Monday, December 31

I Got Words in My Head

Considering three things at the time of this writing.

1. It's New Year's Eve day. That means the time has arrived to consider the resolutions of 2008 in earnest.

2. It's New Year's Eve day. That means the Christmas tree at our house has got to come down. It's beginning to droop anyway, and Andrew has discovered the joy of knocking the branches to watch the needles shower down to the floor. I am over that already.

3. It's New Year's Eve day. That means--in Holland--the yearly fest of creating firework havoc has begun. Even before the alarm rang this morning, the bang-bang-bangity-bang of rockets and firecrackers awakened all of us. And that, friends, is nothing compared to what is yet to come when the clock strikes midnight here.

And yet, you wonder just what weaves these three things together? I shall tell you.
It can be summed up in a song. Not just any old song, mind you. But an anthem of my day.

Yeah, I got the music in me.

Some days you just wake up ready to tackle it all, don't you? (and conversely, some days you wake up unable to take any of it on) I am having a morning on order of the first.
I am ready to set the goals, get it all tidied up, and get set to bring it all in with a bang.

And I will be belting it out all day. Because,

"Ain't got no trouble in my life
No foolish dreams to make me cry
I'm never frightened or worried
I know I'll always get by

I heat up, I cool down
When something gets in my way I go round it
Won't let life get me down
Gonna take it the way that I found it

Some say that life is a circle
But that ain't the way that I found it
Gonna move in a straight line
Keeping my feet firmly on the ground

I heat up, I cool down
I got words in my head so I'll say them
Won't let life get me down
Catch a hold of my blues and just play them

I got the music in me
I got the music in me
I got the music in me..."

SMID's Music Monday

More music players can be found here.

Friday, December 28


If you've ever wondered just what it might be like to celebrate Christmas with a houseful of comedians, then I am warmly extending the invitation to you to join us next season.

It's been a laugh factory around here as we planned, purchased and executed the frivolity around our house.

I will sum up.

Traditionally, we put our names into a hat, a box, or a bathrobe pocket--we're not all that particular--and exchange with one another the wish list we've created. With name and list in hand, we then plan and shop for the person we've selected. The spending limit is 25 euros. It's meant to be a way for all of us to single out one other of us and select something meaningful for that person.

I got Andrew this year.
Andrew got Emma.
Emma got me.
Don got Ian.
Ian got Don.

Don worked feverishly on his list before folding his paper and placing it into the upturned baseball cap. As he scribbled, he asked only one question: "what is the spending limit?"
His list read something like this:

The things I want for Christmas--
One 20 euro bill and one 5 euro bill, or
Two 10 euro bills and one 5 euro bill, or
Three 5 euro bills and one 10 euro bill, or
Two fifty cent coins, one 2 euro coin, two 1 euro coins, and two 10 euro bills


One Folbot folding Kayak, 1500 euros plus shipping.

So we all did our shopping bit and when Christmas morning rolled around there was a grand buildup of excitement in the air in anticipation of presenting family gifts.

Andrew got police cars and firetrucks.
Emma got a discoball lamp. (Really. Andrew was certain this was THE gift for his sister.)
Ian got some cool new clothes and a game for his playstation.
I opened my gift to find this note:

Dear Mom,
First of all I want you to know, whatever I say from now on is in a Spanish accent.
What, oh, what could your gift be?
So little and small and tineee.
I know you will like it, it came from my heart, and the 25 euros dad gave me, but mostly from my heart.

Don's gift was double or perhaps triple wrapped with this note taped to the outside of the second layer:

Fulbot Folding Kayak
Size: Extra extra extra extra small (xxxs)
Color: Blue
Capacity: Your big toe
Dimensions: 5" x 2"
Not for ACTUAL use!
Precautions: Keep away from water! If kayak comes into contact with any form of water, the kayak will disintegrate immediately.

We made merry with our giggles and then merry again with our guffaws. I am beginning to think that they who coined the phrase "Happy Christmas" had premonitions of just how it would roll at our house.

Here's hoping we keep Christmas in our hearts all year.

Monday, December 24

Merry Christmas, Darlings

Hope your holidays are joy-filled and joyful. Catch you in this space post chocolate-bingeing-present-discovering-eggnog-laden debauchery.

All my love.

Saturday, December 22

Monday, December 17

Late in the Evening

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The living room floor was littered with torn wrappings. Paper bits discarded here and there, my children and our guests inspected the goods which had been delivered to them via the Sint's large sack. It had been determined just after the loud knock on the front door that as the rounds went for opening gifts, I would be the last spot.

That was okay by me.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Andrew got his fish;
a swimming one with a tail. He watched it circle round the tiny bowl.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Ian and Emma were blown away when they opened cell phones. Ian's spontaneous happy dance made everyone in the room howl with laughter.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Our guests each received photographs, something from my heart and personalized for each of them.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Don got his photos too, and then it was my turn.

I knew he had written his poem, just as I had begged asked him too. Early in the evening I spotted him surreptitiously stashing a set of scribbled notes on top of the bookshelf. I have to admit, I couldn't wait to find out what he'd come up with. He called attention in the room back to focus on me, and then pulled his papers from the top shelf. He appeared to study them for a minute or two, then shook his head and said aloud "No, this just won't do." I watched him then leave the circle of company and step over to collect his tall stool.

You know, the one he sits on to play his guitar.

I started to cry.

He set up the stool and grabbed his guitar from its stand. And then?

Then he sang to me.

Yup, the boy came through on this poem writing thing with a bang.

And. He. Sang. To. Me.

He apologized for being neither a songwriter nor poet, and apologized again for stealing the tune from one of
our favorite artists. I apologize now (to you, not to him--I know he's secretly pleased about this next bit) that the video which was captured on the night cannot be displayed. I have tried it every which way but Sunday and cannot get the file to upload properly. So I have nothing to show for it, really. But you can trust me when I tell you the performance was brilliant.

And now, my friends and readers, a Sinterklaas poemsong. From my house to yours.

"The night's getting long
And the Sint's come and gone
Leaving pakjes and goodies for all
The last one's for you
and it seems to be true
It really looks awfully small.

Oh, Jenn, you know me so well
You asked me 10 times
but not once did you yell
You said 'please write my poem'
Okay, what the hell!
Oh, Jenn, you know me so well.

So, your poem is a song
Let's thank God it's not long-
The misery soon will be through.
You ask, you receive
Although none would believe
That I'd sing something funny to you!

But, oh, Jenn, you know me so well.
You asked me 10 times
but not once did you yell
You said, 'please write my poem'
Okay, what the hell!
Oh, Jenn, you know me so well.

Well, the night's getting long
And the Sint's come and gone..."

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Linking to you Live from Soccer Mom in Denial

Saturday, December 15

Christmas is Coming


my own game

Singular Celebrators:

Wholly Burble (faithful contributor)

Mariposa (first time--Welcome!)

Jenn (another first timer!)

Flower Child (celebrator deluxe)

SMID (who needs sympathy)

Jan (yet another first time player! Wow!)

Thursday, December 13

Spot Check

The status report from Jenn's place:

The youngest is sick (yet again) with a barking cough. Sounds something akin to a TB patient. Might be why I get strange looks on the tram when I take him out in public.

The middle one is on emotional overload. Should she go to the Winter Ball tomorrow night for her middle school or not? Yes, no, yes, no, maybe. If only she had something to wear. Fairy Godmother? Anyone?

The oldest is copping a 'tude. His chores undone, his schoolbag tossed carelessly in the hall. Seems like it might be high time for a holiday from school.

The Dad is fine by all reports. He doesn't sleep much lately. He says it's beginning to feel normal.

The Mom is holding it together, albeit by narrow threads. Good thing Mom nerves are strong as spider silk.

And so, no good blogging to be done tonight. I shall put off the report of all things Sinterklaas and promise you that forthcoming. I will however leave you with this pre-pakjesavond conversation. It might make you giggle.

That's a good thing.

"There! I've got it done. The gifts are all wrapped and the poems are written. It's just down to you to take care of my stuff.

"Your stuff? What stuff?"

"You know, my gift and my poem which you're going to write yourself."

"Awwwww, I don't want to write a poem."


"But I'm no good at writing poems, can't you write one for yourself?"

"Nope. I wrote all the others and it's kinda lame if I have to write my own. That's your job this year."

"I just don't think I can do it."

"And yet, you must."

"So this poem that I HAVE TO write for you, does it have to be long? Is it supposed to rhyme?Can I write it in any format I want or are there special rules?"

"It can be anything you want, it just has to be a poem."

"Anything I want?"

"Yup. Anything."

"Cool. So I can write a haiku?"

Wednesday, December 12

Monday, December 10

Time Passages

The night my eldest son was born the clock had only recently passed the moment which delineates one day from the next. I had begun labor earlier that evening, in fact Don and I were at the herb shop searching for a tincture which would make my contractions strong and regular when we realized the threshold of early labor had been crossed and we were now fully into the game of bringing a baby into the world. We placed the cohosh bottle back on the shelf and drove home to call the midwife, climb into the bathtub and have ourselves a baby.

It didn't all go according to plan, really. I labored at home for a couple of hours while Don poured hot water he had boiling in kettles on the stove into the tub to keep the water steamy for me. Somewhere around 9:00 p.m. we ventured out (he coaching my breathing all the way) to the birth center. A couple of hours after that, we were on the move again. This time in an ambulance for a brief ride to the hospital located nearby. It wasn't an emergency, as yet, but all involved in the process thought it might be best for us to be at the hospital as a just in case measure.

Just in case never happened, and just after midnight Ian emerged --without assistance--to the collective gasp, wonder and awe of all 7 of us--Don, me, my midwife, the on call OB, and the three nurses--in the room. It was an incredibly cool moment.

Several hours post birth of my 9 pound baby boy, Don left the two of us at the hospital and drove himself to school to take a final exam. Several hours after that, the three of us went home as a family.

And now here we are 14 years later.

The family grew a little. Ian grew a little. We changed locations a little.
We've learned a lot along the way.
None of it has ever really gone according to plan.

But I really wouldn't have it any other way. From the beginning with this boy--who now looks me square in the eye and will be looking down at the top of my head in a few month's time--life has been a series of firsts and adventures. First borns get that a lot. All the mistakes, trials, errors, and missteps of first time parents. All the responsibility of being the oldest kid in the family. All the wishing you were a sometime youngest child instead.

This one seems like he can take anything. He takes on his challenges with grace. He has a steady head. He works hard. He is a (mostly) patient big brother. He is loving, sweet, kind and careful. Hey, the boy even puts the toilet seat down. He's good, really he is.

A Mom couldn't ask for more from a kid. And a kid couldn't give more to a Mom.

Happy Birthday buddy. I love you to the moon.

Sunday, December 9

How I Feel About Missing My Own Game


my own game

Those who did it better than me this week:

Soccer Mom in Denial

Jen in MI

Wholly Burble

Thursday, December 6

Will Work for Food

Shhh! I can't talk now, I am in the middle of preparing a Surprise (Soo-pree-zah) for a co-worker. Standard to the Sinterklaas celebration we will have a work party tomorrow evening, complete with a visit from the Sint. We have exchanged names and will exchange gifts accordingly tomorrow--in anonymity as all gifts for this holiday come from Sint himself.

I am working diligently to finish up a hand crocheted sjaal (neck scarf) which I have stiched in all the in-between-minutes of my life, which then I will tie around a bottle of wine to present to one of my favorite people on the staff. I must also figure out how best to disguise the box I wrap to make it an appropriate surprise.

Then, there's one more thing, and this is where you, my friends and my readers, come in. Attached to each gift the Sint delivers there is a poem. This poem generally contains some information about the gift itself and about the receiver. Meaning, it is the perfect venue for Sint to talk about/tease/cajole that person. For instance, my darling husband comes to bed in the winter with his socks on which is something I tend to tease him mercilessly about. His gift last night was a framed series of photographs I took one day while he and I were out together. The poem read in part like this:

There once was a boy, name of Don
who slept with his long stockings on!
"In the winter" says he
"I'm as cold as can be--
with the temperature ten below one!"

Back when the sun shone so bright
With Jenn he saw two birds in flight.
She was quick with the lens
and with flash now and then
She captured the moment just right!

I have to admit, after the fun of last night's visit for the children and our guests, I am a little Sint-poem'ed out. So I turn to you, masters of all that rhymes, for your ideas and your assistance. In the comments section, leave me a verse or two, or hey, an entire poem and I will ... what?

Be forever grateful? Uh-huh.

Sing your praises? Absolutely.

Send you chocolate? Yup.

You heard me, assist me with this poem and I will send you a Sint treat via the post. Yes, this is me stooping to bribery to escape five minutes of work. Really, there are no depths to which I will not sink.

Info about the recipient here:

Her name is Marie
She is a teacher
At the ISH
She comes from Nova Scotia
She is new in The Netherlands
She is blonde, tiny and incredibly sweet
She tap dances
She lived in Ireland
She loves her wine
It doesn't take much of that before she is a little loopy
That's what I call her: Little Loopy
She is great with the kids
Especially mine

Go forth now: be creative, rhythmic and rhymey. This is an offer you can't I hope you won't refuse.

Wednesday, December 5

Cause for Celebration

Today is the day! And a big day it is around here too. Not only is it the day that Sinterklaas comes by with a big sack of presents; it is also the day Allison and I celebrate our first 100 photos at our joint photo site. She writes about the experience(s) of our first 100 days with oh-so-much-more eloquence than I and truly you should leap over there and read all she has to say. But I wanted to give it a nod, a shout-out, a plug. Because keeping that site, and working with that woman is a total rush.

Looking Into Photo Blog

Come. Take a look.

My wordless wednesday post is below.

Hij Komt!

Everything you need to know about the Sint can be found here.

Monday, December 3

Soaking It Up

SMID's Music Monday

Years ago in the United States, there was a television ad campaign for a bath soak called Calgon. As I remember it, the ad showed a woman harried and frazzled by the work of her day--phones ringing, children crying, dogs barking, pots overboiling--when she suddenly breaks out with the cry "Calgon, Take me Away!" The next shot on screen shows her soaking in the bathtub with a blissful, relaxed smile upon her face. As if all the world's problems could be solved with a dip in the tub.

A compelling idea, this luxurious soak in the bathwater.

As I sit here contemplating such a moment (fantastic at best) I can't help but hum the tune for the old gospel song. I love gospel. I love it in it's every interpretation and rendtion. In fact as I looked for a video clip to accompany this post I was very torn as to which I would choose. Though one of my favorite singers--of this tune in particular--Eva Cassidy has a kick-all version of this song, one which leaves me in tears nearly every time I hear it, I ultimately went with the following video. Because, really, if I am going to have a fantasy soak in the bath, with candles burning, and bubbles up to my chin, I am also going to bring along these guys to sing me into bliss and relaxation.

Wade in the water
Wade in the water children
Wade in the water
God's gonna trouble the water

Take me away boys.

Saturday, December 1