Saturday, July 26

Something for Saturday


my own game
click here for the rules.

D'you need beach shoes too? Link it up if you're playing today.

See y'all on the flip-flop side when I am back from Croatia!

1. Flower Child

2. Goofball

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Thursday, July 24

Summer Lovin'

Having spent a good many of my working years sharing a job/vacation schedule which echoes my children's school year, I have yet to grow out of the anticipation and thrill of arriving at summer vacation.

The school year here in Holland is an extended year lasting roughly 190 school days. And while the schedule is filled with (lovely) intermittent breaks at half-term and semester end the length of the year can feel a bit daunting and the march to "last day" slightly overwhelming.

I made a post-it note countdown on the window frame in my office to see if it would help make the days go faster. It helped a little bit. But still the long term between mid-May and school's end last week felt a bit eternal.

But then it happened. The last day of school arrived and with it some tender goodbyes from our Year 6 students as they will head to the Secondary school in the fall, and lots of well wishes for a restful and fun break from parents and colleagues. Oh, and there were gifts. Many of them in the form of chocolate, and seriously, who couldn't get excited about that?

That was Friday last and with two further days this week to finish up the administration of the year my actual last day of school came on Tuesday of this week.

I am now officially on holiday.

There are travel plans of course, but mostly there are plans to do just...hmmm... nothing. Yes, lots and lots of nothing.

I remember nothing days in my childhood. There was a large group of pine trees at the top of my street in Salt Lake City, Utah. I think it was maybe 5 0r 6 trees in a cluster and all were tall enough that the lowest branches sprouted from the trunk several feet up and then dropped low to the ground creating the perfect natural cave underneath. With a thick blanket of pine needles covering the ground it was a cozy spot for all my imaginative play and tea parties with doll friends. The shade was an ideal respite from summer sun and it was a quiet place of my own to read, or to think, or yeah, to just do nothing. I never was able to coax my mom into letting me sleep out under my tree cave, but I used to dream that I was doing just that and in my dreams it was the sweetest night sleep ever.

Nothing days also included walks to the Winder Dairy to choose ice cream or popsicles from the freezer shelves inside the mini-store.

Nothing days meant swimming at the city pool with all the neighbors in tow. All of us piled into the Ambassador station wagon, hot sweaty legs clad in shorts sticking to the naugahyde seats.

Nothing days were for hamburgers on the grill in the backyard. And spaghetti nights with the Italian family in the corner house.

Nothing days were nothing short of wonderful.
And I am facing now a summer break full of them.

The first part of our holiday will include a full family trip to Croatia after which Don and big kids will head to the U.S. for an extended visit with family and friends. Andrew and I will spend our time here together while they are away and as he and I have contemplated and discussed our "time alone" together in August he has created the list of important things we should do. That list reads like this:

1. Walk to the farm and feed the goats.

2. Go to the Aquarium at the beach.

3. Watch Kung Fu Panda at the movies.

Seems like a perfect summer of nothingness to me.

Picture me blogging from here for the duration:

Tuesday, July 22

Celebrate Good Times

School's Out for Summer!
Too many words for a Wednesday (which clearly is a Tuesday)
Wordless Wednesday

Monday, July 21

You Might Want to Sing it Note for Note

I have long been a diary keeper. A journal-er. A keeper of secrets in writing. What once was recorded between the covers of a spiral bound notebook, now mostly takes place upon the keyboard and monitor, but all the same I like to see my thoughts in written form.

They have never been altogether profound, and frankly a journey through my 8th grade journal would cause nothing short of guffaws and gusty hardy-har-hars if I were to pull it from it's storage box in Arizona and give it a read through. Imagine my 12-year-old Emma's delight to see the names of those boys I loved deeply, desperately and foreverly scribbled in the margins of my entries. (I know I took unbelievable pleasure in reading my mom's diary which we discovered in a hidden box once when my sisters and I were up and coming teens--especially the bits where she was dating my dad. Oh, the joy!)

My journals have never been much of a formal affair and could hardly be relied upon to give accurate blow by blow description of my daily life. Rather, they have been (and this blog continues to be) a place for me to blow off the steam, to record the most memorable feelings, and to stash away the precious keepsakes. In 3-D form, my diary keeping tends to bulge at the binding as I tuck within pages ticket stubs, photographs, drawings and other tokens to spark memories. Not as easily done here in this cyber-space (the sticky tape doesn't seem to hold the pixels) but still I make do with what I've got.

Early in my adult years I tripped across the idea of keeping an ongoing "Love List" in written form and many hand-written entries in the last years have simply been that. A list of the things I love.

Easy to say.

Important to remember.

I like my love lists. It puts everything in perspective in a hurry and keeps me in mind of the simple, beautiful things that make every day a worthwhile investment.

Years ago I had occasion to spend lots of time with a young woman who seemingly didn't have the knack for making love lists, neither internally nor on paper. She was one of those people for whom complaining seemed to bring contentment, and finding the negatives in any given situation brought some sort of warped satisfaction. Not knowing if you know this bit about me, I am going to point out the obvious once again and mention that that? That is not how I roll. I am an inherently happy person, and happy is the condition I most prefer to linger in. GLASS HALF FULL is how I've been described. So, here I was Ms. glass-half-full with Ms. my-glass-is-practically-empty-and-besides-that-there-is-a-fly-stuck-in-the-bottom, my roommate, co-worker and constant companion. (and yes, I do mean 24/7) Things went along just fine for awhile really. I was happy for the two of us and I could cover for her lack of interest in life by painting it a little thick with the Pollyanna vibe. Everything was really peachy. Really. Until it wasn't anymore.

I remember we were driving down a Long Beach highway in between meetings on a Sunday and she sighed deeply over the fact that it looked like it might rain. I followed her gaze through the front window and spotted the single cloud in the sky which for all my knowledge and experience looked nothing at all like a rain cloud And. I. Lost. It. I slammed on the brakes and pulled the car to the side of the road and Let. It. Rip. I don't remember exactly what I said, and I am sure it wasn't gentle in any way but I told her I was tired and she was really going to have to figure out how to be happy in her own right, that I could no longer do it for the both of us. She seemed shocked, dismayed and incredulous.

From that conversation and in the coming days she and I spent a lot of time talking about the idea of happiness, and the idea of finding things to be happy about in spite of whatever might be going on in life, individually or globally. One day not long after that initial brake-squealing discussion we sat down together on the porch of a Manhattan Beach house (no one was home) and wrote (well, I wrote, she dictated) a list of 50 THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR. In the end it was a stunning list full of incidental and all-inclusive items which taken in their sum total would make even the saddest heart sing, and taken individually just might bring a smile to a set of down turned lips. If only for a moment. The discovery for her and for me upon that exercise is that the simple things, which we overlook almost completely on a daily basis, are really the things that make all the difference.

My Love List today looks something like this:

  • The rain which fell incessantly all morning, cleared this afternoon giving way to gorgeous blue sky and big fluffy white clouds!
  • Which made the errand of taking the bottles to the recyclers and hearing the glass smash as Andrew and I tossed them into the abyss even more pleasurable than usual.
  • On the way back to our house, we met a cat who let us pet her fur.
  • And we saw a baby in his pram getting ready to go for a stroll with Mom and Dad.
  • The hours spent in the back garden clearing, trimming, sweeping were hours well spent.
  • I love having my hands in the earth.
  • After all was said and done, I had to re-clean the wound on my hand from yesterday's scissor accident so I could bandage it back up for better healing.
  • I am grateful for band-aids
  • And a loving husband who helps me put them on and make them stick to my palm.
  • And who didn't even roll his eyes over yet another kitchen accident for the accident prone me, he just swooped in to take care of me and give me sympathy.
  • And wipe up blood.
  • I love earthworms, caterpillars, snails, rolly pollys and spiders--all of which we encountered in our attack on the overgrown garden. Each of which fascinated my 5-year old Andrew.
  • I am grateful for help from 14-year old Ian who cleared away all that I trimmed.
  • At the end of it all I toasted the day with a glass of sparkling wine while sitting in the back garden at the table in the sun.

You know, simple pleasures are the best.* Truly.

*Bobby McFerrin

SMID's Music Monday
Happy to sing with the Music Monday bunch.

Button above will take you to the others!

Go on now, click it. Click it good.

Wednesday, July 16

Radio Silence


  1. End of school year.
  2. More left to do than there is time to do it
  3. A little stressed
  4. Migraines returning with marked increasing frequency
  5. Probably points to A LOT of stress
  6. "Jenn, can you help me with this?" most frequent question asked
  7. Paint still drying on the teacher gift
  8. No more coffee in the tin at home
  9. Sleep seems more attractive than blogging
  10. at 2 a.m.
  11. In the meantime, the photographs go up at Looking Into with regularity
  12. Until the queue runs dry
  13. Which could happen at any moment
  14. But today there is a gorgeous guest post
  15. So, quit reading here and go look there.

We'll talk soon.

Saturday, July 12

Sure Sign of My Old Age


my own game
click here for the rules.

Can you read this? Are you seeing it clearly?
Leave your link if you're playing. Comments in VERY LARGE LETTERS appreciated.

2. grace
3. Soccer Mom in Denial
4. Flower Child
5. Anneke
6. Jan
7. DaveH Expat
8. Hotmamamia

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Sunday, July 6

Shooting Brugge

Looking for a larger view? Click the photo for bigifying and ultimate detailarama.
Me, I am off to bed. A weekend away without any children really tires a girl out...

Saturday, July 5

Countdown: 10 School Days Remaining


my own game
click here for the rules.

Sympathy in the comments section greatly appreciated.
As always, leave your link if you're playing today.

Synmpathy Players:


Flower Child




Friday, July 4

Declaring Independence

Nothing says homesick more than knowing the celebrations back home are just beginning...

Put another hot dog on the grill for me, won't you?

Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 2

What To Say

Occasionally, as I have hopped from blog to blog, I find a post here and there exposing how readers find various blogs. (Search engine trackers such as google analytics keep track of such things) Always on the fascinating side, sometimes leaning toward the risque, I have found myself intrigued by the notion and wondering just what it is that leads people here to this page. (I mean of course, aside from my charm, wit, beauty and ultimate humility...)

So, I went to look.

As you might expect with a blog title such as mine and the subjects I cover here in my writing, most of the referral searches were phrased in some variation of "Life in The Netherlands". I suppose it's obvious why such a search might lead someone here, and while that in and of itself isn't a total thrill a minute revelation, what admittedly was just a little on the cool side is the fact that given that particular word search my blog hits at the top of the page. (Thanks google!)

Randomly though, a search for "Serbian Rappers" also brought my personal blog to the front page of listings. I haven't had much to say about Serbian Rappers other than this post, but let's be honest, is there really a whole lot to say about Serbian Rappers? Perhaps, that's why my post ranks near the top of the list when a random someone makes a random search about such a random subject. However, if ever Serbian Rappers take off and hit the big time I will feel proud that I knew them when...

Educationally, someone set a search with the words "What is Karnemelk?". I am not sure what information they gained about Karnemelk by linking here to my blog, but I am happy indeed to answer this question for the inquiring mind: Karnemelk is yucky.
There now, we all feel better with that tidbit of information filed properly, don't we?

Curiously, someone wants to know about "Life in Netherlands not so good, great". I hardly know what to say in response. "Life in Netherlands not so good" may indeed be a phrase that has leaked from my lips on occasion. But so has "Life in Netherlands, great". The latter being more often uttered than the former. My guess is, no matter where you are living you could utter the same set of phrases interchangeably too. But that's life, ain't it?

Laughably, a search for "Nederland in Globe" also led someone here. I am still kind of scratching my head over this one. Just what is it the reader wanted to know? Is the Netherlands on the globe? Why yes, yes it is. It's a small country sure, but most mapmakers and globe builders have indeed heard of the place.
It could be a question regarding Nederlanders as stars of the GLOBEtrotters, maybe. The Dutch are certainly tall enough, and Haarlem was after all a city here first, but alas, this country doesn't play basketball.
Is it Nederland at the GLOBE theatre? Ah, yes, Shakespeare in Dutch! Could a rose not smell as sweet?
How far can I push this?
Nederland in the Boston Globe?
Nederland in Globe Communication?
Nederland in Global Warming?
Okay, I'll stop.

Sweetly, someone inquired "Love Words in Dutch" to which I reply a hearty "ME TOO!" I love words in Dutch! Especially words like Koffiepadapparat and achtentachtig. As to the actual "love words" in Dutch, I remember several Spanish speaking women in my beginners Dutch class going on a rant over the awkwardness of saying I love you in Dutch. I've never gotten over their giggles over the sound of Ik hou van jou and the absolute triumph they felt with the far superior Te quiero of their native tongue.

Lastly, is it wrong that I find it a point of pride that the search "Mama Had a Baby and His Head Popped Off" led more than one reader straight to this page?

These are the things that make me laugh.

So, this is what leads the random readers here. I suppose with the revelation of how they got here it begs the question: what will bring them back again?

Oh, are you still here? Tell me why.

Tuesday, July 1

Don't Bother Me

Shoo Fly Tuesday posing as Wordless Wednesday