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.

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

Weekend Calm

This weekend was full of rest, relaxation, fresh air, and tidying up around the house. I was never a person who needed the weekends to look forward to. But now, I need them to survive. Judith describes are job now as soul crushing, mega boring, and unrewarding. Exactly. I used to love going into work and now I hate remote teaching. It’s so physically draining. It’s hard to cope. I’m SO GRATEFUL our kids can go to the noodopvang 2X per week. Thank God. In the meantime, I’m trying to breathe deep, stretch a lot, keep up with my daily meditations, and just keep on going. Hugs to myself.

Moments of joy through sadness

A photo collection of things that are bringing me joy this holiday season 2020. Monday evening’s press conference regarding the new coronavirus lockdown brought a huge mass of sadness and negativity to my thoughts. This lockdown is serious and in my opinion extreme. Gyms, schools, stores, every possible out of the house activity is canceled or closed. It’s hard not to drink off into dark thoughts, but today was a success. I meditated last night, did yoga this morning, and felt okay-ish the entire day. I wanted to post these Holiday Season 2020 moments to remind me of the beautiful things that are still happening in and around my home through these dark times.

On Saturday we went out for a chilly late morning walk to one of my favorite spots, Eijsden Castle. Afterwards my friends Billy and Cyrille came over to bake Christmas cookies. It’s become my one day of the year for entertaining. Despite living through a pandemic, this didn’t even happen last year because I got the flu. I’m happy that it was able to go ahead this year. More moments of joy— walking around Maastricht with Cyrille while sipping hot gluhwein, baking baking & baking, my winter drinks book I purchased from Book Depository’s “Beautiful Books” section, making homemade chocolate, and watching movies with Jaap on the couch. And I can’t forget to mention our beautiful Christmas tree. I love this tree. I think it’s one of the best we have ever had. Flora picked it out within two minutes and it’s way to big for our living room, but we moved it’s location into the corner by the dining room table. It fit’s perfectly there.

Thibault, Us, Autumn 2020

Hiking in the Brunssummerheide

I love this photo that Jaap took of us walking through the Brunssummerheide. It was a beautiful day.

Lots of things have happened this past month. The biggest that Thibault has turned four and is not at primary school. It was an extremely emotional week for me. I was crying a lot. Multiple times a day. It was an emotionally draining time. The good news is that he’s doing really well at school. He enjoys going each day and so far, it seems that things are going well. Our little man likes to wear effeminate clothing. I was so scared to let him open himself up to a new world like this. I had some great chats with lovely colleagues, his teacher, and of course Jaap, always being there to lead us through these challenges. It seems to be going okay. He enjoys going to school, he loves his teacher, and he is settling in well.

We had a small Halloween celebration with some other families in Cadier and good friends of ours. Very short and sweet, but I’m positive next year Halloween trick or treating full on will be back.

We have had some great hikes, a trip to Hoensbroek castle before everything closed down again, a trip to Toverland (that resulted in a trip to the ER with a fractured arm for Mr. T), and his birthday celebration.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I am nervous. It’s always a difficult week for me, but this year seems even worse. Our usual family Thanksgiving at Ann’s house in Belgium has to be canceled. We will have a quiet dinner at home and lots of good family time this week. Sint is in full force! And I’m just happy when this week will be over. Giving myself lots of self care moments this week.

Coronavirus Times

These past nine weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions and experiences. There have been so many highs and lows throughout this time. I wanted to list all of our joys, so that I can remember what has happened and how our family has coped with living through a pandemic. There were so many negatives surrounding this experience. Fear, worrying about my parents, anxiety, social distancing, working from home without childcare! These were all major challenges. 

I started a gratitude journal when this whole thing began. There was some dark moments in the beginning and writing down these simple and sometimes silly things that I was grateful for really helped me. It’s something that I have to continue. Ultimately, it has reminded me that I am alive, my family is alive, my extended family is healthy, I live in a country that has the infrastructure to protect it’s people, and I do not have coronavirus. Every day I am grateful that I do not have this virus.

So in no particular order, here things that have brought joy throughout this entire experience that I hope to look back fondly on.

  • F & T becoming “best friends”. Playing with each other, learning to get along better, and learning to entertain themselves more
  • Nature! Spending hours and hours outdoors, good sunny weather, living close to beautiful nature spots
  • Flora taking us on the hike she discovered at the BSO
  • Picnics!
  • Lots of time in the evening connecting with Jaap. Finding more time for each other. Not having rehearsals, book club dates, and other social gatherings to run out the house for
  • Time for (almost) weekly Zoom dates with my Catskill girlfriends
  • Reading! Reading more books than I normally do.
  • BBQ! Watching Jaap grill brings me joy!
  • Endless arts and craft projects
  • Baking & ice cream making! We have been exploring so many new recipes. It’s been super fun.
  • Exercising more with my trainer
  • Not gaining weight!
  • Most importantly— having this time with my family. Thibault has loved not going to the creche and even though he is happy to return, having all of this time with F & T at this time has been a true gift

A big low and some great highs

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The past four weeks have hit me hard. There have been some major highs and some big low points. Just before the Carnival break started I got the flu. It completely wiped me out for an entire week and if it wasn’t for the strength of my husband and the kindness of my in-laws, I can only imagine how worse it could have been. I will never go another year without the flu shot. I hate that helpless feeling and I just felt sorry for myself the whole week. It was my winter break. A time to relax, recharge, have a little Carnival fun, and do fun things with my family. None of that happened. The only thing I got to do was sleep through the night for 10+ hours a night and watch a lot of Netflix. So in retrospect, perhaps it wasn’t a total loss.

And then it was right back into work. In one week I had two performances with the community drummers and singers. It was a week full of female empowerment and great music. I feel so privileged to be working with these women. The singing group performed at a theatrical performance all about feminism. It was beautiful and we all felt grateful to be a part of it.

My friends and I dragged our kids out marching through Maastricht to have our voices heard as part of the Youth Climate March. Three moms, six cranky kids, lots of rain, complaining, and tears, but a lot of fun too. We did it for ourselves mostly, but deep down we want our kids to know we stand for something. It felt good to be a part of it.

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On Sunday my friends and I went to TEFAF to be a part of what puts Maastricht on the map. It’s always an enriching and beautiful experience. I’m really missing my friend Antoinette. I’ve had so many artful experiences with her over the years and there’s a whole in my heart now that she is living in Italy. I miss her artistic perspective.

And finally— a beautiful performance with my students on Tuesday after a very difficult Monday. Monday was such a low point for me. I had a schedule change and ended up teaching for 5 hours straight without as much as a coffee break. Then to pick up Flora, the exhausting swim lesson, and in the middle of all of that an uncomfortable phone conversation with a good friend of min. I came home and started crying because after dinner because of the stress of everything put together.

It felt so good to make a 180 the next day! I was so proud of my students. It was such a great process for me preparing them for this short 45 minute assembly. And the icing on the cake was a bouquet of lovely flowers and homemade card. “Thank you for making music class fun.” Amen. I feel so grateful to have a job that challenges and enriches my life. I live for performances like these. It is so fulfilling.

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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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.