When I went to school at RVA I needed to have guardians who lived in the country. My parents lived in Ethiopia, and the school was in Kenya. I had the great luck of having the Ondeng family become my guardians. A beautiful, warm, friendly, welcoming, musical, humorous, fantastic Kenyan family with whom I shared some of the happiest most carefree moments in my life! After my initial trepidation (because I didn't know them at all)they became a home away from home, a place of fun and relaxation and acceptance.
I'm getting lyrical, aren't I! But I think Lise would agree that I'm not exaggerating. Oh my, the laughs we had with them! And the hugs! Now I love my hubby, really truly, but nothing can beat an Ondeng hug!! When Herman and I went to Kenya in 1994, we were hosted by the Ondengs. We were greeted at the airport by Mr Ondeng senior. He turned to Herman and said "thank you for bringing my daughter back home".

What made me think of them was the fact that I got in touch with two of the family members through facebook yesterday. Finding the "i want to be your friend message" in my mail box gave me goosebumps all over and brought a huge smile to my face. Makes me wonder how you can get out of touch with people when there are such good memories!
Ah, well, now I will just bask in the knowledge that they are only a mouse click away, and start enjoying their company all over again!

Third question

What's your favorite movie? Why?

Favorite movie... That's a hard one! Because, obviously, there are just too many to name.

Sound of Music: First movie I remember seeing. Will always give bring me to tears. Marinda used to call it the "aaaahhhh" movie because of all the singing.

Castaway: Awe inspiring. One man's survival skills. The space, the loneliness, the will to live.

Lord of the Rings: Magical. Great memories of the marathon session (all three, right after eachother!)

Cry Freedom: Chills. Watched it in Kenya, made it that much more impressive.

What are your favorites?

Second question

What would you still like to do?

One thing I'd like to do is to take a vacation by myself. The longest I've ever been by myself was a weekend at home without Herman and the kids, with nobody else around. For the rest I've always been in the company of others.

The thought of going alone terrifies and thrills me at the same time. I have gotten so used to sharing decisions that it gives me a thrill to think of going on vacation by myself and deciding what to do all by my lonesome! No other people to take into consideration, no other peoples opinions, needs or wants influencing my decision. And at the same time that kind of terrifies me. Because it can also be kind of easy letting part of what I do depend on what somebody else does. If I went on vacation by myself every decision would be my own. Where to go, what to eat, when to go to sleep, when to wake up... My goodness, that would really take some adjusting to!

That one weekend I was by myself I was quite happy and kind of surprised that I coped so well. I took great pleasure in leaving a room and coming back and finding it looking exactly the same. No kids messes, or somebody who had crawled into my corner of the sofa. I even cooked for myself, something I am kind of convinced I wouldn't do regularly if I had to do it all the time! But imagine the pleasure of making something that I particularly like and my family doesn't! Or eating at odd times, not taking into consideration whether or not my family is hungry.

The closest I have gotten to going on vacation alone was my road trip in Ethiopia. I was not alone, I was actually with my father, brother and sister, but it was just me. I wasn't also having to be a mom or a wife at the same time. And we had all the luxury of eating "out" and travelling and enjoying each others company. I loved it! But part of the enjoyment was also knowing that my family was well taken care of and that they were enjoying themselves. Nothing gives peace of mind like knowing that the home front is doing all right!

But one day, I would like to take a longer vacation by myself. Say a week or so. Long enough to enjoy the freedom, and also long enough to realize and look forward to what's waiting for me back home.


I once told my sister that I would blog “my life in Holland” for her, should she run out of inspiration….. so here goes.

I am Lise, her sister, mom of two (son of 6 and daughter 18 months), and a married 24/7 mom. What does that mean here in Holland? It means that you are usually unschooled, drink coffee with other 24/7 moms throughout the week and that your life consists of the kids.

Well, that last one hits the spot for me, because my life does consist of the kids 24/7. Then in the minutes in between I spend time helping out hubby dear with our own little (succesful) electrical company. Now I am at a point where I want to start picking up my life again and get to work as an OT (occupational therapist).

I forgot to mention that at the moment I am also a (frustrated) referee, trying to keep two kids happy with such a big age difference. Sunny boy just doesn’t get any peace because Sunshine is always on top of him; pinching, biting or hitting him. Sometimes I wonder what we got ourselves into with the big age gap between the kids.

My sister and I don’t have such a big age difference, 19 months, but our lives are so full of big contrasts. Here she has two teenagers…. here I am with little sprouts. The funny thing is that when I finally became a mom, I UNDERSTOOD her! I understood where the tiredness came from, the exasperation, the relationship difficulties etc… So now I am enjoying the fact that my sister knows what I go through now and again, because she had the same issues when her kids were younger. I am also jealous a lot of the time, because she is a free woman, doing her thing and having time to do her own thing, but my time will come in a couple of years. Just the fact that I can no longer call her at 8 in the morning in the weekends says enough; the whole household sleeps in in the weekend whereas we are up at 6.00 in the morning!

I guess my sister is just paving the way for me and making sure she is ahead of me, because I once in a while hear that she was in pain when I happened to have the first boyfriends….


Some time ago I blogged about a game we had played with friends and said I would use the questions for bloggy inspiration every once in a while.

The question I picked turned out to be "What feeling would you like to experience more often?"

The first word that came to mind was happiness.

Now didn't I just blog about that yesterday? Yep, I sure did!

I guess what I would like is to have more of these moments . More of the moments when you're filled from head to toe with that happy feeling that raises your spirits and makes the world look like a brighter shinier place. More moments of contentment, tranquility, color, laughter, pleasure, music and good company.

Can one ever have enough?


Ever notice how much easier it is to spread happiness when you're happy yourself?
I was in Utrecht today, meeting up with old colleagues and volunteers. It was great to walk into a room and have people know and recognize me and greet me like a long lost friend. Well, ok, maybe not that enthousiastically, but it was good! I had a lot of lovely chats and some intelligent conversation and went home feeling uplifted and happy.
I also went home with a bunch of flowers given to me on the spur of the moment. I came into the train with my flowers in front of me and immediatly got a reaction from the old couple sitting across from me. While on the subject of flowers the lady happened to mention she didn't get a lot of flowers from her hubby.
So I gave them to her before I got off the train. So nice to see the look on her face! Still has me smiling.
It's ever so much easier to be nice to somebody when somebody's been nice to you!


Just watched: Spiderman
Still reading: Rose Madder


The lasagna is in the oven, salad is ready to be served. All that is needed is the setting of the table and the baking of some french bread. I'm so looking forward to this meal!

Today I
- cleaned Tristans room
- did 3 loads of laundry
- cleaned my shoes (after the stoute cross, they needed it!)
- went for a bike ride and a climb up a tower with a friend
- unbuilt a bookcase (cannot for the life of me figure out the right way to say this!)
- went to Harderwijk with Herman to look for new glasses
- grabbed the opportunity to check out 8 new books from the library in Harderwijk
- and took a quick peek into one of the churches there
- made the lasagna
- paid some bills
and later on I will hopefully
- call a friend
- download some pictures
- and settle down for a good read.

What did you do today? I'd love to hear!!


Ten thousand flowers in spring,
the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer,
snow in winter.

If your mind isn't clouded
by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

Wu Men

Stoute Cross

Today I convinced Tristan he HAD to go with me to the Stoute Cross. This almost literally meant me grabbing him by the arm and dragging him along... but he came! And then he enjoyed this:

I was wondering why on earth it was called the stoute cross, seeing as this literally means the naughty motocross. Then I saw the add in the paper which proudly proclaimed that this event "has been legal for 5 years!". So I'm guessing it's called naughty because it used to be illegal, and the name has stuck.
It was surprisingly fun to see cars racing madly around a mud track while the stench of diesel, oil and burnt rubber assailed my nostrils. Meanwhile my ears were lambasted by engine noises of all kinds which added to the overal cacophony caused by a screwed up sound system and a LOT of men and boys gathered around giving opinions.
Definately repeatable next year... even Tristan thinks so!

Chips and Candy

In a desperate bid to keep Tristan and his friend happy, I went to the store with them and let them each pick out a bag of candy, a bag of chips and a soft drink. Then I called home and asked Marinda and Herman what they wanted. All because Tristan has a friend spending a couple of nights, and really, they aren't getting along. This is a friend from his old school, and I guess the distance has made them grow apart. There seems to be very little they agree on. Not the same kind of movies, not the same kind of activities, they just seem to rub each other the wrong way. And I don't feel like I can call the friends parents and ask them to pick him up because it's not quite bad enough for that. You know how it is? When you offer them all kinds of options for activities to which they react by mumbling and shrugging their shoulders? It drives me bonkers, because if there's one thing I do not want to be doing when friends are over, it is refereeing the arguments and arranging entertainment.
So 4 videos and chips and candy were thrown into the equation and led to a form of sugar and fat induced peace.
One more day to go!

How it is with Herman

We sent out an e-mail the other day, telling people that things were going better with Herman, so I figure I owe the bloggy world the same favor!
Gone are the days of Herman lying flat out, incapable of doing anything. He's now up and about, able to dishes (HALLELUJAH!), cook food (AMEN!) and he has even mustered up the energy to hang up some cupboards in our bedroom (lookin' good!).
Seriously though, he has done the things mentioned above, but it's not like he's overflowing with energy. The prednisone is keeping him up at night and jittery during the day, and after doing something he needs to take a break. But, thank goodness, things really are improving slowly but surely.
I love my hubby and I'm ever so glad he's getting better!

And, as a small postscript; also gone are the days of "a new day has farted", as Herman once stated.

Gotta love his sense of humor!


Marinda got the entire dvd box of all 10 seasons of Friends for her birthday. Which pretty much meant she spent the entire summer watching them! And now we get a huge number of repeats. Like just now for example. We watched the episodes where Monica and Chandler get engaged.
Funny thing about Friends is that it just doesn't get boring! Don't know how they do it, but even Herman ends up laughing when he watches, and he's not much of a tv watcher. I get sucked in more times than I can count, sprinting back and forth from the kitchen to watch when I should be doing the dishes.
So I do think they're funny, but if you stop and think about it, it's also really almost amazing to see how many issues they approach in their own unique way. Single motherhood, drug addiction, older men/younger women, older women/younger men, long distance relationships, adoption, surrogate motherhood, lesbianism, homosexuality and goodness knows what else is adressed. Anything goes is the motto of the Friends cast and crew I guess. Probably they've managed to broaden a lot of peoples perspective, though sometimes the way it's done could be considered questionable. Though, for dutch standards, it's still a very normal, clean family program!!

Up a tree

Mom, Mom!!

Mom, Mom, come watch us play ping-pong!

Through the back alley....

On to the playground by Tristans school....
Chosing sides.......

and action...
And now will you please watch us instead of hiding behind the camera!!

A day with my sis

My kids and I spent the day with my sis and niece and nephew.
It was a lovely day.
I took the boys swimming, and then we came back home to one of my sisters delicious barbeques. (kudos to her hubby too!)

It was an amazingly warm october day. We were able to sit out in the pretty garden, feasting on good food and great weather, laughing kids and toasted marshmallows. It was one of those evenings that demands a great glass of wine and good conversation. One of those evenings that you wish the whole summer was made of.

Nieces and Nephews

Op een grote paddestoel

There's a dutch childrens song that I think every single dutch person has grown up learning to sing. It's called op een grote paddestoel. It's about a little gnome who sits down on a red mushroom with white spots. He dangles his legs and all of a sudden the mushroom breaks, flipping the gnome upside down.

Somehow, it loses its charm in translation!

But here are some of the mushrooms that are mentioned in the song:

Mamma Mia

I just went to see Mamma Mia with Marinda. That just must be the ultimate feel good movie! I couldn't help but keep grinning and heard Marinda laughing next to me. I remember feeling the same way when I went to see the musical a couple of years ago. I got a spontaneous invite on the spur of the moment and went with exceedingly low expectations. After all, it was going to be ABBA in dutch, how tacky is that!?! But I enjoyed every moment of it.
Meryl Streep just blew my mind. Just seeing her gyrating all over the screen, my lordy, I wish I still had that kind of moves in me! And she's 20 years older than I am!! Just imagine the amount of guts it must take to just let it all go and act ridiculous. That counts for all of the cast though. Especially in the end, when they all show up in those wonderful ABBA suits and rock the stage. Made me want to get right up there and get groovin.
Music from ABBA will do that to me anytime. I can't tell you how many times I imagined myself being the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen. (oh for those days!!) Or singing Money, money, money, or Happy New Year. One of their songs is also "our" love song.
ABBA rules!


This is our local eyesore, the Nestle factory in my townt. I bike past it practically every day . Usually I turn my eyes to the fields on the other side, but tonight it was open for guests so I went for a visit with my sil and fil.
Why go for a visit in a factory? Well, it's there! And it was open! Reason enough for me to want to take a peek. I'm always curious to see how things work. Every vacation is spent going somewhere to learn something, be it cheese making, clog making, learning how the dutch high tech dams work...whatever! So now I walked around the factory with my hair covered with a net, wearing a fancy plastic raincoaty kind of thing, learning all about how baby food is made. Did you know it was made from whey? And then all kinds of vitamins and minerals are added? And then the liquid is sprayed into the top of a huge funnel and blasted with 350 degree heat (celsius!) turning the liquid into powder which, after a cooling process is then packed into tins and sent all over the world. And this goes on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Bet you didn't know that! (bet you don't care either...).
Anyway, I got my kick out of seeing a factory in progress and getting a look even farther behind the scenes because my bil works there and he sneaked us into the cooling tower.
And that, folks, seems to have been the highlight of my week so far!!

Single Mom

I told a friend the other day that now and again I feel like a single mom. Saturday for example. I went out and bought a laptop and a new screen for our computer. Not something that I usually do, the computers are more Hermans thing. But needs must, and we had been wanting to get a laptop since before the summer, and there was a huge sale at the store, so there went I. Cellphone in hand for the neccesary back-up calls, sister in law at my side for moral support. I practically had to walk over people to see anything at all, and there was a huge traffic jam just getting to the store.
Despite the preparation, backup and the moral support I didn't quite get what we wanted, but we've decided to keep it all and be happy with it. Then I even ended up installing stuff on the computer, figuring out which software to use and so forth and so on.
Now, just to be sure, I want to let you know I am not a total dingbat. I obviously CAN buy a computer and I am not a total geek, but it's just one of those things that has drifted into Hermans field of attention. Like doing the groceries and taking out the garbage and fixing things and cooking a couple of times a week and so forth and so on. And the last couple of weeks all those little things have become mine to do because Herman is still pretty sick and most things that require body motion are passed on to me.
It's strange to note how much of daily life is filled with things you take for granted until they don't happen any more. And it's not like all the extra stuff is really hard or demanding or impossible or beyond my means or .... it's just extra.
So that's what made me think of single motherhood. Because all single mothers out there do all these things, no questions asked. I have a new admiration for them, because being the sole parent has to be a pretty tough job. I'm lucky because even though Herman is physically "unavailable" he's still very much a moral support. Thank goodness his being sick has not turned him into a terrible grouch.
It has however, made me feel tired and grouchy, and tired, and tired and tired. Which means that instead of going to bed on time I stay up even later, eat unhealthily and in general help myself into an even worse state. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this!


I took a drastic step once we got the internet going at our house again. I reduced the list of blogs I read by at least a half. During my internet "dry spell" I didn't really keep up with them and felt the pressure of the lists of posts that were piling up in my reader. And when I took a good hard look at half the stuff I read it just didn't seem very important any more. So the list of blogs I read now has a lot of people I know personally and like to keep up with, and some blogs that are so good to read that they will probably be on my list for a long long time.
Personal favorite? Stukje bij Beetje. A dutch woman who writes every post in english and dutch. Her photography and her way with words always gives me a moment of stillness in what usually is a busy day. Check her out!
But I'm still open for suggestions! So if you have a favorite blog, let me know what it is so I can go check it out. After all, I now have all this extra time on my hands, now that my list of things to read has shrunk so much ;-)

Marinda, the photographer

Two days ago I posted some pictures I took when I went for a walk with a friend. On that same day Marinda came along as well.
Here are her pictures. She has such an eye for detail! She sees things or looks at angles I totally don't see.
To the left is a shot I took of her in action. The rest of the pictures are entirely hers. Please leave a comment, I'm sure she'd love to read what you think of them!

Along came a spider

Remember this picture?
I had come to consider this spider our garden pet. Used to walk by every day and admire how big it had become, and I looked forward to seeing how big it could get.
Yesterday I watched it being brutally murdered. By two birds. I saw it make a leap to safety and get snatched up just before the haven was reached.
I was sad.
Silly, isn't it?


We're online again! I'm celebrating by posting pictures (in very random order, seeing as I can't get them to line up!)