Friday, December 18, 2015

Our toddler-friendly felt Christmas tree

 Well... hello. It has been a while. Is anyone still here? I have missed writing so much. But I am always so bone-tired that I never seem to be able to make the time.

Suddenly, it is that time of the year again. I think I've written  before about how the boy does not love having a lot of Christmas decorations or a tree (he just hates stuff in general, and anything that looks crammed).

Last year we had a real Christmas tree, albeit a small one, and it was lovely, but also, I spent a lot of time trying to stop Y. from hurting herself with the crystal spheres (I don't know why I thought they'd be safe).

When I saw pics of toddler-friendly trees made of felt, I knew we would be making one. It is the perfect activity for little children, it is easy, flat, does not take up space and it is oh so pretty (and lazy!) .

We just got the felt from the craft store, free-handed the form of the tree and the ornaments, cut it and attached everything together with safety pins and double-sided tape. We made little holes to
let the lights go through and attached everything with a bit of tape.

Yu loved participating in the process, admiring it and helping assembling it. When it was still work in progress she would hold our hands, lead us to the couch where it was waiting to be hanged and smile in awe, asking us to light it up.It was magic.

We do not have any plans yet for Christmas, I am looking forward to taking a pause, just being with our closest family. And maybe making a ton of cookies with little girl. She loves cooking (and getting messy with flour)  How are you celebrating? What traditions are important to you? 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Like being in the middle of a whirlwind

Life these days does not stop. I feel like I am inside a washing machine that keeps turning round and round, over and over again. Whoever started talking about "balance" when referring to navigating work and family life never really experienced it. I do not feel there is a balance at all. I feel like we are constantly running just to keep the status quo, just to (barely) keep functioning.

Mornings start very early. As soon as we are up it's full get ready, make breakfast, eat breakfast, get dressed, go, go, go. To the train, to the car, to bring Y. to daycare. The days when I can bring her are the best, because it is such a calm, happy place. You don't just drop the kid and go. You have to stay a short while so that the transition takes place in a smooth way. They make nice coffee too.

I like working, I like being productive and helping people out, and learning. And I like the people I work with. But I would be lying if I said I did not think of my girl a lot during the day. I daydream of our days spent at parks, finding cafés to drink latte's and eat lunch together and walking around  the city, discovering new places.

By the time I am back home, the focus is on eating dinner, then playing a bit, reading books and shortly after Yu's bath time and sleeping ritual follow. I want to be present when I am with her, our hours together being now so limited. When she finally falls asleep we are both exhausted. Brain dead. Collapsed. I want to do stuff, but more than anything I want to rest and that always ends up winning. Dishes, minimum picking up, still have to happen.

Weekends are the best but they are not very relaxing. We do all kinds of fun stuff together, we visit friends, we try to go to exciting places (like the petting farm), we catch up with friendships. Laundry, cleaning, groceries have to get sneaked in between.

It keeps going on and on and on.

We are still breastfeeding during the night and though I am ovulating, I am still not pregnant. It makes me feel really sad. I also feel really guilty for being sad, because I know how blessed we are. But we are yearning for another baby, and when you are everyone around you seems to be getting pregnant at the same time. Several friends of us who have children the age of Y. are expecting their second kids and I hate feeling the jealousy again. I do not like to dwell in negative feelings, but they are there. We keep hoping though, and we keep going, trusting, praying.

Monday, August 10, 2015

And then she fell in the shit...

The baby started walking. When I saw her the first time I just could not believe it. We had been waiting for this to happen and when it did it still shocked me. We are so proud.

Yet, that makes things more complicated. She is such a curious spirit that she has to be where the action is happening. Normally we clean the house together on the weekend, taking turns at taking care of the child while the other one does one chore or another. With her newfound mobility and her eagerness to help out and learn... getting anything done around the house is quite the challenge.

So this Saturday I decided to take the kid to the park while the husband stayed home to fix some stuff (which involved the use of terpentine).

It was a fresh and early start of the day. We went to the swing, to the slides, to those wiggly animals that balance and rock. And then we walked to the lake to see the ducks and water chicken. Her excitement made my heart burst. The birds must have thought we were there to feed them because the whole flock came to us (halas, I did not even have the saddest piece of bread with me).

And then... she fell down. The next thing I see her whole shoe, leg and part of her arm is covered in dark green goop. The one day that this paranoid mom goes out without the massive diaper bag, wipes and alcohol in gel this happens.

How have you been doing?

PS I am a disaster... I have not been answering your comments like I used to since... a while. It feels so lame to write this note down. But truly, I appreciate each of them (and my brain is also mush most of the time). I will get around to it soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hey there

I am still alive... and I have a long list of things I want to write about. I am just having a hard time finding the moments when I am not completely exhausted.

But, if you are so inclined, Kristin, from Not intent on arriving, interviewed me for her Writer Wednesday section. I feel so honored and excited to be feautured there.

I found Kristin  by following her from comments on Lauren's blog. She is an avid traveler and a poet, and as someone who loves to read and wander the world, I really like her space. Thanks for having me!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Traveling with babies

 The first time we put little baby Y. on an airplane and took her with us across the ocean I was a bit terrified about what might happen / how she might take it.

She is now 17 months and she has been on a total of 8 flights, on short and long distances. I am by no means an expert, but I am a lot more confident now than before that first flight, so I thought it would be handy to put together some tips:

- bring a swaddle blanket that the baby has been sleeping on for a couple of days. It will smell familiar and help your kid adjust to the new environment. I actually like bringing two, one for a familiar smell in the airplane (particularly on long flights) and one for the crib once you arrive at destination. A little piece of home will help them transition to the new situation easily.

-the sound of the turbines is the most magical and strong white noise we have ever experienced. It always manages to soothe the baby to sleep when the time comes.

- as for the diaper bag, bring the minimum essentials while being prepared for all the possible scenarios (but if you forget anything don't worry... you will be able to find what you need at the airport, if overpriced. On one of our flights to Mexico we were offered sterilized baby food (pots) by the airline, eventhough we had our own food. She was distracted by having something new to try and actually ate it). This means bringing: all the diapers you need for the duration of the travel time + an extra two. An extra outfit for the baby, and extra t-shirts for each of the adults traveling with the kid. A pacifier (if you use one), favorite toys, water, food for a day. I use my diaper bag as a carry-on, my wallet and passport also go there. Make a small diaper-changing set with everything you need (diapers, changing mat, wipes, diaper cream) so that you can quickly take it out before each change. A diaper bag or backpack with compartments makes it easier to organize everything. Bananas, avocados, pieces of cheese are great snacks that I always like to bring with me. Bibs and muslins to clean up messes are always a must.

-most airlines will let you bring an umbrella stroller that you can keep with you until you board and check in at the gate. This is great, but, even more useful than the stroller we find a baby-carrier indispensable. It will let you be hands-free at crucial moments (like passport control) and babies love to nap in there. We love the Maxi-Cosi Easia and the Lillebaby (specially comfortable these days, when she's gotten bigger, she can be carried in the back and have much more of a view). 

-airports are fun for babies: all the new people and toys (read: magazines, airplane safety cards, bottles of water). They will be amused by the new scenario and also get pretty tired from all the stimulation. In our experience this makes for easier naps, however we do have a very social baby who enjoys looking at everything, waving at everyone, being out of the house.

-have baby suck on the pacifier or breastfeed during take off and landing. We have not had problems with her ears, but we've done this for prevention anyway.

-for long distance flights, if your baby is 10 kg or under you can ask for a crib. This one has been very useful for us. When she was small she did sleep there, later, it worked as a play pen, a place where she loved to sit and stretch. I strongly recommend asking for it, if possible. 

People tend to like babies and, at least with us, have been very understanding. Travel does get harder once they are at that awkward stage where they can crawl but not walk yet... they want to be on the move but can't and won't be happy staying in your lap. Smaller babies (up to 6-8 months) are way easier, because all they need is milk + rest + some distractions and they love to be close to the parents anyway.

I always thought the actual travel was the hard part, but actually what has proven to be trickier is adapting to the new environment / jet lag. It normally takes a couple of days of playing at 3 am, but trying to get on the local schedule, doing as the locals do and going with the flow makes for enjoying travel with small kids.

*The comments on this (lovely) post (about traveling with baby to NY for the first time)  have a lot of handy tips for traveling with kids and babies.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Celebrating Summer and Light

 A few days ago I was contacted by Paperless Post to ask if I wanted to participate in a collection of inspirational posts about celebrating the Summer and I thought it was a really nice idea.

Summertime is one of my periods of the year. The warmth and the long days are definitely worth a celebration, particularly in the Northern hemisphere.

I remember celebrating 'la noche de San Juan' -St. John's Eve- when I lived in Barcelona. It is a truly magic night. People go to the beach, set up huge bonfires meant to scare evil forces away, party the whole night and enjoy the light. Reading a bit further I found out this was a christianized pagan holiday in honour of the solstice, marking the longest day of the year. It is a night where fairies and other creatures of the underworld are believed to run lose, among which La encantada, a young, beatiful girl with long hair appears near caves or water streams, combing her hair, carrying a mirror. The legend, dating back to medieval times, is associated with Lamia and other folkloric creatures (like mermaids or the greek nymphs) and symbolizes fertility and youth. The mirror she holds is a symbol that represents a door to other dimensions. On St John's Eve, anything can happen.

Marking the seasons brings us to the moment, makes us reflect where we are.  Lately, I spend life running constantly, doing those everyday things to keep us all going. I reach the end of the day quite tired (brain dead would be a more appropriate term). But occasions like this are perfect for taking a pause, for remembering to appreciate the light around us, to celebrate the little things: taking long walks, painting my toenails bright and shiny, admiring the beautiful peonies that only bloom at this particular time.

Do you celebrate the summer solstice?

* Painting of Lamia by William Waterhouse
**This is a non-sponsored post, I just thought it would be fun to participate in a series focused on celebrating summer time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A flamingo-themed nursery

This post was due ages ago. I never shared Y's. nursery, but we put so much effort in it that I thought it was as good a time as any to show it to you!  

When we started putting our baby’s room together, we didn’t really have a colour scheme, except maybe: "mix all the colors". Little by little, though we found the bits and pieces that “glue” it all. We first chose the fabric for the curtains. These were actually a project for January Joy,  but we ended up asking our local Turkish tailor to make them because it turns out we are both completely clueless with the sewing machine .

We also had a pair of flamingo wall-stickers that we got in Barcelona just before I moved to The Netherlands. At the moment we did not know where they would end up, but we knew they would be a part of our home together. When we were dating (and still now, when we travel) we visit zoos whenever we can and we always end up taking a photo with the flamingos, so they are a bit special to us.

For the furniture, we knew we wanted colourful items, which are often difficult to find, or else, they are called "designer items" and are priced accordingly. At the baby shops everything was in the boring tones of white, grey, wood or black and the ready-made rooms were extremely expensive anyway. We chose a simple drawer chest (a Hemnes, from Ikea) to be used as a changing table, that we found in red, score! We have added some porcelain knobs in different patterns to give it a quirky touch (found here). We liked the ones from Anthropologie, but after a bit of searching we were happy to find a great selection of porcelain knobs at a local source and at accessible prices (€2.95 per  piece).

As for the walls... we wanted to continue with the flamingo theme.  I had a postcard from the famous ‘American flamingo’ painting by John James Audubon, and a Mexican flamingo-maraca that we put by her small bookshelf. My mom quilted her a lovely Flamingo-and-chick blanket, to go with her light blue crib that we first saw during a day excursion to Ghent. 

After searching quite a bit  (read going crazy) on Pinterest  I found some quite unique vintage Alice in Wonderland prints  on Etsy, from a 1950’s edition illustrated by Marjorie Torrey  that we hung on one of the bare walls.

Choosing the frames was kind of hard, but in the end we settled for good old  Ribba’s from Ikea that  the husband managed to convert into transparent "floating" frames by using glass in the front and in the back of the frame, so that the original pages of the book are still readable from the back. 

When she was born she received a WWF flamingo plush from a dear dear uncle and now she has a yodeling dancing one that she loves to play with.  Oh, and let's not talk about the flamingo-obsession that started with her birth. We have quite the collection of flamingo paraphernalia: onesies, leggings, shorts, a sweater, toddler-sandals, postcards (that I am hiding from the husband, using them as bookmarks), a lovely winter-hat, a couple of dresses, a t-shirt....

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Papadag (Daddy day)

This post has been written by the husband. Though he has written a couple of other posts he will most likely not be a regular feature, but maybe now and then we'll get to hear M's voice (If i can convince him to write more!)

When we found out that Amanda was gonna start working full time we had to look for a daycare for Yulia. Normally daycares in the Netherlands have  huge waiting lists, but luckily, we found a really nice one that was able to take Yulia on short notice. Their philosophy however is that no child should be in daycare for more than 4 days, so we had to find a solution for the 5th day. Since 3 of the 4 grandparents live in Mexico and the grandmother in the Netherlands is still working. We had to find a different solution.

So we did some calculations in Excel and we came to the conclusion that I would be able to take a papadag (daddy day). A papadag is a day (or in some cases more than one) in which the dad stays home and takes care of the child(ren).

My first day I was a bit scared. Sure, I had taken care of Yulia before. I knew how to change her diaper, give her food, entertain her, but I had never done one full day of baby tending. I didn’t know how to organize myself and the day in such a way that stuff would get done and Yulia would be happy. Also, Amanda advised me to go to a playgroup that Yulia loved and Amanda attended with her every week. I didn’t like the idea of going to a place with only women talking about women stuff.

Up until now  I have had four daddy days and I love it. I love our morning walk to the playgroup, I love playing and dancing with her at the playgroup, I love having fancy lunch with her at M&S and going home to play some more.

During the playgroup I talk to the different moms (there are 2-3 dads as well), nanny’s and au pairs and during her nap after playgroup I have time (2 hours) to run errands (Amanda edit: this means going to the french bakery and getting éclaires). I know that Amanda is going through a huge change and misses Yulia a lot, but I am very happy that I get to spend quality time with my amazing daughter.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

5 years

 I can't believe that 5 years ago today, on a Monday morning (not a Sunday), the boy and I got married for the first time (the second ceremony would take place later that year, in September).

I still remember how emotional and happy we felt that day. We were supposed to be going almost by ourselves, only joined by our witnesses, 4 of our best friends, but when our parents and close family heard the plan they were like nuh-uh, we are coming as well.

We felt so happy. So fresh and ready to take life together.

Marriage is hard, last night at 3 a.m. we were screaming at each other eventhough (or perhaps because) we were both more asleep than awake. I am not proud and every time we fight I can't wait to make up again because staying angry kills me inside.

There is always a new day and we keep coming back to each other. I admire M. so much and he pushes me, inspires me and makes me be a better person everyday.

My best friend is staying with us and we spent the day visiting Rotterdam, walking in the rain and then having celebratory tea and crêpes Suzette.

I hope we will be blessed with many more days together.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The children literature (kinderboeken) museum in The Hague

 A couple of weeks ago, on the last week before I started working, we went to the Kinderboekenmuseum in The Hague* with Yu's best baby friends. It is such an amazing place. On the second floor, the section of the museum 'ABC met de dieren mee' is particularly great for toddlers and children up to 6 years old.

 Babies and small children follow the letters of the alphabet, through tunnels, holes and hidden paths that take them to rooms dedicated to characters of their favorite children classics, many of them Dutch (Nijntje, Pim en Pom, Kleine Ezel, Vos en Haas, Dikkie Dik, Kikker) but some others known internationally (The hungry Caterpillar, Elmer).

Babies can literally follow the path of the hungry caterpillar as he eats his way to become a butterfly. Elmer is a very big puzzle made of colorful wooden tiles. There is a frozen sea where icebergs represent letters and sentences and stories can be built.

The Nijntje room has a table where you can draw her with the aid of stencils engraved on the wood itself, a slide takes you inside her corner; there is a bookshelf and puppets at the cave of Vos en Haas. 

Yu liked it so much that we went there once again, as the first time was so fun, but also so overwhelming that we did not have the chance to explore all the rooms. Both of the times she had a blast. If you are visiting The Hague and you are traveling with small children, you should not miss this place, particularly if you are experiencing typical Dutch weather (gray, windy and rainy).

*(Prins Willem-Alexanderhof 5, very close to the train station Den Haag Centraal).

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

So I guess that makes me a working mom.

Yesterday was my first day at a new job.  This time it was completely unexpected, as in, I wasn't even actively looking for a job. 4 years ago, when I was doing everything to find something remotely related to my area I handed in my CV to all the work agencies I could, and I put it up in the major databases. Nothing ever came out of that.

And then, out of the blue, I was contacted by one of these agencies, telling me there was a position that was very suited to my profile and that the company was very interested in me. I was interviewed once, then a second, and a third and a fourth time. It all went very smoothly. I really liked the feeling I got, the team, the management, the idea of being helpful to society (and to animals, at the end of the spectrum). Then I got offered the job and we had to think long and hard.

It was so difficult.

This time with Yulia, these almost 16 months with her have been precious. I love watching her grow, develop, change and evolve and become her own person. She discovers new things every day and learns new tricks all the time. We've done so much together: playgroups, library visits, walks to the park and to the beach; swimming and music classes, museums, playdates. I am going to miss her so much.

I wish I could stay with her for longer.

Then again, the job search has been so, so hard. And the gap in my CV keeps growing. With a lot of faith we decided to take the plunge, to try it, to think of this as an investment. As much as I would like to be with her now, as much as I have loved taking care of her, there will be a point when she will go to school and I am not sure if an opportunity like this will come back then.

In my heart, I know she will be fine. She is a friendly, social kid, she enjoys being with other kids. And I am in love with her daycare: they promote and follow each child's explorations, they grow and cook their own warm meals each day, it is a very calm, peaceful and happy environment.

I cried so much. I cried when I got the offer (sad and happy tears at the same time), I cried myself to sleep once I had accepted, wondering if we had made the right decision, I cried yesterday, when I said goodbye and left for the day. (She didn't, but if this is going to be hard for someone, I prefer it's harder on me).

Maybe it is too early to say, but it feels good. It feels good to be using my studies, it feels good to be out in the world again, it feels good to come back to our family at the end of the day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


I have been meaning to write this post for months. My word for the year came to me early, I just knew what it was. It is already May and I haven't stopped running. But a time to pause and reflect is much needed. Last year my word (verb) was "to Marvel",  the year before that it was "Joy", and before that "Patience". This year my word is Grow.

There has been so much happening. I started January  happy and surprised with 4 cake assignments, one per weekend (well one of them was the one for Yu's birthday). Then we went to Mexico and I made a couple of cakes over there and another one when I just came back. Last weekend I had 3 cake orders for the same day.

I have a feeling that things are moving and changing this year, that I am evolving into something new, that slowly pieces of the puzzle that is life are starting to come together, by themselves.

There are challenges, the major one right now is weaning. I had originally planned to breastfeed baby Y. for 6 months so that I would be ready for our next round of  IVF soon after. Our breastfeeding start was not easy and by the time we hit 6 months we were so comfortable in our routine and she was growing so well that I postponed letting her go off the bewb until she could have cow milk. I have nothing against formula, I know it is a life and sanity saver in many, many cases and that there are many reasons, some simple, some complex to choose not to breastfeed. Sometimes it is not a choice. But, I was lucky that it was working really well for us, it was convenient, easy and pretty much free. And yes, I had my own personal boycott against the companies that make formula. It is silly, maybe, but I applied several times to work with them, I knew well I had the knowledge and expertise required for such positions and I was not even called for an interview. (That and the controversial ways these companies promote formula feeding in countries in development, where there is no access to clean water). So they were not getting our money if I could avoid it.

Fast forward to the beginning of this year, when we started the weaning process, we discovered that our kid would NOT take a bottle. After trying several nipples she takes them every now and then, mostly though she likes to play with them, she may drink 100 mL before bed time, but a bottle is not substituting me. We give her cheese and yoghurt, sometimes all-natural fruit milkshakes. During the day she is pretty much weaned, she does not ask for it anymore and since March I stopped offering as she is well into her solid food meals (I would still give it when she asked). Feeding her in public was getting difficult because she is so curious and distractable that she would not concentrate on eating and would much rather wave at strangers or play peekaboo with the swaddling blanket I used as a cover. So that part is going well, but, she is still waking up in the middle of the night and nothing but me, or more precisely, my bewbs, will make her settle down. We've read the theories, we know what we are supposed to do (either make her wait gradually longer and longer between feeds or reduce the amount of time she spends breastfeeding until it is not worth the wake up). It is not working and she will not tolerate being soothed by dad. She screams murder and we should probably be firmer, but I just can't handle her sad, helpless crying and I have a feeling neither can the neighborhood. In my gut I feel she is not ready, I kind of thought/hoped she would outgrow it and start sleeping longer and demanding less comfort from us but it does not seem to be happening any time soon. I get angry when I read about how babies are supposed to be able to self soothe (by 6 months none the less)*, about how rocking them, comforting them, breastfeeding them is all wrong and sleep be doomed forever if you do these things and why did you continue to do them when the book said it was time to stop. We have tried all kinds of things, like me sleeping in a different room so she can't smell me. She still wakes up.

 On the other hand, I am going to be 35 this June. That means I am going to reach the dreaded label of 'advanced maternal age' and our chances at being succesful for a second sibling statistically plummet. I am silly, delusional, hoping for that miracle pregnancy that happens to infertile couples once they had a first pregnancy. I know I should not count on it, but I am hopelessly optimistic and the “unexpectedly pregnant after infertility/adoption” thing is apparently not an urban legend. It does happen, even to Amanda's.  It is so hard, it feels so cruel to force-wean Yulia when she still appears to need me. But I don't want to be breastfeeding a 4, or 3 or 2 year old so we are going to have to do this if we want our family to grow, and I know this is absolutely not in our hands, and I feel greedy for wanting more when we have already been so blessed, but there it is, our deepest wish thrown out to the universe.

So that's where we're at. Late to this party, it is almost mid-year, but do you have any words, plans, projects, wishes for this year?

*that sounds to me like corporate productivity standards applied to infants. Baby should do this now, and should do that then, otherwise you are doing things wrong.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Diary of a couple of busy days

 I am feeling like super mom today. It is not always like this. Most of the time I am just barely able to do the things that need to get done. I spend my days running all the time, letting some chore wait while I collapse in the couch for most needed rest or decide to go out even if there is always something I  could be doing.  (I mean, look at all that laundry that has to be folded).

I normally wake up around 6:30 (when our alarm goes on), I like to be the first to shower, while everyone else is still asleep. It gives me some calm time and a fresh start. After showering I start preparing breakfast, normally some fruit (steamed apple or pear with cinammon, or melon or papaya or mango), bread with cheese and yoghurt for the baby and toast with jam and tea for us. I also prepare a sandwich and fruit for the husband to take to work. The baby usually wakes up when I am in the middle of preparations so things get exciting as she wants to see what is going on at all times. As soon as she is up her pacifier and bottle get sterilized. Either Mark or me give her a new diaper and after everyone is clean and dressed we have breakfast together until it is time for the boy to go to work. This is normally around 8 am.

Yesterday we had swimming class at 9 am, so I let the baby play on the floor for a while. In the meantime I run around preparing our backpack with towels, underwear, soap, bathing suits, sandals; and make sure our diaper bag has everything we need: pacifier, meals for the day, diapers, wipes. We walk to the swimming pool and then we get busy preparing all the stuff we need for after the class (dry towels, soap) and change both of us into our bathing suits.

After class she normally falls asleep quite fast with a stroller walk. I use this time to go for groceries and bring them home, then keep on walking around, taking advantage of the sunny weather. When Yu woke up from her nap we went for lunch at an ice-cream / café that I love because they have the nicest Italian latte's and the baby can walk on the couches by the window, people watching. We eat fruit, a panini with tomato, mozzarella and pesto and the afore mentioned coffee (for me) and  frothy steamed milk (for her). From there we go to the library (a few meters away) and I let her roam free, taking the books off all the shelves as she pleases. (I go around behind her picking them up, sometimes we arrange them together).  We choose a couple of books and a friend calls us, so we go to the center and meet at a park that has a nice playground. We think the girls (mine and hers) are going to fall down for a nap while we walk, but there is too much excitement at the park and they ain't gonna miss it.

So off they go to the slide, the seesaw, the swings. They play until they are, now, for real, extremely tired and it's already 17h 30. We head home.

I go home to a sick husband. He feels weak, he has a fever though he does not recognize it and he is in pain. I remember that by some kind  of miracle there is chicken broth in the freezer, with rice and vegetables, so I prepare it, along with some mint tea. I give him paracetamol, the Dutch's panacea and cure for everything. The baby is still napping while I cook, so we eat without her. When she wakes up, she has her dinner and plays around a little bit but she starts being fussy and edgy so she gets her night diaper and pijama and we start the (long) dance of getting her to sleep. She takes a while, then wakes up at 23h, 1h30, 4 am. Yeah, we are still doing that, and we don't know how it will stop. Theories are very nice in books. But well, we are used to this.

I wake up this morning, the husband is (still) not feeling well at all, I make breakfast, load the washing machine with diapers, do the dishes a million times, clean the table, bake 3 cakes (one after another), two of which are vegan and are looking really good, entertain the kid, make her go down for her naps, hang the diapers, make lunch.

I am feeling so efficient and yet I am not the best self that I could perhaps be. I know the husband is ill and I am doing my best to take care of him, making sure he eats and stays hydrated; but also, I am resenting that he gets to be on the couch resting and he gets annoyed when I ask him for help. I wish I could do all of this graciously and yet what I really want is praise and pats in the back. I want to be told how amazing I am for doing the routine things that are done everyday and are just the necessary things that keep us functioning, no extraordinary feats. So here we are, and it is (only) 14:06.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Royal Style

 This post is going to be silly, so beware. I like to pretend I am really smart and intellectual and do not care about things like fashion (too much).

 I live in a uniform of corduroys or jeans, patterned shirts and sweaters in bright colors. I mismatch everything because when I get dressed in the morning my eyes are still closed. I color clash in a non-deliberate way.

I do enjoy glossy magazines and gossip particularly when waiting at airports and I have to confess I am quite the fan of Taylor Swift and Lily Allen (other celebrities I wish I could be friends with are Emma Stone, Jessica Alba, Mandy Moore and Anna Kendrick).

Anyhow, that is how I found out that, on occasion, I have dressed like my favorite royals, Kate Middleton and Charlotte Casiraghi. 

 Last June we baptized baby Y and after watching too many chapters of Suits I decided to be adventurous and wear a pencil skirt for the first time in my life. It was a very light minty green and covered in lace. I wore it with a white top and my wedding shoes, which I had sworn I would re-wear. Well, Charlotte of Monaco baptized her son on the same weekend as we did (!) and when I saw the photos I couldn't believe we chose quite the similar outfit. 

Last summer, my mom-outfit of jeans and a striped gray and blue t-shirt was something Kate Middleton chose as well.

So I guess I am not as fashion-ignorant as I sometimes think I am.

It was a good summer... enjoying the warm summer warmth by the lake, and a baby on the bewb.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Living by the Sea

Spring is (finally) here and we have had a couple of truly warm days. I have really become a sun-worshipper, as soon as the first rays of warm sunlight hit us I bring out my summer outfits and run to the nearest terrace, garden, park, playground, outside location.

Last Friday we went to a beach with a close friend of mine (and Yu) and it hit me. I live by the Sea. I was one of those girls who grew up in the 90's dreaming of becoming a Marine biologist. I actually wanted to work at the Sea World. That place really impressed me in all the good ways as a child and I thought it was doing a great job at taking care of animals in a humane, scientific, state-of-the-art way. (Then I saw Blackfish and all those ideas were shattered.)

Ever since then I fantasized with the idea of living by the water, one of those dreams that you have there on a shelf and never really actively pursue. But then, there are those dreams that you do pursue and I did go live and study in Barcelona, first as an Erasmus (Biology) student, and later to go to Vet School.

After which I moved to The Netherlands. If I start counting, that makes it almost 10 years of living by the ocean and I did not even notice. Did I assimilate it? Was it so much a part of me that I did not stop to think about it at all?

It makes me really happy and grateful to realize that maybe unconsciously, seamlessly some of the things I thought I'd do when "I grew up" I'm actually doing.

Do you have any dreams or places that have pulled you once and again?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Reading, Finding, Doing.

Yesterday I finally finished the book I was reading (Moranthology, by Caitlin Moran). It took me almost a year. Finding the time for reading is becoming harder and harder, but leaving books unfinished gives me an unsettling feeling. I really liked some of her essays, and some others I found very entertaining. I particularly loved the one where she referst to libraries "cathedrals of the soul". So right. To quote her:

“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead”
A couple of weeks ago I participated at the 'Writers unblocked' event organized by Catarina and Tamkera (Portuguese and Nigerian expats who write at 'CraftieMum' at 'Naija Expat in Holland'respectively). I do not really think of myself as a writer, I have no formal education in anything creative and mostly I just use this space to share and vent and as a sort of personal journal.

However, it was really nice to meet other bloggers going through somewhat similar life experiences (living outside your home country, assimilating a new language and culture, raising a family in a new setting, feelings of homesickness, adapting) and sharing our writing. I had to overcome my shyness, go on the stage and read out loud. (I did not fully overcome it I guess, because apparently I read very, very fast, but then again, that's also the way in which I normally talk).

 I continue to take a lot of walks with the kid, I love it because of the things I discover, like little free libraries, magnolias in bloom and nice places. Speaking of which, just 2 weeks ago a baby-friendly café, complete with toys and playground opened in The Hague.

 I was so happy I went immediately... I had just written about the need for these kind of spaces and there it was. Bij Mijs, (Laan van Nieuw Oost Einde 100) is a small gift/toy shop with a place for the babies to play and for the parents to relax. And it is also open on Saturday's. I love serendipitous finds like this one.

Last Saturday the boy and I went on a real, formal date probably for the 1st time since our girl was born. We had been out together without the kid to run errands, or for lunch with friends, but not like this. For the girl's birthday some friends gave us tickets to the movies and we decided it was about time. We first stuffed our faces in chocolate (hot-chocolate, mini-chocolate mousse and a tasting of different bon-bons) at Hop en Stork. It was really nice to spend time with each other, it reminded me of those first months of our relationship, when we first started going out.

To celebrate Easter we took the kid to a petting farm for the first time, I made zucchini and goat-cheese quiche, we went for a long walk to a park. How was your long-weekend?

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