:: 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.

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:: 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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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?

 

 

 

:: 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.