:: 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.)

 

 

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:: 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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:: 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.

Learning curve

While I first half-heartedly realized working in the evening hours wouldn’t be very doable anymore, I now try to embrace the calm of not working for school at night. It puts my mind at rest, I feel less hunted and the moment it turned into an active decision, rather than a desperate impossibility, it became doable. I now try to use every spare moment available while I am at school, alternating classes in which I teach actively with classes that are more oriented on self-discovery and reflection and don’t need my constant supervision. You might call it cheating, but it is showing to be rather efficient and I felt rather on top of my stuff last week.

It does a lot of good for me. I can give my full attention to cooking, to cuddling with my little boy, to have a chat with my husband before I go to bed really early, just to doze off with a good book and waking at dawn the next morning. If necessary, I can pinch in half an hour of correction work then. I am a morning person, even if I sometimes would prefer to sleep in. My best hours are in the quiet around sunrise, with birds singing their lungs out, and the freshness of dawn on the garden that seems to envelop the house.

learning_curve_SoH

 

Our house, where there is still so much to be done. With all its inconveniences and errors. The house we fell in love with, naive as we were as first-time-buyers. Yet I still love it here. I just wish we both would be a bit more handy, feeling the drive and the confidence to attack certain matters ourselves, shifting between what we could do and what we had to outsource. But then again. There is so much to learn in this life and it’s one of my favorite things: to read, to dive into a subject, to let it soak in, to dream about what that knowledge can do for me.

A whole new world in every page, in every article, in every news item, in every story. One would want to live a thousand lives to discover them all…

Spring has sprung

School life has begun again and fatigue and different priorities kick in, as always. Luckily, it’s the last part of the year, leaving me then two whole months to enjoy the last weeks of pregnancy, quietly preparing birth and an addition to our family of three in September.

spring2_SoH

 

Spring is also making its way into our home, garden and heart. Cold and rainy days are still there, but every now and then, sun shows her shiny face and warms my chilly mood. I let Little Boy potter in the garden as much as he wants and it forces me to go outside too. He know how to play on his own, but likes to show me his finds and his activities, so I’m not allowed to hide inside constantly. So we prepare little picnics when weather is warm enough, and I do my kitchen work while looking through my window and seeing my love play and enjoy himself. On those days, life is good.

It gets harder when I have to go to school. While I like teaching, a lot, those few months of having my own rhythm and pace, focusing on home, family and myself, have given me a taste of what life could be like too, and I find it hard to integrate that into the day to day schedule of school days and teaching. Big part of it is because I have started in January, when school is already settled and routines have formed. For me, it was hard to get myself involved and care about the students the way I did before – starting to build a bond halfway the years is not the easiest of things and it’s mostly because I did/do not put enough effort into it. Pregnancy has to do a lot with it of course – those three months of everyday sickness and feeling horrible didn’t help and after that… well it just doesn’t seem worth it for the few weeks that are still ahead of us.

Oh well, we’ll tackle it day by day and in the end it will work out, as it always does. In the mean time, I try to get my thoughs refreshed by things that inspire me – getting in the kitchen, building routines and reading everything that catches my attention. Which is a lot.

spring_SoH

And feeling contentment with the soup bubbling away on the stove, made with bits and pieces I have found in the pantry and the fridge, sprinkled with some curry powder, knowing that it will warm us up in no time, nourishing our bodies and minds. It’s what I hope to find in the whole foods kitchen course I signed up for.

Threads of wool and love

My grandmother will soon be 85 years old and is still as creative as I have always known her. When I was a kid, I once stayed with her for a week, and I have very fond memories of those days in the appartment. She instilled in me the love of making cards, cutting and gluing things, seeing the possibilities for every scrap of paper. And she learned me to appreciate onions.

The last few years, with a growing herd of great-grandchildren, she took up knitting again. Every now and then, she calls me to ask how much our Little Boy has grown, and what colors he likes lately. And then she knits her heart out.

wool_love_SoH

The very idea of it warms my heart. It feels like she puts herself in a long tradition of knitting grandmothers. It’s not how I knew her as a child. She was a bit of a special type in my eyes. She couldn’t cook (she always tried, but it didn’t taste good actually), she was not into wool, she smoked like a chimney (still does) and she has the most contagious laugh ever. I don’t even especially like what she knits.

But the love and attention that go into her work, feeling how my Little Boy is part of the family (we didn’t see that side of the family very often, due to the distance – which is nothing in comparison with distances most families in bigger countries have to face, but still – in our country it counts as far away), feeling how we are all connected through threads of wool and love.