebrate it. Usually Marinda and I invite all our friends and family at once seeing as her birthday is the 27th of july and it makes no sense to invite people over two times in within such a short period of time. BUT, she already had her sweet sixteen party, so now I have to figure out what to do on my own.
I've been thinking along the lines of a girls only thing. And then having it on the actual date of my birthday, instead of in the weekend before or after. If I do that, I will end up with an eclectic mix of females who may or may not mingle. The not mingling part is worrying....

Ah well. Tomorrow, when my head has cleared, I will make a decision. Meanwhile I am waiting for my coconut macaroon kind of thing to bake in the oven. At 9 p.m. I felt a sudden urge to bake, and these were the ingredients that were available.
200 grams of sugar
200 grams ground coconut
35 grams of butter
1 large egg
pinch of salt
bit of vanilla
dollop of milk
dusting of flour

Mix together thoroughly, plop into pie dish (or whatever) and bake for approximately 30 minutes until lightly golden brown. (if your oven works, that is. Mine will be dark brown on the bottom and white on top).

If made correctly, they're a lovely chewy coconut concoction. My mom has a knack for them!!

Anne of Green Gables

Who among you has not read Anne of Green Gables??? Do you dare speak up??
I LOVE the Anne series. I just found out I can order more books by Lucy Maud Montgomery through an internet book site here in Holland. And two of the books I want only cost 5 euros each! Even my stingy soul will allow me to spend that. I will most definately buy those as a birthday treat to myself. Something to look forward to :-)
I must thank Anne Stoner for introducing me to Anne of Green Gables. She did it with a certain mysticism which practically guaranteed I would love the books. I have them upstairs in my bookcase, almost read into tatters. I think it's been a year since I read them. About time to get them out again!
I saw that they were first published in 1908. Hard to believe that they're still alive and kicking and now available on DVD. That is something I refuse to do. Watching them on DVD is like a sacriledge to my youthful imagination. I prefer trying to grab the poignancy of first reading them.....

(Okay, okay, I'm a little weird!!)



I hate it when people give me advice. It usually makes me want to get up and do the complete opposite. But my goodness, how often I catch myself giving advice or being tempted to do so! And that's a drive that's hard to resist because I am the tactful type of person who thinks she knows things better. Or maybe it's the dutch rudeness in me popping up. Evidently dutch are known for being rude and blunt. Maybe I'm finally conforming and turning dutch in my old age ;-).
I have found that I am becoming less tactful as time goes by. Or maybe it's that I'm becoming more defined as a person. I know better what I like and do not like and am therefore less likely to "go with the flow" and not state my opinions. Instead of feeling myself to be shades of grey, I'm becoming more black and white, with opinions to match.
Whatever.... just be forewarned. I might just be terribly opinionated and rude, the next time you meet me!


Herman and I went to church this morning. We havn't been in a while, but decided to give it another shot. I spent my time writing notes about work and planning things to do this summer. Ok, that's not all I did. I also did some thinking about christianity and faith and what the whole going to church thing is all about.
The more we don't go to church, the more it feels like I'm slowly getting out of a stifling box of expectations, rules and regulations. I find myself reading certain kinds of books without suffering pangs of guilt, or even thinking that there might be more to the world than the christian view of it. I have been raised to be a christian, gone to christian schools (not all of the time, but mostly), got married to a christian, went to the same church for the last 15 years, and now feel like this lack of church is giving me time to stretch my mind.
I'm still trying to figure out if this stretching of the mind is a good thing or a bad one. It could be construed as the devil trying to get me. Or it could be me, growing up, trying to look beyond a sometimes limited evangelical world view.
I'm just not sure yet.


With high hopes my friend and I drove to the Veluwse Boekenmarkt. It was only a short drive, about 10 kilometers, down a road lined with trees with peeks through to the moor. We saw the sign to the book market, and we saw numerous cars lining the street. So we parked and then strolled around the corner. And what did we see? A country lane, lined with approximately 20 stalls. There were cows in the field behind the stalls.
Hmmm, it looked cute, but it didn't quite match my expectations. I had read that people came from all over Holland to sell books, and that there would be different areas of expertise represented there.
My worst fears were realized when I walked up to the first stall..... piles and piles of old fashioned christian books. Authors that I have not read, but heard about from my grandparents. Theological books, mostly of the reformed kind. Recorded sermons on CD's.
I desperately walked from stall to stall, politely asking each stall holder if they had english books. Not ONE to be found, ladies and gentlemen. And let me just add that every stall was manned by an older man wearing a suit or by a lady wearing a skirt and glasses, with her hair in a bun.
We had entered the book stronghold of the Dutch Bible Belt.

It was not an experience I want to repeat.

Lesson learned?

While typing my titel, I discovered I've used this titel before. Now I must go and check to see if I'm going to be repeating myself.....
Ahhh... I see I won't be repeating myself. Evidently there are enough lessons for me to be learning!!

Today at work I had a talk with my manager (the one who is leaving). Partly it was about a new job opening in the organisation, and partly it was about the work I do now. I was absolutely furious by the time our talk was finished. Angry enough to cry (which I then proceeded to do). Let's see if I can explain this. For the FIRST TIME since I work there I got the feeling that my manager was giving me direction in my work. She was telling me what I should be doing and how I should go about doing it. That's fine by me, but what really angered me is that it took this long, and that while telling me she managed to make me feel like she had told me this long ago and that I had allowed myself to become frozen in place in this job. Now she's right about the frozen part, I really have lost a lot of initiative. And I don't have any sense of direction, and I don't feel any appreciation for what I've been doing. But why wait until now to give me a kick up the ass!! What's with that?!? And excuse me, but I have been asking for exactly what she's finally giving me!!!

But that's my anger and frustration and lack of recognition speaking. The lesson learned is that I just can't afford to wait for people to tell me what to do, to give me a sense of direction, to give me affirmation and recognition. I have to do that for myself. Otherwise I turn into a wuss who is incapable of making decisions. My attitude towards this job was not to make any big decisions until I had at least checked with my manager, and to follow her lead. That waiting, and the lack of recognition has just about drained all my energy. So her kick in the butt and my resulting anger have at least energized me into thinking "what the hell! I'm not waiting for anybody anymore. I'm just going to do what I think is right and you all will just have to live with the consequences!" No more waiting around for affirmation or recognition, I just have to do as I see fit and trust my own judgement. (which, by the way, can be pretty darn good!!)

SO THERE!!! (almost, but not quite, sticking out my tongue here!!)

This awful self-doubt that creeps in every now and again is just terrible. When, when, when, will I finally learn that I am a competent woman who knows her mind and who does not need to be dependent on other peoples direction or affirmation!?!

Good cooking

There's nothing quite like eating a meal that somebody else has cooked. Even if it's just as simple as chicken, fried potatos and salad, which is what Herman has made for us today. Wednesday is his day at home, and then he cooks. I don't mind cooking so much, but I do much prefer it if he does! Somehow even meat, potatoes and cooked vegetables (which are a staple in the dutch diet) taste better when he's hung over them instead of me.

We both have our own styles of cooking. He goes for the meat and potatos, and I want something creative, which often doesn't work out much to anyones taste but my own. And when we have guests, he often makes nasi (indonesian/dutch type rice dish) and I make lasagna. I don't attempt to make nasi, and he doesn't attempt to make lasagna. Works for us!

Culinary dishes are pretty much wasted on my family. When we go out to eat (which is rarely) we either have pizza or go McDonalds (does that qualify as going out?!?). I do have all the joy of having a friend who likes buying exotic stuff and then feeding it to me. Because I love good food and good tastes almost as much as I like reading about them. I'm almost tempted to keep a list of all the things I would still like to eat. Everything from blueberry pie, to all the lovely curries I read about in Monsoon Diaries, to Italian delicacies made by Jamie Oliver, to local dutch "specialities" (everything has to be tried once, right?!). If I ever make it back to the States, eating all the food I regularly read about will be high on my list of things to do.

So ends my ramble about food. Maybe I will make that list.......


This is my mom with her two granddaughters.

Aren't they pretty?

Weekend reflections

Sitting here eating a piece of chicken filet, wearing a t-shirt with a new kikoi wrapped around my waist (thank you Sharon!!). The house still filled with the aftermath of having a family of 5 over to stay. (so happy so see that this is possible in our house!). Herman and I came back from the airport and crawled right back into bed for a couple of hours of sleep (the joys of having big kids who take care of themselves!).

It's been a good weekend all in all. We picked up Sharon and her family from the airport and it didn't feel like it had been 13 years since we saw each other! She just had the lovely addition of a husband and three cute kids. We were able to borrow a van that seats 9 (a rarity here, so that was lovely in itself) and then we took the scenic route back to our house where I had a meal of dutch pancakes and poffertjes waiting. I mean, who can go wrong with pancakes, right?!? We had ice-cream at Marindas work and then got the exhausted children and parents off to bed.
The next dawned grey and gloomy, and stayed that way unfortunately. So our attempts at showing the cultural sites in the neighborhood kind of literally fell into the water. In the afternoon we went to my sisters house for her sons birthday party. So our guests got a chance to experience that side of dutch culture! Though my sister manages to make it a much less formal occassion that it usually is in Holland, thank goodness!
We hit the McDonalds for a quick fix on the way back home :-) and then sleepily watched Forrest Gump before hitting the sack again.

Some of the things that I noticed:
- when your friends are old friends, it doesn't take much to get back in touch again!
- americans are so polite! We were thanked every time something was done. For my sober dutch side, this was practically a culture shock. One that I enjoyed!
- having three kids under 5 and travelling..... need I say more? I admire my friends more than ever for taking the effort to stop by and visit us. It is truly, truly appreciated!!
- Sharon is a great mom, I loved seeing her enormous patience with her children. She did not get flustered once, something I envy and admire greatly!
- a day and a half is so short! Next time, we must make it longer.

She, and others like her, are welcome here at all times. Now you all know we can harbor a family of 5 easily (though those dutch toilets....... you'll just have to take the bad with the good). We can even arrange appropriate transportation. And if you're bigger than a family of 5? We'll just scooch in a little bit more and make more room!

Now for the icing on the cake...... I woke up after my nap, went downstairs and discovered a neighbor had dropped by with a box that had been shipped to me. To me? First instinct was to drown my enthousiasm and assume it was my sister who sometimes orders books through Amazon and gives them my adres. But then I noted the adres in the corner. Oh me, oh my, this was truly a box for me! I opened it and found ENGLISH BOOKS people, ENGLISH BOOKS!! My lovely friend Melanie sent me ENGLISH BOOKS!! I am just touched and thrilled to pieces. Two of those books were way up on my list of things I wanted to read, namely "the curious incident of the dog in the night-time" and "eat, pray, love". Isn't that just fantastic? Let me tell you, I shed a tear while reading her card, and every now and again I walk past my pile of books and give them a cuddle. I kid you not!! THANK YOU MELANIE!!

Busy times

It may be quiet on this front for a couple of days. This weekend an old friend of mine from way back when is coming over. It's a story in itself! We both lived in Ethiopia as young kids, and then became best friends when we moved to the States, where she also lived. Her dad was our family doctor, and she was the only friend I felt (then) that I could trust in the years when I had leprosy. Our families got along together well. Then I moved back to Ethiopia and we kind of kept in touch. She visited me 13 years ago here in Holland, and for the last two years she's been working at RVA with her husband and 3 kids. So it seems we have a connection in a lot of countries that we've lived in, even though we didn't live there simultaneously. I think it will be pretty neat to hear about how it's been in RVA the last couple of years, and I'm looking forward to seeing her again. Though I have to admit, I'm kind of nervous too!
So tomorrow will be spent getting ready, and then going to pick her and her family up from the airport. Where I just might finally get to taste coffee from Starbucks, as that is one of the few places that actually has it. Any suggestions on what coffee I should get?

Midnight Mommy

Today is my day for being a midnight mommy. Which pretty basically means I'm staying up 'til midnight so I can pick Marinda up from her class party to celebrate the end of the school year. Which she made by the skin of her teeth. Yesterday we got a phone call to say that she was on the list to flunk, but like I said, the skin of her teeth did their work and she's passed! We celebrated with a pretty bunch of dutch flowers and relief flowed freely. It's a pretty good accomplishment seeing as she missed the first three months of school and then transferred to a new school. That girl can work when she sets her mind to it!

Now I'm thinking of divers ways to stay awake. Sleeping is not an option as I'll probably wake up so groggy that I'll crash the borrowed car while attempting to pick her up. So I'll read and blog and watch tv programs I never get to watch because there's nobody awake to keep me from watching them. I won't try to get Tristan to bed. He just slammed doors all the way upstairs. I'm thinking he doesn't want to see me right now. Oh the joys of teenage motherhood :-( Can't get very much done right!!


Samenwerking literally means "working together". While looking for the translation of the word the internet turned up cooperation, collaboration and teamwork. None of which was exactly the word I was looking for. I guess teamwork would best cover it though.
Cover what you ask?
Well, Herman just helped me write a job application. Nowadays what I do is look up my old letters, find sentences I find appropriate for the current job and then cut and paste to make a new letter. But this time I was having a hard time joining those sentences into something cohesive, so I just wrote down some half sentences and asked Herman to do the honors. Which he did so well that I didn't even feel that I had to change a lot of the words! I guess that means we were in tune with each other this time because sometimes his style is totally different than mine :-) How's that for teamwork!
With Hermans help I got turned down for one job ;-), and am currently in the proces of interviewing for the second. Which is giving me agonies of indecision because this could potentially be a really good job (right now it's a bit too basic for my taste) but the pay is really really low compared to what I have been getting.
So what to do? Stick with the not so fun but better paying job I have now, or go with the possibly more fun but worse paying job that I'm looking into?
I just don't know!!

Sweet Sixteen


Manning the Barbeque
The morning after

Throes of preparation

Tomorrow is Marindas 16th birthday party and I'm in the middle of preparing for it. Brownies in the oven, macaroni salad in the making. I'm having to compensate for having a lazy day. So even though it's late, I'm going to keep on going! Then tomorrow I'll bake cupcakes, clean and decorate the house and act as a taxi chauffeur for the people who are coming by train. Marinda is looking forward to it. She bought a dress for the occassion (probably one of the many she will wear only once:-)).
I'm hoping for good weather. Otherwise I have no idea how we're going to fit 40-50 people in our house!
Her actual birthday is in 3 three weeks. The I'll probably get nostalgic and it will really hit me that she's already 16!!! Don't want to think about it yet!!

Guest Post

My first ever guest post can be found on
Joy in Chaos.

6 word memoir

I got tagged by That Cool Broad for this six word memoir meme and I've really been stretching my brain ever since. How to describe my life in six words? A lot of things have flitted through my head. Somehow I wanted to fit all my life experience into 6 words. It didn't work.
So finally, I came up with this.

Growing up slowly, and sometimes gracefully.

Now for why I came up with this pearl of wisdom. (hah!)
Notice I wrote growing UP, not growing OLD. I do know I'm growing older, but I figure that that isn't the point of life. The point of my life is to grow up. Not just from a child to an adult, but to grow in wisdom and experience and become a more mature wellrounded person. So far, there's no end in sight for me. This kind of growing up will take me the rest of my life.
Sometimes I can be slow on the uptake, needing to hear the same message a hundred times and then still not getting it. Often I rant and rail against life's lessons and want it all to be perfect NOW! At other times I enjoy the process of learning and discovering about myself and am able to acknowledge that I am who I am. And sometimes I'm exhilarated by what life has on offer and eagerly look forward to learning more.
During this whole learning proces I'd like to be graceful. As the dictionary so beautifully describes it "characterized by elegance or beauty of form, manner, movement, or speech; elegant".
I have a long way to go.

I'm breaking the rules, I'm not going to tag anyone. But I'm encouraging you to think about this. What six words would you use as a memoir? And leave a comment if you come up with something. I would love to know!