Sunshine at St. Gerlach

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We just got back from a refreshing morning outside at St. Gerlach. We spent our time walking the grounds, enjoying the scenery, and taking in the beautiful landscape and sculptures. What an aesthetically pleasing place to visit.

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It feels like spring here. Lots of the sunshine and warmer temps this week. This is climate change I suppose. I’m happy with cold weather in February, but I’ll take the sunshine!

My friend Laura suggested coming here this weekend. So we met up, walked around with the kids, got to see some horses and huge furry cows up close, sat outside in the sun for a couple of hours, and just enjoyed the peace and serenity of this place. We were talking about the joy of doing family activities that don’t involve large, screaming playgrounds. This is fun for the kids, but also nice for us.

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And of course— our little outing had to end with some coffee, vlaai, and some lavender madeleine cookies for myself. A lovely Sunday outing with good friends.

 

Our 10 Year Challenge 2009-2019

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I love seeing these ten year challenge posts all over social media. I can’t believe Jaap and I have known each other for ten years. The picture of us above was one of the first times we had the chance to sit, have a few drinks together, and chat outside of band rehearsals. A very late night at 2A in the Lower East side with our friends.  I love that we have a picture from that night.

What a fun adventure the last ten years have been full of happiness, love, and many challenges. Dating in NY, moving to Maastricht, getting settle in the Netherlands, two weddings, lots of European and North American travel adventures, and of course making a happy family.

Thanks for an amazing ten years, Babe! Here’s to many more decades to come. XOXO

 

Thibault’s Surgery

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Monday was a big day for our little man Thibault. He made it through a very challenging day. I’m happy to say that surgery went well. Thibault now has tubes in his years to release some fluid and his nose adenoids have been removed.

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The proud Papa

It was a day full of emotions for me. Luckily Jaap is always cool as a cucumber and it appears that my son is the same way under stressful situations. I was more worried about the surgery than anybody. Thibault seemed almost unphased by the whole thing within a couple of hours.

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It was quite sad to see a room full of children in the recovery room and at the same time quite comforting to see other parents experiencing the same emotions that we were. Every parent wants their child to be happy and healthy and it’s so difficult watching them go through something like this. At the same time, I did have this feeling of gratitude the entire day. Grateful that Thibault was receiving quality care and grateful that we were not at the hospital under more serious circumstances. These feelings of gratitude helped me put things in perspective. Fingers crossed his six week check up at the audiologist shows some changes in his hearing.

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Self-Care Weekend

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A simple writing on the wall became an anthem for an incredible weekend full of self-care. I’m full of gratitude for two nights (child-free) with my friends in the Belgian Ardennes. As much as I love my two little humans, I also LOVE being without them sometimes.

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This is our 2nd annual Mama-Girls-Weekend-Getaway in the Ardennes and I’m considering this an official tradition. It was a weekend full of late dinners, lazy mornings, uninterrupted conversations, long walks in the woods, snow (!), relaxing in the sauna, and best of all—- not having to take care of others. How refreshing! We probably consumed too much alcohol, but again—nobody to take care of! These lazy mornings were the best. Just being able to lie in bed and not have to get up to take care of anybody. I had time to read, watch Netflix, and meditate.

And sometimes there were these moments of silence. Nobody felt the need to chat or share something. Just sit there in silence. The whole weekend was just pure joy from start to finish.

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I feel so grateful that Jaap is willing, able, and completely confident in taking care of the kids while I’m away. But mostly, I’m grateful for the friendships I have with these women. God only knows what my mental state would be without their support. Amen for good friends.

Snow Play

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A little time with my man in the snow. A winter walk just the two of us, trip to the playground, and a ride on the sleigh while Jaap was at home recovering from being sick and Flora was watching a movie.

I love the snow (even if it’s only an inch or two and last just a few days). It was still beautiful and so refreshing to be out there in the cold. Shoveling, playing, just breathing. Ahhh. I love it.

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Hard Days– when will we sleep?

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I’ll begin with this photo. Sibling love at it’s best. When Thibault is not pulling Flora’s hair out and Flora is not trying to exclude Thibault from one of her activities, there is true love here. I love finding these moments when they don’t think I’m looking where Flora is so tender and caring towards her brother and Thibault is just happy that Flora is interested in him. He truly idolizes her and loves it when she reads/sings to him, plays a game with him, jumps on the bed together or hide on the covers. It is a beautiful thing to witness.

I’m writing this first because we’re experiencing some hard days. Last Sunday Flora got really sick with a high fever and a stomach flu. It was a rough 3 days for her, but she was a champ and we were hoping that it had already passed through Thibault. Jaap and I both had to miss work last week. In addition, I had to miss another half day to take Thibault to the hospital for one of his pre-op appointments before the he gets his surgery to get tubes put in his ears. It was a lot to juggle. And now comes this past weekend and Thibault has a fever and is working through the stomach bug. Thankfully I was in Den Haag for the entire day on Saturday and Jaap took care of the kids. And for me personally, it was a difficult week for me (for reasons I won’t post here).

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When you put it all together, some days I feel like we’re hanging on by a thread. The sleep situation is horrible, awful, no-good! I don’t even know how to describe it. And not just because my kids are sick (that definitely makes it worse), but because my kids just suck at sleeping! I blame myself, Jaap, our inability to try and make a plan/change and stick to it, long term breastfeeding, lactose intolerance— whatever I can to make myself feel better! I just wish I could sleep more. I look about 10 years older than I actually am. It’s awful.

This is where having two kids as opposed to one child is really killing me. At least when Flora was little, Jaap and I could alternate sleep easier and get by. Even though we still alternate sleep on days that we can (meaning one person can sleep in a extra hour or two)— we’re still completely exhausted. My definition of a good night sleep is so far off! It’s ridiculous. I feel like I’m in the trenches right now and looking for some good news around the corner.

What will that good news be? Maybe being able to wean Thibault from breastfeeding? I must dedicate a post to this. Maybe some more self-care time for the both of us? Relief when my Mom comes to visit? The girls weekend coming up in 12 days (but who’s counting?). I don’t know. I don’t even know how to resolve or end this post. I’m struggling, Jaap is amazing—he keeps this family together, and wish I could sleep for 100 years. On that note— I refer back to the first paragraph of this blog post. My children know what love is and they love each other. For now, this thought will help me through these tough days. It’s certainly not enough. Mama needs some more self-care. But, on these hard days like today—I’m getting back to basics.

Visiting Friends

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After Christmas, we traveled to Emmeloord to visit an old friend of mine. We stayed in a cute little house in Woudsend (Friesland) and spent a rainy day indoors at this huge Orchid nursery complete with playgrounds, theater shows, and animals. What a bizarre little place. The kids loved exploring this huge playground complete with sand and water play.

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It was great seeing my friend Erika again. A true friendship can last decades and long distances. I still can’t believe we both married Dutch men and live here now. Too bad we live on opposite sides of the country! If only I could see her more regularly.

I’m surrounded by transient internationals and expats here and it’s always hard when a friend leaves. It’s happened a few times now and I’ve accepted that this is just the way it is. Luckily, I have a strong group of Mama friends here that are (for the most part) here indefinitely. But, it really helps me value my other friendships. With my friends that I only see once or twice a year, or maybe every couple of years. I’m thankful for this.

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