Family Times 2021

We’ve had some glorious weather these past few weeks. Sunshines, blue skies, 18+ degree days. The winter was beginning to thaw and signs of spring were starting to show. A bit too soon for me. I was enjoying the cold. It was beautiful. Ice, frost, snow, snuggling inside, hot drinks after being out in the cold. It wanted it to last a little bit longer. Look at these pictures though. Some beautiful times happening outdoors now with warmer temperatures.

We visited Opa and Oma for a day over the Carnival break. We went for a lovely hike in Oirschot, played hide and go seek in the woods. Yesterday we walked through Maastricht. There are parts of the city I have not seen in a long time. What I imagined to be a 20 minute hike turned into a two hour adventure. It was great though. It ended with some delicious pastries from a new hip bakery and some outdoor beers on a random bench in the city center.

We are approaching the one year mark of the pandemic. I’m trying not to dwell on it. I feel these waves of worry all the time. I am meditating every day now, which is helping, but I need to deepen my practice. More longer sessions. Maybe this is normal? I don’t know. Sometimes I feel so alone, like I am the only one who is having a hard time coping? I spoke to my parents yesterday. They are heart broken that they are not able to travel to the Netherlands right now. On the bright side, they are getting their vaccine this week. However, we continue to plan for the future. Our hope is that we will be reunited in October for the herfst vakantie and Thibault’s birthday. Fingers crossed we will make it to Italy this summer! I need another summer vacation to release these pandemic blues. In the meantime, my goal this week is to eat healthy and continue exercising. XOXO

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Winter Weekend 2021

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my loves. My amazing husband who showered me with love and gifts today and my children for their unconditional love. Thank you Jaap for a lovely Valentine’s Day morning. Witnesssing Flora teach Thibault how to build a lego this morning was a gift of love to me. I’m currently awaiting the results of a covid test. Home alone on this Carnaval Sunday while the kids are visiting Opa and Oma with Jaap. I was very much looking forward to it. A change of scenery, some more snow. At least Jaap got to have a few hours of Carnaval with his friends. Socially distanced and outdoors. I am slightly annoyed that my Friday afternoon drinking plans with a friend and our Carnaval visit to Oirschot are being interrupted by corona.

Yesterday was a beautiful winter day up in Vijle and Gulpen. Some hot chocolate and appelflappen, a bit of snow, and testing the ice on a pond in Gulpen. I could stare at the icy water mill for an hour probably. I’m spending this day alone. Tidying up a little, I went for a long walk alone in the neighborhood, drank a lot of tea, watched Jaap live on Youtube, and now enjoying my book. Hopefully I can finish it today/tomorrow before they come home! Tonight, a glass of pinot grigio and some Netflix. Perhaps not a horrible day afterall.

Thibault the philosopher & deep thoughts

Possibly my favorite view in the kitchen. I was happy for Jaap that he perfected the art of spaetzle making during this pandemic. Seemed like an interesting skill to grow during this time. Then I became jealous. I was wondering. What was my coronavirus accomplishment? My friend Cyrille reminded me that I perfected my at home coffee experience. True. What a beautiful journey. From the French press and cold milk to my Bialetti moka pot and illy milk frother. I love these products. And newly introduced…my 10 euros coffee bean grinder from Lidl. It has brought my coffee to a whole new level. Thibault helps me grind the beans every couple of days. It has become a fun ritual we do together.

Our little man Thibault has become quite the philosopher. He comes up with the most precious questions for us. It’s so beautiful to hear these questions. The last several weeks he has had some interesting ones.

Why is a mermaid a mermaid? A princess a princess?

Why do we live on Earth? How come we don’t live on the moon?

Why am I Thibault? Why is Flora, Flora? Why are you Mama?

Why does the snow melt? Why is it cold?

There are so many that I am forgetting now. If more come up, I will come back here and write them. These are such amazing questions from him and I see how much is mind is working now. He takes after his sister in many ways. His drawings are stunning. It’s beautiful what children can create on their own. Despite the lockdown there have been some lovely moments recently.

Snow

I have been craving snow this year. I long from my childhood memories in huge banks of snow, snow days home from school, sleigh riding with the neighborhood kids, and Mom making hot chocolate for us when we came inside. These are such strong memories for me and I wish it was something that I could pass on to my kids. I realize it’s just not the same. We can make other memories. At least we live in Cadier en Keer where snow seems to come and last more frequently and longer. Hugs to that. Thibault was cold after 30 minutes, but Flora was our snow champ. She loved it. It was perfect timing for the book I was reading, Wintering. It’s good to know there are other people out there who like the cold!

Moving through this with books

I’m currently reading Wintering: The power of rest and retreat in difficult times. Seems appropriate for a cold January lockdown. Thankfully, I have been finding myself lost in a great books lately. Group by Christie Tate was one of the best books I have read all year. I couldn’t put it down and it was the perfect holiday read. 2020 was a time for me to take my reading to a new level. I exceeded my good reads challenge and started creating better evening habits. More reading and meditating in the evenings. This remains my new goal in 2021. Jaap and I have not sat together to watch T.V. in the evening for the past several days. It feels good, but I also enjoy the evening snuggles of a good series or movie with him. I am trying to read more and more because it makes me happier and it feels better than scrolling social media. Another goal! Less social media. I have deleted Facebook from my phone and to be honest…I don’t miss it. I feel better. There was a point after New Year where I found myself on and off my phone the entire day. Come evening time it just feels awful. So, I’m really trying to commit to not doing this to myself. Who am I looking at on social media anyway? The news of course. That was one of the reasons why I liked picking up Facebook. I could just see a few headlines (non-stop) and pick an NPR article to read. But, it’s just not worth. I love staying in touch with the Catskill girls this way, but in reality, it’s possible to check Facebook 1X per week and still stay connected. So, that is my new goal. Checking in to Facebook 1X per week and to stop checking Instagram all the time.

I’m also committing to myself that I will only read books that I enjoy reading. Seems simple. Too often in the past two years I find myself trying to get through books that I don’t like and most of these reads are coming via book club. I’ve started to have feelings of annoyance from book club. Books that don’t interest me, books that are too depressing during depressing times, etc. Reese Witherspoon’s book club has put me in a good place. These are great reads that feel satisfying. And dare I say— Flora is turning into a little book worm. She was taken away by reading De Waanzinnige Boomhut van 26 verdiepingen this week. It was a dream come true. Toasting my glass of red wine right now. Cheers to good books in 2021!

Weekend Calm

This weekend was full of rest, relaxation, fresh air, and tidying up around the house. I was never a person who needed the weekends to look forward to. But now, I need them to survive. Judith describes are job now as soul crushing, mega boring, and unrewarding. Exactly. I used to love going into work and now I hate remote teaching. It’s so physically draining. It’s hard to cope. I’m SO GRATEFUL our kids can go to the noodopvang 2X per week. Thank God. In the meantime, I’m trying to breathe deep, stretch a lot, keep up with my daily meditations, and just keep on going. Hugs to myself.

Sallandse Heuvelrug & Deventer 2020

I just love this view. This is the Dutch landscape. Overijssel and the Sallandse Heuvelrug is my new favorite area. This national park has so many beautiful spots. Our Landal park was cute. We made the best of it. Rented some bikes, drank gluhwein on the playground while the kids played, the kids got to roast some marshmallows at the tipi, and hiked. I’m happy we decided to go ahead with the trip. Even though the pool was closed, it was good to have a change of scenery.

We took an evening walk in Deventer. It was actually my favorite day of the trip. A refreshing walk in nature in the national park (preceeded by a lot of complaining and crying–of course), cold fresh air, beautiful scenery, a cozy movie afternoon by the fire with coffee, followed by this evening stroll in Deventer, and a late dinner. It was such a fantastic day. I loved it. I have wanted to go to Deventer for some time now. Such a beautiful place. Lots of independent shops (two bookstores!), little eateries and tea rooms, tiny, quiet streets. It was beautiful. We will return sometime when life goes back to normal.

Some moments of our evening walk with all the Kerst lampjes.

Christmas 2020

Our first (and hopefully last) lockdown Christmas. My kids look so grown up when I see this photo. Thankfully we could visit Jaap’s family is small bits. I always love Christmas with the Jansens. No drama, just Christmas. We had a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner, just the four of us. I absolutely loved it. The children sat through a three course, homemade dinner with my holiday stuffed mushrooms, gulash from the slow cooker, and Spanish flan (Flora’s request). It was just a magical evening. Luckily, Santa paid us a visit. Nobody was too anxious or overly excited. Kids were thrilled with his gifts. My mom sent us a lot of presents and it really brightened the morning. I gave Jaap some tips for next Christmas. No more cookbooks. I will leave it at that.

I love these beautiful Christmases with Jaap’s parents. We missed the annual walk to the nativity scenes in Oirschot, but the Chirstmas sing along at the piano was a highlight for me. Meanwhile, I have been completely engrossed in Group by Christie Tate. What a fantastic memoir. I couldn’t put this book down. The second Christmas in a row where I had a book that completed captivated me. It felt warm and fuzzy. Merry Christmas.

Christmas Eve Eve

Look how cute Flora is here. We’ve had a hilarious time rehearsing our Kerst Voorstelling, just some songs we are putting together to sing at Opa and Oma’s house.

A new tradition was born

I have definitely lowered my Christmas time expectations this year. I wish I could tell my 35 year old self, “Just relax and enjoy yourself.” Keeping my Christmas expectations low has actually helped me enjoy everything. Watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with the kids the other day was magical for me. Luckily, Thibault was willing to sit through Charlie Brown Christmas too! These moments just warm my heart. Getting good use out of my winter drinks books! I’ve been focusing more on reading and picking books I enjoy.

Yesterday we built gingerbread houses from Ikea. Last year they were sold out and I was crushed. Jaap and I were in Ikea late October, they were there and I picked some up. My friend Cyrille came over to help us decorate, I made some great royal icing from Tasty and it was a huge family hit. Thibault and Flora loved it! Thibault couldn’t stop talking about his gingerbread house, his beautiful room, the curtains, the smoke out of the chimney. It was so freakn’ cute! Opa said he wants to join this tradition next year. I can’t believe how much sugar my kids are eating each day.

This will be my last post for 2020. I’m going to enjoy the quiet Christmas Eve festivities, be present, meditate, try not to eat to many sweets, continue to exercise, and think about some healthy New Year’s Resolutions. XOXO

Moments of joy through sadness

A photo collection of things that are bringing me joy this holiday season 2020. Monday evening’s press conference regarding the new coronavirus lockdown brought a huge mass of sadness and negativity to my thoughts. This lockdown is serious and in my opinion extreme. Gyms, schools, stores, every possible out of the house activity is canceled or closed. It’s hard not to drink off into dark thoughts, but today was a success. I meditated last night, did yoga this morning, and felt okay-ish the entire day. I wanted to post these Holiday Season 2020 moments to remind me of the beautiful things that are still happening in and around my home through these dark times.

On Saturday we went out for a chilly late morning walk to one of my favorite spots, Eijsden Castle. Afterwards my friends Billy and Cyrille came over to bake Christmas cookies. It’s become my one day of the year for entertaining. Despite living through a pandemic, this didn’t even happen last year because I got the flu. I’m happy that it was able to go ahead this year. More moments of joy— walking around Maastricht with Cyrille while sipping hot gluhwein, baking baking & baking, my winter drinks book I purchased from Book Depository’s “Beautiful Books” section, making homemade chocolate, and watching movies with Jaap on the couch. And I can’t forget to mention our beautiful Christmas tree. I love this tree. I think it’s one of the best we have ever had. Flora picked it out within two minutes and it’s way to big for our living room, but we moved it’s location into the corner by the dining room table. It fit’s perfectly there.