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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Mindful Moments

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The Holidays are here! Yikes! Sinterklaas is in one week, Thanksgiving flew by, what is happening to the time. Oh and Thibault had a horrible cold (which— knocking on wood here– we all seemed to fight off). Well into my 5th year of being a mother here, I have learned to keep my expectations for the holidays low. Pretty much anything that we do now, I approach it with low expectations. Even Jaap said it the other day, “Oh, it’s Thanksgiving, somebody in our house is sick.” Completely true. It’s like clockwork. Every year, somebody in our family is sick that week.

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Through all the hustle and bustle of the holidays (which I completely love) I am to be mindful this year. I will be present. I will be grateful and most importantly show compassion for myself. It feels really good to type this out right now.

There have been some beautiful family moments here. I want to write this on this blog, to have them in my memory forever.

Walking to school a few weeks ago Flora says, “Wow, Mom. Look at the sky. It’s so big! It looks amazing.” Amen girlfriend. Her statement gave me goosebumps. The sun was rising and the sky was pink and purple. My little daughter stopped to recognise the beauty of this world. That same afternoon Flora was picking up, throwing the leaves, and running through it while we were leaving the school yard. Pure joy.

Sometimes on a Friday morning Thibault and I go for a walk after dropping Flora off from school. It reminds me of when he was a newborn. We walked everyday while I listened to a podcast. We stop and take a peak at the horses and also discovered two sheep. He loved it.

And last weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving with our friends Ann and Didier. It feels like a real home Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is such a hard week for me. I always feel homesick and sad because it’s such an important American tradition. But, I survived! I made it through the week. Only a few more days of Sinterklaas (another day I really hate— more about that in another post) and we are moving on to Christmas.

I am thankful for my health and my family. XOXO XOXO XOXO

Flora’s 5!

***This post has been sitting in my drafts for 3+ months. A happy belated birthday post to Flora.

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To my dearest Flora,

Thank you for being the little human that you are. Your smile lights up a room! We loved celebrating your 5th birthday with you, complete with a Princess Jasmine cake and a sushi dinner. I can’t believe all of the new things that you have done this year. Starting school, making new friends, drawing and colouring for hours on end, exploring Italy, Ireland, and the U.S., beginning to learn how to ride a bike, dancing your heart out and performing in your very first dance show, learning your numbers and letters, learning how to play card games, and your love of face paint. My favorite part of watching you grow up is the love your share with everyone, especially how much you love your little brother. I wish I could freeze time and keep you this age for just a little longer, but as you say all the time, “I can’t Mom. I’m growing up.” Yes you are and we’re excited to see what age 5 will bring this year!

Love,

Mama

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Hoera! Thibault is 2

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Dear Mr. T,

To my little man, no longer a baby, but a growing boy. Where has the time gone? How is possible you are two years old? How is it possible we have survived this level of sleep deprivation for two years?

To my Thibault— you are ball of energy always looking for an adventure. You are outgoing and friendly to everyone, you love physical activity, riding your balance bike, climbing stairs, running, and jumping. You crave being outdoors all the time and feel at ease in nature. You are a curious little man with no fear. The fun never stops with you. You are completely in love with your sister and it fills our hearts with joy.

We love you to bits and are excited to see what “2” brings you this year!

*****After writing this post I realized Flora’s 5th birthday post is still sitting in my draft folder. Ooops. That will come next!

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Snapshots: Autumn Break 2018

Here’s a quick look back at our Autumn break. I love October stay-cations. It gives us time to relax, refuel, and find fun things to do not far from home.

First off, a Lunch date with Flora in Maastricht and a trip to the Natural History Museum. We’re getting good use out of our Museum cards this year!

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Photo shoot in the city centre.IMG_0960The Valkenier was still open. A nice day in the sun with friends.IMG_0965

Brussels for the day trip! We sat in traffic for 1.5 hours while some EU diplomats were making their way into the city. Surprisingly, the kids were in really good spirits. It’s possible we saw Angela Merkel in her motorcade whizzing by. haha.

Despite the delay and some obnoxiously loud pre-teens at the playground, our Brussels day trip was fab. Lunch in the Sablon neighbourhood while Thibault took a nap and a visit to my favorite little spot the Petit Sablon garden. Of course— there was plenty of beer and chocolate to keep the spirits high for Mom and kids. ūüôā

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Neuhaus chocolates

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Friday was a hike in the woods with friends. It was the perfect fall day for a stroll in the forest. Lunch at the Higend Hert and no meltdowns. Happy kids and parents!

Lots of ME TIME this Autumn break

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Dessert at Tanta Roba

I’m not sure how I got this lucky for Autumn break, but I ended up with a lot of much needed alone and me time. Two nights away (KID FREE!) with Jaap in Den Haag and one night in Rotterdam with a good, old friend from New York. It was really the dream week.

I’m following a course for professional development at the Conservatorium in Den Haag. It’s been such an inspiring experience and I’m feeling very invigorated and challenged. Truly— a lovely experience. However, it forces me to be away from my family at least one full Saturday a month and in some cases a whole weekend. I can’t say I’m complaining though. Sitting on a train for three hours by myself with a good book is heavenly. Followed by choral singing, a Kodaly inspired music theory class, singing games, and discussions about music education. It’s simply fantastic.

We had the greatest weekend in Den Haag. I love that city. Dinner at 21:00, movies, and long interrupted conversations. I’m so grateful to have in-laws who allow us this free time, while they watch the kids.

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Our corner spot at the bar @ Walter Benedict

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Cube homes in Rotterdam

Fast forward to the end of the week— I had another night free from the kids. This time meeting up with my friend Erika in Rotterdam for a mini-girls night away. Dim sum, non-stop talking, reminiscing about our former New York City life, colleagues, and fun times, discussing motherhood and all it’s challenges. We had such a fabulous time. Not to mention— Rotterdam is pretty cool. I must go back with the family and explore some more. And a special thanks to Jaap to had lots of extra cuddles with the kids that weekend!

As if the day couldn’t get any better, we ended the night was some INCREDIBLE music and dancing at BIRD. I have never seen a DJ this good since living in NL. The party was electric. The entire room could not stop moving. It was such an inspiration. We were completely free and it felt so good to be alive. We heard five DJs that night and I’m pretty sure the entire place would agree the female DJ was the best. And I have never in my NL life seen such a diverse group of people, white, black, brown, gay, straight— it was all there. What a celebration for us. GIRL POWER!

Whew! What a day.

 

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What a week! Thank God it’s almost vacation, Jaap and I have 48 hours alone in Den Haag (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and I’m drinking a delicious coffee right now. It’s been quite a week! Wednesday pushed me to the brink of Mommy insanity. Thibault has been having some weird nights. Up for two hours (?!?!?!?) in the middle of the night, crying a lot, being somewhat hysterical in the morning. I don’t get it. I’m starting to see more and more how frustrated he is from not being able to communicate with words. (We’re starting speech therapy in two weeks and I’m already relieved that it’s finally happening).

Wednesday was a morning full of drama, lots of tears, refusing to get dressed, refusing to get a new diaper on, refusing to sit in the car seat. Oh, and I had to teach music at playgroup. So–it was a shitastic day!

So after Thibault’s nap (which was a little bit shorter than normal) we had time for an outing. Of course Flora was resistant, but I decided I was not going to let the mood of a five year old ruin my momentum. We went to the¬†kinderboerderij¬†for some outdoor play and animal therapy. Feeding the goats, petting some sheep, looking at all the animals playing, and taking a turn on the¬†speeltuin put everyone at ease. I felt much better.

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On hard days like these, my moment of zen is listening to Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman, my female journalist hero, alone in my kitchen while preparing dinner. Even a moment of zen involves multi-tasking, but at least I was alone! My crying children were with Jaap (my other hero) and I had time to sip some wine in peace.