:: On life, and the inevitability of its ending ::

What is there left to say when life seems to crumble down in ways you never thought would be possible? Now, after more than a week, I finally turn to this space where I find comfort once I get down the words. Not that I feel capable of finding them.

Yesterday my youngest brother, who gets married in a few days wanted to comfort me, wisely sending me that death is an inevitable part of life. While I think that’s true, at least for our beloved family dog that we had to put to sleep yesterday, it is also cruel and rude an the biggest lie ever when it comes to a 15-year-old student that did not survive an accident last week.

He was one of my students. Statistics came way too close. It has been a week of disbelief, of trying to support his grieving classmates, giving other students the time they needed to come and write a word for the family. The death of a peer makes them feel so incredibly vulnerable. Makes us all veel so very vulnerable.
I did not know the boy well. I had only seen him for two hours a week in my class. That doesn’t matter. He feels like one of mine, like he did for the colleagues who did know him well. It’s my teacher’s heart that bleeds. My mother’s heart that bleeds.

So no, little brother of mine. There, you are wrong. Death is not and will never be a part of the life of a 15-year-old that crosses the street at night. It’s just the ugliest case of bad luck ever and something that does not ring true, that does not makes sense in any possible way.

Today, I spent the day at home. Feeling sad and exhausted. The sound of the washing machine makes it as if our little furry friend is still with us. Harsh truth there too: she isn’t. It’s but a picture and some memories of going through her ever shedding hair, feeling the warmth of her body, the beating of her heart.

While her death was way more anticipated than the one of my student, it also hurts. And she is missed in all the little ways a family pet can be…

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:: On being handsfree, neglecting attics and beach holiday stress ::

Thursday morning. Early. Not that early, because everybody is already out of the house, but early enough for fresh morning air breezing through the quiet rooms. It’s my hands-free week, youngest at daycare, oldest on a summer camp. In the late afternoon, I pick up two slightly whiny, because overly tired, kids, try to feed them something healthy and stop them from biting each others head off. And I laugh a lot, because, well, they can be funny too.
I had a lot of plans for this week, but on Tuesday decided that I was absolutely not enjoying it – feeling stressed by the to do list, realising that I wouldn’t finish it and get to read and relax all at once. I chose the latter – keeping up with laundry and groceries and that’s about it. Still feeling a bit stressed though – mostly out of guilt. I have to firmly tell myself that I can take this time. Nobody will die if the table in the master bedroom is still full of a gazillion little things to find a place for. And the attic has been a mess for two years, this summer ain’t any different – but it will have to wait. Saving my sanity first.

 

I did make up a budget though. And, for the first time in ages: explicitly informed my husband about it. Asked him what larger expenses he thought were coming up this month. He asked me to budget a dinner at a nice restaurant. He forgot his card in the ATM – so is without it for the days (knowing him: weeks) to come and actually, that’s a good thing. I gave him some pocket money on his other account and he will have to be happy with that (I’ve been quite generous, in my opinion). To be honest: he is not the big spender, I think I qualify more, but if you add up all those lunches with colleagues, and after work drinks…  Anyhow: he’s informed and that feels good, because he acts on it.

 

He’s counting the days to our yearly beach holiday. He has done it since childhood and it hasn’t even changed a lot. I’m less convinced, but the children adore it, so I’ll go with the flow. Once they are a bit older, I might get to enjoy it for myself too, now I’m too busy nervously preventing them from drowning or getting lost. I think that last category especially will be a thingy this year, with our youngest. She does as she pleases, so I’ll work on my general fitness I guess, running after her. She isn’t too fond of sand under her feet too, which might be a problem at the beach lol.

 

So this is where I am at right now. I’l have to leave the house though – buying sunscreen, groceries and to the post office to send back clothing that didn’t fit (booh!). And chain locks for the little gates of our beach house, giving the fact that Girl will be able to open them this year.

 

And you? What’s up in your neck of the woods lately?

:: Steps towards Sustainability – tap water ::

I have a confession to make: I don’t like tap water. And as I only drink water most of the time (the occasional juice aside), that is a real bummer. Because, as if the whole not-liking-tapwater isn’t enough, I have also a strong preference for a certain brand of bottled water. Plastic bottles, I know! To make it even worse, I was so attached to the brand, that I took my reusable bottle to school, filled with bottled water. Sigh, that doesn’t help much, does it?

I am pleased to tell you that I am slowly changing my ways. Thanks to Little Boy (who’s actually not that little anymore, it’s scary how fast those kids grow!). He consistently and specifically asks for tap water. I do the same for his little sis, for whom it doesn’t matter, as long as she can drink from a glass, like her mother. And I?
Well, I’m trying. When I’m really thirsty, I first drink a glass of cold tap water and then decide if I want bottled water. It helps if it’s cold, so I often keep a pitcher of tap water in the fridge. And to get my husband on board too (which seems nearly impossible), I make infused water.

He likes fresh tastes, like lemon and lime and cucumber. I prefer a sweet touch, like watermelon or strawberry. For Little Boy it doesn’t matter, as long as he sees it’s infused, he’s over the top enthusiastic.
It has been a few weeks since our last can, time to start again. And because Pinterest is my friend and those pictures scream summer all over, I’ll share with you my best finds.

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grapefruit @ rosemary  actually this is a gorgeous article on infused water, with plenty of interesting combinations. I particularly like how fresh herbs are involved.

pomegranate & ginger & lime  jamie oliver. The pomegranate did it.

lavender & blueberry  I know, that’s a site in Dutch, but the picture says it all: lavender!

autumn flavours  I love to have a plan for other seasons.

 

It’s a real infused water galore out there!
What’s your favourite?

:: Songs of home, again ::

Do you know Down to Earth? It’s a blog by Rhonda Hetzel. I follow her blog since the very beginning of my blogging adventures. During our holiday in France, I finally got to read two of her books: Down to Earth and the Simple Home. While the contents were no surprise and not really new to me, they were fulfilling and in a certain way energising . Suddenly I remembered that the very name of my blog was inspired by how she talks about life at home. It made me crave that kind of contentment. Not in a bad way, but in all the good ways.

The thing is: I never liked chores, I am a project starter, but I hardly ever keep going, I am as disorganised as can be, mainly because I procrastinate on almost everything. But every time I read one of her posts, I feel like I’m slowly but firmly driven in the right direction again. Even if I don’t know what the right direction is, she makes me feel like if I just keep going and doing my best, I’m on it. No judging.

I’ve been mentally writing so many blogposts lately. And then deciding not to put them on screen anyway, because … I don’t know actually. I was thinking about what way I want to take this place, only to figure out I have no clue. So now it’s summer holiday, and I have quite a few weeks to root, to find out, to try and try again. That’s what summers have looked like the last few years. I don’t even find it frustrating. I like how those two months off give me the possibilities to potter around and to enjoy it. Not striving for perfection this time.

Not that I would be able to. The next two weeks, both of the children are home with me. Our boy, five and a half years old, is getting way too much screen time and I am determined to lessen it a little. His dad is not too helpful though (but he’ll be back at work tomorrow). His little sister, almost 2 years old, is just as addicted… to me. Really, I can’t even go to the bathroom for a second, and taking a shower when my husband is not around to carry her out is almost no option. Hopefully I can encourage some proper independent play, for both of them, so at least I can get food on the table.

We’ll see how that goes. I’ll remember to enjoy, to take it easy, to regroup often. Hopefully find the time and the peace of mind to write about it more often. Songs of home, as was the intention from the start.

:: Quick Lit July ::

Finally, summer holidays! We started with two weeks in France, where my only fixed plan was to find a little town with a bookstore and take any recommendation on French authors. Well, that worked. One question and I had my arms full of lovely French pockets, including a title that was recommended to me by another client in the bookstore. I just love that. I have read a lot, but in little chunks. My e-reader was packed with non fiction, mostly about green, frugal, simple living and related topics.

SoH_quicklitjuly

Amerikanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I have seen this title mentioned on so many places and was glad to find out that it has been translated. It was a good read to me. Relevant, personal, witty and sharp. Slightly uncomfortable at the same time. Reading from a very white-privilege perspective, I’m not completely sure if my description is okay. I mean: to me, race doesn’t matter. But then again, as is stated in the book: I can only say that speaking from that white-privilege point of view. Anyway: it was good writing, a good story, and it sticks.

 

The Simple Home
Down to earth – both by Rhonda Hetzel

I devored the first one and immediately bought the second one (mentioned, that is. Down to earth chronologically came first). I follow Rhonda’s blog for a long time now, it was one of the first blogs I consistently read and I enjoyed the (now stopped) forum. She has a way of writing that is firm yet motherly and warm. Very encouraging, and therefore very inspiring. If I smiled doing three loads of laundry today, it’s because of her.  (Okay and because I don’t mind doing laundry as long as I don’t have to iron it lol).

 

Mémé dans les orties – Aurélie Valognes

One of the recommendations in the French bookstore. Finished it in a few hours. Lovely story, although a tad cheesy at the end. Grumpy old man meets witty little neighbour girl and slowly starts to see a bit of light in life again. It’s about purpose and relationships, but there are enough surprising twists and turns to keep it interesting. Good read!

 

Want more reading inspiration? Check the Modern Mrs Darcy linkup. And while you’re at it, check her whole site. If you’re not inspired by then, I don’t know!

What have you been reading lately?

 

:: 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.

 

 

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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?

:: 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?