Category Archives: 7 Quick Takes

7 Quick Takes

1.

Facebook

Yesterday I had a small heart attack when I heard that my “boss” is on facebook. MY BOSS IS ON FACEBOOK! I hear this one day after I gleefully wrote that I was on facebook while at work… I came home and checked my privacy settings. Phew. No worries there. I will not add him as a friend, and he can’t see anything of mine without being one.

2.

Food bank

I heard the facebook news while chatting away with a number of lovely woman about setting up a food bank here in our little town. Good chatting! We’ll be exploring the possibilities, going to visit other food banks and checking with social services to see if they will endorse the project. It was fun realizing that the network I’ve been building up at work this last year will come to good use for this project as well.

3.

Sinterklaas

I never did get around to posting about Sinterklaas on the fifth of december, except as a status update on facebook. But yesterday we leafed throught the pictures on the computer and I thought I’d put some up here for posterity. That is, after all, what blogging is all about, isn’t it?

We had great evening that night. Such huge amounts of creativity!

4.

NEW books

While at the arty party with my sister and brother we got to talking about spending money and buying books. It was clear to them that books are my passion.  But, I feel guilty every time I buy them. Like it’s a waste of money. So they challenged me to buy one NEW book each month, for the coming year. And yesterday, I did. With great pleasure. In the book store. Handing over more than the usual 50 cents I pay at the second hand book store.

It made me feel proud and happy. A small investment in myself, a gesture to make myself understand that I’m worth the investment 🙂

Thanks Renzo and Lise!

5.

Hotel

Tonight Herman and I are off for a night in a hotel and a small shopping spree the day after. It all started because I couldn’t find Herman a present for his birthday. I probably also didn’t start looking on time, but let’s not talk about that. Finally, motivated by desperation, I booked us a night in a hotel. I remember thinking though, why should we only do this once a year? It’s not all that expensive to go away for a night, if you look for a good bargain, and it makes for a lovely date. And that’s something we don’t get around to much with the house full lately. So we’re off later today. I’m hoping for some quality time together, and a nice sweater for Herman.

6.

Friends/Family and other strangers

Our Christmas break was one that was filled with people. Our second “daughter”  came back home sooner than expected. We had my mom and dad sleep over, then a friend slept over. Some girls/clients from Hermans work came over for an evening of dinner and games.  Two nights ago sister in law dropped by with husband to let us know that they’re pregnant. Meanwhile other brother in law was there as well. Around  Christmas I met up with three friends. Coffee at Hermans work. My girlie has come back from Hungary with her boyfriend, pleasurably adding to the crowd. Lunch with volunteers, coffe with second daughters mother. Arty party with brother and sister. People, people everywhere. Or at least that what it feels like. A social whirl which makes me feel like this is home but which also leaves desperately little time for blogging or just sitting or time in the house alone. Maybe next week the pace will settle down a  little?

7.

Kitchen

Herman has taken some days off and has been working in the kitchen. My, that’s beginning to look good! I had gotten so used to spreading my bread on an upside down door that I forgot what it would look like when we put in a real countertop. Or base boards. Or painted the walls, or any other of the stuff that he’s been doing. That also adds to the homey feel of the house. It’s been two years, so it’s about time that this place started feeling like home!

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7 Quick Takes

1.

Vacation

We’ve been back for 2 weeks and vacation almost seems like a distant thing in the past. I’m so grateful for pictures! Pictures to look over and remember.
I think what most characterizes our family outing is what Marinda said: beauty is not enough for two weeks. See the place where we were is beautiful. And that was almost enough for me, but definately not for the kids. Because it was beautiful, but there was not another person to be found within a normal radius. The house we rented was located in the middle of a new area which was still being built…. no kids, no company, no neighbors. Now I don’t know about anybody else, but I know the success of our vacations often depends on the amount of friends my kids make. So they were bored. I could not listen to the opening song from Friends one more time, let me tell you.
We did do a lot of stuff though, and I enjoyed myself, with the exception of my birthday which was a dull gloomy and extremely boring day. Even I found myself wanting to go home.

A  few highlights:

– meeting Jordans parents (Marinda’s boyfriend) and having a fun lunch with them
– the scenery and the history
– water: I love the sense of space that water gives. Give me a lake or an ocean and you give me peace of mind
– floating on the lake, combination of icy cold water and a hot hot sun
– discovering a cemetery on a beautiful walk with Herman
– freshly baked bread every day

ma famille

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2.

House and Home

Last week sunday we went a little crazy and started switching furniture around. My motivation was inspired by our lovely holiday home, combined with my sisters spacious new house, our friends beautiful new home, and my neighbors idea of switching the room back to front. Frankly, I was lead by envy.

But I’m quite happy with the end result. The house feels, I don’t know, better, in some way. Less of a “let’s just cram everything we own into this room and call it home”  kind of space.

See for yourself. zomer 2009 035

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3.

Art

A couple of days after our little crazy, we went a lot crazier and bought art. Israeli art students were selling art door to door and Herman let them in. I know, crazy 🙂

But we ended up buying this, which still needs to be stretched. We won’t frame it for now, I’m thinking it will ruin the spacious effect of the painting. Really, it’s something we realistically should not be paying, but it struck both our fancies and when we saw the effect it had on our humble abode, we were sold.

(as my hubby said, this is not the worlds most fantastic picture, but it will give an impression)

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4.

Spontaneous Visits

Some of the best visits are the spontaneous kind. In the midst of moving furniture the friends who stayed in our house during our vacation dropped by. Despite the mess, we asked them to stay, parked ourselves in the garden and an hour lighted decided to light the BBQ and have a meal. We lit a fire, and sat around it eating and talking and enjoying eachothers company. I took out my ethiopian incense and we sat in clouds of scent.

On the monday after I had a massive car day. I ended up going to 5 different towns. Drop of Tristan at a friends house, drop off Marinda at the bus station (it’s back to Hungary again for her, quick visit to a friend in one town, then on to the next for a visit with another, and on my way home I couldn’t resist the temptation to drop by my sis for a quick visit. I was tired at the end! But it was fun all the same, and well worth the effort.

I’d like to try this a bit more often, give a friend a call and then just drop by. Or not give a call and just drop by. Often times the less planning is involved the more relaxed people are!

5.

Boundaries

I’ve been doing some experimenting with boundaries and I must say the end results are not as bad as I expected. I expected more hassle from those involved the experiment, but most of the hassle comes from inside my head with a craze of thoughts running through it: “am i doing the right thing, when should i say things, where is the limit, what consequence does it have, why am i doing this”. I drive myself nuts. I’m trying to console myself with the thought that I am at the stage of being consciously competent which is a fase farther than being consciously incompetent. This is hard work and I am not yet particularly enjoying it.

6.

Work

I’ve been at work a week again but I can’t say I’m enjoying yet. Not hating it either. I just have to be firm with myself and get myself going which is harder than I expected. I am back to working regular hours, though last week wednesday was such a beautiful day that i gave myself some time out and went to soak in the sun in the garden. I had a glass of wine (my boss gave it to me for my birthday!) and turned totally woozy and had to take a nap to recuperate. Nevertheless, it had a nice warm holiday feel to it!

7.

Blogging

I didn’t write much in the Czech Republic, aside from a few notes on what we had done each day. And I havn’t blogged since then either. Maybe this massive post will get me going again, maybe not.  I had fun writing this post, that’s the advantage of the seven quick takes. Gets a lot of writing out of the way!

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7 Quick Takes

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1.

Czech Republic

The car is packed, the house is kind of clean. My husband just told me I smell sweaty, fruit of a hard days work. I still have to take a shower and finish cleaning the bathroom. I’m tired and I sincerely hope that I’ll get a couple hours of sleep before we head off on vacation! I’m nervous about the trip… wondering if it’ll go ok, if we’ll arrive on time, if I’ll drive ok, and so forth and so on. One great thing to look forward to though. Seeing my daughter again! I long to give her good long hugs and hear all her tales of Hungary.

2.

Books

My friend loaned me this box of books for holiday reading. I’m at a loss which to take with me, and which to leave behind (because my husband would have a fit if I packed all of them, though seriously, I could probably read them all in two weeks). They look so yummy! I feel like a kid in a candy store, not knowing what to get.

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3.

Blogging

Though I’m taking our laptop with me, I’m pretty sure there’s not internet available in the house where we’re going. A long blogging break! I am planning to write daily, and then will post it all in one big go for posterities sake when I get back home.

4.

Reunion

My classmates, RVA ’89, are having a reunion in the States right now. Part of me wishes I was there and is wondering how it’s going. Hopefully pictures will be posted and those of us who aren’t able to attend will get some of the news. At the beginning of the year I had high hopes of going. Now I’m glad I’m off to the Czech Republic, at least it will be a (hopefully) wonderful distraction!

5.

Music

My hubby found this song on Youtube, I thought it was pretty good! Herman will work on translating it to dutch during our vacation. He gets a kick out of doing that. He translated this one a short while ago, and I actually think it’s better than the original english. And believe me, with my love of english, that is really saying something!

6.

Bobsleigh

This is one of the things that Tristan is particularly looking forward to. I think I’ll give it a try myself. I’m not much of one for action packed adventure parks, but a bit of speed is nice to get the adrenaline flowing. I wonder how fast I’ll drive in Germany, where there is no speed limit. I must grab my chance and really go for it!

7.

So long

So long, farewell! I’m off for my shower and some sleep. Leaving the men downstairs watching soccer. Not worried about missing that!

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7 Quick Takes

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New houses and old(er) ones

Monday I spent at my sisters, helping out at her new house. I walked into my own house afterward and was bummed at its ordinariness. I have grown to like it again though, in the past week, and am quite happy to be living in a rental in which we can call somebody whenever something gets broken. Plus the thought of having to renovate a house at this stage in my life…. shudders…. It is very lovely to see my sister enjoying her space and her garden though! And here’s hoping she’ll be able to move in real soon and make it a real home for her and her loved ones. I’m glad I was able to do something to help her out, just a tiny bit!

2.

No kids

Tuesday was work. But it was strange, because there were no kids at home. Even at work I felt the difference, weird isn’t it? Marinda is enjoying herself in Hungary, Tristan was sleeping over at a friends house. Meanwhile I needed the time to recuperate from the hecticness of last week, with all its visitors and sleepovers and what have you. I worked on wednesday and thursday as well and am actually feeling quite content about my progress. I’ve been able to do some good sorting out and organizing, and there’s actually space in my head for new ideas and less stress. One more week to go and then vacation coming up. Wednesday I had lunch with my hubby, just around the corner from my work. That was nice. Even though we were home alone for two days it didn’t have the same effect as going out for lunch did. Sunshine, not to many cares, and some conversation. I forget how neccesary it is for the health of our marriage.

3.

Books

Thursyday I made a good deal with the second hand book stall on the market. I went to get some english books there and he gave me a nice trading option. For every book I give to him, I can pick one of his for 50 cents. A lot of his books cost 2,50 so that’s fine with me! Besides which I have about 30 books which I don’t really want to keep, so I’ll be trading those in. Sweet deal, as far as I’m concerned! He even offered to bring in new books next week, knowing I would be coming around again. (and trust me, this is almost a neccesity as he only has two shelves of english books to chose from!). So now, I’ve got a pile of books growing gradually for my vacation!

4.

Boundaries

I was struck this week by how I’m going to have to get used to having my private and work life getting more mingled than it ever has before. I tend to compartmentalize myself, work is one thing, home is another, and I can act like a totally different person in those places. At work I pride myself on sticking to my agreements, presenting myself well, working hard, and in general making myself liked. At home I tend to forget what I’ve promised, I forget to smile and make myself look nice, I moan and groan about the housework and in general make less of an effort to be appreciated. Often work does make me feel more appreciated making it easier to behave well (at least for me). But perhaps that should be beside the point.

What is my point? Well… my not sticking to agreements at home has its consequences for others, like the kids schools for example. And those very same schools are also schools that I have professional contacts with. So there’s the two worlds colliding. My professional, competent mode, runs right into my chaotic mother mode. Oops!! I have this feeling I’m going to have to be less demanding of myself at work and be more demanding at home, so that my personas don’t get all confused. Try to find the healthy balance in there somehow.

5.

Good reads

Some good links crossed my path this week. Here they are:

http://unclutterer.com/2009/07/10/ask-unclutterer-having-it-all/

http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2009/07/the-secret-is-not-to-care.html

6.

Friends

I’ve also been able to do some light catching up with friends this week. One evening I “met” my neighbor on facebook and then we decided we’d both be better off sitting outside in the late sunshine with a glass of …well coke in this case. We both weren’t feeling up to the wine. Had coffee with another friend, dropped by another one spontaneously,  spoke to the phone on another and sent off a short note to some others and smsed with another. Hey, I’m blessed with quite some friends! I didn’t realize how many people I’ve been in touched with til I summed it up just now! Maybe I will celebrate my birthday later this summer and invite them over 🙂

7.

Shopping

I wore out my legs shopping today. Two pairs of shoes and four shirts. Not bad for a girl who doesn’t like to shop! It was exhausting though. I did get a free coffee coupon at one store so gave myself a little break imbetween. I came home with my usual colors, causing Herman to roll his eyes in frustration at my lack of creativeness. At this point, I’m just happy to have something that fits me relatively well and suits me and fashion is dictating that it must either be purple or red. Or, as one of my shirts is, BOTH!

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7 Quick Takes

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Hungary!!

My daughter is heading off to Hungary tomorrow! A spur of the moment decision, led by the fact that her boyfriend and his friend are going back tomorrow as well. And she was wondering what she would be doing for the long long long two weeks she wouldn’t be seeing him.
Anyway, it means she’s in for a 22 hour bus trip. She’s thrilled to pieces, and so are the two guys. (they would be, beautiful girl in tow, what else does a guy want!)

2.

Rwanda

On a totally different note, Marinda is reading up on the genocide in Rwanda. She decided on this subject for her final paper next year. I read one of the books she brought home and it was terribly graphic. I tend to stick my head in the sand for a lot of the evil in the world, but this book certainly didn’t sugarcoat any of it. I wonder what Marindas paper will be like, and I wonder how she’ll react to all the graphic things she’ll be reading up on.

3.

Rain, Rain, Rain

It’s gloomy and cold out. No fun at all. The hungarian boys were wondering if this was traditional dutch weather. It just might be. June was delightful, I hope things get better soon. Funny how rainy weather makes me so much more lethargic.

4.

Drift

Read this the other day:
“Drift is the decision you make by not deciding, or by making a decision that unleashes consequences for which you don’t take responsibility.”
Food for thought. And this also has to do with boundaries, at least as far as I’m concerned.

5.

Silence of the lambs

That’s the movie that’s playing in the background as I type. Three boys and 1 girl are watching. I’ll join them in a little bit. Tomorrow I get to sleep in, yeah!!

6.

Dutch goodies

Tomorrow I will also get some little dutch packages for my daughter to take with her to Hungary. One of my classmates from back when I lived in Ethiopia lives in Budapest, the town that my girlies heading for. Somehow, in a silly way, it makes me feel more comfortable knowing that someone I know lives in the town that she is going to, even though I havn’t seen that friend in 25 years!! I’ll give my daughter a package for her and her phone number and see if the two of them get together.

7.

Tired

Tired is what I am. I had hoped this week would have been more peaceful than last week, but it turned out to be kind of hectic. I talked to my south african friend today. She called and asked if I was upset with her, seeing as I hadn’t talked to her in such a long time. Wish that didn’t have to happen, but somehow I got/get caught up in a whirlwind of stuff and contact with friends is one of the first things that falls by the wayside. Anyway, we managed to make a coffee date, and again spoke our intentions of being in touch more often. Man, I need to work on those boundaries!

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7 Quick Takes

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Last day?
I’m thinking today could be the last day that I’ll be at home alone for the rest of the summer. Kids will be finished with school in a couple of days. I had plans to get started with preparing for a birthday party tomorrow, but now I’m just enjoying the peace and quiet and alone time. Won’t get too much more of that in the next 6 weeks! But I won’t have to drag kids out of bed in the morning either.

2.

Rain

The heavens opened this afternoon and the rain came pouring down. It was practically an event! I went to pick Marinda up from the station, but turned around and told her to just bike because the streets were flooded. I was scared  of getting stranded in the middle of my little town, wearing only a t-shirt, kikoi and flipflops. It would do my image no good. And after she got here we realized I wouldn’t have made it anyway. She had to navigate huge puddles with water up to her knees!

A friend posted a youtube clip here. If you check it out, you can see exactly what an average street here in my town looks like with the flooding.

3.

Tea and company

My neighbor friend dropped by. I had the door standing open to air the house.  Later on her husband strolled in. I love it when people just come in unannounced and I don’t have to sit up and be “company”. We drank tea and ate popcorn and discussed the aftermath of the storm and her vacation. Just made me feel comfy and cozy.

4.

Utrecht

This picture is of my husband and son navigating the sidewalks of Utrecht. I love the many bicycles and the old buildings!

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This one was taken of a park we walked by which had been entirely taken over by groups students, small family units, singles, old people, whatever. Some barbeques had been lighted, someone was playing the djembe, picnic baskets were set out. In general the sun was being enjoyed! I miss this here in my town. It’s unthinkable to settle down in one of the parks here and get the whole mishmash of cultures and people. When I lived in Utrecht I believe I parked myself down maybe once, but I miss what this embodies. A more eclectic  mix of people and the dynamics that go with it. I felt like a dowdy country girl walking by!

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5.

Boundaries

I’ve been doing lots of thinking about boundaries (in case you havn’t noticed ;-)). Boundaries have always been an issue with me and I’ve learned a lot about how to apply them over the last couple of years, but evidently not enough! I’ve been ignoring some of my gut feelings and the consequences have been my lack of energy and overall feeling of depression. I havn’t had my usual escape mechanisms in place due to the various trials and tribulations over the last year which means now I really have to deal with things instead of running for safety. It’s hard, but it’s also a good thing, or it will be once I learn how to apply my newfound wisdom.

6.

Groceries

My daughter and I went on a grocery shopping expedition after supper to prepare for her birthday celebrations coming up tomorrow. Her birthday is not for another 3 weeks, but seeing summer vacation is coming up, we celebrate it early. She has a funny quirk. She doesn’t want to serve anything that she doesn’t like to eat herself. Which means we have strawberries, but no cream. Only a certain kind of potato chips. The cake she specifies and which I will bake for her. Hamburgers made the way she likes them, and if someone doesn’t like hamburgers, tough luck. I love the girl though, funny quirks and all. We spent an hour or two preparing this evening so that I won’t have to do too much tomorrow. She’ll be heading off to pick up her boyfriend, so no help tomorrow morning!

7.

Teenagers

Yesterday I had a course on how to deal with teenagers. It was for my work. There was some basic information about how teenage brains develop and also some info on how to make volunteer work attractive to them. It was the biological stuff that I found interesting. Some of the stuff I’ve looked at as belonging only to my kids, like their habit of not going to sleep in the evening, can be biologically explained. Somehow it makes me feel more understanding towards them and less likely to blow up in their faces about their bad sleeping habits. You know teenagers need 10 hours of sleep? Ideally they should sleep after 11 at night, and then wake up at nine or so and then go to school. Meanwhile I have to drag my kids out at seven, after them having about seven hours of sleep at most. No wonder they sleep til 1 in the afternoon on saturdays!


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7 Quick Takes

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Anticipation

Half the fun of going on vacation is the anticipation of the joys that are to come. I am one to look forward, plan ahead and enjoy imagining what’s coming up,  especially when heading towards vacation. I buy games to bring with us, plan what to wear, where to go, and what to see. I buy guide books and a map and plan our route.
This time, not so much. I can hardly grasp the concept of the month of June already being almost over, the kids being  done with school, and only four weeks ’til  we leave for the Czech Republic. It doesn’t help that the last news I heard from there was one of floods and lots of rain!

2.

Baking

My south african friend is having a surprise party for her husband tonight, and asked me to bake something. So I made brownies, which have come out of the pan in somewhat misformed shapes, and am hoping that my carrot cake turns out better! I was glad to hear she did not invite her cake designer friend as that would have made me feel very embarrassed. Now I’m secretly hoping the taste of the stuff will cover up for my lack of presentation.

3.

Keyboard

I have a new computer keyboard which is driving me nuts. Somehow my indicator (or whatever you call the little line that shows where you are when you’re typing..) has disappeared, so now I have to guess where it is, and if I’m in the right place to insert a word or a picture. Yuck!

4.

Cleaning house

I havn’t been able to score a cleaning lady yet, despite attempts made to lure away the cleaning ladies that my friends have. I’m guessing my friends are not passing on my messages…

It means that the house is gross. Though the kids hollered when I told them I was going to look for a cleaning lady. Pay us, they said!! Sure…. as soon as they actually start doing something, of their own accord, at a reasonable pace, maybe I’ll consider it. Right now I would much prefer a secret presence when I’m not at home, cleaning my house with expertise followed by the magic of returning home to find a spotless and shiny house, all done with nary a whinge or complaint.

Hopefully, that time will come soon.

5.

Beauty

How can one not be happy when seeing this? Seen through my daughters camera 🙂

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6.

Boundaries

Again, it’s all about boundaries.

7.

Skirt or no skirt

I’m curious to hear your opinion on this.

For my work I’ve been asked to do 3 presentations about volunteer work at a local school. This school is one of the strict religious type schools, where girls are expected to have long hair and wear skirts or dresses. There’s also restrictions placed on type of music, watching tv, and other such stuff. The last time I was there, it was for a meeting with one of the teachers, and I wore a pair of pants and a blouse, nothing revealing! Now I wonder, should I wear a skirt or dress to these presentations? It will mean buying one, which shouldn’t be a problem in this town! I havn’t been asked to wear a skirt, I’m just wondering if it would be respectful and therefor polite for me to wear one, or if I should just go ahead and wear my daily wear, taking care not to have boobs falling out all over the place.

What do you think?

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