:: Quick Lit May ::

While I had the project to work on a book blog in my mother tongue, I don’t seem able to really commit, mainly because it’s hard to find the time and the inner peace needed for some uninterrupted reading. I don’t have problems with reading small chunks, but larger blocks of time help a lot to make some progress.
The last few weeks were all about short chapters and a few pages here and there. I didn’t finish many books, but I have been reading quite often. Let me show you:

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On my e-reader I downloaded Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. I’m still reading it, and while I think it will be very hard to implement much of it into my daily life, it gave me a lot to ponder. I’m only three chapters in and I finally had the urge to clean out the room of our toddler girl. I did the same thing for the preschooler in the house and I already see great improvement: he goes to his room more often for some independent play. I’m highlighting while reading and I’m sure to come back to give a more in-depth review of this book and the lessons I took from it, once finished. If you can’t wait and are interested: Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms has a series in which she discusses the book chapter by chapter.

 

quicklitmaynovels

I finished two novels this month. One is actually a secret – an author asked to read it and give my honest opinion (I still have to make time to give my feedback) . While I was hesitant at first and thought his story could use some decent editing, his use of short chapters pulled me into his narrative and I ended up finding it an enjoyable read (it’s a heavy subject though).

 

The second one is The Truth by Michael Palin. I randomly picked it up from a library shelf and I am glad I did. It was maybe slightly predictable but I appreciated this story about a man, plain midlife crisis, trying to live up to his once big ideals, hoping there is still enough left of them to make the right decisions.

 

I still have De Ommegang, the newest one of Jan Van Aken on my bedside table. He’s a Dutch historical fiction writer (as far as I know his work has not been translated). There is some reading progress but it is a slow read and I’m not sure yet if I will finish it.
A book I abandoned although I was really eager to read it, is Over oude wegen (on ancient roads, also untranslated) by Mathijs Deen. I was expecting more fictional storytelling on a historical canvas, but got a bit disappointed. I guess it’s not a bad book, it’s just not what I was hoping it would be.

quicklitmaypreschooler

Lately I’ve been enjoying rereading one of my own favorites as a child with my boy: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. I sometimes have to adapt the vocabulary a little while reading and some of the stereotypes make me shiver now. We both love it as a bedtime story book and I’m proud to tell that my son requested it himself!

Our current favorite picture book is also a reread: Guess how much I love you by Sam Mc Bratney and Anita Jeram. My boy read it at school for Mother’s Day and all children got a copy as a present. Even if it’s everywhere and completely commercialized now, I still love the beautiful heartwarming story about the little rabbit and his father.

 

 

quicklitmaytoddler

The youngest kid in the house is loving her books lately. I’ve drastically reduced the pile of books in the living room and now she has a few favorites left that she loves to bring us (that includes me, my husband and her big brother, who takes his job very seriously!). Because she knows them well, she starts using some of the words in it herself and my heart always swells with pride. I love it, those first steps in verbal communication! She’s really fond of the story of Max and his pacifier by Barbro Lindgren and Eva Eriksson (I can’t find that one in English though, but it is a series and I think in English the main character is called Sam), but also a word book with her favorite clown (Bumba, a rather loud and annoying television character here in Belgium. It’s supposed to be educational but it uses made-up words all the time. The thing is: the kids love it. Adore it. *sigh*) and a lovely little book by Fleur van der Weel that tells the day of the cute cat Piep.

 

What have you been reading lately?

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:: the one that finally survived delete ::

It’s insane how many times I have started a post lately, just to delete it halfway through. Nothing seemed worth telling. Just snaps of my day with no clear silhouette. There is a lot to tell though, those little moments, small thoughts that linger around and keep nestling in my mind. So I thought, let me give you a glimpse of the totally unpolished me. The randomness, the snippets, the completely unimportant importance of it all.

 

  • Like how my boy, my first-born, had a sleepover at his favorite great-aunt. It was the best thing to do, as he had a day off, I had to work today and my husband is on a five day biking trip. But I don’t like my children to be away from me at night. It was quite peaceful without the “it can’t be bedtime already” struggles, but at the same time there was a little hole in my heart.

 

  • His sister decided to keep my mind from worrying about it too much and kept me awake the whole night. Really. She had been sleeping rather well the last few weeks (we come out of a horrible sleep-deprived winter and it’s just starting to get better), but not this night. She even ended up in bed with us, something I never do. Not because I’m against it, but because we all sleep even worse when she’s in the big bed. Like tonight. Ugh.

 

  • It has been glorious hot summer weather. And it ends tomorrow. You know, when I’m home with the kids for the next four days. No escaping.

 

  • Because of the new tiredness I’m not going out this afternoon. I have three hours left until my boy comes back and my girl is at daycare. I will sleep. And write. And sleep. No grocery shopping. (I might regret that tomorrow, but we’ll make do.) Pancakes make perfect survival material in my opinion. Extra bonus for cheapness.

 

  • There might be some Masterchef Australia binge watching going on tonight. Just might. If I can manage to not fall asleep before the first onion is cut.

 

What are your plans for the day?

 

 

 

:: tribe ::

Somehow, spring finally had the chance to show her beautiful face. And last weekend we enjoyed it to the fullest with a family trip to Zeeland, that little piece of paradise just across our border. To be honest, I was nog sure if I would survive the whole packing-for-two-nights with the lack of sleep we’ve been having lately and the grumpy, clingy toddler that comes with it (and when she’s not, she is in overdrive completely). But I did. We’ve payed quite a lot, but had the best weekend with the complete family: my gran, my parents, aunts, uncles, my siblings, alle the cousins, nephews, nieces,…

We had a blast! I came back so energized, feeling so connected and part of a tribe that only now I realize how much I actually need that feeling. I love how relaxed my family is, how everyone is looking after everyone, how the kids naturally mix and connect even if they see each other only twice a year. Always someone to hang out with, to play with, to give you a drink, a sweet, whatever you’d like at the moment. My youngest had a hard time coming back and having to do with a lot less attention, space to run around (and people wawing her dress of course). My oldest found his personal hero and best friend in one of my nephews who is a few years older, but they clicked instantly and now he’s already asking if his new best friend can come over. My heart sings with joy and gratefulness.

It was a very simple weekend, not an extended one, so Monday felt rather stingy. I love my job and my collegues, but no, no tribe there. Luckily there are a few short weeks ahead of us, and then it’s the last run before the final exams, so we’ll manage to struggle through. I’ve had it with this school year already. The good news: only one year of working fulltime ahead of me. Then I switch to teaching less hours for as long as possible. It should give me the opportunity to get more work done at school and leaving out some of the stress that comes from thinking about all I have to prepare for the next day once the children are in bed. I hope that will bring some much needed calm.

::choices, a therapist and cake::

These are the last days of 2017. And in my head, I’m constantly thinking: I should plan, I should make lists, I should revive the bullet journal, I should pick a word for the year, make resolutions, setting up for the best year possible. I can imagine A, the therapist I’ve been seeing only twice, observing me. Pointing out what I am doing. She told me 2018 could be the year without resolutions. Without setting standards so high they’re impossible to reach. Even if I’m accepting the fact that it won’t turn out as planned. Those mental standards seem to drain all my energy.

The ending of 2017 has been rough. Meeting A was, to say the least, confronting. Helpful, in a way that she made me voice what I was truly thinking. When I was with her I heared myself repeating over and over how much I love my job. As if I had something to prove. We talked about my thousands of journals. Starting from scratch seems to be one of my hobbies. But, now I’m looking back on it, it’s also an addiction. I can easily give up, abandon, buy a new journal and do it all over again.

I have the choice: accepting that I am that way. Idealistic, a kind of perfectionist (even if the mess at my house doesn’t really bother me – my perfectionism resides in the internal vision board that just has too much vision on it…) Accepting to abandon and start over. All the time. And have peace with it, maybe find a way to turn it into something powerful and good.
Or I decide that this is way too tiring. And I have to change, the babysteps kind of way. Get rid of that crowded internal moodboard. Let go. As in: really let go. Be humble about it, embrace the space and time and rest it will bring my mind and soul.

I’m not sure. I’m really not sure yet. Probably I won’t be sure of it in two days either, with those beautiful 1’s on the calendar. If I know myself well, I’ll try to do both. Have my cake and eat it all. So if I hope anything for 2018, maybe it’s just that.

 

Let there be cake. Lots of it.

:: true colors ::

Today it was one of those days I was super stressed about. And in the end? Not needed. Not needed at all.

This morning, a glorious, sunshed morning, I was to take my students on a two-hour bike trip around town to show them how many different religions have their community center just around the corner. They were stunned. I was too (as it isn’t my town, and I did not have the chance to practice the trip before). It struck me: how far this city had come, once a rather smudgy reputation, now brilliant and very much happily alive in the morning sun. I saw on their faces what I was feeling inside: how we actually already manage quite well to live and be together without making much fuss about it.

Around noon I installed myself with a few boxes of sidewalk chalk on the playground, hoping I would not end up sitting there alone, with my colorful messages of peace and love. That does sound a bit sixties-like, I know, but it is part of a bigger regional campaign against hatred and polarization. I did not end up sitting alone. Only three minutes after I had started writing, a few students asked to join me. We enjoyed the warm sun, the bright colors, the feeling of being part of something. We might not have made a difference on world level (the big boys are still showing off), but right there, right then, it did make a difference.

Oh how I love joy and happiness and excitement. The big feelings of love and passion. But that simple experience of being just there, just then and that’s perfectly fine because well… just because. Contentment.

Gosh, I love my job.

:: Reflections on Sunday – the digital edition ::

This morning is the first morning in like forever I wake up to a silent house. Both of our children are staying somewhere else, and while that would have been the perfect chance to sleep in, I don’t. Even more: actually I am some kind of waiting for the call that I can pick up my baby girl. I could should get dressed and I could should do some school work. But for over a week now there has been that nagging thought that I want to write. That I don’t care I have been silent here for so long, that this is my spot, my happy place and the time I spend here is well spent.

I’ve been feeling stressed lately. I have taken up some extra responsibilities at school, and family life is completely ignoring the fact that I should do some school work at home too. So I try to cram everything in the few empty hours at school, being as productive as I can. It has worked so far, but when I look at the calendar for next week, I feel a little dizzy.

Some of the good things lately:

 

  • Evernote. Since long I’ve decided to take a premium account. I probably don’t need it, but it feels good to be on the safe side, especially now that I have a phone that allows me to scan newspaper articles. Most newspaper side go all digital, but as I use those articles in class, I can’t get them to print properly in that format. Taking a picture of the actual newspaper with the Evernote app has solved the problem: great quality, and text that is formatted for print. And while snapping away, I can add course material and links and all that I like, so basically it’s the best addition I could have made to my course material. Now I feel like I am finally using the news in a way I haven’t done before. And my students seem to appreciate. Double win!

 

  • Shared calendars. FINALLY my husband took the time to dust our shared calendar and integrate it in his workflow calendar. That was about time – I was getting nuts of writing everything down and telling him the planning for the week about a gazillion times because he couldn’t care less for the paper planner we have on our wall. The only thing that seems to work with both of our systems is the Google Calendar, so that’s what we use. (Besides: I do like the schedule view their app offers. Especially since they suddenly added a little drawing when I planned my yoga classes, it really looks professional.)

 

 

:: reflections on Sunday (on a Monday) #14 ::

Don’t ask. I really cannot see how people find a way to blog consistently while keeping up with everything else.

Because I’ve told you most of what I’m up to lately in the previous post, I’ll leave you with some very interesting links, because, when you don’t know what to write (or how to find the time to write it and editing the pictures and and and…), you can always read around.

  • First of all: go and check what Anne has been setting up. I already love her blog (which book lover wouldn’t), but I could kiss her for the online book club she has started. It’s not free, and to be honest, I was wondering if it would be worth my money, is many of the books probably aren’t even available yet in Dutch, if they even will ever be. But the fall calender was accessible and I checked things out and in the end oh well… if I can’t spend money on the one passion that has been a constant in my life, I can as well just stop spending money altogether (hmmm… that would actually not be a bad idea…). I’m prepping myself for November, two of the books on the list are available, in my mother tongue, in my library. So I’m just giving it a go! I must say: I love the friendliness on the forum. People seem to be very informed and I’ve already discovered a few great blogs through te site and book club!

 

  • This post by Diana had me laugh out loud. I can see myself do that. It reminds me to put things in perspective and be prepared to have a few giggles when children teach you about yourself.

 

  • Another post that spoke to me was the one of Kimmie.  When you read the comments, you can see that I’m one month into nursing now and it’s not an easy ride actually. With my oldest, we had a rough start, but my mother-in-law learned my boy how to latch properly the day we returned home (while I was already prepared to do give him my milk by pumping it all). But now my MIL is gone and I was quite nervous how it would go. Luckily my girl seems to get enough milk, but she’s a lazy latcher and she damaged my nipples really badly. But I’m determined to make this work beyond the three months I did it wit my son. Going back to work shouldn’t be a reason to stop. And probably, this will be my last time, so I want her to decide rather than my work hours.

 

  • And something I never expected to, but already happened: there are obviously a lot less pictures of our little princess then there were of her brother at the same age. I remember one of my favorite books in the BabySittersClub series (I know I know, guilty pleasure) was about Claudia thinking she was adopted, mostly because of that exact reason (see Claudia and the great Search). This article refers to a study about the topic. I must say: my firstborn already goes to Kindergarten (or preschool, depending to where you live), so theoretically I have all the time I want to snap away. But I don’t. Hmmm… poor daughter of mine. Hopefully she doesn’t get traumatized.

 

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