Friday, November 30

A Point, A Chat and A Vote

Point of reference: Lekkerbek (pronounced just the way it looks--lecker beck) is a white fish filet breaded and deep fried.


"So how are things shaping up for Pakjesavond then?"

"Fine, I think. Nearly there anyway. I would still like to find a mini-trampoline for Andrew and then there is the matter of his fish."

"His fish?"

"He wants a fish from Sinterklaas"

"Oh, we're not getting him a fish, are we?"

"In his letter to the Sint he asked for a fish"

"Oh, man, can't we just get him a lekkerbek?"


I ask you.


Or this?

Thursday, November 29

Curling Up

When I was in the fourth grade I had trouble in school. More to the point, I was always IN trouble at school. It wasn't because I was a chatterbox, no, that report would come later in my schooling. The trouble was I wouldn't put my book down.

Yeah, I was a rebel reader.

Propping heavy text books in front of me, pretending to read along during the social studies lesson, I would really be completely swept away by my real education: my books! Oh, I loved my books.

In those days there wasn't a once upon a time tale which didn't completely captivate me and take me away. Princesses, unicorns, space invaders, explorers; all were my friends and cohorts. I loved the very word on every page and the smell of ink and paper. Still do.

My favorites list is too numerous to print and too expansive to try and explain. I react to a book the same way I react to people: I connect quickly and deeply. And I insist on spending a lot of time with that which is precious.

My book=my friend.

Can I imagine my life without my reading time? Not at all. So when Allison--she who is actively involved in all the important issues--contacted me to see if I would like to join her in a campaign to encourage others to read, I dove right in.

The campaign is this:

January 10, 2008 has been designated as the DAY TO READ.
On that day we join the collective challenge to spend some time with our noses stuck in it. A book that is. If you are a blogger, join us by stepping away from the keyboard for all or part of the day and spend that time reading something you enjoy.

Next, report to us and others what you've read. You can do this in a dedicated post or a comment at Allison's blog--Soccer Mom in Denial--after the DAY TO READ has passed.

If you are so inclined, please post the DAY TO READ button at your blog. Pass it on! The button, the news about the day, the challenge to others to read, read, read, read, read!

Not a blogger? Then you know just what I expect from you. Leave me a comment here with the results of your DAY TO READ experience.

That's it. No challenge could be easier to meet. Please join us. We can make DAY TO READ a Happily Ever After kind of event.

DAY TO READ campaign

Wednesday, November 28

Tuesday, November 27


One thing which can definitively be said about the Dutch: They like their deep fried food. From the kaas souffle, to the loempia, and onward to the borrowed Belgian snack--frites with mayonnaise, there is very little that the Dutch won't fry in fat. The snack shops and kiosks and train station automats are a celebration of all things hot and dripping with grease. This is serious comfort food at its finest.

Tonight after work I saddled the bike to make a quick run to the grocery store, hoping for inspiration in the what-to-make-for-dinner department. It didn't arrive timely. I walked out of the store with only apples and laundry detergent in my basket.

And then a plan presented itself.

Our Elise--nanny, savior, freedom-from-diapers-deliverer, and friend--is spending her last night on Dutch soil. Tomorrow morning she will finish packing her bags and the two of us will then schlep them together to Schipol airport. Unbelievably, the three months of her allotted tourist visa stay have flown by, and it is now time for her to return to the sunny skies of Arizona. But I realized tonight I just may have been remiss in her education and culturization of Dutch life. Yes, I had failed to feed her a frikandel.

A sausage of sorts, perhaps better described as a minced meat concoction in tube shape, this mass of mystery meat is dropped into the friteur and cooked to gross greased perfection. Personally, I like my frikandel slapped onto a bun and smothered in peanut sauce, but you can eat them plain too. And how can you leave Holland without such a treat?

Without hesitation tonight, I rode my bike down the street to the corner snack shop, stepped in and placed my order. Upon arriving home I plopped the feast upon the table for the kids and their au pair.

I have to admit, it was all pretty much finger likin' good. I only hope that given the grease consumed it will serve to stop up my tear ducts and allow me to say tot ziens to the princess in the morning, with some sort of dignity.

I am going to miss her company something fierce. We all are. And while I attempt to adjust to life without my Elise, I will most assuredly be looking for some comfort.

Hey! Will someone please pass the ketchup?

Monday, November 26

Couldn't Be Prouder

Two notes.
hahaha! Get it? It's Music Monday and I am beginning with NOTES? Oh, my I crack myself up.

1. This one is coming to you from out of the archives. And not just because I am completely a little bit lazy, but because it's perfectly fitting for the topic at hand. Well, that and I really liked this one when I wrote it, and since there were precious few of you reading me back in the day then I want to share it again.

2. The television site I reference and link to in this post is no longer in existence. Yup, someone found out about it and shut 'em down. Just didn't want you looking for it and find that my links are dead. No worries though friends, I am finding my pirated television and movies elsewhere on the net now. Shhh. Don't tell anyone!
Original publishing date: 3 April 2007

I was standing in the kitchen finishing up a few dishes this afternoon when Emma walked into the room. Emma has been home from school for two days with a nasty head cold/cough thing. At parental insistence that she stay in bed and rest she has been willing to comply AS LONG AS she can keep company with the laptop; upon which she has been able to access this site and watch a plethora of television programming out of the UK and the USA. And when you are home sick, and eleven, what is better than a bit of Hannah Montana for your in bed entertainment? The TV links site is a new find for us and we are all just a little bit giddy about being able to watch familiar programming in English, minus under titling.

It's the little things that make us so happy.

But moving back to the topic at hand, my conversation with Emma in the kitchen began with her giving me the back story to an episode of the BBC's Robin Hood.

"Okay so there was a guy, I don't know his name but he wants to shoot the sheriff of Nottingham. At the same time he is aiming at someone he thinks is the sheriff, Marian and Robin are also aiming at him. This guy lets his arrow go and so do Marian and Robin. Then the guy rolls down a hill with two arrows in his arm!"

A pause for breath and a cough. And she launches back in.

"Then the guy starts talking to his dead wife cuz that's why he wanted to shoot the sheriff because the sheriff had something to do with her death."


"Anyway, then the guy says 'I shot him. I finally shot the sheriff' But then the real sheriff comes up behind the guy and says 'No. You shot the deputy' ".

Pause for effect.

"I thought that was funny. Cuz it's totally opposite of the song!"

She grinned and I giggled and then the two of us burst into a spontaneous musical duet at the kitchen sink.

"I shot the sheriff
But I didn't shoot no deputy,
oh no! Oh!
I shot the sheriff
But I didn't shoot no deputy,
ooh, ooh, oo-ooh"

There are some moments in my Motherhood that I think, maybe just maybe something I have taught them along the line has sunk in.

And if that means that my daughter is able to identify the tunes and lyrics of Bob Marley. I am okay with that.

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Music Monday, brain child of the brainiac who writes

Soccer Mom in Denial

Sunday, November 25


Brillig's Soap Opera Sunday

"Mommmy! Mommy! Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahmmmmeeeeeeeeee! Sam and Susie are stuck together in the front yard and we can't get them apart!

That was the announcement we made to my mother on that sunny afternoon of my childhood.

Sam was our muttish dog, a Beagle and Dachshund mix. Susie was the AKC registered Shelty of our neighbors whose pride and glory was their prize winning dogs. Susie was the youngest among them and the prettiest. Susie was, of course, also in heat. The neighbors had come specifically to ask that Sam be kept away from their yard during this time. My parents complied and when Sam was outside our home he was tied to a lead which was tethered to a stake near the porch.

On this day, Susie came to him. She had dug deeply enough under the chain link fence of her yard to wiggle through and run free. And she ran straight to Sam. And there they were, the two of them, doing IT in our front yard.

Of course, I was young enough and innocent (oh, so innocent) enough to have no clue what was happening. The action elited a lot of discussion amongst my neighborhood friends. We told them to stop! We told them to let go! We told them it wasn't right to be stuck together like that! And then we told my mom.

She of course was at a complete loss as to what to do about it all as well. I mean there it was, a full public display of affection happening in her front yard for all the world to see. And there we were, a half dozen kids with wide eyes and inquiring minds asking the hard questions to a Mama who just. didn't. know. what. to. say.

She turned to my Dad by telephone. First reaching my Uncle Steve who worked alongside my Pop, she blurted out the news: "The dogs are stuck together on the front lawn! What do I do? What do I do?" My uncle's reaction was to double up in red-faced laughter and because he was unable to speak through the roaring guffaws he held out the receiver to my Dad. Daddy picked up the phone to hear the same panic report and with a somewhat subdued giggle in his voice gave the best advice he could muster at the moment: "Honey, pull up a chair and watch!"

Not long after that day, my parents sat me down and I got to hear all about the birds and the bees.

And the dogs.

Friday, November 23

Whatever Will Be

Here lies Stuart the hamster.

Eagerly adopted.

Willingly cared for.

Lovingly played with.

Expertly cleaned up after.

Thoroughly mourned.

Deeply missed.

Thursday, November 22

Merry Me

It was a perfect--picture perfect--autumn day in Southern Utah. I was young--unbelievably young--and he was younger still. We were all dressed up and truly ready to go. It was November 21st.

Wedding Day, 1989.

I know, I know, you are going to want photographs with this post, but alas, I have none to offer you. What I mean to say is that I have loads of wedding day photos in storage in Arizona, but none in digital form, and certainly not a one over here. But you can trust me when I tell you that we were the. cutest. couple. on. the. planet.

I wore the same gown my mother wore at her own wedding. Handmade by my grandmother for that wedding 46 years ago, it was updated and redesigned by my mom's hand for my wedding 28 years later.

I love that dress.

He wore a rented tuxedo in black. He was ridiculously, deliciously handsome.

The thing I remember most about the morning we married, was the perfect day which surrounded us. As we strolled along the church grounds posing for the plentitude of photographs (Again, none of which will be posted here today) the multi-colored leaves rustled in the breeze and occasionally, as if expertly choreographed, one would release it's hold on the branch and tumble delicately downward; turning, twisting, spiraling in faultless timing, ultimately landing softly to add to the autumn confetti in the grass.

Like I said, perfect.

The remainder of that day was filled with family, friends, food and celebrations. That pretty much sums up the 18 years following as well. Pause for a few ups and downs (oh, no she did NOT just resort to the obvious metaphor!) our life together has been one terrific ride. If there is a ticket line for this attraction, I am certainly queueing up for another go round.

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Tuesday, November 20

'Cause, Baby, Look at You Now

Birthday tradition in Holland is clear. Rather than warm wishes for the birthday person alone, hearty congratulations are given to all in the family (or in the room for that matter). For example, if it is a birthday of a child, you would enter the home and wish Gefeliciteerd to the mother, the father, the grandparents, the siblings, and then to the birthday child.

Personally I think it a grand tradition, if only in this very circumstance. Being the mama of three, none of whom were all that easy to bring into this world, I relish the moment someone is saying to me: "Congratulations on the birthday of your daughter". I take that to be a full blown compliment as to a job well done.

So, I pause now to receive your congratulations for my daughter's birthday.

And now this next sentence really gives me pause:

Emma is twelve today.

How this happened in the blink of an eye I will never know. It really doesn't seem possible that the night I finally, finally, finally went into labor (after two Castor oil & orange juice cocktails) could really be a twelve-years-ago reality.

Emma zipped into existence in the wee hours of morning, long before the nurses thought she might be making an appearance. My midwife arrived just in time to catch her, rub her blueness to pink, swaddle her tightly and hand her over to me.

Bald, pug nosed, with her ears pinned flat to the sides of her head, I am certain there never was a baby girl more beautiful in all the world.

I still think that very thing. (Even though now she is no longer bald, nor pug nosed. And her ears stand out a nice distance from her head) She is beautiful from the inside out and she will always, always be my baby girl.

Happy Birthday Ems. Mama loves you crazy.

Monday, November 19

With a Song in My Heart

Today, there is a single song in the hearts, minds and voices of all Dutch children (and at least one expat family) here in Holland.

Well, not a single song exactly, but a single type of song which is being played, whistled, danced to, hummed and sung in playgrounds, stores, homes and bathtubs around the country.

They are all about this guy:

Yup, that's right.
The Sint is in town!

Zie ginds komt de stoomboot

uit Spanje weer aan.
Hij brengt ons Sint Nicolaas
ik zie hem al staan.
Hoe huppelt zijn paardje
het dek op en neer,
hoe waaien de wimpels
al heen en al weer.

Sinterklaas arrived by steamboat from Spain on Saturday along with his helpers the Zwarte Piet. All will be in town from now until the 5th of December when the season culminates with Pakjesavond or the night of gifts. Between now and then it's all about singing the songs, spotting the Pieten on the streets, visiting the Sint at parties and parades, and of course, leaving shoes out by the fireplace at night in hopes of finding a treat inside in the morning.

Sinterklaasje bonne, bonne, bonne,
gooi wat in mijn regen, regentonne,
gooi wat in mijn laarsje,
dank u, Sinterklaasje!

You can be certain I will be checking my shoes and if you're looking for me, you can find me by listening in for the song of the season. I will be belting it out with the best of them, because it's true, I am crazy about Sinterklaas.

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Sunday, November 18

Something in the Way

IN the beginning, we were childhood friends; then sweethearts who became lovers. We married in the church and began our life together as a couple. We even had children together.

Off stage, we were friends. In the groups-of-us-hanging-out-together kind of way. Never a dating relationship, rarely a moment alone in conversation, we two carroused as part of the gang of all of us. I am sure I flirted with him (who didn't I flirt with in those days?) and I am sure that filled him with amorous ideas and pushed our relationship in his mind toward something personal and permanent.

But I had no clue.

For me the first indication of his undying love for all things me was the Sunday afternoon he drove me home from church.

He told me "I just want to stop by my place really quick and tell my parents (who were in town visiting) that I will be back later"

"Sure, okay", I said.

When he pulled his truck into the parking lot of his apartment building he said, "why don't you come upstairs with me? You can meet my folks."

Again I replied with a "sure, okay."

I followed him up the stairs to his second story apartment, he unlocked the door and we entered. His parents were sitting in the living room and both rose to their feet when we walked in. He introduced me first to his father, who reached out his hand and shook mine saying "hello, nice to meet ya!". Then I turned as he introduced me to his Mom who approached me with a broad grin on her face (and possibly mist in her eyes). She reached her right hand out to take mine and then placed her left hand over the top and squeezed as she pulled me in closer.

"Oh, it's so wonderful to finally meet you. We've heard SO MUCH about you." She said.

Whaaa? I am sure I pulled some sort of this-is-an-awkward-moment-face as I pulled my fingers away from her loving grasp and muttered a 'nice to meet you too' kind of reply.

It was an utterly surreal moment for me. If they had HEARD SO MUCH about me, it could only have come from one source.

I felt my heart sink heavy to my belly. Oh, boy.

He and I left soon after that and immediately were back in his truck. As he put the key in the ignition he asked demurely "So, what do you think?"

I exploded. "What do I think? What do I think? That was a supremely awkward thing up there! I am so glad to finally meet you... we've heard so much about you... WHAT have you been telling your Mom about me?"

He was silent for a long time as he drove and then said. "Only how I feel."

Oh, no.

He pulled up in front of my shared college house and cut the engine. I looked at him with his large eyes and flushed cheeks and said, "I think we should talk."

There it was--all of it--being spilled out from his mouth to my ears as we sat on the front lawn. He had loved the name Jennifer all his life--had even named a houseplant Jennifer once, he loved me--he felt it from the moment we met, he knew beyond doubt that he would marry a Jennifer some day, he knew with certainty that I WAS THAT JENNIFER.

As I said before: Awkward.

And how does one turn down an earnest-epiphany-based-marriage-proposal? I am afraid without much grace. I stuttered. I muttered. I FREAKED OUT. And I said, NO.

I had of course, the fallback excuse that I had a boyfriend. It was the truth. The boy who held my heart was at that time 2600.81 miles away doing the very common thing in the culture I grew up in and working as a missionary in the Boston area. We had a deal that as I "waited" for his return, I could certainly "date" others. (Also a very common occurence in this situation) and I think my suitor was banking on me to exercise that option, date him, fall madly in love with him, and write that other boy a letter saying I was getting married. I didn't take that route, at least not for him.

Which, very possibly broke his heart.

We still spent time together post-proposal-disaster, but it was increasingly random and more and more strained. Ultimately, the conversations we had were focused on the work (performances) we did together and nothing more. He was stunning in his portrayal of the man-with-the-broken-heart-who-could-maintain-a-friendship-with-the-woman-who-had-shunned-him. I was simply good at ignoring the awkwardness. Eventually the two of us were married, just not to each other. In the the end, I didn't marry that boy I was waiting for, but someone else, and he did not marry a Jennifer.

Though it's possible they call their DOG Jenn.

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Thanks to Brillig and Kate for launching the soapy fun. Today's drama is hosted by Anonymous Soapiness. Pop over to read more stories of adventure, love, and tragic romance.

Saturday, November 17

Friday, November 16

Get Your Kicks

From a conversation at school between me and a young student, age 9.

"Miss Jenn, are you from America?"

"As a matter of fact I am."

"I knew it!"

"Did ya now?"

"Yes. You sound just like an American and you look just like an American. I just knew it."

"I look like an American? Hmmm... I am not really sure how to take that, but okay."

"I really love your American accent."

"Ah, that's nice."

"I really like the way Americans talk. I like Americans so much. I like everything about America."

"You do, huh? That's really awesome to hear you say. Tell me buddy, what is it about America that you like so much?"

"Oh, that's easy. Route 66!"

Thursday, November 15

Talk On!

Andrew's vocabulary is growing exponentially and with rapidly increasing speed. Having come to the talking game quite late it seems he is now making up for lost time. He makes daily long strides which nearly boggle the mind. For the most part the stimulation we offer him is our continual conversation, peppered occasionally with actual teaching moments wherein one or more of us tries to consciously open his mind to new vocabulary words. More often than not though, contributions to his speech are accidental and random (Tonight I caught him singing the full lyric to a song from the musical RENT!) as in a sentence from a book, a phrase from a game we are playing together, a movie line he hears, and/or a repeated choice word or two he gains from one of the grown ups--or nearly grown ups--around him. Words which then he is most likely to repeat. My favorite bits in this category are both the phrases 'Check this out', and 'Rock On'. These are the kinds of words I feel all four-year-olds should know. I also have a list of words four-year-olds should NOT know, but truly, I digress.

This morning Andrew and his Daddy were engaged in conversation as Don helped him dress for school. At some point in the exchange (neither adult can really remember how or why it came up in conversation) Don used the celebration phrase 'Boo-yah' and the little man found that to be an absolutely hilarious new word. Tucking it neatly into his memory as a shirttail into trousers, this suddenly became the word of the day for the boy.

"Say it again, Daddy!"



"Now, you say it Buddy."


I had stepped downstairs to pack our lunches and was decently engrossed in the task when I felt Andrew's little hands on my leg.

"Hey Mom, are you ready for this?"


He shouted the word at the top of his lungs and then scampered down the hall laughing.

he said as he got his shoes on (all by himself).

"Boo-yah" he cried as he pulled his coat down from the hook.
"Boo-yah" he nattered as he put his backpack into the bike basket.

Boo-yah, boo-yah, boo-yah...
The ride to school was entirely filled with a single track game. From the backseat this question:

"Mom, are you ready for this?"

I responded: "Sure".

he crowed.

The 50th time being equally as hilarious as the first time, this was the soundtrack for our morning commute.

The morning was busy and full but before Andrew's half day dismissal time I managed to catch his teacher in the hall to chat--among other things--about him. I mentioned to her that he had learned a new word today and perhaps she ought to test him out to see if he still remembered it. I gave her the lead and sent her on her way.
When she walked into the classroom, she called out "Andrew? Are you ready for this?" He looked up in shock and amazement, caught her eye, and with a mischievous grin shouted "BOO-YAAH!"

Still tonight as we hung out together to celebrate Don's big birthday, Andrew did not disappoint and for every "are you ready for this" query he returned a hearty "BOOO-YAAAAAH!".

This is how we roll. What started the day with a giggle saw us to it's end with a guffaw. And now I ask you all:



Wednesday, November 14

Tuesday, November 13

Da Do Run Run

We met just before his 19th birthday. For those of you who are using your fingers to count up the intervening years, please remove the socks from your feet as you'll be needing all ten toes as well. And then you'll have to use a finger from someone else's hand. That's how you'll arrive at the number....

Are you there yet?

Did you guess?

Have you got it?

21 years ago.

I met him 21 years ago in college. We were both on the Speech and Debate squad. He, a debater and me a dramatic interpreter. (Did you have to reach hard to guess that?)

I remember distinctly the first time I saw him.

He. Was. Beautiful.

Long blond locks, clear blue eyes, winning smile which includes a dimple. I fell immediately in love...

with his debate partner.

While that's not totally true (I was not in love) the first time I spent much time at all with him was when his friend Steve wanted to come by my apartment. The two of them came over and spent some time with me. I don't really remember specifics about that night but I do remember thinking that this other guy with Steve was proving to be much more interesting than Steve. He made an impression. Although I ended that first meeting by kissing Steve goodnight (He likes to tell people this story of how we met) it would be the last kiss for Steve from me.

Because I was smitten.

He and I started hanging out together. Seeing movies, writing speeches, studying (ha! ha!), talking for hours. Oh, and kissing. It wasn't long at all before I was in love. Madly, deeply, wildly.

With him.

So I took him home.

I knew it was gonna stick when I introduced him to my family. My sisters adored him, my parents approved of him, and my brothers LIKED him. I shall say that last again and add the emphasis so you won't miss the subtlety. My brothers LIKED him. That's really when I knew he was a keeper.

So I married him.

And I have kept him all these years. I don't plan on releasing him anytime soon either, so you can forget about asking.

Four states, twelve houses, seven cars, four educational institutions, two continents, THREE children, and a wealth of shared experiences later, I am still madly, deeply, wildly, HELPLESSLY in love with him.

The word husband, in Dutch, is man. Spoken with the softer 'a' like in lawn, and not as round as the sound in the Jamaican mon, it is a great english-dutch transition word. I love it's sound. And I love to say it.

Mijn man.

Tomorrow is his birthday (you can do the math and arrive at the number) and in spite of his reticence about reaching this milestone, I want to use this venue to shout out from my bloggy rooftop a hearty gefeliciteerd to mijn man.

Happy Birthday, babe.

You still make my heart stand still.

Monday, November 12

Double Shot

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Today is another first for me.

Allison the great, the lovely, the wonderful woman I share the photoblog site Looking Into with, as well as the author of the incredible insights at Soccer Mom in Denial, has been working up a rhythm of late as she writes about the music in her life. She calls it Music Monday and she dedicates some time each week to sharing some grand bits of personal music memorabilia with her readers. Now, she's created a button and she is sharing the fun. I can't help but want to play.

So I am jumping in for the first time today. That's the first first.

The second first I want to share with you is posted just below. I tripped across this video completely by accident last week and I giggled until I snorted. You may know her right away by name but I did not. For me the recognition was delayed until she opened her mouth and sang.

Yes, I can name that girl in ONE NOTE.

Her name is Kristen Chenoweth and my first acquaintance with her voice was my CD recording of WICKED, the Broadway musical. She played Glinda the Good Witch for the initial run on the Great White Way. In my opinion, she is one of the premier talents of the realm. I love her. Really, I do. I have found myself in a dedicated internet search for more video clips just to watch her genius--and her cuteness. You see, not only is she brilliantly talented, she is also freakin' adorable. I freely admit I have a mild deep crush on her.

Really, it's all about the music.

I am going to stop talking typing now, so we can get on with the show.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you KRISTEN CHENOWETH!

Sunday, November 11

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

"Jennifer, I will marry you."

That's exactly what he said. We were sitting on the front lawn of my 12-college-roommates-in-a-house-we-collectively-rented-and-shared under the large willow tree and that's what he said.

Just. Like. That.

But you have to know, I hardly knew this guy. Thus it is safe to make the assumption that he really didn't know me.

We had never kissed.

We had never held hands.

We actually had never even been on a date.

I'll be honest here and say it straight out. I didn't even like him. And? And I had a boyfriend.

Yet, here he was--this twitterpated boy--on my front lawn proposing. Or not proposing actually, but dictating. And declaring his love....

Tune in next time for more in the soapy story I have always wanted to share. Yeah, there will be more to say about this. I promise.


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Thanks to Brillig and Kate for sharing the sudsy goodness. I am proud to be your host for today's Soap Opera Sunday. Enter your link below and let's get our drama on!

1. The Break-Up
2. Brillig
3. Goofball
4. Dedee
5. Kateastrophe
6. Becki
7. Jerseygirl89
8. andi
9. Thalia\'s Child
10. Fourier.Analyst
11. Flower Child
12. Wakela Runen
13. VirtualSprite
14. Kimberly

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Saturday, November 10

Even After the First Cup of Coffee


See what was singularly on the minds of these folks:


Fourier Analyst

Wholly Burble

Jen in MI

If you've played tell me so and I will link you here.

Friday, November 9

And What Will Poor Robin Do Then?

We're under the weather around here. And by saying that, I mean there is a severe weather warning for The Netherlands tonight. The winds are supposed to be fierce (fiercer than normal--which is really saying something) and the rain is already pouring. We haven't seen the sun in days, but that's not news for folks in the low lands. The sun doesn't hang out much in Holland, at least not in the winter. There is only one weather here during the winter months and that is, oh, how can I say it best?


We have a friend who has a not so endearing term for Holland's weather. I can't share it with you here because, well, it contains some not so very nice words. Don't get me wrong now, I can say these words, I can even write these words, I am just a bit uncomfortable writing them down in this post. (My mother in law reads my blog after all!) But the three word adjective-noun-verb phrase (rhymes with bitty-bit-buck) completely cracks me up every time I hear it. And then I cry a little because it's completely, totally true.

The winter weather here sucks.

This morning as Andrew and I saddled the bike to ride into the school--he to class and me to work--we had a discussion about the weather.

"Oh, no, it's windy!" he said.

I responded. "It's not windy this morning baby, it's just fine."

"Yes!" He said and stamped his foot for emphasis. "I see a wind."

I looked to the sky and then said again. "No, babe, there's no wind, we're going to be okay."

"I see a wind" he insisted, pointing at the last remaining leaves on the oak in the front garden. "There is a wind." he said. "Look!"

I looked and I could see his point. There was a light breeze gently shaking the last leaf on the branch.

I tried in vain to add the new vocabulary word breeze to his repertoire, but he was having none of it.

"That's a wind. I told you Mom. I see a wind."

Throughout the day this storm has rolled in at a relentless pace. And, tonight with the wind whipping in earnest outside--howling through the door jambs and forcing tree branches to scrape along the balcony ledges and the windows--I am confident that I will soon have a bed partner in the form of a four-year old boy. I am also certain that he will remind me once again,

"I told you Mom. I told you I saw a wind."

Thursday, November 8

Uncertain What to Say

A note to my blogger pals:

Three words. Six syllables.


Yes, friends. You with your stories of love, drama, disaster, and romance. The place to share the epic tales is in this very venue. Created by Brillig and recently co-launched globally with the lovely lady Kate over at Walking Kateastrophe, SOS is a can't miss Sunday experience.

And this week I get to host the goodness.

I just know you can dig into the recesses of your memory and come up with something delicious to write and share with the world. Certainly, you know you want to, and now you know I want you to, so really, how can you resist?

The rules are established and posted here. When your juicy tidbits are entered and ready to post, come back to my place to leave your link.

Come on baby, light my fire.


I told you before that recently I got this really nice award from Allison over at Soccer Mom in Denial, right?

Next I got this cool award from Bonnie Jacobs who writes Words From a Wordsmith.

Now I have another to add to my stash. I am deeply appreciative to Jen in MI from A2eatwrite for sharing with me another beautiful button.

Look here-->

I am truly blown away that the queen of niceness
would consider me. Jen is not only a loyal reader and commenter here at this blog (even when I have nothing to say), she is also a daily visitor and commenter at the photoblog I share with Allison. There just aren't words enough to express how very, very nice it is to have her support and to read her insightful words. Thank you Jen. Thank you very much.

I want to share this one by passing it along to these three blogpals of mine.

1. Leslie of My Mommy's Place. She's nice, she's hilarious, and she is a remarkable human being.

2. Patois of
Whee! All the Way Home. A loyal commenter who always has a sweet or funny something to say here.

3. Gunfighter of The View From Here. Who is a seriously nice guy.

Now then, a note for all of you, my readers and my friends. Do something nice for me will you? Release your email address with your commenter identities. What I mean to say, is that for many of you who come by here and take the time to say such nice things to me, I have no way to respond to you. Your comment comes to my inbox marked "no reply". And you must believe me when I tell you that I really, really, really want to reply. With the new status quo in my life--a full time job on top of that kid-raising thing that I do--I don't have as much time on my hands to blog around and comment like I used t'could. However, I do so like to comment on what you have commented upon. Yes, I love to discuss, and the best way for me to engage you is for you to offer me your email so we can exchange ideas and messages and well, yes, so I can pester and annoy you with my notes.

Will you do it, huh? Will you please? (Instructions on how to process my request and enable your email are here)

Look at that, I had something to say after all.

Tuesday, November 6

Now That's What I Call Action

Yesterday, a letter went home with the students which read in part like this:

The school day ends at 15:00 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and on Wednesdays at 12:30. Children who are not picked up timely from the playground will be brought to the primary office to wait. We ask that you make every effort to arrive promptly at the end of the day. The week before half-term our office staff were not able to work after 15:00 as they had over 10 children waiting in the office every day (on two consecutive days it was 20 children!) As the office is not staffed to watch your children at the days end, habitually late pick up will incur charges as follows:

Pickup between 3:15-3:30 (12:45-1:00 on Wednesdays): € 15
Pickup between 3:30-3:45 (1:00-1:15 on Wednesdays) € 30
Pickup between 3:45-4:00 (1:15-1:30 on Wednesdays) € 50

It was then signed by the headmaster.

And we held our breath here in the office and waited.

I am writing this post at 3:25 p.m. and you want to know how many children are in my office awaiting pick up?


Can you hear the strains of my hallelujah from there?

Monday, November 5

Sunday, November 4

Some Enchanted Evening

A couple of months ago, a friend moved in with us. Partly for her enriched experience of living in Europe for a few months, but mostly for her saving-my-rear-end by fullfilling the need for a full time babysitter as I began my new job, Elise has been an absolute godsend to our home.We have loved every minute of having her here.

She is a gracious and gorgeous young woman--not quite 20 years old.

These are things I have known about her forever. These are also the things displayed with crystal clarity as the two of us took a weekend trip to Brussels last month.

Most of the time I don't notice the tremendous age gap between us and when I hang with her I am caught up in believing that I too am a mere 20-something year old. Then of course I look in a mirror and wonder why in the world this old woman is staring back at me. But that of course is a lament for a different post. We are talking about Elise here, and I intend to stick to the point.

A weekend in Brussels. Perfect weather; perfect food; perfect company. The two of us schlepped from point to tourist point, enjoying the sights, the shopping and the eating. So much delicious eating!

On Saturday evening as we boarded the underground train there were a couple of men who literally were craning their necks backward to get a better look at Elise as we rode the escalator downward and they rode up. I laughed out loud and said, "You are totally getting checked out here!" She laughed too and demured with an "I know" response.

We set off to see the Atomium at night with it's sparkly lights shining and then took the return trip back into the city toward our hotel.

That's when the oogling fun really began.

On that train were several men (okay, three) who literally couldn't take their eyes off of my traveling companion. They noticed her. We noticed them. They smiled. We laughed. Then one of them got up the courage to approach her. Now, I must mention without sounding too snotty or rude that this man was not what one would consider a "catch". Not by a long shot. He was not tall, dark and handsome but rather a bit on the short side, bald and a slightly funny looking. But he had his eye on Elise (who is tall, blonde and exceptionally beautiful). It took a few minutes of charades and broken speech to determine that between us--in spite of 5 languages--we had very little vocabulary in common. We settled on English as the best option and he struggled through a few questions in order to establish his message.

"This your daughter?" He asked me.

"Yes." I told him. (The truth is I could be her mama. I am old enough and she is young enough and there was really no way to explain the actual relationship. Plus, I can say "yes" in French, so I felt I was doing my part in the multi-lingual exchange)

"Oh, your daughter. Beautiful!"

"Yes, thank you. I think so too"

"Yes, beautiful your daughter. She is my heart."

At this point Elise is getting more than a little creeped out, but she's too sweet to say "ick" and run away, and besides that, where are we going to run? We are on an underground train after all.

The stilted conversation continued for several more stops as this guy declared his undying love for my daughter, and his buddies got up the courage to make a few comments of their own. It was hilariously uncomfortable and I think Elise and I both were tremendously relieved when the train reached our platform. We stepped off.

But so did her suitor.

He just wanted to have a picture taken with her, and he pantomimed what he needed as he handed me his phone and walked toward Elise putting his arm around her waist.

What could I do? (I am nice too, you know) so I said "okay" and got ready to take the photo of them together. At which point he leaned in and kissed her on the cheek!

So somewhere in this great wide world there is a picture of my beautiful nanny and her Portuguese/French loverboy in the Brussels underground. That she looks ready to vomit in the photo could not possibly have dissuaded this man from believing that he had found his true love that night.

And Elise? Couldn't get to the hotel to wash that cheek fast enough.


This is my first run at Soap Opera Sunday, conceived and launched by the incredible Brillig and her lovely friend Kate. Today's links are being hosted by Thalia's Child and you can read more stories of love, drama and romance by clicking over there.

Friday, November 2


Years and years ago I remember reading the phrase "color me sorry" somewhere. I cannot recall if it was on a greeting card, or if it was a sentence in some super-sappy-angst-filled-teen-drama-novel I was reading at the time (I did mention this was years and years ago). Regardless of when I first tripped across it, it is a phrase that has stuck with me. I have even used it a time or two in my life. Not in my speech--it seems just maybe a bit too odd to say aloud--but certainly in written form. The notion of the color sorry just resonates with me. Or is it the verb-noun combination--coloring sorry--which is appealing? I am not sure.

A few months ago Jennifer of The Verge wrote a bit about this idea: the colors of her life, the color of emotion. As it always does, her writing speaks to my soul and I have come back to this notion over and again lately.

Tonight I spent several hours in the company of friends--you could nearly call them family--and celebrated a birthday for the youngest member of the group (she's 22). It was such a terrific evening full of open sharing and caring conversation with like minds and fellow travelers. I reluctantly dragged myself from the gathering as the time grew late, knowing that I needed to get home but really wanting to linger in the warmth of the moment. I rode my bike home in the crisp fall air with my heart singing out a color. I can't name it, but I can show you it's best approximation.

This is the color of my life tonight:

Perhaps it does have a name. I think I will call this color friendship.

Thursday, November 1

Does This Spell Anything?

P is for perfect. Or at least pretty darn near. If you are not a blog hopper and therefore missed the song of motherhood over at Brillig's place this month, then you must drop everything NOW and go forth to read it. And more to the point, if you are a blog hopper and you read it before, I simply must insist you drop everything NOW and read it again.
Among other simply perfect things she says in her piece In the Still of The Night she whispers this line:

"But in those sacred hours of the night, while “important” people are sleeping, my little baby and I share powerful moments full of love, peace, and serenity—things that society doesn’t give him but that perhaps one day he’ll give to society. As I rock him, I tell him who he is, I tell him who he can become, I tell him who loves him."

A bit of writing which brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat even as I cut and paste it from her blog page to mine.
It's simply a can't be missed post. A perfect post. And it deserves this:

The Original Perfect Post Awards - Oct

Brillig, ya done good, baby.

(P is also for postscript. That is this: More perfect posts for October can be found at Lindsay's or Momma K's. Just thought you should know)

F is for first. Meaning First day of the month. The first day of this month--November--signals the beginning of that crazy blogging fun begun at NaBloPoMo. I know the word looks silly, but the intent is terrific. National Blog Posting Month. A post every day for the month of November. Every. Day. Yes, I shall say it again: Every. Darn. Day.

Certainly sounds like a gauntlet thrown down to me. And since I can't run from a challenge, I am giving it a go. You'll come around all month just to see what I have to say, right?

S is for something new. Or Saturday. Either one is a decent segue to this: Part of my NaBloPoMo fun will be a new Saturday game I will play. I thought of it myself, but you can play too if you wish. I shall call it Singular Saturday and it will consist of posting only a single word. From the ridiculous to the sublime, I will wrap it all up for you (my many deep and profound thoughts) in a single word on Saturdays. Now, that's sensational.

[I am going to need a badge for that, I guess.]