That moment when you close the door behind the last guest, walk into your kitchen and your first thought “oh, who is going to clean all this and where do I even start?” gives way to a warm feeling of what can only be deep gratitude for all the dirty plates and the food that was on them, and the friends, little and big, who came from near and far, with broken leg and head cold, to eat that food and drink that wine with you, to celebrate the birthday of your child and sing to him and spoil him and eat too much sugar and laugh too much and talk too much. That moment is what feeds your soul. IMG_0138

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Filed under Cherished moments, Daily gratitude, Growing up too fast, Life in Delft

Meivakantie in pictures

After falling in love with Texel during the May holidays last year, we decided to make it a bit of a tradition and went back this year. And we fell in love with this beautiful island again, with its dunes and beaches and sheep and lighthouse.

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Short break on the way up to the lighthouse

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SO windy up here

We visited Ecomare, a museum and sanctuary for preservation of Texel’s nature and animals. They rescue seals and porpoises (bruinvis) and then either release them back to the sea or keep those who can not go back.

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Bruinvis, neither brown nor fish

One of my favourite things about Texel are its dunes. We took long walks through several of them, the quietness, the beauty, the scents are out of this world.

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Una and I ran our first race! We ran 1km together and then a few hours later I ran my first 10km. After my first infamous attempt at running with other people I was so nervous I would get lost again. But as this was the most popular annual race in Delft, there were so many people so I was safe. The atmosphere was great, the public was cheering us on all the way, from the Old Town, all the way Delftse Hout and back.

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Who says you can’t have ice cream before a race?

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And then, the last weekend of the holiday, Auntie Louise came to town. She was here for only a few days but we tried making most of it. We ate our weight in the South African delicacies Louise brought with: biltong (Mark), rusks (I) and Louise reciprocated by indulging in the best Holland offers – stroopwaffels. The kids LOVED having her around and they sure spent enough quality time with her, given that they would start around 5am by storming into her room and only leave her alone having passed from exhaustion late in the evening. I am sure if she ever sees Lego Star Wars again, she will run screaming. Louse has been to NL quite a few times already, so she’s done most of the touristy stuff but this is the first time she came when Keukenhoff is open, so we couldn’t miss the chance. We were lucky with the weather that day (Louise was still wearing her winter clothes though :)), the tulips although past their prime were still in full bloom, the kids were happy and full of energy, all in all a lovely day.

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Tulips, tulips everywhere

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Who is this boy and where has my baby gone?

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Say what? You call this WARM weather??

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Genetics is fascinating

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Una was so fascinated by the flowers, the photos below are all taken by her.

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Life in Delft

My work here is done, folks

{This morning Una climbs into bed next to me for a cuddle. The nasty flu has kept me out of the normal family life for three days and the first she does is she feels my forehead to check whether the fever is gone. This already starts melting my feverish heart. What happens next finishes it off}

Una: “Mama, I love you more than anything in the world. You, Daddy and Nestor. {Pause} Sorry mama, but I actually do love Nestor a tiny little bit more”

Una The Nurse caring for her little patient with "broken" leg

Una The Nurse caring for her little patient with “broken” leg (check out the paper “cast”)

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Filed under Out of the mouths of babes, Siblings love

For Patches

I knew something was off, when after the usual Wednesday morning rush to get everyone dressed, fed and out of the door, I turned around and realised that the house was far too quiet. I thought back and couldn’t remember you coming for a cuddle the whole night, or tumbling down the stairs when I came down in the morning. I phoned Mark and asked him whether he’d seen you that morning, he said he hadn’t but that he’d played with you when he went to bed, and that you’d probably just wandered away and would come home later.

A couple of hours later, I was walking to fetch Una and Nestor from school. The phone rang. You won’t be coming home. Ever again.

You were our baby, the feline baby of the family. Silly, loud, messy, happy. You joined our family when you were four months old. It all happened quite quickly, you needed a new home and we wanted a playmate for Sheba. From the very beginning we were surprised how different you were from her. While she is a high-maintenance cat who comes at her own terms you would start purring as soon as we came near you, even the vet said that she rarely saw a cat who purrs like that. It turned out Sheba wasn’t quite thrilled with the playmate idea and the two of you weren’t immediately best friends forever, far from it. At some point, we were quite disheartened that you’d ever really get along and a friend said she’d love to have you if you needed a new home. You had already gotten under our skin and we weren’t ready to let you go. I can’t but think that if we did you would still be alive.

We knew you were not an indoor cat, and as soon as the vet approved, we let you join Sheba and go outside. To chase birds, climb trees, lay in the sun. And you did, and oh so well. You were so full of life. You made us laugh with your silliness, you jumped on us, you licked us, you woke us up in the middle of the night because you felt like cuddling right there and then. When I got up before dawn and went for a run you’d often come along and race with me for a while, until you got distracted by a bird or another cat, or I went too far from home. We loved coming home from school and work to find you waiting for us.

You were not even a year old. You are taken away from us far too early, and it is terribly unfair. It is breaking my heart that you died alone, on the street, I don’t know how long you were in pain after you got hit. I know you would have been unhappy if we kept you inside, but I feel that we failed you, that we couldn’t keep you safe. You are the first pet I have ever lost and I had no idea it can hurt so much.

We are all grieving, everyone in their own way – Una is writing a letter to you, Nestor doesn’t really believe that you are gone, Daddy had to make all the difficult arrangements and comfort all of us. Even Sheba was visibly upset, pacing up and down, going in and out of the house, looking for you.

We have loved you so much, sweet boy. You got under our skin, into our beds, into our hearts. You will be missed dearly.photo (4) 20150224_122822

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Filed under Family, Grief

Una’s latest

Una: “Mama, do you think I could be a strip tekenaar (comic book artist)?

I: “I think you could, what do you think?”

Una: “I kind of think so too. I am quite good at both drawing and creating stories, so I thought this could be a good choice for me”.

 

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Una: “Daddy, could you help me find a good app, I would like to start learning Chinese”

Mark: “?X$$%%#%#%#”

{And there we wondered whether she could handle being trilingual}

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Filed under Growing up too fast, Out of the mouths of babes, Raising multilingual children

Well, at least we are all smiling…

In the past few weeks, Nestor’s class has been working on the theme “Family”. The kids drew their families, made them from clay, talked about their favourite memories with the grandparents (Nestor’s key words: turning radio on and off (?), 8100 (??), fake grandfather, building towers – his fantasy world is truly fascinating).

This is how Nestor sees his family. It looks like one of his parents is in a serious need of a diet, doesn’t it? At this age Una could already make a very clear distinction between her mum and dad, if nothing the hair would give us away. With Nestor, it remains a mystery.

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Filed under Family, Out of the mouths of babes

Sorry sliced bread…

…but having an older sister is best thing ever.

I knew this, of course, I have one (in fact I owe her my very existence as my father, an only child himself, was perfectly content with one child, and I was born because my sister begged for a sibling).

But here some additional proof from our family:

– We celebrate Christmas twice. On Dec 25 and Jan 7. Gregorian calendar, Julian calendar, mixed (a)religious family, long story short but Sinterklas into it and our kids are thrilled with this never-ending celebration. The down side is that by the time the “second” Christmas (disputable, my dad used to argue that our Christmas comes first, the rest have to wait almost a year :)) rolls around we are kind of tired of all the merriment. Add to it that by that time everyone is back at work/school and the holiday feeling is gone, I always get slightly nostalgic for “real” Christmas atmosphere. This year the “second” Christmas fell on a Wednesday, Mark took a day off and we decided to let the kids go to school since Wednesday is a short day anyway (til 12) and asking for permission to take a child out of school in NL is a pain. As soon as he opened his gifts on the 25th, said his thankyous and proclaimed his undying love for the toys he received, Nestor started counting down sleepies and talking about  the”next” Christmas to anyone who would listen, or not listen, he doesn’t really care. So on Christmas Eve, Una told Mark that she thinks that it would be wise if we talked to the teacher in the morning and explained that today was our Christmas and that Nestor will probably talk a lot about it and other kids may tease him that he doesn’t know when Christmas is. But if the teacher knows she can help him if other kids make fun of him. Neither of his parents even remotely thought of that, she did.

– One day they came home from school and Nestor told me that no one wanted to play with him during recess. I was kind of surprised as he makes friends very easily and even though he had just started school a couple of months earlier seems to have found his place. I told him that I was sorry and asked him what he did then. He said: “Una saw I was alone and came to play with me. And then a girl from Una’s class started teasing Una that she has to entertain her little brother” I said that that was not a nice thing of her to say and asked what Una did then. Peer pressure is no joke at that age, and Una is a very sensitive little girl. Nestor was puzzled: “Nothing? She continued playing with me”.

– She is as sore a loser when it comes to board games as her mother. Today, she let him win. She went so far as to ask me to let him win. If that is not love I don’t know what is.

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Filed under Out of the mouths of babes, Siblings love