Creeping In

When we first moved back, a lot of people were curious about our kids and how they identify themselves: do they feel more Dutch (after all they were born here and lived here the first 7, 5 and 2 years of their lives) or American? My answer was a resounding ‘American.’ Five years is a really long time in kid-terms. And they were still so little when we moved. Obviously my eldest was the most ‘Dutch’ of the three, and my daughter, starting kindergarten that fall, had the most adorable Dutch accent when she spoke English. My youngest had just started talking and quickly learned that people didn’t understand his Dutch words. For him, The Netherlands was where we went on vacation, where Oma and Opa lived, nothing more.

So yes, this move was hard for them, and a huge change. It didn’t feel like coming home; not in the least. I’ve talked about it here before. We’re a few months further in now and it’s still rough at times, but I see them settling, I see them finding their way, and that makes me happy. And in the same breath, a little sad. They are slowly, while still 100% completely themselves, becoming more Dutch, less American. I see it in how my youngest writes his cursive capitals. In how my eldest casually uses the word ‘chill’ while speaking Dutch. The silly songs they pick up from school and sing at the top of their lungs. The way they complain about the weather. The increased Chocolate Sprinkle consumption. The classic Dutch kid experiences that I cannot relate to at all, or don’t know anything about. What? Mama? You mean you don’t know about…..?? Nope.

I don’t think they are aware of it. Which is good. As parents we alone are privy to this view, from outside yet so very close by, of our children’s development. What a privilege, and how painful, to be so aware of each new phase they enter and the old ones left behind. It’s a constant state of rejoicing and mourning all mixed up in one. This is common to everyone, but a move like we have made brings extra change, more obvious change, based on a new cultural experience that they are adapting to.

I just recently wrote to a friend considering a potential move overseas with kids for her husband’s job and I encouraged her that we end up where we are supposed to be, or more precisely, WHO we are supposed to be no matter where we live. This was the realization, when I finally, after two years of struggling, learned to accept and trust this, that allowed me to feel okay about moving back to the Netherlands. Basically, I was giving myself way too much credit for my kids’ formation. We make the choices we make now, in their best interests and to the best of our ability, but really, as long as the basis is there for them (love, support, and then letting them go) they will thrive and becoming their own incredible people, no matter where we are. Dutch or American, they will become fully themselves, and I look forward to having front row seats as the show continues.

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Posted in Dual Citizenship, Family, kids, Moving back to the Netherlands, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Winter’s Last Hurrah

The birds are starting to chirp at 6:30 and it is light when my eldest leaves on his bike at 7:30. These are things I have been anticipating eagerly for some time now. I am happy to be heading into spring; in my opinion the best season in the Netherlands.

But first The Russian Bear was let lose on us. This is a cold front that comes down from Siberia to the North East and brings unusually dry, cold air and the chance of ice skating with it. Sadly, this time around the wind that delivered the cold never abated, and it came so late in the season that the ice had difficulty forming and there were very few places – even in the North and East – where safe skating could be found.

But as luck would have it, a shallow lake near us froze over beautifully (well, part of it) and a short window of skating opened up for us from Thursday last week to early Sunday morning. The saying here goes als het kan dan moet het ‘if you can, you must’ and my love of Dutch ice skating is only slightly tainted by this pressure to get out and find the ice and then skate on it a lot until it leaves. Sometimes I get a little weary of it. But mostly not.

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The day they found it!

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The family that skates together…. (photo Fine Fischer-Maijers)

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Lots of windsurfers on skates and ice sailors

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Everyone tends to skate loops in the same direction, just like at the rink. But sometimes the wind direction means it’s nicer to go against the flow

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The whole gang… except our family in England

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Sam in his skating club outfit, the kids took lessons this year and it has been fun to watch their improvement. Sam has become quite the fanatic! (photo Fine Fischer-Maijers)

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Mom trying to keep up. It’s the story of my life these days. (photo Fine Fischer-Maijers)

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And when the kids are done skating there is always this…

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…And this

We also enjoyed a few days of traditional ice fun on our villages ‘Polderbaan’, a flooded field that is organized by the local skating club. There was ‘Ringsteken’, where one skater pushes another holding a long stick and tries to get the stick through a ring as they skate under it, and ‘Priksleeen,’ races on wooden sleds with metal runners and two sticks with nails in them to push yourself with (surprisingly hard to control, but our years of expert driveway sledding at my parents’ house paid off for our family).

Posted in Culture, iceskating, Seasons/Weather, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Etsy Shop Re-opened!

It has taken me 6 months, but I can finally announce that my new, Dutch-based Etsy shop is now officially opened! There was all sorts of snafu with changing to a foreign bank account using my old shop based in the USA, and since I wasn’t quite at the point of making millions (or, um, hundreds for that matter…) and having a huge following, I decided to cut my losses and start fresh.

It’s still a work in progress; I have the goal this week to add one or two new listings each day, and I am sure there will be some logistical kinks to straighten out, so I appreciate your patience and understanding (and please feel free to contact me with any feedback/tips to make it a better experience for you). Click on the ‘My Shop’ on the menu above or on the ETSY badge to the right for a direct link.

ALSO… If you are on Instagram, you have until tonight at 9pm (Central European Time), to like my latest post and tag a friend in the comments to have a chance to win a set of the animal postcards. In this way you can help me build a bigger base for my small business, thanks for your support!

New designs now for sale:

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A set of four woodland animal postcards

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A set of 6 Spring blossom note cards … perfect to fight off the late winter blues!

 

Posted in Art, Etsy, New items in shop | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Skinny Jeans

Fashion has never been known to take into account all the glorious variety of women’s bodies. It takes us all and tries to cram us into, for example, skinny jeans, when maybe not everyone’s finest bits are highlighted by the style. I, for one, don’t have skinny jean legs. I have the magnificent, strong and sturdy Brubaker calves instead. Anyway, since we moved to the Netherlands I have desperately needed new jeans but I have yet to find ‘normal’ pants. As in not skinny, which apparently is the new normal. I did find some hopeful ‘boyfriend’ jeans but that ended up meaning baggy butt and tight calves. Weird, and again, not the best look for me.

I got so desperate that I finally caved and bought a pair of cheap skinny jeans at the Hema to help tide me over until I found some jeans I actually like. I wear them now and have somewhat come to terms with them. The problem is, though, that a lot, well, almost all, of my socks are not really skinny jean compatible. Sometimes, when I am just at home and don’t have ankle socks or I forget to put my socks on first, this happens:  7AF96908-FD15-4BE9-832D-B6EE93367973And then I chuckle every time I look down because all I can think of is 5th grade and all that folding and rolling of the pant legs to, well, make them skinny at the ankles. I remember debating…socks up over the jeans or slouched down below the roll. But with skinny jeans this is so much easier. The damn socks don’t even really fit under the jeans because they are so tight. We’ve come so far.BDBDE71E-5CDF-4587-847E-3049FCD52148Side bangs, baggy turtleneck sweatshirt, rolled baggy jeans, slouched socks and brown loafers. And don’t you dare think of wearing your backpack on both shoulders.

Posted in Day-to-day, fashion, My Childhood | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Storm

My table is shaking as I type. There is another ‘wind event’ of sorts today. Force 10, I heard, but judging from the spray that is flying off the lake and coming in through the cracks of our upstairs dormer window, some gusts feel even stronger. Also, my toilet shook while I was sitting on it this morning. I kid you not. They should put that on the Beaufort Wind Scale. Shaking toilets.

Earlier, Sam and his friend decided to try to ride their bikes to school anyway. The wind wasn’t at its peak yet, but I was glad Maarten offered to accompany them through the open polder section. It was a side wind, and Sam fell over once and his friend twice. They made it just fine. This is what is called Building Character.

At the peak of the storm the wind pushed huge waves up over the dike and water filled our yard. It was intimidating and impressive.

Now the worst has passed, and the sun even peaked through before the rain started, just to add a little more wetness to our already sopping wet situation. I heard after that gusts reached 70 mph.E92FAE64-45B5-49D4-B517-E041F9273AFA

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Not a Fan

Amos, it turns out, really hates, I mean like abhors, the wind and wet. Which means, as he lets us know on a daily basis, that he is decidedly not a fan of Dutch fall and winter. Spring won’t be any better, but I haven’t mentioned that to him yet. If we let him snooze in his favorite chair all day he tends to get restless and meow a lot at night. So out he goes. It doesn’t mean he has to like it, though.AEC3214A-954B-400C-93EB-E4ABBDBEC868

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Fragile

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I’ve been feeling fragile for awhile now. A month or so.  I keep so busy navigating the needs and worries of my high-sensitive kids that I sometimes forget to attend to my own sensitivities. They came by it honestly, after all. So things have been kind of rough, with lots of over-thinking and worrying and doubting. I keep trying to unearth my adventurous youthful self that moved halfway around the world without a second thought. But age seems to have made me aware of so much more and I find myself having third, fourth, and fifth thoughts on a regular basis.

I recently started a new series that reflects this fragile feeling. I dropped all stark winter designs and even the joyful light in the darkness Christmas themes that I normally love. Now, as the leaves fall and are blown into sodden piles; with winter only just approaching, I chose the quiet hope and fragile beauty that spring brings. The impossible reality of new life growing from seemingly dead wood. Vulnerable blossoms bursting open after a long spell of cold, dark sleep and showering us for a moment with extravagant, frilly, bright beauty before getting down to the serious work of producing fruit. Those pinks, and that yellow, they have been a delight to work with and, most importantly, they make me happy. And in that tiny seed of happiness perspectives and expectations shift, making room for even more happiness.

Sometime after Christmas, when the winter starts to wear us down and we wonder if it will ever end, these little beauties will come back from the printer and provide a glimpse of hope, a reassurance that Spring will come again. Until then I’m going to go ahead and keep them close, look at them often, and remember.

 

Posted in Art, Creativity, Homesick, Seasons/Weather | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments