:: 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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:: 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.

:: 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.

 

ros_14

 

 

 

:: lately, I’ve been mostly ::

  • nursing my newborn. It took me some time to get the hang of it again, and she is a little lazy princess, which means my nipples are feeling raw (because I have to convince her each and every time to open her mouth wide enough). On the other hand: she is doing so well, growing and getting bigger in a whim, and nursing time means story time for her brother. So we all quite enjoy the whole thing.

 

 

  • cooking with subscription boxes again. (we are trying Marley Spoon this time, but later we might giving Smartmat a go again, as they finally decided to offer 3-person-boxes; and I want to try Foodbag too, and mainly switch between all of those. But that will ask for some serious planning lol). I just had it with the eternal question of “what will it be for dinner tonight”. Ingredients and recipes for four meals are delivered at our doorstep. With the leftovers and the bits and pieces I have laying around, I can cover almost the whole week. So only once a week shopping, for one or two meals and lunch/breakfast/snack stuff. It’s worth it for me!

 

  • still wondering about blogging in English. Two blogs would be way too much, I like this place a lot, but I would love to connect with bloggers that post in my own language, and I’ve been thinking me blogging in English might turn them off. I was hoping to find a way to split this site up and do it just all at the same time, sometimes in Dutch, sometimes in English, but there is no way to keep those two streams ‘apart’… especially not for free.

 

  • not taking enough pictures. Why oh why don’t I pick up my camera more often? I also would LOVE to have the new iPhone, but that price tag is putting me off. Like REALLY putting me off. My old one is now officially a dinosaur though. No way to install anything on it lately, it can’t upgrade anymore. So now I use it as a phone (you know, like what it was initially designed for 🙂 ). And as a quick camera solution, but disappointed about the selfie-quality.

And what have you all been up to?

:: last day of summer ::

that unexpected mix of relief and a bit of regret

Today is the last day before school starts again. It has been a long, hot and busy summer. A special one too, our last one with the three of us. (Although I must say our daughter made sure we didn’t forget about her presence already).

I’m convinced that those mixed feelings of relief and regret are well known to all parents who had to entertain their children during eight weeks. Eight weeks is long. I wouldn’t want it to be shorter, as it gives me the chance to reload, to dive into my creative mind and gather new ideas as a teacher, but for those little ones… rather long. I have been doubting if I would bring my boy to some great summer activities organized by the town we live in. There was a really amazing and affordable summer program – with one week-long themed camps or afternoon activities. I had indicated a few on the calendar, and then never used them. Next year I might probably do so.

But I’ve had help. A lot of help. First of all: my husband took up a n awful lot of days off. And on those days, he didn’t only work in the garden or the house, he made sure to get our son involved. I must say, those two had a real bonding thing going on the last two months and it just makes my heart jump when I see them working together pulling out weeds and then my husband asking our son to come along to the container park… the look on that face: glowing of pride and responsability. Just lovely. To me it seems our little kid has grown a lot during this holiday and I’m convinced his dad has a lot to do with that.

And then their was Auntie. Auntie (as I will call her here) is the youngest aunt of my husband – the youngest sister of his deceased mother. While it feels strange that his mother isn’t around anymore, there is also a kind of mental rest that came with it. For her, days that revolved around her grandson were the only days that really mattered, but physically she couldn’t really cope well anymore with those. So it was a constant exercise in allowing her to spend time with him and being on the lookout to not let dangerous situations happen. That had been hard, and it was mentally exhausting, for everyone involved. The day she was buried though, was one of the first times our son saw Auntie. And it clicked. Right away. Auntie doesn’t have children. Her mother told me that the moment “children” became a possibility, she was already 35, and she and the doctors didn’t think it was wise to start at that age.

Auntie spent most of her life with a man about whom I cannot say much (I don’t know him really), but it was a relation in which he took the absolute lead. In many ways he isolated her from her family. I remember that we had to come over to invite them to our wedding, otherwise he wouldn’t have come (and not allowed for her to come either). When her sister was ill and in the end died, he first gave in a bit more, but after a week or two he began commenting again about how much time she spent with her family. And then, for her, something snapped. She made plans to leave him and the moment she found an appartment she could afford, she did. For him, that came as a total shock. They are still on speaking terms, trying to handle it as friends, but I don’t think he fully realizes that for her this is definitive.

She immediately offered help though. As there was a clear connexion between her and our boy right from the start, she told us we could call her anytime needed. If he was sick, she came babysitting, which was just great as my own family lives quite far from here and is certainly not a last minute option. This summer, she came by about two afternoons a week to give me some time to do my own stuff or to rest. And since she installed a car seat, she already twice picked him up for a special day full of fun. They are both tired to the bone after such days, but it’s great to see how they enjoy each other’s company. I’m thankful that out of all the sadness and tears something beautiful like this came up. She really helps us out a lot and that has totally made my summer.

sea_soh

There were days at the beach, where father and son enjoyed themselves thoroughly. I love the sea, but I’ve never been a beach-kid, so my husband is very happy to pass on this tradition he knows from very early age. Looking for shells, splashing in the water, catching crabs, building fortresses and digging holes… all the classics were there. Auntie came over a few days too, so I really had my rest.

There was also a week spent in France, with my parents and siblings. A lot of special attention, a lovely garden to explore, walks around the house and a huge trampoline. There was a little plastic pool as it was hot hot hot and luckily the home was cool and cosy. I think it’s a bit of a pity we didn’t explore the surroundings more but I really suffered from the heat so couldn’t do much.

france_soh

I think we had a good summer. Lots of play and fun times, and help when needed. I boy who seems to grow before your very eyes, erasing the last toddler traits and changing them for big-boy smiles and expressions. He owns my heart and he knows it. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for him, for us all.