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.

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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!

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.

Family Travel: Dublin Days

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Blue skies at Trinity College! We had a great time exploring Dublin and one of it’s surround neighbourhoods, Monkstown. We rented an Airbnb near Dun Laoghaire and I can’t recommend this neighbourhood enough. Some nice walks down by the water, outdoor playgrounds, easy access to the DART, and some great restaurants. We ate at Cinnamon twice. We highly recommend it!

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Flora and Thibault were beyond excited to be playing on a playground. It was quite funny. A few days out in the Irish countryside, they were ready for some traditional playground equipment.

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Our time in Dublin was spent exploring just a  few of the major sites. A walk through the Temple Bar neighbourhood, a visit to the Dublinia museum (good one about Vikings for kids!), and lunch at a pub with Guinness, of course. Day two started off at the EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. This was very interesting and Flora really enjoyed stamping her passport in all the rooms. There was an outdoor monument of statues honouring the Potato Famine in the neighbourhood and it was hard for Flora to understand why the statues looked so sick. We talked a little bit about the Potato Famine and why people died. She called it the potato story and was curious about it, but obviously did not grasp the severity of it. Still— it was a nice mini lesson in Irish history.

And for the grand finale, a stroll through Trinity College, Grafton Street, some great outdoor play at St. Stephen’s Green and a fractured arm!

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Flora and Thibault had a blast at the playground at St. Stephen’s Green. It was such a beautiful day. Beautiful grounds, flowers, and walking paths. It was a great park to spend the morning in. Things were a little too perfect. Flora took a fall off the monkey bars and had a rough landing. We knew pretty quickly that something was wrong. So, for the rest of the day Jaap and I went to the hospital with her, while Thibault and my parents enjoyed some more of Dublin. So if you’re wondering, Irish healthcare is great. We received some great care from the doctor and nurses and I’m grateful for the EU healthcare system. I was shocked that we didn’t have to pay anything and the doctor said, “Well, that’s why you pay taxes.”

As for Flora, she was a champ. I’m so proud of her. She was an excellent patient. Despite the broken arm, I’m proud of her for climbing those monkey bars. Seeing her fall was the worst thing, but I was so impressed by her. My little climber is almost back in shape. I was afraid this fall might make her scared, but it seems to have had no effect on her. 🙂

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Tis the season to be tired…

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The holiday season is here and our house is full of love and exhaustion. My kids are kicking my ass. Between waking up multiple times a night, waking up at 5:00 a.m., ear infections, teething, and the need for being held constantly— we are struggling!

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Despite these hard times we are being festive and continue to enjoy being home for the holidays. Yet again we weren’t able to make it to the Cologne Christmas market and not even Aachen with the kids this year, but there is still a lot of joy!

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Sinterklaas & Pakjesavond!

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Making winter villages with Flora

Birthdays and Good-byes

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Flora & Madelynn

The worst part of living abroad is when the friends you have made move on to their next adventure. Whether that be moving to another part of the Netherlands, a new country, or back home. It’s always the hardest part. Now that Flora is older and has real friendships, she is going to go through it now too.

Yesterday was her friend Madelynn’s 4th birthday party. I became friends with Madelynn’s mother through playgroup three years ago. These two girls have always loved playing together and they truly are close friends. We’re so sad to see them leave. I can see that Flora understands what a friend is now and she knows that she won’t see Madelynn again for a very long time. She told me she’s sad and we talked about it. Big feelings here! I can’t believe how grown up she is and how she was able to articulate this. On the bright side, they are very young and these thoughts and conversations don’t last long before she is on to the next idea or activity. Nonetheless, it’s still sad. Probably it’s more sad for me because I’m also losing a good friend and a fun mom to hang out with who just happens to be America. We always had things to talk about! But, I’m sure our paths will meet again. The great thing about living abroad is that you have friends and love in many different places.

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Fun at Dartledome

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Lazy Saturday morning

My Little Adventurers

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My little man. A curious little guy who is looking for adventure, things to touch that he shouldn’t, and things to put in his mouth that are dangerous. If Thibault could walk, he would run. I love his curious little spirit. I wish that he liked to play and do things that were less dangerous. His new favorite thing is turning on these lights on our nightstands. IMG_5596

It has made our Friday outings a little bit more challenging. He isn’t content sitting in the stroller watching the world go by. He needs to be out there exploring, touching, climbing, crawling, and playing with his sister. A lot of parents say they dread the stage where they learn to walk. I find this interesting. I loved when Flora learned to walk. It gave her so much more freedom. I predict by Christmas Thibault will be walking. He’s ready for it and I’m excited that his world is about to open up even further.

I love this photo. Flora has recently learned how to slide down ropes and fireman poles at the playground. She’s so happy that she has learned this skill. Everyday that I pick her up from school she says, “Mom, can I show you something?” She runs over to the climbing apparatus on the school playground and shimmies down the pole. She’s so proud of herself.

Finding a place where they can both play can be a challenge, but Thibault has finally graduated to playing at the speelhoek in Coffeelovers. This little corner is perfect for his age. But the best part is watching my kiddos play while sipping my favorite Maastricht coffee. A win for Mom!

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