Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Cardinal Sin

I have sinned. Among all the sins a mom can commit, not taking first day of school photos has to be one of the worst. At least in the top 10.
Can you just imagine the talk in the playground "yeah- did you hear? She didn't even take 5 stinking minutes to photograph her kids on the first day of school? Who the heck forgets to do that? What a haneous crime!"

In September, hustling 3 off to the local francophone school and hauling 1 in tow, I forgot. Matt was out of town with work. I was busy. And, no excuses, I forgot.
Then, I told myself I'd "do it tomorrow", but tomorrows came and went.
Before I knew it a month had gone by. I thought then, a "first month of school photo" can't be that bad right?Would I still be stuck in motherhood purgatory for not taking their school photos? 
I am evil.
So, as redeeming as it can get, I whipped out the camera on the last day of school.

We're proud to report the great achievement of their straight As...which means, of course, there will be progression to the next year. Which means, of course, there will be yet another chance to capture those first day of school photos.
I'm off to make a sticky note right now.

3 am

Daddy says to tell them,

" I got into a fight with a tiger...
Yeah- you think this is bad?
You should see the tiger!

The truth be told, it was more of a fight with a nightstand in our bedroom at 3am.
Arleigh wanted some snuggle time and tried to climb into our bed, but instead, fell in the darkness.
By the time we turned on the light and realized that he was bleeding, a lot,
he'd calmed down and we panicked. (Of course.)

But not so much panic that mommy didn't take a photo for "before and after pics".
We knew this meant a 3am visit to the hospital, among other things.

 By 6am, all was well. A little tired, and worse for wear,
but blood contained and holes patched up.

That scar will look good on your kid. The girls are gonna love it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

If You Give a Kid a Bucket

He'll want some water to go in it.
Filling it with water will remind him of the swimming pool you had in the yard last summer.
He'll ask you to blow that up.
You'll rummage through the garage, wiping sweat from your brow, and pull out the pool.
You tell him he'll need to help pump it up.
Pumping up the pool will discover a hole in it.
You'll need to find the patch kit.
You call your husband, to ask where the patch kit is, but he has no idea where he put anything at all.
You for a moment, you regret marrying someone so disorganized.
You decide to put away the pool and find something else to beat the heat.
Rummaging in the garage again will make you hungry. So you get a snack.
When you get a snack, there will be a spill on the floor.
You'll get a rag to wipe it up.
The rag will make you remember that you have 8 baskets of laundry to do.
Going to the baskets you'll run into a rubbermaid container, with tons of crap in it.
You'll dump it out.
Filling it with water to make a pool, you'll forget about the 8 baskets of laundry, but remember you also have to figure out what's for dinner.
After you fill the rubbermaid container to make a pool, you'll cry because you haven't accomplished a single thing today.
But you give the kid a bucket to go with the water and rubbermaid container...

and he'll be really really happy to play with it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Until We Meet Again....

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
 ~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie
Mr. James and Miss Alina, our adoptive family.
They have met us for birthday after birthday, holiday after holiday, and read story after story to the kids. They've been so kind, gracious, and patient. They've babysat in emergencies.
They have advised, comforted, supported, recommended.
They've listened to squeaky violins all too much, and always with a smile.
They have shown enduring friendship.

Now they're leaving for the U.S., on military orders, and  boy oh boy, are we gonna miss them!
You see, living abroad, so far from family, puts friends like this in a really special position.
They stand in for family and relatives that can't be here. They are part of events in our lives that others in our family can't attend.  They, in turn, have become a very special part of our family.
We wish you all the best James and Alina! Thank you for everything.
Safe travels. We hope to see you soon.

Monday, June 13, 2011

More Paintings

I love it when they have a day off of school and we have nothing planned. I'm itching for summer. I feel so much more efficient when we can plan things at home and get them done, rather than racing to meet schedules and do homework. Today, a Belgian holiday, Pentecost, or 'Whit Monday', leaves schools closed and most everything shut down. Talk about a blessing. I needed time with this crew. Time to reimpose rules. Time to feel like we can get things done together. Time to just chill.
Meanwhile, we had time to  do what we all wanted too. Time on our own for a bit.
Stella chose to work on 2 paintings that she'd planned quite some time ago. They are thank you gifts for her great Aunt. She named them "The Wise Lady" and "Night Time in the Wise Lady's Garden". I just loved that.

A second attempt at mixed media, I think we've found an area that truly challenges her and allows a ton of creativity to flow. She really tends to like mixed media art work 

We've offered for Stella to open up her own blog site for whatever she'd like. We also offered to supply her if she chose to sell her paintings, which she has hinted at possibly doing (someday). So, stay tuned....

In the meantime, the rest of us are kickn' back and looking forward to the next opportunity for a stay-cation.

It's Father's Day in Belgium

It's Father's Day here....
Happy Father's Day dear....

If you're not smiling, please refer to this link.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sweet Rewards

Emory came bumbling into the kitchen yesterday afternoon. In one full breath, "Mom! Mom! The red berries are ready! We can pick them! Can you make a pie? Will you please make a pie? Can I have a bowl to go pick them? Will you make a pie? You can! They are ready! Come see! I'll show you!"
Normally, this is where I'd follow him out into the yard with my camera, acting just as excited and surprised to see the currants (which I noticed the day before as 'ready to pick'), but alas, my beloved camera is somewhere between here and Nikon for service. The lens filter has been stuck on the front of my favorite lens for months. The camera body needed a little TLC and cleaning anyway. So I'm patiently waiting for both the primary lens I use, and the camera to come back to the hands that love it so darn much.

I have a back up though- my old camera. A not so shabby D70,  which, as it turns out, I'd forgotten exactly how to use.
A little rusty you could say....

but we worked, and worked. He picked red currants and I begged my brain to recall settings and how to make adjustments. (Ok I admit, I picked a few currants, and ate a few too).
Progress was not instant, and for awhile I wondered why I'd held onto the darn D70.  Heck I don't use it anymore and I don't even remember how!?

But then, a glimmer of hope. A little recollection. A little memory recall. It became clearer.

And so, we were lucky to fill a bowl full of currants. Lucky to have a back up, so as not to have to miss out on the momentous summer occasion when  we begin to pick fresh fruit and veggies from the yard.
Lucky to have a little recall. So, so lucky.

And now, please excuse me. I have some pie dough to prepare...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Camping De Roos, Netherlands

Recently someone was telling me that she'd begun a personal mission to reduce the high volume of annoying vacation photos which she's asked to peruse with friends. After an onslaught of offers to see other people's vacation photos, exhausted and bitter, she said, "You know, I don't mind looking at holiday photographs, but I never want to see more than five. I wasn't there, so I'm not happy like the guy who just got back. I'll celebrate the trip, but please people limit the vacation photos to 5 happy moments unless I'm going there next week."

But I'm that guy. The one that can't limit the numbers. The one who is so happy about the trip, and still soaking up the sun and fun. It's still oozing from my pores. I wish you could smell the fresh pine from the bike trail through the woods. I wish you could hear the kids laughing and screaming down on the dock of the river's edge. I want you to know how interesting it is to chase a guy around because he's sporting wooden shoes, clogs, for real! They still wear those shoes in Holland people! (OK that last part is true, but perhaps not something that should be admitted to) I never did get to take his picture with them but was told he's a regular and if we go back I'll have yet another chance.
So I let everyone pick 5 Holland Highlights instead- here they are.
(The family, long weekend trip, to Holland, at a campsite called "Camping de Roos". Beautiful place. If you happen to be in Holland, I highly recommend it!)

Arleigh's 5 highlights definitely rank among the funniest....
For Arleigh, Holland camping highlights include rolling in grassy fields,

playing with dad

snacking, snacking, and snacking

fishing,...(aka threatening to jump in)

(FYI turkey kielbasa isn't the best bait for fishing in Holland)

and searching for bugs

Emory's Holland highlights include
playing soccer (with anyone willing)

'biking practice' (= sitting on bike and waiting for someone to hold onto shoulders)

(** note special talent of photographer here- photo shot from hip biking at about 10 miles per hour whilst biking a second human being in front seat)

learning to be 'camp cook'

fishing off the dock,....

OK, well it was all good until that fishing got a little boring.

And building sandcastles. Great summer fun.

Stella's highlights included but are not limited to-
"jumping", usually off of docks into river water. This was by far the most common and happiest activity for her.

fishing - An eternal optimist, she'd have sat on the dock til dawn without so much as a nibble.

Catching minnows- via the bucket of a German girl who she communicated with "by pointing".

Blowing bubbles- a longstanding favorite for this gal no matter where she is

biking (always in proper attire- swimsuit and flip flops)

Addie's highlights are primarily linked to her friend who was there.

Emily was Addie's first friend in Belgium and part of a family we hope to know forever. Emily, Addie, and Stella spent a large amount of time in swimming suits, riding bikes, and padding a raft in the river.

When we tore her away from Emily, she was content with bubbles,

 jumping off docks into rivers
 and, well, paddling around with her sis and best bud.
Dad's highlights are summarized into 4 words (ages 8 and under),..guess which words those might be?

playing 'kid' at the playground

biking with family and friends... (like Stella and bubbles, this guy is happy if he's on a bike- no matter where)

Rolling in grass...

For me- well, I really can't pick just 5. I can't.
People watching was fascinating. Travelers came to camp via any and every means you might imagine. 'Trekkers' showed up on foot and by bike with tents packed on front wheels and in backpacks. Canoeists, camper vans, tents packed in cars, and even via donkey hee- hawed his way through camp one evening.
Not a highlight, but factually interesting...Each thatched roof was passed seemed a work of art. Our English friends who were camping too, said that it used to be a very cheap form of roof, lasting only 10 years, but cheap and easy to replace. They said now in the UK it has become quite expensive as the thatchers are a lost breed. Their work is a dying art it seems. So sad.

Watching the Dutch kids in a pitch near us, do the Macarena, was quite entertaining.

A short but sweet visit via bike ride, to the nearby town of Ommen, was of course a highlight,

another sweet highlight- the penny candy shop on the campground. Loved watching the kids work over and over their decisions on how to spend change for a little treat.

To pick just one or two? Impossible.
I have a new favorite word to share though. Just one word. On a bike ride we came across a sign, warning of speed bumps. "Drempels!" ... love it.

How perfect a word. Having a bad day?"oh drempels!" Hit a little speedbump in life? Don't worry, it's just a drempel. Bad day at school? "Don't worry honey, you'll get over this drempel and move on". I will say though, we had such a darn great time on this Holland camping trip, that I may be down in drempels for awhile. (Try it out- a great Dutch word I tell you!)

In the meantime, in poor etiquette, I'll be showing off the gazillions of annoying holiday photos from this trip, now tomorrow's memory.