Monthly Archives: April 2006

brrrr! turn the heat up!


What a cold weekend this has been!! We did go to the Keukenhof yesterday and had a lovely time admiring the flowers and everything – while shivering in our winter jackets! We took lots of pictures – even Niek took pictures this time – which I will be so happy to share when our new computer arrives. Soon….

Today we’ve just relaxed at home. Niek spent much of the morning clearing out our library. In addition to holding our thousands of books, it is also the resting place for two cribs, several empty shipping boxes, and a lot of other curious objects. When we set Rowen’s new bed up last night (more pictures I can’t wait to share), I guess Niek decided that the library was just too full. The kids have been playing outside and Niek and I have been tempted to pull on our winter jackets too. We’ve kept the back door open, and it’s COLD in here!

This week is the May vacation. Max is in England with his biological father and grandparents, hopefully having a great time. Nicky and Rowen keep asking when we are going to pick him up from school. As much as I miss him, I keep reminding myself what a great opportunity this is for him … and not to ruin it with a mother’s worrying. I do have some things happening this week that I’m really looking forward to. Right up there on the list is Ash’s upcoming visit. Ash was one of the first bloggers I dared contact (before I started my blog) – I couldn’t resist an English speaking, cross-stitching, mother of busy kids who lived only a couple of hours away. Even though we’ve emailed for quite awhile now, we’ve never managed to meet face-to-face, so this will be a treat. I suspect our kids will love playing together, too! Also this week, I hope to hold a happy dance for Annemarie’s neighborhood round robin piece. Today I finally made some decent progress on it, and if I can proceed with some degree of self-discipline I may well finish it by next weekend. Here’s hoping!


And to everyone who stops in here to see what’s up, I want to say a big, hearty thank you! I’ve met some wonderful people here! And my dad keeps steering new wonderful people my way (hi Lucille, hi Leslie!). The world is a wonderful place when you realize it’s filled with friends.


happy queen’s day!

This weekend we’ll be celebrating Koninginnedag, or Queen’s Day. It’s a fun holiday, though it does seem to rain every year. There’s live music that you can enjoy for free, any kind of tasty treat you could want available on every street corner, and anything you could ever want to buy is spread out on cloths or displayed on flatbeds on every street in every town throughout the country. Kids sell their used toys and games, adults sell anything from cracked flowerpots to car radios of mysterious origins. It’s a party in the street and suddenly everyone, even the most stand-offish of Dutchies, is jovial and chatty. But this year, you won’t find us in the throngs of people wandering up and down the streets of Gouda – I convinced Niek to go to the Keukenhof with me!

Those of you who know my better half, know that he doesn’t “do” touristy stuff. And there’s not much that’s more touristy than the gorgeous flowers of the Keukenhof. But the one thing Niek likes even less than tourist hotspots is any sort of crowded public holiday, like the week of Carnival or the weekend of koninginnedag. So convincing him to go sniff flowers with me was relatively easy. (Why didn’t I figure this out years ago?!)

Also this weekend, we’ll be assembling Rowen’s first bed. She’s been so jealous of Nicky’s bed, and is so obviously ready for her own, that I braved the crowds of Ikea yesterday to buy her a beautiful – and very feminine – bed. At first, she said she didn’t want a new bed, but when she saw the showroom model, she climbed right in, pulled the quilt up to her chin and announced to all passers-by that “this is MY bed!”. Naturally we had to get the same bedding that was on the showroom model, which meant the boys had to get new bedding as well. I can never get out of Ikea for under 100 euro. But everyone is very happy and I will post a picture of the kids’ bedroom once I’m able to.

I wish you all a most joyous weekend. I’ll be tiptoeing among the tulips. Hooray!


clowning around


Today is the final day of Max’s mini clown course, and it will end with a presentation for the parents (& siblings) of the newly-graduated clowns. I’ve got our wonderful DVD recorder all charged up with a fresh disc, ready to go. We’ve even got an “order” for a copy of it (Max’s best friend is also in the course, and his mom would like a copy). I wish I could send a copy to my parents, but discs made here will not play on DVD players in the US, and vice-versa. How annoying! One of my pet peeves, but I’ll stay off my soapbox for now.

Though the day began dark & gloomy, the sun is out now, and the kids have had a great time playing outside. I’ve dusted off my old Canon SLR camera and take a real roll of film of the kids. If the pictures come out, I’ll scan them and share them when our new computer arrives. Yep, you read that right – Niek really did order a new computer yesterday, and it should arrive next week. Hooray!!

Last night I worked on Annemarie’s RR for a bit, stitching the goose from CHS G is for Goose alphabet series over one. Phew, that was not the best evening project to do. I know Annemarie’s linen isn’t really 40 count, but it was beginning to feel that way! I also did one letter on the CHS Primitive Stocking, which is also over one on 36 count. Today I’ve been lazy and have just enjoyed being outside with the kids.

I’ll leave you now with a picture of Pipo the Clown, Max’s favorite, in his fascinating little travel wagon.


putting the cart before the horse

As you know, we’ve had a combination of camera and computer woes for quite awhile now. I left the computer stuff up to Niek, since that’s ‘his thing’ … but I’d optimistically forgotten how s-l-o-w he is in these matters. He’s almost ordered it for about a week now. He says that today he really, really will. We’ll see.

But meanwhile, I’ve kept my eyes and ears open just in case a good digital camera goes on sale. Our Nikon Coolpix has been a wonderful camera for years, but ever since our holiday last summer, it just hasn’t taken good pictures. The camera shop said it would take a minimum of 6 weeks to even look at it, and then they couldn’t guarantee that they could actually fix the problem. The price they gave us was in the range of hundreds of euros if they could fix it!

Today the Olympus SP-310 went on sale at (of all places) the local drugstore and I was the first one to buy one! It has a whopping 7.1 megapixels and a macro zoom that allows you to get as close as 2 centimeters from your subject! Does this sound like the perfect camera for cross stitch projects? And to delight the photo hobbyist lurking within me, this little gem even has the ability to control it manually! Am I delighted? How loud can I say YES!


Now I just have to actually do some stitching to take some pictures of! Assuming, of course, that my beloved and ever-so-thoughtful DH does manage to order that computer today. LOL.

As for the rest of my day – the sun is out and it is warm enough to wear a T-shirt. The kids have been playing outside since breakfast (other than our trip to the store). I plan to finally get those herbs in the ground and pull out the 3 million weeds that have grown in there since last week. I even managed to order my nephew what I think is a totally cool birthday gift – early enough to actually arrive on time this year! What a great day!


gemini gift exchange – don’t forget!

After our busy family & friends weekend, I have no exciting news to share on the stitching front. Actually, it’s been far too long since I did any stitching, but I’ll get into that at another time.

Today I’d just like to gently remind Connie, Von, and Rachael that our agreed-upon maildate for the Gemini Gift Exchange is May first – only one week from today! Even if the weather has been wet and chilly, this spring is flying by! If any of you have lost your recipient’s information, just send me an email and I’ll mail it right out to you.


proudly following in daddy’s footsteps

When I was a kid, my dad could magically pull out any loose tooth without it hurting a bit. It was amazing, and a great source of comfort to a kid who was pretty squeamish about mouth-things (I still don’t know how dentists do it – shudder!). Daddy would ask if he should look at my latest loose tooth, and I’d nervously agree. He’d wiggle it, ask me some question, and before I’d come up with an answer, there would be my tiny, white tooth laying in his palm. It was just the most remarkable thing – it’s hard to put into words the absolute faith I had in him, that he’d somehow get me out of this without it hurting.


Well, Max has had a loose tooth for weeks that showed no signs of coming out on its own. So at bedtime, I asked him if he would like me to look at it for him. Max is a child who actively avoids pain and gets kind of woozy at the sight of blood, so he was pretty nervous when he said I could look. I gave it a wiggle, and it was all ready to come out … but I’ve never pulled a tooth. I asked him if he would like me to try, and (after grabbing a special stuffed animal for support) he agreed. And pop out it came before he knew it. I can’t claim I did it as magically as my dad (and it did bleed, but Max was okay with it), but maybe by the time Rowen’s ready for a visit from the tooth fairy, I’ll be able to make the visit a painless one.

Daddy, if you’re out there reading this – I’ll never forget your gentleness & kindness!


family and friends

This weekend will be happily filled with family and friend events. Niek’s grandmother will turn another year in her calendar, and we’re hauling all the kids down to Eindhoven tomorrow to celebrate with her. Max and I are going gift shopping for her this afternoon. Unlike Nicky & Rowen, Max is usually quite a delight to take shopping. On Sunday, friends Eric and Ingrid will bring their delightful son Sven over for a quick morning visit. And later in the afternoon, friends Anja and Ab will arrive with their little boy, Andreas. We’re hoping to enjoy a nice, informal dinner out in the backyard, so cross your fingers for us!

On the technical front, Niek has been ‘this’ close for three days now to ordering us a new computer. One thing and the other has prevented him from actually ordering the computer, but he’s very close. LOL! As I told Annemarie, when it comes time to replace our digital camera (which will not be that far in the future, I fear), you can rest assured that I will take that purchase on myself!

And on the personal front, we had a long meeting this morning with a mortgage advisor and were pleasantly surprised to find that the sort of home we’d really like is actually within our means. The next step is to have a couple of realtors come by and give us some estimates on what we could expect to get for our current home, and what chores we have to do to make it more saleable. We already know we’ll have to box up a lot of stuff and put it in storage to de-clutter the house. Toys! Toys! And more toys! And someone made a sneaky suggestion that some of my stash could also go into storage, but surely they didn’t mean it.

PS: The picture is not of our future house – something like that would run in the millions over here! But it is pretty!!


the birds and the bees

We seem to have a mating pair of blackbirds in the little green area in front of our house! They’ve been hopping around, nearly oblivious to our comings & goings, all day today. Hopefully our cat will not notice them…. The male blackbird has sung one lovely song that I was lucky enough to hear. I’ve never before noticed them making any particularly pleasant noises, so it was really a treat. I’ve included a couple of pictures of a male European blackbird (which really is black) and a female European blackbird (which is more of a mottled, dusty brown – excellent camouflage). We’ve also had a busy chickadee (which Max calls a koolmeisje and which my bird book insists is a tit) who seems to believe he’s a bee. He’s been busily sticking his beak into our unfolding apple leaves/blossoms, hopping from one leaf cluster to the next. Has anyone ever heard of this behavior?

Yesterday, the younger two kids and I cleared out the worst of the accumulated winter debris from our front garden, and tried to weed. We made a good start. I saw that my mint, oregano, and sage are coming back up from the roots. Hooray! Today we got some savory (pictured) and rosemary. I’ve never had any luck growing rosemary, but I was feeling optimistic. LOL. I also picked up a few new lavender plants to try to cheer up the ones I cut back (too far?) this winter.

I’m not much of a green thumb, but I do love watching things grow. My Gramps was a gardener – or what today would be called a landscaper – in Bar Harbor, and I used to love to putter with him in his garden when I was a kid. My mom can also make anything grow. My Dad tried his hand at bell peppers and tomatoes this winter in Florida with great success. And I can’t leave out my brother, who has managed to make grass grow in the desert! So I guess it’s something of a family hobby. I would love to have the room to grow fruit – particularly blueberries and raspberries. Someday!


midweek already?

It would seem that Monday was Spring. Yep, it was a one-day season. Glad we made the most of it, with a nice family bike ride after the rabbit hutch was assembled. It’s been chilly, with too many gray skies, in the past two days. Not that that has bothered me too much – I’m totally preoccupied with getting to Maine in July! The first week we’re there, we’re staying with my dear friend Sara in SW Maine, which is over in the direction of Carol and Patti. Ladies, would you like to get together over at ABC Stitch Therapy (in Grantham, NH) sometime between the 24th & 29th?

Looking at the map, I noticed that Sara’s also located quite near Campton, NH, which is where I spent several happy years of childhood. I’m thinking of dragging everyone over there to see how much it’s changed, and to show my kids where I sort of grew up. We lived there from 1st grade through 5th grade, and I loved it! The picture is of the covered bridge that was within walking distance of where we lived – my brother I used to pick these amazing grasses that you could use for whistling, and real mint that you could chew, and lamb’s ears that you could eat. We also tried our hand at fishing (the fish were perfectly safe) and at various forms of exploration. It was an idyllic spot where childhood never seemed to be rushed.

Today is the second day of Max’s clown course. Next week they’ll wrap it up with a performance for parents – I can hardly wait. Clown Mimi, who’s teaching the course, is thinking of doing a follow-up course for the kids who’d like to learn a bit more. I hope she does!

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, I hope it brings joy!


the sun is out – spring has arrived!

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The sun is out and it’s warm enough to go out with a light jacket, finally! Hooray!! Of course, the weather here can change in the blink of an eye, but at this moment, everyone in the family is soaking up the sun in one way or another: Niek and Max are constructing the outdoor hutch for Nighingale; Rowen and Nicky are playing in our little backyard playground; and even I am sitting in a pool of sunshine while I type this. If the weather holds (cross your fingers and toes!) we are going to take a family bike ride. Max has had his own bike for a couple of years now, but is still a bit … unpredictable … on it, so the practice will do him good. Nicky would love to have his own bike, but we can’t find one that’ll accomodate those short legs of his, so he still sits in a child seat on the back of my bike while Rowen sits in a baby seat on the front of Niek’s bike. She’s pretty much outgrown this, so we hope to find Nicky a bike, and switch Rowen over to the larger seat on my bike. It would also be a good day to work on one of my over-one stitching projects, but I am eager to get outside. This winter felt far too long, and it seems like it’s been ages since I’ve been outside with the sun on my skin.

Lately, I’ve been thinking alot about our upcoming trip to Maine and becoming ever more impatient to be there. Part of me would really love to move back, if it were at all practical on any level. But there are no jobs in the software industry up there, and I don’t know how well we’d all react to an overseas move. They are stressful, and I speak from experience! But it will be absolutely wonderful to enjoy a whole month there with family & friends. My biological father and his soon-to-be-wife will come from Arizona to see us. My mom and dad will already be in Maine, since that’s where they live. I’ll be spending a week with my dear friend Sara, and I’ll also get together with Carol! My mom floored us the other day with the offer of using her spare car while we’re there, which will save us over $1000, and you can well imagine what welcome news that was! In short, we are all beginning to get very excited about the experience. Niek’s parents have offered to take Gilbert, in spite of his bad manners, and Niek’s sister will take Max’s bunny. We are not as worried about finding a place for Spin, since he spends most of his time outside and can probably just be fed by the neighbors during our absence. Basically, there’s not much more to do other than the packing … and I guess it’s too early for that. LOL!


Nina Gaby

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