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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Mindful in Sloten

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Sloten

After Christmas, we traveled up north to visit my good friend Erika. We spent two nights in Friesland and a bit of quality time with an old friend. It was fantastic and just what I needed. More about that in my next post.

Our first night in the Airbnb started off perfectly and ended up with Flora starting her day at 3:30 a.m. Why does this happen? She is such a light sleeper and the slightest sound of me walking downstairs in the middle of the night woke her up. It was ridiculous and in retrospect quite funny, but we were totally dead. Despite this, we were able to have a fun family day with friends. I’m shocked we didn’t drop dead from exhaustion.

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We had a chilly morning stroll in Woudsend admiring the windmills and canals. Of course Flora fell asleep in the stroller by 10:00 a.m. img_1731We drove to Sloten, a tiny village Erika took me to when Flora was just a baby. By that time they were both asleep and Jaap and I had some peace. We took turns walking through Sloten and I enjoyed a 25 minute mindful walk through this old place by myself. The thrill of Europe will never fade for me because I still get goose bumps exploring places like this. I’m sure the inner city looks mostly the same as it did 250 years ago. It was a beautiful pocket of alone time all to myself to enjoy a little walk, breath in the cold fresh air, and experience complete stillness. Peace on Earth. Amen!

 

Christmas 2018

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The Christmas wreath pavlova!!!!!

What a gezellig Christmas season we enjoyed this year. It always goes so fast, but I really tried to be present this season, enjoy all the moments, and not stress out too much about the holiday. I love staying in the Netherlands for Christmas. This year was a treat because all of the Jansens were together. Here are some shots from our Christmas in Brabant and the days leading up to it.

Baking adventures, frequent visits to Intratuin to see the winter village display, and lots of family days with Jaap home from work. It was a season full of love.

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Christmas Eve

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Nativity scene in Oirschot

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Yikes! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

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Thibault enjoying a Snickerdoodle

The first snowfall of the year (that lasted 3 hours), the annual Christmas cookie baking party, and lots of things happening in our household. I read today that there are only 6 days until Christmas. Yikes. How does this month always go so fast?

I am enjoying a moment of zen right now. Sitting in my house enjoying a hot chocolate from my Secret Santa, admiring the lit candles, Thibault is taking a nap, and Flora is at school. 45 minutes of zen right here! Let’s celebrate it!

I will admit we have had a difficult month. We found out two weeks ago that Thibault is suffering from some hearing loss. I was initially very upset and emotional. Almost immediately we learned that the hearing loss is most likely due to fluid in his middle ear. The good news is his inner ear hearing is apparently fine. However, he needs to have tubes put in his ears to release the fluid. The ENT doctors believe that his hearing will improve immediately after the surgery. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that my little man is going to be alright. My heart breaks for him. He doesn’t know the difference, but he does not hear nearly as much as we thought he did. The audiologist says it’s like he’s wearing soft earplugs all the time. Ugh. It’s been hard learning this. I just want him to be happy and healthy. We see that he is frustrated, cannot always communicate with us, and for us— he is extremely loud. Sometimes I have to plug my ears while I’m holding him because he is so loud.

Well— moving forward. His next appointment at the hospital is mid- January and we  will take things step by step. In the meantime, we are trying to enjoy a cozy Christmas together. Cooking baking party with friends, a trip to the theatre coming up this weekend, and hopefully a trip to the market in Maastricht. This month is flying by!

Weekend Fun: Aachen Christmas Market

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What a fabulous weekend. Two nights at home, no where to go, no one to see, nothing planned except 100% quality family time with my cuties.

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I love creating these traditions. It’s now our third visit to the market since Thibault’s birth. Is it a tradition? I think it’s official. Not to mention, the thrill of living so close to different countries will never fade for me. 30 minutes in the car and we’re at a beautiful, authentic German Christmas market in Aachen. This market is very special. And a little gluhwein buzz at 12:00 noon is always a good idea on a busy holiday outing!

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On Sunday, Flora and I whipped up a batch of these during Thibault’s super long nap.  How cute are these cookies? I love Christmastime and naptime!

 

 

Music for the Mind & Soul

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Morning view of the Oude Gracht in Delft

A few weeks ago I was in Den Haag for a master class weekend with the course I’m taking at the Conservatorium. Talk about stimulating. I haven’t been pushed that hard (in a musical way) since undergrad at Ithaca. It was such a stimulating and challenging weekend. I felt so invigorated, humbled, and inspired. The course had two visiting professors from the Kodaly Institute in Hungary presenting musicianship, rehearsal techniques, and choral workshop classes over the two days. It was eye opening.

Their level of musicianship blew my mind and what they expected from us as music teacher also blew me away. Ha! Sometimes we were all just laughing because it was extremely challenging. But, it felt great! I loved it. One of the afternoon workshops was entirely about creative choral rehearsal techniques. I had never seen anything like it before.

I feel so fortunate to be on this journey. Jaap holding down the fort while I’m away singing all day with other nerds. It’s just fantastic. Thanks babe!

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