Last night I had a little gathering of friends here, to celebrate my new job. As I said to my husband afterwards, I think this was one of the first occasions that I've been surrounded by people I chose, instead of people that happen along my path. I have celebrated my birthday in the past and have people visit and come over, but a lot of them are people that I am in contact with through church, or they're family. For this occassion I invited my friends and somehow that felt very different.

Diffent and GOOD! It's lovely to know that I have friends here who each in their own unique way are supportive and fun to be around. And evidently when I gather them together, they get along as well! I've never had a real group of friends, you know the kind you hang out with as a whole? In high school I mixed and mingled with different people but never felt like I was part of a group. I've never minded, I still don't! But now it's nice to see that if I do want to gather friends around me, they get along with each other.

I might just do this more often....

25 things

1. Facebook is like a blast from the past. I have friends on here from almost every phase of my childhood. Ethiopia, Louisiana and Kenya.
2. I love injera
3. Since meeting a south african friend here in my town, I drink tea with milk and sugar again. Love it!
4. My daughter is so pretty, it blows me away sometimes
5. My son is so big, I can't believe I bore him and managed to push him out.
6. I have to clear the table, instead I'm doing this
7. I like being in the limelight. Does that make me a bad person?
8. Ondengs give the greatest hugs
9. I'd like to go to my high school reunion, but live in fear of feeling out of place
10. Tomorrow night I'm having a little gathering of friends to celebrate my new job
11. Blogging is fun, great fun! I've dreamt of being a writer, and this way at least I write!
12. The longer my hair is, the curlier it is.
13. According to "color me beautiful" I am a winter.
14. Speaking of colors... my favorite color is red.
15. Reading is essential to life: as an escape, as a mirror, as lessons learned
16. Over the last 18 years I have gained 25 kilos, lost 12, gained 15, lost 18, gained 15, lost 3..... well, you get the picture!
17. I love SPACE, lots of it! Room to breath, to look out, to part of a huge expanse.
18. My ethiopian road trip was a time to treasure. What was the song we listened to all four days? How could I forget!
19. I've never been drunk
20. I love to dance.... but can't.
21. We've been looking for a car!! It'll be the first we've ever owned!!
22. Thank goodness for public transport.
23. Red tulips make me happy
24. Great quote: A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear
25. I'm listening to my hubby sleeping on the couch, my daughter listening to Lady Smith Black Mambazo on the laptop, my fingers typing on the keyboard, the new computer humming in the back ground. Life is pretty good!

Consider your self tagged!



After the relative peace of the Christmas break, the last couple of weeks have been rather rushed. The new job is a lot of fun, I can tell I'm really going to enjoy it, but the combination with the old job is just a tad more tiring than I thought it would be (hmmm, who ever saw that coming?). Add exploring schools to the equation, and you have a tired, but also fulfilled Elise. (I had to go back and retype my name! Have to get used to calling myself Elise :-)) No such thing as boredom going on right now! I had to laugh at the reactions I got to that post, knew it would hit a nerve with some.

So what I'm actually saying is that I have no clue what to write right now. Though knowing me, that could change at any minute. I am happy to say I have started to clamber up out of the hole I was in. I have gotten a bit of a grip on some of the dark thoughts that were haunting me. Thanks to loving comments, good books, arguments, some not so very fun moments (which yet manage to lead to some form of wisdom gained), eating better, talking.... well, you know the stuff that helps one regain some sanity!

In the meantime I may not be blogging quite as much, until I feel moved by the spirit to do so. Right now I feel like nothing is really worth mentioning, it's all a bit too mundane.

Hope you hang around though! It's been so very nice to see people following me here...

The school search continues

The last couple of weeks have been spent regularly visiting schools in our area. High schools, for Tristan to go to next year. Because he's almost done with elementary school (I only have to take a look at the huge boy standing next to me for this to really sink in!). Next week he'll be taking the dutch version of the SAT's, which will help us decide which level of education he'll end up going to. Funny thing is he's actually looking forward to them! Looking forward to the challenge, wanting to accomplish something instead of being bored at the school he's at.

Back to the school hunt though. Each school in this area has it's own "expertise". There's a school which places a lot of emphasis on the arts, there's a school that offers dual language training (english and dutch), there's the school around the corner which prides itself on being small and homey, there's the school that aims for solid christian education. There's the school he can bike to, and the school that he has to take the train to (thinking of the costs here!).
Lots of choices!

So we traipse from school to school with Tristan hoping that something will click and we'll make the right decision. Someplace that will foster his ambitions, offer a supportive environment, and give him room to be himself.

Rainy Day

It's 8.30 a.m. and it's grey and gloomy outside. I've just gotten the kids out the door. Marinda has an exam week, so started a wee bit later. Poor girl has to bike through the rain, catch the train, and then bike through the rain again! Tristan, on the other hand, walks for about a minute and then he's at school. He won't have that luxury next year. Most likely he and Marinda will be catching the same train early in the morning to go their schools.

Usually I'm out the door at 8 as well, to catch my train. But today I will be working at my new job and I get to leave on my own time. I can't tell you how much of a relief it is to be able to even think of having another cup of coffee, or maybe even get some housework done. Too many times over the last year I've looked at the clock wondering frantically if I can take a couple more minutes for the kids, or if I have to really race to catch my train. It just feels like an awesome luxury only having to take 8 minutes to get to work, instead of the 50 it takes me now!

Another advantage. Marinda will be dropping by after school today, it's right on her route, so she can see where I work. We can even go out for lunch easily :-).

The next couple weeks I'll be juggling two jobs. Half of me is wondering how I'll cope, the other half is taking it in her stride. I still won't be working full-time, I made sure of that! So it should be fine. And hopefully the thrill of the new job will give me a nice energy boost.
Just what I need to make it through another rainy day!

Moving along

Things are moving along faster than I thought.

Today I had a talk with my new boss. An irritated phone call from a client kind of "forced" him to circumnavigate bureaucracy and tell me to go ahead and get to work!
* BIG GRIN * !
I am totally feeling up to it, and if my proof of good behavior arrives soon (fingers crossed), it will even mean extra salary in february.

I don't want to get my hopes up too high, because you never really know, but that windfall just might add to my "get me to my high school reunion fund" and help us with a couple of other perks/neccesities :-).

It's giving me a stomachache to think about it (anticipation? nerves? hopes?) so I won't write any more.

Now to get to work! In the house this time, because besides having been to my new job, this (or a slightly different version of it) is also awaiting me.

Have a good day!!


In september I got a call from the volunteer coordinator in my town whom I spoke to back in february.

She called to say that she was quitting her job. And she called to say that she wanted me to follow her up. Oh man, I was psyched! (sorry, that was the RVA in me coming out).
A week later I was in her office chatting to her about the job and what it entailed. A half hour after that I was in her bosses office, having an informal job interview.

Then everything went totally silent, painfully so.

I KNEW she was leaving her job in october and that her position would be vacant in november and that I was a strong candidate.

So I waited.

Then I networked. I went to a volunteer conference organized in this area and spoke to anyone who means everything, including the bureaucrat responsible for volunteer policy. I sparkled, I chatted, I gave my educated opinion.

And I waited some more. Because you know, new policy was being made, lots of bureaucrats had to bow their wise heads over this job, opinions had to be asked and budget had to be checked.

Then I started looking around for another job. And got invited for an interview, in december.

THEN, then I started stalking. I talked to the boss, told him I was interested in THIS job. Oh yes, he said, we're interested in you to. But you know... bureaucracy......
I stalked some more. Listen I said, there's a big chance I might get this other job, whatcha gonna do about that?
A flurry of activity ensued.

Meanwhile, I did not get the other job. You know what they said? There's a job opening in your town. YOU WOULD BE A PERFECT CANDIDATE FOR THAT JOB!!

Finally, last week, I had THE job interview. Oh, they said, we can't wait to have you! Can you please start tomorrow?!?
Sure, I can do that, I said.
But... they said.. though we are offering you this job, first the director must say he agrees.
Ok, says I.
And... they said... we also have to get verification of your good behavior. This will take up to 4 weeks.
Ok then, I said.
But after that, they said, after that, can you please start immediately??
Yep I said.
After all, after waiting 4 months, what's a month more? Patience, after all, is one of my virtues ;-)

So though I may want to start my new job tomorrow, and they may want me to start tomorrow, bureaucracy will stand in my way.

And this folks, is what I am going to have to deal with IN MY NEW JOB!!
I am officially going to become a pencil pushing volunteer coordinating bureaucrat.
Yeah for me!

This longwinded tale is the tale that I referred to here.

Why was I being so mysterious, you may wonder?

Well, on the first day of the job I have now, one of my colleagues came up to me and said, Hey I found your blog!
This is something that I do not want to have to deal with here. The job I've accepted is quite a public function. I will have to do a lot of networking and I will meet a lot of people. I want my blog and this job to be two totally seperate entitities. That's why I have taken all references to my family name, my husbands name, my real name and where I live out of the blog. Also I will be changing the url, for extra safety. The new url is going to be (I'll let you know when I switch... soon!). This way I hope to protect myself from unwanted interest in my personal life. It may not be enough in the long run, but I hope it will be enough for now!

So ends the tale of the search and conquest of my new job.

(and the flowers? I got those from Herman!)


People, I'm bored.

I read a serious book, I read a regular book. I watched some TV. I did some housework. Chatted some on facebook. Looked at everybody's status. Wrote some e-mails. Stayed inside due to the gloomy weather. Read all the blogs on my Reader. Checked out new blogs. I played scrabble, twice. I got started on another puzzle. I exercised.

A lazy day is great, but too much laziness? Makes for boredom.

So much boredom that I will get up and do some more housework.

Now that folks, means I am REALLY BORED!!


One of my high school friends used to say:

Patience is a virtue, posess it if you can. It's never found in women and seldom in a man.


Patience is a virtue, posess it if you can. It's rarely found in women and never in a man.

Either which way, I don't posess much patience. I'm much more of a get go RIGHT NOW kind of person. Sometimes that works for me, and sometimes it works against me.

Since september there's been something in my life that has been trying my patience in many many ways. I have obliquely mentioned this before, and have thought about it regularly, if not daily. Yesterday I thought I would finally be able to really tell something more about it, it was even hinted at in one of my pictures, but yet again, I must have patience. I'm thinking this is going to be a life lesson. I'm quite positive it's going to be a ongoing issue for the next....maybe years??.... to come.
I hardly dare say it, but I hope that next week I'll be able to finally speak up and tell you all what has been keeping my mind and thoughts occupied since september. I'm sure it will be a big let-down, but I'll let you know anyway!

On a slightly different note, but also kind of related, I've changed my profile name. I will now go through life blogging as Elise, which is actually my middle name. The e-mail adres on my profile has also been changed to (Elizabeth, if you're reading this, please mail me! I've tried to get in touch with you, but havn't been able to) I will also be trying to change my url without causing too much havoc (and maybe I can prevail upon Renzo to help me out with another revamp of my blog? ;-)). So if you see a comment on your blog signed by Elise? That would be me folks!

So that's all for today. I'm going to crawl back underneath the blanket, wipe my teary eyes, cough some more and drink some more tea....

Things to do today


This is how the ill get treated in this house ;-)


I've been doing a lot of thinking, some writing, some talking, and have moments of satisfaction next to the moments of numb emptiness that are also there.
I guess that's normal though. Life never is a continuing vale of tears, even though it may feel like it sometimes! Though I have realized that feeling depressed can cast a blanket over every situation, sucking the spark out of even the loveliest moments. Kind of like a damper on the spirit.

Looking back over my last few posts I see that I have not noted any of the things we did during the Christmas break. Just for posterities sake, I will note them now. Because I would not like to read only misery when I glance back in a couple of months or so!
Facebook seems to be taking the place of my blog sometimes. I update my state of mind or what I'm doing on there, and then forget to write about it on my blog. But then it disappears onto the net, and there's no lasting notation of how time has been spent.

So here goes:

- Lots of scrabble was played. Marinda and I experimented with playing in english and she is a strong competitor (like in every other game! I rarely beat her at anything, smart girl as she is!).

- We completed a 1000 piece puzzle in two days. I got started, Marinda finished it off :-).

- We went to Madagascar 2 with the kids. "I like em big, I like em chunky, I like em big, I like em plumpy!" Great fun!

- I baked lots of chocolate chip cookies, with differing succes. On the day after Christmas I brought my offering of cookies to my international friends here, knowing that they would appreciate this gesture. They did! All other cookies were also appreciated by family members.
Fun thing... last wednesday one of those friends returned the favor. Finding out I was not at home, she then hung a bag with a plate of cookies on my door :-).

- Christmas Eve was spent in style at my sisters house. My mom once started the tradition of exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve and it's something we do practically every year. We did small gifts, which were fun to get and give. And then we gourmetted (ate food from little frying pans, each person gets their own pan, you make your own meal. One of my international friends here didn't know what it was, so I thought I'd share!). Marinda and I got some Lush soaps, which are now lying here and there around the house spreading lovely smells. Seriously, when you wash with this stuff your skin still smells like it after a couple of hours.

- We went to the Christmas service at our old church, seeing as we still havn't found a church here that matches with us. It was nice to be there and see old familiar places. Also strange to see that things are still the same.

- New Years Eve was spent with our favorite friends. It's so very comforting and wonderful to walk into a house and feel entirely at home with people. The kids hadn't seen eachother since the summer but they immediately settled down to a game and laughs. So we spent the evening eating, talking, playing games and enjoying eachothers company, followed by Tristans delight.... setting off lots and lots of fireworks.

- I got the year off to a good start as far as physical activity goes. I have a step thingy and have been getting on it regularly. Feels good to get the sweat flowing! During the Christmas break I also finally got some new clothes. Nothing is quite as miserable as having only 2 pants and 3 sweaters in your cupboard (I am not exaggerating!). This way I at least had something decent for Christmas! I went shopping by myself one afternoon and enjoyed the freezing views in Harderwijk and took my own time. I don't particularly like shopping, so was very pleased with what I got!
Stupid thing.. I bought an oliebol at an outdoor stand when I was there. It was covered in powdered sugar. So I made sure to wipe and wipe and wipe my face, not wanting a speck of powdered sugar hanging around to make me feel like fat woman eating... Then, about half an hour later, I looked down at myself and discovered my jacket was COVERED with powdered sugar. Had a good laugh at myself!!

- It's been the coldest 2 weeks in 12 years. There was natural ice everywhere and skating on it was a huge thing. Traditionally Holland is a skating country, so everybody was out breaking legs, hips, arms and legs (seriously, in some places the army volunteered their services in order to cope with the extra workload in the hospitals!). I've enjoyed the cold immensely, I'd much rather have a good chill than have rain falling on my head. But I didn't get out as much as I would have liked to. I only spent one afternoon on the ice, only to discover that my legs were not up to the challenge :-). Major shin burn was all I got out of it...

- I watched the movie The Beach by myself one evening. Lovely to watch something without people walking in or out or commenting!

- I made two new friends on the internet. One whose blog I read regularly and who offered to exchange e-mail adresses. And another person that I happened upon fortuitously. I have really enjoyed the new contacts!

- In a more recent turn of events. I went to a christian womans group here last week with one of my new nunspeetan friends . It was a really pleasant surprise. None of the moralizing, preachy type of christianity that I'm allergic to at this moment. More of a sharing of ones life and how God plays a role in it. I was heartened by everyones honesty and encouraged to go more often. So I think I will!

Well then, I think I've gotten some highlights down! Congratulations to those who have made it down to here :-).

Ice, Ice, Ice

Child of God

Last sunday we were at a church service organized by Hermans work. It was the opening service of the new year.
During the service I realized that communion was going to be offered. I had a silent panic attack. I knew that in my current state of mind, taking communion would not be the right thing to do. There are too many doubts about God, Jesus, the Bible. There is too much anger, frustration and bitterness. I cant even sing along with many of the songs because I cannot get the words over my tongue.
But... this is Hermans work environment. These people are his colleagues. The group was not big. I didn't know how I was going to get out of taking communion without people noticing, perhaps whispering, and wondering. I thought about sneaking off to the toilet at some moment, but knew that would look too obvious. My head spun with endless possibilities of getting out of taking communion without shaming Herman or myself.

Then the pastor spoke. He said, "If you believe you're a child of God, then you are free to take communion".

My panic sank as the realisation slowly grew that that actually IS what I believe. Don't ask me if I believe Jesus died on the cross, don't ask me if I'm saved, don't ask me about the Bible, don't ask me about anything else...

Somewhere in my heart a chord was struck. Yes, I do believe I am a child of God.

So I took communion and left with a new sense of peace.

A lot, if not most of christianity does not make sense to me right now.
But you know what? I am a child of God. That, I know.
So I'll move on from there.


First and foremost, I love my kids. I don't want anyone to doubt that.

That having been said......

I don't find motherhood fulfilling. It's a lot of damn hard work. And it's a huge confrontation with everything that I don't seem to be.
Capable of setting boundaries

I find being at home with the kids to be a huge challenge. I often tell people I'm not an earth mother. And by that I mean that raising kids does not in any way come naturally to me. I DO NOT for the life of me understand how people can stay at home all day with kids and find it fulfilling. I find it draining.

I'm most at peace with my kids when I see them enjoying themselves without me. I love to see them at play, or in laughing conversation with others. I love sitting on the sidelines watching them do their thing. My heart jumps with pride when I see Tristan on the soccer field, or Marinda on the dance floor. I love to see them bloom and grow as seperate individuals, each in their own special way. And I love that they are a part of me that I get to see grow up!

What drains me is the constant effort that is needed to decide whether something is right or wrong, whether I should say yes or no, now or later, whether I should hug them or spank them.
Raising kids to me is being in a position of continually having to question myself.
What will we eat for dinner? Let's see, he likes this, she likes that. Last time we ate what he wanted, now I should pay more attention to what she wants. On the other hand, they should just eat what I serve.
Clean clothes? Do I or do I not pick up their laundry? Surely Marinda is old enough to wash her own clothes. But it's such a hassle, let me just do it. But then she'll never learn. Do I or do I not fold their clothes? Or just thrown them in a pile in her room? Should I or should I not clean their bedrooms? Should I should I not have that chat? Because it's past bedtime.. on the other hand, they're talking, that should be important too. Should I let them finish watching that tv program? They need their sleep, but they need to relax as well.
Do I or do I not ......Should I or should I not...

It's like a continual cycle of doubt and recrimination. Either recrimination of theirs, because they want things differently, or recrimination of mine, because I should have done things differently.

This continual questioning of myself, of the kids, wears me down, drains me, sucks the life right out of me.

That's why I work. Because work is as clear as a bell. My job, my responsibility. You don't like it? You can shove it. And that energizes me. Enough to give me the boost I need to cope with the endless questions I ask myself as I attempt to raise my kids.

Goodbye Christmas

Usually I can't wait to clear my house of all things Christmas. I mean, after a while, it gets in the way and turns into clutter instead of spots of Christmas cheer. But this year, not so much. I guess it has a lot to do with my state of mind. So it is with mixed feelings that I'm cleaning out the house. I'm not quite ready for Christmas to be over! Christmas music has not yet driven me insane, and I could eat another Christmas dinner :-).

Meanwhile though, duty is calling, and I have managed to get a bit of a handle on the new year. That includes buying a fresh new agenda and making some fun dates. Like going to the sauna with a good friend (and scoring some amazing coupons for it!). Or taking Renzo up on his offer of peace, quiet and curry. And being thankful for the positive feedback I received on my depressed state of mind.

Renzo gave me a book called The Road Less Travelled. The first sentence of the book is "Life is difficult". Somehow it seems like that one sentence was enough to galvanize me into some form of action. Because yes, life IS difficult in many ways. And guess what... I'm the only one who can do something about that.

My father took the effort to write a very encouraging personal e-mail in reply to my post. In it he mentioned the following quote.

Everyone of us faces the challenges of discovering the unusual, potentially limiting conditions of our lives, and then learning how to stop those conditions from disabling our spirits


Thank You

May I just say big Thank You to all those who commented or sent me an e-mail after my last post? It was and still is really really appreciated.

I have been writing, talking and doing some reading since then and things are getting a bit more settled in my head. Perhaps I will share more another time.

For now, I will end with a big