Kings day 2021

We were blessed with sunny weather on King’s Day. We returned to this beautiful spot in Stevensweert with the windmill and walking trail. The kids played for a long time in the natuur speeltuin, while Jaap and I enjoyed our books. Afterwards we went to this incredible ice cream place in Ohe en Laak for a treat. Rijstepap ice cream! It was incredible. Perhaps our new summer goal: find and taste the most delicious ice cream places in Zuid Limburg. Flora said we could sell ice cream too. She’s right. Some of our flavors have been incredible. I’m so relieved and happy it’s vacation time. Amsterdam and Zeeland for some outdoor fun!

Waiting for spring

Spring has been a long time coming. Snow in april and still chilly weather. We have had some beautiful sun shining days though. I’m looking forward to a much deserved two week vacation coming up though! We will be camping with friends for three nights in Brabant and then headed to the sea for another three nights in Zeeland. It will be my first time visiting the province. I’m looking forward to some fresh sea air.

There is not much new to report. I was feeling a little bit better in spirits. Trying to incorporate my meditations into daily live. Trying not to think or narrate too far into the future and not get lost in my thoughts. This week was especially challenging though. Two of our classes had to go into quarantine because of students having covid. It was just a weekend of uncertainty followed by a stressful Monday, more tech failures, frustrating meetings, and miscommunications at work. It was a lot to take in. Plus, I’m feeling less and less enthusiastic about the student teacher I am currently working with. It’s the longest internship I have ever had and I have reached my limits. Luckily, the end is in site and I can start a countdown to the finish.

I am forever grateful that I have a loving husband and two happy children. For the sunshine this weekend. Outdoor workouts and trainings by the river. Long walks in Cadier. Biking to work tomorrow! Starting a new great show with Jaap. My Friday evening happy hour in the kitchen. Great books and coffee.

Easter Snapshots

We had a relaxed Easter with family and friends. Having that Monday off felt so good! We had a delicious brunch from Piece of Cake, some nice bubbly rose, and delicious chocolate baskets for the kids. We went to my friend Laura’s house for Easter dinner. It was all lovely. The kids played for hours and it was so nice not to have to cook a whole Easter dinner. We went to Oirschot on that Saturday and had a nice run at the playground and of course and egg hunt with Opa and Oma. It was a quiet and relaxed weekend. We are still waiting for spring to arrive here. It’s been cold, chilly, snowy!!!, and I’m ready for the seasons to change. We are ordering garden furniture this week. It gives me hope.

Kasteel Terworm Walk

We had a beautiful Sunday afternoon walking around the grounds of Kasteel Terworm. I have seen photos of this place many times and considering how close it is to Ikea, I’m surprised we have never been there before. It was beautiful. Our little hikers were cheerful (mostly) and enjoying themselves. We saw the grounds of a beautiful castle, walked for about an hour, found another castle ruin as part of the natuurmonumenten and enjoyed some coffee and ice cream back on the castle garden. As we’re sitting there enjoying our treat Thibault says, “This is beautiful.” I love when they say things like that. Being so present and appreciative for the moment. Beautiful.

Big emotions

I felt like we were cruising along (pandemic style) and life was okay. Nothing too major was happening, nothing too challenging other than ordinary pandemic living. We went to Oirschot for Jan’s birthday. Unable to celebrate with the entire family, but it was still lovely. Then the following week I’m hit with big emotions. I take Thibault to the dentist knowing that in the near future he needed an operation, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen the following week. Flora had a rough day at school with a girl who says mean things. We spoke with the Juf who explained the situation and helped out. Then Jaap’s aunt passes away suddenly. It was just an insane week. Lots of emotions, lots of tough moments. Thankfully I have Jaap here. Now celebrating our one year of pandemic living together. We’re gearing up for spring time. Make some Easter brunch plans, booking our mei vakantie, planning for (hopefully!!!!) a trip to Italy. It feels hopeful, but very slow. Giving myself big hugs, lots of relaxed time for reading, not checking Facebook anymore, and hopefully longer meditations.

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

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!