Sunday, December 14, 2003

The 14th already! Saskia's birthday on the 11th was great, with a party at Build a Bear with 13 girls in all. Everyone made a black bear. After the party everyone got ice cream at Haagen Dasz and then we had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe at the mall as a family, with my dad and one of Saskia's friends.

Yesterday we went out to Middleburg to cut our Christmas tree. It was a fun drive and, although the selection was bad, we did find a tree. A Scotch pine with long needles, not what Kai, Saskia and I had hoped for, but it looks nice and smells great.

Things to be grateful for:
1. Eating dinner at an upscale restaurant tonight (Serbian Crown) and have a great time with all 3 kids. Saskia tried French onion soup and liked it and Kai tried smoked salmon. We had a genuinely nice time talking with the kids and enjoying each other.
2. Going out with Rick for his office's Christmas party last night in full ornate: full length silver dress and he wore a tux. The party was nice, but the walk around the National Christmas tree was (like in the commercial ;)) priceless! What a sight I must have made with my red ski jacket over a silver full length skirt!
3. Kai and Katja team babysitting for friends last night. I'm so proud of my kids I'm just about bursting :).
4. The Christmas season and the family togetherness it brings. Saskia and I were exhausted from all the business of the weekend this afternoon and took a nap together. Having that little body asleep in my arms is heaven, I realize just how short the time is she'll be little anymore.
5. The cats swatting at the ornaments in the tree. They are an endless source of entertainment and they don't know what to make of all the glitter and in Sushi's case, the eggnog tastes great when it's not supervised :-O!

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Man, the days fly by! I'm preparing for our St. Nicolas celebration tomorrow night, though I hope we'll be able to have it, as there is snow in the forecast! I can't believe it, two years in a row, the first snowfall on the 5th of December! Last year we had to postpone, I hope that won't be necessary this time.

Our friends Chuck, Christine and Mallory are coming, Mallory was sick with strep today, but started her antibiotics this morning, so she should be fine tomorrow night. My dad is coming too. We're giving everyone one gift with a poem and I ordered a bunch of special St. Nicolas candy.

Today and the past few days, I primarily worked on decorating the house for Christmas and writing and sending out Christmas cards. I finished both of those things today. The house looks great, if I say so myself!

Five things I'm grateful for today:
1. Saskia's supercute little voice, telling the girl that lost her arm to a shark attack surfed again today (her jazz teacher told her)
2. Ok, this is a selfish one, I realize, but Katja came home with menstrual cramps so I allowed her to cancel her math tutoring, allowing for a break for both of us (usually Thursdays are crazy with tutoring at 3:30 and dance at 4:30)
3. Kai's popularity with the boys in the neighborhood! I can't imagine I was ever worried about his social skills! He has at least one friend over every day, but usually more than one.
4. Rick and his always sunny disposition.
5. Brynna, happily asleep at my feet, keeping them warm in the cold.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Since I've been keeping a Dutch blog as well, it's been difficult to keep up with both, but today I feel I kind of miss blogging on a more personal level. The other blog is more meant to tell Dutch speaking people about our lives here. I'd like to use this blog a little more for personal thoughts, like my 5 things to be grateful for.

So, I'm starting right now:
1. the SUN! I'm so glad to be living in a climate, where cloud cover hardly ever lasts longer than a day.
2. The month of December, for some reason I am *really* looking forward to the holidays this year.
3. Our fortune, the kids took Angels off the Salvation Army tree this weekend and we're going to shop for them this afternoon. Seeing the simple wishes of those kids makes me realize how much we have to be grateful for.
4. Spending 4 fun days together with the family over Thanksgiving made it hard to start the school/workweek again, but also made me realize what a fun family we have, just the 5 of us.
5. The realization at Thanksgiving dinner that our lives are darn near perfect (the pessimist in me keeps worrying something is going to happen that will wipe the happiness away in one sweep, though :().

Friday, October 24, 2003

Well, we had quite the evening Wednesday night! Katja talks a lot on Instant Messenger, especially AIM from AOL, for which we have set strict rules: only people you know personally and have met, no going to chatrooms etc and I regularly check her buddy lists. Unfortunately, yesterday, she broke those rules and added a guy who’s supposedly a friend of a friend to her list. And then proceeded to give him her password to her Yahoo login. Needless to say, she’s offline in her room now.

However, the guy decided to contact me on my account with an age/sex check and I thought it was Katja at first (though weird behavior for her). When we both realized who the other was or was not in my case, he proceeded to write threats of rape and a bullet through my head.
So, I called the police. They sent out an officer, who thankfully really made sure Katja was aware of how dangerous what she had done is. She created a case and said a detective would be on it. I don’t know how far they’ll take it, but I’m glad they took it seriously.

We also wrote the Yahoo abuse address, hopefully they’ll work on it too. I have to say that in six years daily Internet usage nothing like this has ever happened and it’s very scary when the words come across your screen!
Katja is definitely a child who needs to feel before she believes and it’s always worried me about her. I hope this sends a strong message to her, that all our warnings aren’t so ridiculous as she thinks.

I have to admit, I feel like all my time is being consumed parenting my daughters these days. It’s exhausting! I’m almost wishing I only had boys (my sister has similar trouble with her stepson, but somehow it feels less scary with a boy, is that sexist of me or what?).
The guy had been very sexually explicit with Katja too, so yesterday we basically talked about what is or is not appropriate to talk about with boys and how we need to be our bodies’ protectors etc. Sigh!

This morning a detective from the police department came by to pick up the chats between Katja and “Chris” and asked if he could come by to talk to us and Katja this evening.

When he arrived tonight, he first said that his hunch was, that this was someone Katja knew, but after talking to her, he was convinced it’s not. He talked to her for a long time and Katja said he was quite stern with her (yay!). He told her about some of his experiences with this that didn’t end so well.

He took her computer with him to be analyzed and is subpoena-ing AOL and Yahoo for information on that screenname. He says it can take a few months. If it is an adult posing as a teen, the FBI will get involved. If it’s indeed a 16 year old boy, the local police and his parents will be informed.

I also took Kai and Saskia to the eye doctor and Kai turns out to need glasses, about which he was quite upset. Saskia’s eyes are still fine, but he said the readings were thus, that she probably would need correction at some point as well. None of the kids inherited Rick’s excellent eye sight, unfortunately. I did find out that Kai is not colorblind like Rick, because that gene is passed on by the mother. The girls however have a 50 percent chance of passing the gene to an eventual son.

And with all that, we painted our bathroom peach and have started on the kids’ bathroom, a bright sea green, we’ll finish that tomorrow.
Phew, I’m exhausted!

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I painted all day today and it looks great! I painted the area around the tv and fireplace in the family room dark blue. Saturday, if it works out, Rick and I will paint the rest of the walls there a lighter blue.

And Dina, our housekeeper, and I painted the powder room pueblo rose and aztec dawn (rosy brown and ochre yellow). Beautiful!

It's finally really fall here, cool and crisp. The leaves are turning nicely too. So I'm hoping to go for walks with Brynna and take pictures.

This afternoon, Saskia's teacher called. Saskia's been easily distracted and a little insolent in class. Her teacher is the sweetest lady! She was worried about Saskia and therefore called. We brainstormed and are going to try a snack in the morning, as Saskia is very susceptible to mood changes when she's hungry and she's not a big breakfast eater.

Tonight was the ice cream social at school and Rick went with the kids. It's too cold outside for me. I'm exhausted, I'm going to bed after this, yay!

I'm uploading some pics of our paintwork:

Saturday, October 18, 2003

This is becoming kind of a weekly update, I guess. The past week was nice, as it was rather "normal". I feel we finally got back into a schedule (makes me wonder when the next disruption will be ;)).

I got a boatload of things done, like getting the car cleaned inside and out, which was long, long overdue. I got my hair cut in a way that I really like. And all 3 kids are set for winterclothes.

I also selected paint for our family, which I'd like to paint blue with white trim.

Friday, October 10, 2003

We've been back from our vacation since Tuesday night. It was a complete blast! Maybe because I didn't have high expectations, but everything from the resorts to the landscape to the people and the things we did was fantastic. I'll write a short trip report about it and put it online soon.

Rick picked up some kind of stomach thing on the last day and is still not feeling his old self. I thought I might have too, when I woke up with severe stomach cramps yesterday morning, but now I think that was because I ate something super spicy on Wednesday night and for some reason my intestines can't handle that anymore.

It's been really nice fall weather the past couple of days and so I decided to decorate for Halloween with Saskia and her friend Laura. The girls really helped and it looks great. I'll add a couple of pictures of it here.

Tonight we'll again have 2 kids sleeping over, Kai and Saskia's friends. I don't have the heart to say no to these sleepover requests, when the kids are so close and enjoy them so much. I have to say, though, these particular people get a free night without kids quite often and keep saying they'll take ours next, but so far that hasn't happened. But I don't want to deny Kai and Saskia fun time with their best friends, who happen to be this girl and boy, so I keep finding myself saying yes and thinking the parents will just jump in and say "oh, but now it's our turn to take them". But no such luck. Oh well, it's not the end of the world, I guess.

Katja will be going to the weekly middle school night at the Community Center Teen Club. I'm so glad she likes to do that, as I think it's a great alternative to hanging out at the malls. Not that I'd allow her to do that, but this is just a nice place for them to go to.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Yay, we're almost off to Mexico. We're staying near Cancun at an all inclusive resort. Strangely enough, I'm not all that excited. I'm sure I will be when I get there. I think it's because life is just getting into a rhythm and here we go again. But it's an award for Rick's team at work, his company pays for it and it's a nice chance to spend family time together. It'll be great. I feel conceited thinking I'm not looking forward to it! And that's not the entire truth, it just takes so much work to travel, but once there it is going to be fun. Ok, enough convincing myself.

I worked hard at getting my summer stuff in order today too. I still had hundreds of pictures to work through and I needed to empty my flashcards for new pictures. So Aruba pictures can now be viewed here.

I'm off to bed now, better sleep well, we have to get up at 5:30!

Monday, September 29, 2003

Just got back from a fun dinner out with Rick. Katja babysat. It's nice to have a child old enough to do that! We had dinner at Neisha's a Thai restaurant. We've eaten there before and ordered the usual appetizer of salmon rolls. They're absolutely delicious! Then I had Thai Sukiyaki and it was very good, quite spicy!

Two Dutch ladies sat next to us having dinner. It's funny to be able to understand someone's conversation when they're oblivious to the fact that you can. Not that they said anything remarkable. Too bad kind of, I always think it would be fun to have someone make a snide remark about you and then show them that you understand them perfectly well. We've had that happen a few times in Holland.

After dinner, we went shopping. Katja has turned me on to low rise jeans from the Gap. She was mortified at the thought I'd wear classic fit. And to be honest, the low rise is much more flattering. At least from the Gap. So I got another pair tonight and a jeans shirt, the first ever in my life, but it looked so good, I couldn't pass it up! I'll be the Western girl yet!

Then we got a towel for the dog to lie on, as cheap as possible and new casual silverware, as we seem to have lost almost all of our forks of the old one. Who knows where they went!

Today was kind of quiet otherwise. I worked out hard, highly necessary and then went to Trader Joe's to get ingredients for quesadillas for the kids. I also got this really delicious bar of mozzarella and prosciutto, since the doctor told me to eat more protein. Oh and I got turkey jerky too. Love that stuff!

Kai needed material for his mealworm project, he needs to make a maze. So we went to Michael's and of course, besides the stuff he needed, I had to get some Halloween and Fall stuff.

Time for bed now, it'll be a nice and cold night!

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Pff, last week was definitely not one of my better ones physically. I just can't understand what brings on such a major flare. If I could, I could prevent it.

Thursday was the worst day, I had to take Saskia to the dentist at 11am and therefore did not really work out. Christine and I went for a quick half hour walk, but, stupidly, I felt I was entitled to a day without serious exercise, but came to regret it. Frustrating, that I always really have to get my muscles working and heart pumping to receive the benefit of a workout.

At the dentist, I couldn't even stand. I felt myself getting annoyed at a little boy who was sitting in the only chair available for adults there. Of course I didn't say anything, but I had to bite my tongue. And that's just so not like me to feel upset with a little kid! But I was almost desperate.

The day only went downhill from there, I tried to take an hour's nap, but even that didn't do any good. Thank goodness Christine told me to take Saskia to dance and Katja to tutoring, because it is my job, or I'd have canceled both. And she was right, I have to make sure I at least get the kids to their after school activities, as it is for their health and benefit. But, oh boy, was it tempting to give in to the fatigue and mysery.

Thursday night was Back To School Night and I had Rick go alone. It really should be called "Let's pounce on parents to volunteer some more" night and I'm trying to scale back the volunteering, doctor's orders. But I'm the worst at saying no, so I'd rather hide. Cowardly, I know.

Yesterday was a much better day, thankfully and today isn't too bad either. Saskia had a birthday party at Build A Bear from 1 to 3pm. Very cute, they made a curly bunny (Saskia started out with a meltdown, because she wanted the pig, but all was well in the end, as she got to dress her bunny in Halloween clothes).

I tried to find some more jeans at the Gap, but they didn't have my size. I need Long and it seems like that is one of the most popular lengths. So I'm going to another mall tomorrow, as I really want more jeans.

Tonight we're getting a friend of Saskia's for a sleepover and Kai is prepping for his second sleepover in a row elsewhere. We're in prime sleepover season it seems!

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

I feel a whine coming on, when I really have no right to. But what is better than an internet journal for something like that. Firstly, I really have nothing to whine about, which I'm super well aware of.

However...the pain is getting to me! Ok, I admit it, I'm just going through the motions of living right now and feeling like a truck has hit me all along. And the frustrating part is: no one can tell! I don't like to complain (though I do so more online than in real life and interestingly, I get a lot more understanding online than in real life, hmmm), mainly, because I'm always afraid to be discarded as the one "who is always sick" and "who can never do anything".

On orders of the rheumatologist, I have been working hard to diminish my commitments, so I have energy for the kids and Rick when they get home from school and work. Last year, I did way too much during the day, leaving me exhausted by 3pm and not the mother and wife I want to be.

But, oh boy, is it ever hard! Once you're in the volunteering mill, the word "no" barely gets accepted and if it does, than grudgingly so. One person had the audacity to tell me that sitting in child sized chairs all afternoon handing out fund raiser gift wrap orders "would take my mind off things". Um, well, it would rather do the reverse as sitting is painful as is, let alone sitting in those torturous chairs!

And yesterday, a neighbor who had seen my webpage claimed "there is someone with too much time on her hands". WTF? That page has taken me 6 years to create! But she's envious of me, because I've finally had to hire a housekeeper two days a week to alleviate the big household tasks and she feels she can't afford one. And yes, it is a luxury, I'm well, well aware. I'm super lucky that we're well enough off to be able to afford it (which is something else: in Holland, people with fibromyalgia get subsidized household help). This is something I've kept at bay for years, thinking it was a waste of money and why can't I do it myself. But, humiliating as it is, the fact is: I can't do it all myself. And Rick got stuck with the brunt of it after work and it's not like he doesn't have a busy job. So this was the solution for our family to take away a stress we didn't need. Just because my neighbor has a second house and a boat and therefore can't afford household help doesn't mean she should be jealous of me. But then again, she doesn't see me when the pain is so bad I can't sit, lie or stand and Rick does and unfortunately so do the kids.

This is getting to be a long ramble, but I'm so sick of judgmentalness! My best friend, who also has fibromyalgia, was told by a neighbor (guy) on Sunday, that he wouldn't mind trading with her, so he could have an excuse to do nothing. EXCUSE ME??? Nothing??? Guess who's having his daughters over at her house playing almost every day and making a mess?

I've long been aware, that it's almost impossible to know what it's like to live with chronic pain and fatigue if you don't have it yourself. I understand that. There are many such occasions in life. But where in the h*** is the empathy?

Do I have to really walk with a limp or lay myself up in bed to be taken seriously? According to my rheumatologist I'm doing everything I can do to function as well as I can with this disease. I'm guessing people see me exercise and think, well it can't be that bad, if she can run and lift weights, but what they don't see is the pain I have to bite through every time I do.

I've been having very serious burning pain on the right side of my body, all the way from my neck to my heel. According to the rheumatologist all par for the course, but it's so exhausting, because I can't get away from it. Nothing really helps, not even the exercise, not any kind of painkiller and I've tried just about all.

I truly love my life, I see all the beauty in it: Rick's love, the kids' love, nature, the pets, but when the pain takes over, like today, I can't help but feeling worthless and yes, I admit it, a little depressed. I'm trying hard to not let it get me down, especially not in front of the kids, because I don't want them to remember a mother who was always in pain. But I can't always do it!

I just got very frustrated suddenly this afternoon. I had a bear of a night with the kids staying awake till 11pm, arguing, because they were afraid of the storm outside and we all slept in one room, since Rick is out of town. Then the stupid dog woke me up at 12:50am to go outside. I swear she never does this when Rick is home! Katja, who was sleeping next to me in bed, had to get up again for school at 6:20am and I get up with her, because she likes the company. So I'm beyond exhaustion and in so much pain, I couldn't even lay down for a nap because it hurts too much. And yet I still have to take Katja to tutoring, have 3 kids playing in my house with the necessary messes and have to feed them tonight. It all seems like monumental tasks! I hate my body!

Ok, pity party over. Somehow it feels wrong to write so much about this, without the disease, my life would be darn near perfect, so is it right for me to complain about that one part? Probably not, but it does feel good every once in a while, especially since I always downplay how I feel in real life.
Well, on to having too much time on my hands: working on the PTA website for the school.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Wow, what a weekend. Ok, what a 4 day weekend is better put! We survived the storm fine, just 2 trees down, neither one touching the house, which had been my big fear. I was glad I prepared by getting extra flashlights, batteries, water and filling the bathtub, as we were without power for 26 hours (minimal compared to most of our neighbors!) and still can't drink the water until further notice.

The schools are starting two hours late tomorrow and Rick is going out of town, so life is returning to normal. I went around the neighborhood yesterday to record some of the damage on film and that can be seen here.

Today, we went to Great Falls, that too was quite a sight and also recorded on film here.

This was definitely the worst storm I have experienced in almost twenty years here and really my entire life!

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

It's getting down to the wire. We just got the message, that the schools will be closed tomorrow and that several of them will be set up as shelters. I hope so that they won't be necessary!

Meanwhile, we've secured as well as we can all loose items outside. I just put some bottles of water in the freezer, so we can keep food cold a while longer in case of a power outage. I think we have enough candles, flashlights, water and definitely enough food.

Hopefully we'll keep power, that's my main concern. The sunset clouds are bright red, in Dutch we say "evening red means water in the shed" (creative translation as the true Dutch word wouldn't rhyme in English), so it looks like it will come true this time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Well, I have to admit to getting nervous about the hurricane. I went out to get extra batteries and water today and for the rest we could probably survive for weeks on all the food we have in the house, because I already had a stash in case of a terror attack (yes, I know, but still better be safe than sorry). It's funny how I always have this sense of sillyness when I buy extra emergency supplies. This morning too, I purposely also got some other stuff, so it didn't seem like I was one of those panickers.

Tomorrow we'll secure the lawn furniture and other loose stuff in the yard and then that's really all we can do. I do pray, though, that the storm weakens more, so that overall damage will be limited.

Besides all this, I've been feeling terrible physically, so bad that Rick had to massage me with mineral ice last night. The rheumatologist, whom I saw yesterday, didn't have anything new to recommend, so that was a little bit of a disappointment. I did like that she commended me for the way I was taking care of myself. But that doesn't help me on bad days.

I have to admit to feeling a bit down with all this. Can't wait for Saturday, when all this weather stuff is supposed to be over and hopefully, we'll still have power.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Wednesday was my 42nd birthday! It will forever be the day before September 11th, I'm afraid. But I decided to make this a memorable birthday: all 3 of us girls would get our ears pierced. I never did yet, because my mother didn't like it and then I never got around to it. Now the girls had been asking and so I thought it would be a great thing to do on my birthday. So here we are, all pierced ;).

On September 11th, I took my pc over to Christine's house and worked on my pictures there, while the others did Creative Memories. I don't have the patience for that, but I have plenty of pictures on the computer and I didn't want to be alone on that day.

The weather had been gorgeous all week, so we had good hopes for Friday, since that was the day of my party. Wouldn't you know it, it started pouring down rain around noon :(. And Rick had arranged for sand art for the kids. We ended up having that in the garage. The party was great! We ordered food from Schwan's and some from Giant. And we had the sand art and a roulette table. There were about 30 people and it was very, very nice!

Yesterday, I was a little hungover, I have to admit, so I took a long nap in the afternoon. Then I went out to dinner with my friend Ann and 2 of her other friends. Ann has moved to Philadelphia and came to visit with her daughter, who's Katja's age. We had Mexican and it was a lot of fun chatting till late in the night.

When I came home, Rick informed me Saskia had really missed me. I hate hearing that, because of course she was asleep by then and I couldn't go and cuddle with her (well, I could, but she didn't wake up). Poor buddy!

This morning we got up early and took off for the Renaissance Festival. It was great, as always. I have to say, though, it's amazing what people will wear! Some of it is really too much! I loved the little babies and toddlers in Medieval clothes though and I saw a lot of slings and very well loved kids. A great atmosphere there! No yelling parents, just families having fun together.

The food was awesome, I especially liked the fried pickles. Kai got himself a lifelike little dragon to sit on his shoulder and all the kids got their hands in wax. Much, much fun!

Afterwards, Christine, Chuck and Mallory came over for pizza and that was a good end to a great day!

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Wow, I've been a US citizen for 4 years today! That was such a weird 3 days 4 years ago: first I got sworn in as a US citizen on the 9th (9-9-'99, how can one forget?), then my 38th birthday on the 10th and my sister's wedding on the 11th (yes, she got married on 9/11 :(, it's annoying now, as it will forever be "the" date. For me my birthday will always be the day before. I turned 40 the day before 9/11/2001, how's that for a milestone.)

I'm tired tonight. I think the season is getting to me already, I always feel so much worse in fall and winter, it's annoying. Saskia is looking for Halloween costumes online and she just said she might want to be a devil, how appropriate :D.

We visited the orthodontist with Kai and Saskia today and it looks like both will need braces within a year. $$$!

Monday, September 08, 2003

Yesterday, we went canoeing on the Shenandoah river. I can't wait to do it again! And I can't believe we haven't tried it before. It was so much fun! And the weather was gorgeous, as was the scenery. It was remarkably simple: we paid, then got life jackets and they took us by van and dropped us off with our canoes 3 miles away from the boat house and then we canoed with the stream back.

We also quickly visited the Skyline Drive, but it was crowded, we saw no animals and we had to leave soon, because Katja needed more school supplies.

Today, I had our new housekeeper starting. I had a terrible night, as my medicine to help me sleep through ran out. I didn't think it would make a difference immediately, but it did! Though it might have been because I stayed up to finish the Da Vinci Code book, reading until midnight and then the premise kept me thinking. I recommend this book to everyone!

Morning came too soon and my sister called at 7am too. So I quickly got 20 minutes of exercise in, before the doorbell rang and there was Dina. I'm so grateful for her! Within a week of putting out feelers for a two day a week housekeeper, she came to introduce herself upon recommendation of the (wonderful) housekeeper of the neighbors.

She only needed a little guidance, though I stayed home all day to help if need be. She was very self sufficient and got a boat load of work done, cleaning and laundry. Yay! This was the right day to have her too, as I got a quick nap in too, even as Saskia had a friend over to play. It does make me feel somewhat like an invalid, but so be it.

Meanwhile, I made an appointment with the rheumatologist again, as I would like to hear her opinion again. The pain and fatigue do seem a lot worse, but then again, I know that happens in the fall every year. But who knows, new treatment may have surfaced.

Saskia started tap dancing today. She did enjoy it and yippeeeee, a parent suggested car pooling. I wish I could find a car pool for Thursdays, though as I'm running around like crazy then.

I fed my probably least healthy meal to the family: storebought quiches. At least I redeemed myself by also serving fresh spinach. But they all loved it. It's just that I just read a Self magazine article about the most healthy foods and the homemade stuff almost always won. This was not only not home made, but it had 50% of RDA of saturated fat per serving. Hmm, I think even a pizza from Pizza Hut has less.

Tonight I helped Kai with math, I love decimals. Two more days till my birthday. I feel like a little kid. Too bad it will now always be the day before September, 11th. Sigh!

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Gorgeous weather today and just like yesterday, Christine and I went for a long walk. We keep discovering new parks and are amazed at how many parks there are!!! I hope they won't all get torn down due to sprawl and crawl!

Speaking of parks, it's almost like a park in our backyard. We have our resident squirrel, a pair of American goldfinches, who love our sunflowers, numerous Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies, as well as Monarchs. It's finally nice enough to sit outside!

Christine and Chuck lent me a book "The Da Vinci Code" and it's great! I can barely tear myself away. The subject, with lots of mystery, history, art history and puzzles is right up my alley!

Just now I heard Rick panicky calling my name from the basement and that he was bleeding profusely. Scared the you know what out of me! Turned out he had cut his toe badly, which bled very heavily. But I had visions of blood spurting from an artery, the way he was calling! Phew!

And Saskia has been playing with her friend Mallory and is trying to convince me that she really wants an American Girl doll, sigh!

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

A quiet day today, I've decided I'm going to try to have way more of those than last schoolyear. I want to make it so I have energy left to spend quality time with the kids when they come out of school and not be so exhausted from volunteering and other stuff, that I'm not able to do things with them.

So, after a workout at the gym, Christine and I went to Whole Foods Market for lunch, their salad bar is delicious! Then we did some shopping for meals and went home. I had a delicious 45 minute nap. I've been feeling so achy and rundown, it really helped to refuel my body. It's a goal of mine to really give in to my exhaustion by napping more. Hopefully I'll feel well enough tonight to sit at the dinner table for a change!

This afternoon we signed Saskia up for jazz lessons, she's starting tomorrow and is so excited, she's wearing her leotard already. The poor child has been suffering a lot from headaches, though, she came out of school complaining of one. Her nose is also stuffed up, so it could well be her sinuses. It's so humid and wet here, I think we're all having trouble with the mold.

As always my house is a magnet for playing kids and as I'm writing there are 6 kids in the house, only 3 of them mine ;). I like that they love our house so much, but I do despair at the messes they make.

Tonight's dinner is barbecue chicken in the crockpot (yummy, Kai's request, he loves it), mashed potatoes and vegetables. I'm ashamed to admit it's the first home cooked dinner in a looooong time!

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Well, the first day of school is over. It started very early (6am), with Katja making her toilette in order to leave at 6:45. When one is an eighth grader, there are many necessary things. She's so cute, though (oops, don't let her read this, she doesn't like to be called "cute"). She came home with a huge smile and clearly had had a great day. And her smile lights up a room, that's not just a proud mom writing!

Saskia came skipping out of school and, with some loyalty to her old teacher, admitted that her new one was almost nicer than her first grade teacher. Good, as I had requested this lady, who keeps getting teacher of the year awards, so she must be doing something right. She is just known for genuinely enjoying the kids and making them enjoy school. Well, after one day, she's proven herself to Saskia so far, Saskia felt the schoolday was too short! Yes, you read it right.

Kai, on the other hand, seems to have a general boredom with school. He was not happy last year and I'm going to have to watch him. I requested Katja's old teacher for him and got her. Mainly because this lady is a grandma, who retired and then came back to teaching. She has a great sense of humor and her philosophy is that 6th grade should be fun, as it's the last year they can be children. Yet, she also managed to teach Katja quite a lot. So, I hope Kai will have an equally fun year with her.

Meanwhile, I'm in the process of finding someone to help me in the household. More than just the cleaning ladies I have now (who charge an arm and a leg for just basic vacuuming and dusting). My fibromyalgia is really getting worse and I want to use what little energy I have on my family and not on the household! I'm lucky that we can afford help, though. I was a little bummed to read that people with fibromyalgia get government subsidized help in the Netherlands. Not that I really need that, but it does mean the disease is taken seriously there. Here, I feel I constantly have to apologize and make up excuses, as "I'm in pain and exhausted" just doesn't seem enough. Even on Thursday, I was roped into volunteering, even after saying no and giving the reason. I was told this "would keep my mind off things". Little do they know that worming myself into a child sized school chair for hours on end to organize a gift wrap fund raiser is pure torture for me and certainly won't "take my mind off things".

Ok, done ranting. When the volunteering call comes, I'll just have to say "no", right? But that's one of the hardest words for me to utter! Help!

Oh well, we'll cross the bridge etc. I'm pretty pooped tonight, so I'll leave it at this and am going to cuddle with my little second grader :).

Monday, September 01, 2003

A new schoolyear, a new month and on with my blog! It's amazing how quickly the summer flew by. I loved it though and enjoyed every minute of it!

So, now, wah :(. I'm not looking forward to tomorrow, getting up early, not seeing the kids all day and the routine of homework and all again. Yuck!

I'm up for homeschooling, but, with the exception of Kai, the kids are *not* interested. I probably couldn't swing it physically anyway, but I just so enjoyed having all this time with them!

Today, Kai and I went downtown to the Natural History Museum. We made a point of reading *everything* in the prehistoric section and the gems and minerals section. Needless to say, we didn't succeed in the 2.5 hours we had, but we did read more than we ever have. The most amazing fact I learned was that a ruby is red, because it's the only color the electrons inside it don't absorb! So, if you were in the total darkness and somehow still able to see, a ruby would be clear.

It's such a cool museum and you can just spend hours and hours learning!

Tonight we're celebrating the end of summer with a Mexican meal and some margaritas. I'm glad I usually really like fall here in the States, otherwise I'd be seriously depressed! Also looking forward to updating this blog way more frequently!

Saturday, July 26, 2003

I'm not getting a lot of computer time these days, but I want to post here, that I finished my Southwest trip blog and it can be read at . The summer is very busy and I don't think I'll get time again to update this regular blog until the middle of August. I hope everyone is having a great summer!

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Meanwhile, we're in New Orleans. Life is in a tailspin and I barely have computer time. We played tourist in Washington all of last week with Zack. We saw 2 museums: Natural History and Air and Space, did a DC Ducks tour, went to Skyline Caverns and to Busch Gardens. We were all sad to say goodbye on Sunday, but didn't have much time to be as we left this morning for New Orleans.

The flight here was nice, Rick left on another flight, as he has a conference here, but the kids and I had a nice non-stop. I sat next to Saskia and Kai and Katja wanted to sit together, so they could play their Gameboys. Everybody was angelic! Saskia and I practiced her Cat's Cradle moves and she figured out how to make a cup and saucer and the Eiffel Tower.

Rick was waiting at the exit at the airport and we checked into a suite at the Royal Sonesta hotel. It's a very nice room, huge, but quite humid, everything feels damp. They were going to give us a room facing Bourbon Street, but I thought that was a disaster waiting to happen with the noise. So I begged for an inside room. Which is when they upgraded us to this suite. We have a patio outside, where we'll eat breakfast tomorrow, very nice. It's a two level suite with a king size and pull out sofa and roll-away. Tonight, Rick is spending the night with us, but tomorrow he goes off to his own hotel and we don't know how often we'll see him this week.

Saskia was quite shocked by all the nudity displayed here, but the other two have eyes wide as saucers ;). Tomorrow we're going to do a swamp tour and are being picked up bright and early from the hotel for it.

Last time we were here, we stayed near the Convention Center and didn't spend that much time in the French Quarter, so this will be a different experience.

Monday, July 07, 2003

We're baaaack! We've been to the Southwest for 10 days and it was WONDERFUL! I will write a separate blog about it, though I'm not sure when I'll get to it, as my 12 year old nephew is staying here from Colorado and we're sightseeing in DC this week.

Yesterday, we picked him up from the airport and ate dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. Today, I took Saskia to camp and the other 3 to DC to watch the Bugs! 3D Imax at the Natural History museum and see the dinosaur exhibit and the gems and minerals.

We were going to swim afterwards, but the weather threw in a wrench. It started raining and thundering just as we walked in the door. At least we didn't get soaked walking home from the Metro.

Tonight we ate at Chili's and went to the movies. The guys watched Terminator 3 and the girls Legally Blonde 2, which has some hilarious scenes.

I'm beat, so off to bed for me.

Monday, June 16, 2003

We had a great weekend! On Friday, I biked out to Alexandria and loved it. I'm really getting into this! There's nothing like pedalling superfast and feeling the wind through your hair and seeing nature all around. This direction of the path is more crowded than going west, but after going through 2 towns, you get into beautiful parkland with creeks and flowers.

Saskia had invited 3 friends for a sleepover, for her half birthday and they had a blast. We ordered pizza and Rick got ice cream and a movie for them and by 11pm they were all sound asleep. Saskia was having the time of her life! She's such a socialite, that girl! In the morning, they woke up at 6:15 (yawn!), but then went to play in the basement, so Rick and I could sleep a little longer. Then Rick got them donuts (I know, I know, but it was the unanimous choice) and the parents picked them up.

Meanwhile, Christine had come over and we went for a long walk with Kai on his bike. Kai did really well and that got me thinking, that biking with the kids would be a good exercise this summer. Saskia is still too little for a big bike, though and the little bike she has would be way too exhausting for her to keep up with us. So I thought about renting a trail-a-bike, to see if she liked that.

In the evening, we had our first cookout of the year, it's been so rainy, we hadn't even used the grill yet. Rick made great hamburgers and hotdogs, since I eat hamburgers about once a year, I did enjoy having one again for a change.

Yesterday was of course Father's Day, so the kids and I brought Rick tea and fresh cherries in bed and gave him a new camera (digital, finally!) and a gift card he can use at different stores. Then we got dressed and I rode off to the bike store to rent a trail-a-bike for Saskia. Kai, Rick, Saskia and I rode out to the path and 6 miles west on it, so it worked well and we decided to purchase it. Saskia is thrilled!! She just wants to keep going on her new bike (that means I have to come along though :)).

We rode it to school this morning and to the pool (across the street) this afternoon. She wanted to go longer, as did Kai, but I'm feeling very run down and tired, so after the pool, I told them I really didn't have it in me to bike too (didn't swim either, too cold!). They were disappointed, which immediately activates my guilt feeling, but I honestly thought I might do something stupid, if I went, like run into a car or something.

Last night, my dad came over and we went to a Thai restaurant of Rick's choosing. It was very nice, but Thai is not the food of choice of our kids. Katja was the only one that enjoyed her food. Oh well, the fathers enjoyed it and that was important.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Wow, it's Thursday already! Life always goes in a tailspin at the end of the schoolyear, what with parties, picnics, graduations etc.!

And the weather has been fine this week too, albeit quite humid, so the moment you step outside, sweat drips off of you, but at least it's not raining all day and the sun comes out at times. We did have some serious storms roll through last night though and are expecting more today.

Saskia wants to go to the pool, but the water is still too cold for me, so I've (successfully) dissuaded her. If there wasn't a thunderstorm only a half hour or so away, I would have let her go, heaven knows she needs the exercise. But I have a feeling it would be one of those sweating to get to the pool and just jumped in and then the first thunder is heard, deals. They close the pool for 15 minutes at the first sound of thunder and don't reopen it until no thunder is heard for 15 minutes. So, that effectively closes the pool for the afternoon if there are storms in the area as you can hear thunder for a loooooong time before and after a storm!

Recapping the week, on Monday Christine and I worked out on the fitness trail in the nearby park. It's really cool, a beautiful forest, with every few hundred feet an exercise to do, like push ups, pull ups, hopping over bars etc. There are 20 exercises that works all kinds of different muscles. You jog between stations and by the end have done quite a good workout.

Katja had a dentist appointment in the afternoon and Kai had his end of year concert that evening. They sounded a lot better than in the beginning of the year. Kai plays trumpet, he doesn't know yet if he wants to continue next year. I don't think our kids are very musically inclined, but if Kai would really get into the trumpet, it would be cool. In the fall we listened to the high school jazz band and that was lots of fun and the kids playing clearly enjoyed it too.

On Tuesday at 7am, my dad called to see if I'd gotten his messages (oops, no, didn't check the machine!) and asked if I wanted to go for a long bike ride. So we rode out to Herndon on the W&OD trail , about 10 miles out. He was a great biking companion keeping up my pace, until the last 3 miles, then he suddenly was really tired.

It was a beautiful ride, we saw 2 groundhogs, several chipmunks, colorful birds and a fox! The latter was sitting at the top of a bridge looking at us and didn't run away till I was very close to him. On the way back, he was there again. It's definitely the closest up I've ever seen a fox!

Talking about wildlife, apparently, a bear was tranquilized less than 2 miles from our house the other day! This is what the Washington Post wrote about it:
"Wandering Bear Captured in Fairfax

An adolescent bear seen wandering through yards in Fairfax County foraging for food was tranquilized and carried away on a litter after startled homeowners in Vienna contacted police yesterday.

The 80-pound black bear was spotted in the late morning lumbering through residential neighborhoods near Route 123, said Earl Hodnett, a wildlife biologist with the police department's animal control division. The bear was shot with a dart gun and eventually transferred to state animal control officers, who were to release it into woods far from the crowded suburbs, Hodnett said.

Bears and other wildlife -- including red foxes, coyotes and deer -- are becoming a common sight in the suburbs. "This isn't necessarily the only bear around," Hodnett said. "It's just the only one we tranquilized today.""

A little disconcerting to think we could see a bear in our backyard next! Our neighbor said he had recently seen a coyote in his yard and this really can't be called a rural area by any stretch of the imagination!

Back to the events at hand, after the bike ride, I went over to Saskia's class picnic and walked back home with her. We had about an hour before the school would let out, so I took her to the pool. This was a good move, as she got all my attention and could tell me a thousand times "Watch this, Mommy", without being interrupted by a sibling. I think she sometimes really needs that one on one total attention on her.

After Katja's tutoring, Lauren came to babysit and Rick and I went out to dinner to the Pacific Rim restaurant. It's a little bit of a drive from us, but they have the best vegetable roll appetizer: like a sushi hand roll, but then with crispy veggies. Really good!

Yesterday, I worked out at home, boring! Then went to Kai's picnic and helped out with pizza and games. I took Kai home with me as well, but his was over later, so we didn't have much time together.

Saskia had gymnastics and Katja her second tutoring session of the week, so I felt like a total chauffeur.

Oh yes, and it was Saskia's half birthday yesterday. She's going to be an actress that one, I've determined. The drama she can create! You would think she was the saddest little girl, because her birthday is so close to Christmas and she gets *all* her presents all at once and then nothing for a *whole* year (all brought with much flair). So, I decided to let her have some fun for her half birthday. We went to Zany Brainy, where she picked out some Scratchmagic (stipulation for the gift was that it had to be something she could make). And tomorrow night she's having a sleepover with 3 of her friends, with pizza, ice cream and a movie. She's happy :).

Today, I got my nails done, especially my toenails were highly necessary. Rick jokes with me, that I never used to get nails done and now I have to of course keep it up (I have silk wraps). And I like to get my toenails done, so I can get a cool design on my big toe with a little diamond. Ok, so, that's my one little indulgence and I like looking well groomed.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Yes, after rain comes sunshine is an old Dutch saying and thank goodness it's always true! It was pouring down rain all day yesterday, but today it's dry and we've seen some rays of sunshine. We went to the Great Falls park again, as they opened some floodgates upstream which turned the river into a raging rapid, very impressive! We walked about 2 hours through the mud, so we were gross when we came home, but oh was it gorgeous! I'll upload a picture here too.

On Friday night we had a great party for Chuck's 50th birthday. It had a southwest theme, so we brought stuffed jalapenos from Tequila Grande, they're so good, they're stuffed with spinach and cheese.

Yesterday we just kind of hung out, Katja had to babysit and after she left, Rick and I and the other 2 kids went to Renaissance Cafe, our favorite restaurant. The kids were so much fun! While waiting for the meals, I gave them each coins to check out from what year they were and we made an "oldest", "middle" and "newest" pile. The oldest was 1962, so not extremely old.

I'm working on editing my pictures now, so I'm keeping this short.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Well, I guess I'll first start with today, as I'm sooooo mad at myself! I know it's because when I'm tired and too busy, I start doing stupid things, but still... Ok, here goes, I ran out this afternoon to get Kai and Saskia from school, because it was raining. I wanted to get there early, so I could be as close as possible so they wouldn't get too wet. I backed out of the driveway and how I did it I'll never know, but I managed to get so close to the mailbox, that a rusty nail on the mailbox scratched the car badly :(.

Rick just left to go to Seattle this afternoon, so I couldn't call him, I called Christine instead, who of course told me it's just a scratch, it can be fixed etc. But still, I went to Maaco and the estimate is over $300 :(. Just because the stupid nail had to scratch both the side and part of the liftgate. Grrr!!!

This on yet another dreary rainy afternoon and I'm feeling sooo tired! Wah!

Tonight we had Chinese for dinner as we always eat that, when Rick is out of town. After dinner Saskia was doing cartwheels and hit her toes on the coffee table, poor kid. It looks ok, no bruising or anything, but she's limping around the room.

Ok, so on to more fun stuff: this weekend. We had a fun dinner here with Chuck, Christine and Mallory on Saturday, nice Greek food. Katja and I went shopping for her shoes in the afternoon, after she had been cleaning her room at my request. She did quite a good job on her room, I have to say! It had become quite a mess and several garbage bags came out.

On Sunday, we went to Finding Nemo, a really fun animated movie. We saw our old neighbors the Ojjeh's there, after not seeing them for 5 years. The kids had all changed so tremendously in that time!

Yesterday, the weather was gorgeous. So I took my bike and rode out...11 miles! For a 22 mile roundtrip! It was so much fun! I saw all kinds of beautiful birds, red winged blackbirds, bluebirds, cardinals, a goldfinch and a blue jay. And I saw at least 10 chipmunks (did you know there are 14 types of chipmunks?? Wow! They're so cute though!) and almost rode over 2 of them :-o! The trip took me through our county to the next. It was cool!

After the kids got home from school, Kai and Saskia and I went to Great Falls National Park with Brynna. Saskia initially created quite a drama, but then ended up loving it there and climbing rocks and skipping on the path. She had to laugh at herself afterwards. The falls were even more swollen than the last time, what with all the rain we have been having.

Then the girls got a haircut and Lauren came to babysit. Rick and I ate Vietnamese and then saw the movie "Bruce Almighty". I like Jim Carrey, but this was not the best movie I've seen, though it was entertaining.

Tomorrow I'm sure will be just as fun of a day as yesterday was, right? We'll just forget about today.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Just a picture to show how beautiful it is here when the azaleas are in bloom!
Well, it's been quite a week. I feel I've been recuperating from the weekend trip all week long!

Our trip to Ottawa was very stressful and exhausting, we had to drive through the pouring rain both ways. At times there was so much fog and roadspray it felt like the end of the world! But it was very nice to my brother, sister in law and niece and nephew again. That's the only reason we'll keep making these crazy trips, so we can see each other at least once or twice a year.

The rain let up a little on Sunday in Ottawa and we went to the Canada Museum of Science and Technology. The kids loved it! My brother, who's not a museum lover, had enough after about an hour, but the kids could have easily gone on. There was so much hands on stuff! And to Katja's delight, PC's hooked up to the internet.

After the museum, we had lunch at their house and then the older kids, Rick, my brother and I went shopping. After a visit to Chapter's, where Rick found some new Asterixes and I got my sister in law "Diary of an American Au Pair", because she had liked the "Nanny Diaries" so much, my brother got a good taste of what it's like to have a teen girl :D. Katja went through several clothing stores and finally settled at the Gap, of all places, because they had a big sale. It did seem like the clothes were different than in the U.S., but I may have imagined that.

We arrived back home on Monday evening and everyone started back to school and work on Tuesday. It rained almost non-stop Tuesday through yesterday, so I haven't been feeling well at all. Though part of that is because of a persistent itchy cough I've had, blegh!

This morning, we were up at 5am, actually too late, as Katja needed to be at school at 5:15 to go to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. The bands of the middle schools in this area are competing there and after the competition they get about 4 hours to enjoy the park. They'll be back home (hopefully!) around 11pm tonight! She'll be so exhausted!

I took advantage of the beautiful weather this morning by going on a 15 mile bike ride. I love having the bike path so close by! I can go all the way to DC if I want to. Or out west, all the way to the Blue Ridge mountains. I don't really dare to go that far by myself, but still I went a good distance and it felt great. There were beautiful birds all around, this year there seem to be many more cardinals than usual. And I saw robins and blue jays as well.

Then I had lunch with Christine and Carol and now I'm just resting behind the pc, as I'm exhausted! I'm sure Saskia is going to want to swim this afternoon. She tried during a brief dry spell on Wednesday, but the water was just way too cold!

Five things that make me happy today:
1. The singing of the birds I hear right now, because I have the patio doors open
2. The peacefully sleeping cats around me, all four are within a few feet of me. I told Rick the other day I will never be without pets, they provide such companionship!
3. The SUN!
4. The impending weekend, I always love Friday afternoons for that reason. It seems like a sea of free time is ahead of us, even if it is only 3 nights.
5. Finally being able to wear a short sleeved t-shirt

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Ok, I hate to keep griping about the weather, but we woke up to another gray, gloomy day, yuck! At least it didn't rain.

Saskia was supposed to have a field trip to a park today and I was supposed to come along. But, with this weather, it would have been too much for me: no workout and sitting stiffly. So, I have to admit to having sinned :D. I started asking Saskia yesterday, if she would like to go to the field trip or if she'd rather go shopping with me (she really needed summer clothes, hey, two birds with one stone there!). Of course, being my daughter :), she chose the shopping (phew!).

This morning the weather was exactly as predicted, so I called the school, that we wouldn't be going on the fieldtrip. This message didn't go through, as the administrator called later to make sure Saskia was ok. Oh well.

Anyway, Christine came over to work out here, we have a treadmill and an elliptical machine, so we switch off, a half hour on each. Saskia was a little angel, playing with her new "boredom" basket.

After our workouts, Christine went home and I quickly took a shower. Then we went off to the mall. At Saskia's request, we first shopped for her clothes. Everything was on sale, so she made out like a bandit! Very cute capri's and skorts and, her favorites, shirts with long flowing sleeves. She's so funny, as she has a great fashion sense and was very aware of what would match and was sure to not get anything that wouldn't.

Another way she's funny, is that initially, it seems as if she could shop forever, but then, after trying a bunch of stuff on, she's done. And I mean done *now*. No more, nothing, nope, I'm hungry, let's pay, let's go. Right up my alley! No whining, no let's just try one more thing, nope, done!

So, pay we did (amazingly low price for all she got as there was a coupon too) and then took off for the Rainforest Cafe, her place of choice for lunch. We sat at the bar, Saskia on a duck and I on a frog (their stools are animal shaped), she because she likes sitting on those chairs, me because I mistakenly believed that might speed up the delivery of the food. No such luck! We instantly knew our order: kid's pizza for her and their lettuce wraps for me. They're really good, those lettuce wraps, with veggie salad, chicken, peanuts and more, which you wrap in, you guessed it, lettuce. But it took almost 30 mins to get the food out!!! Still, we enjoyed it and chatted (I love hearing her renditions of what happens in her little life, all told with the utmost sincerity :)).

For dessert, she decided we should have some Dippin' Dots. We both had fat free yogurt strawberry cheesecake. Delicious! Those little really cold balls of ice cream are really good!

After a stop at CVS for new toothbrushes, toothpastes and air fresheners (ok, you know, the mundane stuff needs to be taken care of too!), Saskia convinced me to go back to Hecht's as she'd seen Mrs. Hagan's (her teacher) sandals there for kids.

Turned out to be old fashioned, as I was wearing them 30 years ago, Dr. Scholl's sandals. "Kleppers" is what we called them. It's so funny to see my own daughter in them now! She of course got a pair of white ones.

Then it was time to go to Blockbuster's, as we're going out of town to Canada tomorrow (no blog until Tuesday at the earliest). Saskia has a great sense of humor and picked out some wonderful comedies to watch on the way there. And, yes, we love having a tv in the car. We've driven the route many times and we all enjoy watching (or listening to, as in Rick and my case) the videos together. I cherish long drives with the family, we have to stay together and sleep together in the same room and I'm always a little sad when trips end. So, I wish everyone a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. I hope the weather will be better in most places than it's predicted to be here in the Mid-Atlantic. I guess the big first summer weekend is not going to be that sunny (if at all) this time, here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Well, I'm going to try and update this blog, fearing all will be lost. Unfortunately, I upgrade to a paid version of the Blogger software and it wiped out my travel blogs, sniff! Luckily, they're still readable where they were published, with the exception of one. Certainly teaches me to make backups! Which of course I did for all but the one I completely lost. Oh well, the memories are still there, of course.

We had 2 nice days, weatherwise and so on Monday, Christine and I went for a 2 hour and 15 minute walk, both carrying 10 pound weights in each hand, plus a water bottle. We hadn't meant to go for so long, but we walked out and then took a long time to get back. That was quite the workout!

In the afternoon, I watched my friend's kids, who are the same age as Kai and Saskia, because she was out of town. And then their other friends came too, unbeknownst to me (I was upstairs). I need to vent just a little a bit about that situation. These 2 kids, girl Saskia's age, boy Kai's age, call almost every afternoon to play. And they're great kids, don't get me wrong, and my kids' best friends. *However* they have a stay at home dad, who gets a nice few hours to himself every time, because the kids always want to play here. Still, ok, I guess, most afternoons I don't mind having everyone play here at all. But, those few times that I can't have the kids over and suggest my kids go play over there, it is never possible! They simply do not reciprocate. And really, I'm not looking for tit for tat, just an occasional switching off.

Another irritation was, that I had to take Kai to the dentist at 3:45 and my friend's oldest would be home by then, so she knew her kids would be dropped off.
Well, I had told Kai to tell his other friend, that his dad would need to pick him up by 3:30, as he had that appointment. No one came at that time and I was trying hard to not show my annoyance to the kids and piled everyone in the van and dropped them all off. Well, dad had not even left the house yet at 3:40! Needless to say, we were late for the dentist, sigh. Oh well, it feels good to vent once in a while, I can't change the guy and I don't want to create a situation either, being that the kids are all such good friends.

Yesterday, I first ran with Brynna in the morning. It's really hilarious to do that. She comes along all excitedly and runs way ahead of me and then about 20 minutes or so later, she's dragging behind me with her tongue on the ground just about!

Then the weekly bible study. This time about experiencing joy in the small things in life and giving joy to others. Food for thought. Today, I'm finding it a little challenging to see joy, as the rain has been streaming down and the forecast is the same for the next week!!! I hope we don't get a climate change here, as I will have to move, it wreaks too much havoc on my health. But I do find joy, still :). Thankfully!

After I got home from the bible study, I had a strong urge to go for a bike ride. I knew it was going to be crappy weather and I'd only used my new bike once. I had about an hour before the kids got out of school. So, I happily stepped on my bike and was going at a good clip, about 2 miles from home, when I heard a tell tale "pffffff" sound coming from the rear tire! In less than 10 seconds, the tire was completely flat. Thank goodness I wasn't too far from home and I just about jogged home, making it back just in time for the kids.

Katja had Score yesterday (math tutoring) and after I dropped her off there, I went by the bike store and got the tire fixed. Not that it matters for a while, as the weather is just too gross to go biking. I swore off biking in the rain after I left Holland :D.

Last night, our friend Lauren, who's been babysitting for us for years and is home from college for the summer, came to babysit. She is super fond of the kids and the kids of her. So, Rick and I had a fun date, we went to check out a new restaurant . This restaurant had received some glowing reviews and it certainly lived up to them! We both had wonderful meals, very original food and my dessert was to die for. The owner came around and gave us a tour of the kitchen, very nice.

This morning, we woke up to soaking rains, yuck, yuck! I made it to the gym late, as I was procrastinating at home, but as always, the workout helped lift my mood. I went to Zany Brainy afterwards and bought things like Brainquest and Math games for Saskia and filled up a "Boredom" basket. She keeps saying she is bored after her friends leave, so I thought this would engage her, hopefully it'll work.

After Zany Brainy I ran home to eat lunch and then went off to Michael's all in the pouring rain, of course! I still had the Easter stuff lying around and now that Memorial Day is upon us, I figured I should decorate more summery. I bought silk sunflowers for the vases, a yellow floating candle and cute little watering cans with sunflowers painted on them. Now I just need to find some bright, cheery pillows, it seems I always only see dark colored ones.

Tonight we have Katja's spring concert with a stop at Dairy Queen afterwards. All I can think of is my bed, though, this weather is so exhausting!

And because it's such a gloomy day, it's imperative I write 5 reasons why I do find joy in my life (well, 4 very precious ones of them are always present, but you know what I mean ;)):
1. Katja's huge blinding smile that just got flashed at me seconds ago.
2. Saskia's singing of a silly rendition of "Mary had a Little Lamb" and her giggle every time she finishes (and Katja's patience in listening to her little sister singing it to her, even though she wanted to leave ;))
3. The glowing drops of rain on the bright green leaves of the plants in the yard. I want to take a picture of them when it's less wet, as they provide beauty in an otherwise dreary environment.
4. The two beautiful cardinals I saw playing in the yard this afternoon, the red birds in the green grass made a great sight!
5. Our home, it's such a beautiful, cozy safe haven from the outside world!

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Yesterday, we did indeed go for a bike ride. We rode out to the Reston Town Center on the W&OD trail, about 7 miles each way. Christine took Rick's bike. I kind of had to chuckle, as the saddle was bothering her and, well, I certainly heard about it ;). My saddle was equally uncomfortable, but I figure it's because we were not used to riding at all and some saddle pain is always par for the course.

It was so gorgeous! The trail is completely green, with the exception of the road crossings. It was very empty, the occasional older couple or mom with baby notwithstanding. We saw numerous cardinals, beautiful! I even almost ran one over that landed right in front of me to catch an insect. We heard woodpeckers peck the wood. But the highlight for me was seeing a bunch of bluebirds. I'd never seen real bluebirds.

The bike ride invigorated me, so when we got back, I quickly ate lunch and then went off to the nursery. I bought a bunch of perennials for the front yard, as I'm trying to fill that patch up, so we don't need to worry about it much anymore and Impatience for the backyard. We have very shady areas there and there is not much that will grow there, especially not flowering plants. Impatience seems to be it. It's expensive though, as it's just an annual and we need a lot of it to fill the spaces.

I also planted some Gladioli bulbs and this afternoon, just before the torrential rains hit, Saskia and I seeded Morning Glory, Peas, several herbs and Nasturtium.

Today I kept feeling like I was running ahead of the rains. It actually turned out to be dry most of the day (until just after Saskia and I planted those seeds). I had a hair appointment and my hair is darker than it was, which I like a lot. Next time I'm going to have some red put in. I talked about biking with my hair stylist (who is my age and I get along with very well, she's from the Lebanon) and she mentioned she didn't have a bike. I told her she could have my old one and she was very happy with that thought. So, in return for some hair products, I rode my old bike over there and then she gave me a ride home. She mentioned going biking with her son and little nieces, so I'm sure my old, reliable bike came to a good home.

When I got home, Katja called that she had missed the late schoolbus and could I give some of her classmates a ride too. Sure, I say. Turns out they live all over town! Would have been ok, except I left Saskia, with an earache and afraid of thunderstorms, with Kai, as I expected to not be long and she dislikes going with me. It of course took longer than expected, but thankfully, Rick got home early.

Wah, and now we have 2 more days of rain, this spring has been so unusual!!

I've been wanting to revive an old habit: recounting 5 things that made me happy, so here goes:
1. Believe it or not, but hearing Christine's complaining of her saddle pain made me happy, not because she was hurting, of course, but because she literally took the pain to ride out with me and enjoy the outside. That was a gift!
2. When Kai looked at me yesterday and told me he loves going to the park with his friends. It came from the bottom of his heart. There's another nature lover for me to enjoy!
3. Saskia's little voice on the phone when I called tonight and how big she is, that she can write a phone number down now.
4. Katja's obvious pride in having me (little old me ) for a mom, when I picked her and her friends up. She clearly thought it was cool her mom helped them all out :). Much better than the shame I expected her to feel for me by now (though I sometimes do manage to inadvertently be a very embarrassing person to be around, oops!).
5. Rick's coming home early on Tuesday afternoon because I was in so much pain. I don't think he'll ever know just how much that means to me, his unfaltering support of me, no matter how sick I am.

As always, I'm blessed :).

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Pfff, finally! A beautiful, blue sky day. I can't believe this spring! It's so unlike other years, much more gloomy and cool. Normally, we're in the 80's by now, and this week we're lucky if the thermometer reaches 70.

Anyway, I got a bike on Mother's Day and I'm going to ride it today. Christine and I are going to the W&OD trail (if she doesn't lose courage, that is) and ride to Reston.

Yesterday was a tough day, pain wise. My massage therapist's hot water heater exploded in her house on Monday and so she had to cancel the massage Monday and again yesterday. I'm really hoping she'll come today, as my whole right side is locked up. Rick came home early yesterday to take Katja to tutoring and help out, as I wasn't worth anything.

A lot has to do with the weather, as it was cold and overcast yesterday. Today I do feel better, though I feel the tight muscles just waiting to start really tightening up again. Christine mentioned she had read an article in Newsweek about Fibromyalgia and new drugs they're manufacturing for it. I've kind of given up hope that there'll ever be a true cure, but I do think it's great it's now recognized so much and so much research is done on it. Twenty years ago, when I was diagnosed, no one knew what it was.

Well, I'm off to get the litter boxes clean, a most pleasant chore, not!

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Mother's Day! Yeah, yeah, I know, commercial nonsense, blah, blah. But I love the day! Call me selfish, but I actually like it even better than my birthday.

This morning, Rick, Kai and Saskia (Katja was too tired after babysitting till after midnight last night) sat on the bed and gave me my gifts: Saskia a cute ladybug card she'd made at school, that told me she loves me because I help her with words she doesn't know :). Every year I'm intrigued to read why she loves me, as it's never a reason I could have possibly thought of myself. Kai gave me one of his very complicated and neat Science Fiction drawings, he draws them simply in pencil, but he has a lot of talent. Rick gave me what I'm writing on now: a new laptop! My old one's hard disk was getting full with all my pictures and the programs I use to edit them. This is so cool! And so fast!

Once Katja woke up, she gave me her gifts, two things she made in Shop at school: a keychain and duckbillholder (I collect ducks).

After a short workout and a long conversation with my sister in law in Canada, we went off to brunch at the Ritz Carlton. Now that is truly pampering! They have the best food, the most delicious salads and desserts. What a treat!

Then, we went to Borders and looked for books. I can always spend hours there! And the kids take after Rick and me in that regard, the whole family is quite happy in a bookstore and we never leave empty handed. Borders loves us ;).

At home, we worked on getting this computer set up and most programs installed. Then (I hardly dare write this, as I really do get spoiled by my wonderful husband) Rick suggested going to the bike store. I've been riding on his mountain bike and he'd decided it was time I got my own. So, in the garage, stands my brand spanking new bright blue Giant mountain bike. I can't wait to go on a ride!!! Rick is liking it, as I'm planning on riding out to his office to join him for lunch soon.

My heart is just full of love for my family, not just today of course, but they've once again shown just how much they love me, though more by their actions than their gifts. I hope every mom who reads this had a wonderful Mother's Day herself!

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Blah, the 4th day in a row of thunderstorms. We woke up to a pitchblack sky and a severe thunderstorm. After all these years here, I still find it so unusual to have thunderstorms in the morning!

While the violence of nature does intrigue me (so long as there are no tornadoes involved, that is, one hit not to far from here on Wednesday), I'm bummed this morning. I really wanted to go for a run outside and was thinking that would work, as the forecast was for sunshine this morning and storms this afternoon. I have an almost insatiable need to be in nature these days. Maybe it's because we've had such a long and cold winter, but now that nature is waking up again, I just love being outside and there are so many places to go around here!

Our life really is never boring. I had kind of a quiet day planned yesterday, with a workout at the gym and then Christine and I were going to have lunch and then I'd get my nails done (I enjoy having well groomed hands, now that I have silk wraps, but the downside is, they require upkeep, otherwise they look even worse than regular bad nails).

But at the end of my workout, my cellphone rang and it was the clinic aide at Katja's school. Katja had fainted for the second time in a month, on the first day of her period. Last month, I did ask the doctor and he said to take extra iron, which she did. But now it happened again. She claims it's because of the serious cramps she has, but now I worry. She has needle phobia and hates the thought of having her blood taken, but I would like her to anyway to put my mind at ease. I'll for sure keep her home the first day next month.

After giving her pain medication, she perked up very quickly and we did end up going to the mall and getting her some clothes. I have to admit to thoroughly enjoying that little outing with her. She was chatty and fun to be with. I told her so and of course, she enjoyed it too.

Well, I guess I'd better start moving on my exercising. I'll have to think of an alternative. Rick happily told me to go jogging anyway, I guess he's not too worried about the lightning and thunder flashing left and right from me ;).

Thursday, May 08, 2003

The weather changed from cool and rainy to hot and rainy ;). But at least the sun comes out at times now. And I feel a lot better, it must be the temperatures that do it.

Yesterday morning, after dropping the kids off at school, Christine and I went off to the arboretum. Yes, I am getting addicted to that place! This time, we didn't just limit ourselves to the azaleas, but also walked through the fern area, which is very tranquil and beautiful, with mulch paths lined with honeysuckle and ferns, little streams with small stone bridges and knarled wood benches. Very peaceful and a nice, cool place for summer days.

We also visited the herb garden (the scents!) and the Bonsai museum. All in all, we walked for over 2 hours and felt we got a good workout in, it's up and downhill. How come I never visited this place before in my almost 20 years of living here?

We were home around 2pm and driving through Washington on the return, we were deciding, that it would be hard to live anywhere away from a big city. There is so much to do!

After a quick shower, Laura came and gave me a much needed massage. I *really* dislike the pain of the massage, but it helps tremendously. She brought some kind of black contraption that I could use to get out the trigger points. I'll try it a few weeks and buy it if I like it. It looks strange, but who knows?

Then at 4pm Saskia had gymnastics. She was supercute and we set on the bench in front of the house afterwards, waiting for the severe thunderstorm to hit. I love sitting outside just before a storm and hear the rumbling of distant thunder (provided there is no tornado involved, of course, there were numerous tornado warnings last night, luckily none hit). Saskia was telling me she hadn't had a very good day :(. No one wanted to play with her at recess and then a little girl was mean to her at gymnastics. For her, the little social butterfly, that was a tough day. We came to the conclusion, that today just will have to be better. We'll see :).

Kai had a friend over until 8pm last night and then had forgotten his homework, which resulted in somewhat of a drama, until we found the solution: he would go to school early this morning and do it there. So, at 8:10am, which is a rarity, we left the house for school. If the weather holds up, I'm going to pick Kai up early and go to Great Falls with him and Brynna. He's been wanting to go back all week, but the weather hasn't cooperated.

When I got home from the school, Denise called that she wants to go birdwatching at 11am. So I quickly did my weights workout and am going to take a shower now. If the weather holds, it's all going to fit perfectly timewise! I'll report about it tomorrow as I've never been birdwatching and I'm very curious about the attraction of it!

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

I've been so tired and achy again, argh! I hate it! The weather has been cool and rainy and I immediately feel it!

Yesterday, I was hosting our Bunco night together with my friend Mary. Because it was Cinco de Mayo, we had a Mexican theme. Mary brought the Margarita mix and tequila, Corona beer and red and white wine. I took care of the food, quesadilla's, stuffed jalapeno peppers (hot!) and yellow and blue corn tortilla chips and dip (guacamole, black bean dip, and 3 different kinds of salsa). Just about all the food disappeared without a trace!

On Bunco night, twelve women get together and play the game of Bunco. It's a popular dice game. I usually really enjoy playing, but yesterday, I was so tired, it wasn't as much fun. Even though I slept almost all afternoon. I hate to admit it, but I think organizing a night like that is too much for me. I really have to realize, that after 6pm, I'm just spent. It's hard to accept that, because so many fun things happen in the evening.

Last night I slept poorly as my neck and back were in one painful knot. So, when Katja and Rick left at 7am, I decided to sleep a little longer, even if that meant Saskia and Kai would be in school late. However, just after 7, the phone rang and it was my mom to thank me for her Mother's day gift. She probably thought I was short and not very talkative, but I was really groggy with pain and barely even remember what was said! I fell back to sleep right after and then woke up with a start again at 8am. I rushed Kai and Saskia through their breakfast and thought they might still be on time. But somehow, they managed to drag their feet for 15 minutes and as it was they were a couple of minutes late. Oh well.

At the school, I saw Claudia and we chatted a little and then she had to go off to class, but suggested we go for a walk in the afternoon.

Then I went home and returned the barstools I'd borrowed from Jeanne for last night's party. We chatted a while and I was starting to feel better, not physically, but at least emotionally. It is nice to talk to 3 people you care about in one morning. When I also talked to Christine and Ayesha after that, I was feeling very cared about :).

I decided to go to the gym and do a light workout and then sit in the hot tub to get my muscles to losen up. That helped fairly well and after lunch, Claudia called and we went for our walk, It's overcast and cool today, but at least the rain stopped, so the park was fun with the dogs. The park has great forest paths and of course no one was there, because it had just rained. Brynna enjoyed herself tremendously and I haven't heard her since. Walking her regularly definitely calms her down!

Tonight, Christine and Mallory are coming for dinner and I made an easy, but enjoyable crockpot meal:
Chop one bag of baby spinach and one bag of baby carrots very finely, mix with 1.5 lbs of lean ground turkey (this is for 8 people), mix in a half a package of taco seasoning mix and 3 tablespoons of ranch dressing and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 5 hours. Then fill pita's with the mixture and put some grated cheese on top. The kids love it and they don't even know they're getting 2 vegetables!

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Last night, we ended up having just one child at home! Highly unusual, because usually, our children count doubles on the weekends, when friends come and sleep over. Saskia went to sleep over at Mallory's house and was quite the social butterfly playing with the other kids in the neighborhood according to Christine. She came home after church this morning, her first time ever going to a church service and she enjoyed it (it was the children's program).

Kai went to sleep over at his friend Tyler's house and is still not home! He had a great birthday party yesterday and I admired Rick for going to the movies with 9 11-year old boys! Apparently, X Men was "cool".

I chose not to go to the movie, but shop instead. A lot of clothes were on sale, so I got some fun new outfits. I love that the fashion is capri's, they look good on me and on Katja and Saskia too.

This morning I did a weight workout and Mary came by to discuss stuff for our Cinco de Mayo Bunco night tomorrow. After Saskia got home, Katja, Rick, Saskia and I drove downtown to the National Arboretum. We walked around for about an hour, the azaleas were beautiful and so is the rest of the park. Amazing they carved out such a large area in the middle of the city!

Tonight we're going to Yama's, a Japanese restaurant, I'm looking forward to the sushi, yum!

Friday, May 02, 2003

Wow, where to begin? I didn't consciously take a break from blogging, but life got so busy, I didn't often have the energy to write things down at night. Now I've been asked by several people to start again and I do enjoy the chance to talk about our lives and all our adventures. I have come to the conclusion recently (duh! should've realized this years ago ;)), that we do lead quite an eventful life and that most of those events are quite enjoyable.

For spring break, from April 11th through April 20th, we went to Walt Disney World in Florida. I'll be writing a separate blog about that trip this weekend and post the link here.

The week before spring break, the Cherry blossoms in downtown Washington were in full bloom and, though the weather didn't exactly cooperate, we were able to visit twice and I took a bunch of pictures. The first time the kids and I went after school on a gorgeous 75 degree day. We drove down and it was super crowded, but we were *very* lucky and got a parking spot right in front of the FDR Memorial. Kai and Saskia rode their scooters around the Tidal Basin and Katja and I took pictures (and we saw Channel 7 weatherman Doug Hill live).

That Sunday, a cooler, but just as beautifully bright blue sky day, Christine and I walked around the Tidal Basin, to the Lincoln Memorial and the Korean and Vietnam Memorials, then along the Mall, where we watched rugby games and kite flying to the Capitol, which was surrounded by blooming magnolia's and cherry blossoms, beautiful! Behind the Capitol, we walked by the beautiful buildings of the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court and then it was lunchtime and we had a wonderfully luxurious lunch buffet at the National Gallery of Art. After a day in the city like that, I always feel like I've been on a short vacation! (Note: the links I found for the Capitol, the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court include really cool virtual tours of those beautiful buildings).

After we came home from Walt Disney World on Easter Sunday, the cherry blossoms were finished, but the Dogwoods and Azaleas were starting to bloom. I had never been to the National Arboretum, but I'd read the azaleas and dogwoods there are unbelievably beautiful. So, on Thursday, which was a gorgeous day, I called some friends to come with me, but no one had time. So I decided to go on my own. The azaleas were not completely out yet, probably 30%, but it was one of the most beautiful parks I'd ever seen nonetheless. I must have taken 200 pictures, probably just as well no one came with me, they would have been annoyed with all the times I stopped to point and shoot :).

That same day (April 24th) was take your sons and daughters to work day, so Rick took all 3 kids to his office. They had all kinds of activities planned for the kids to learn about their parents' work. Very well done. Katja had to write a brochure about it for school and did a great job, because she had so much information.

On Monday, I took Kai and Saskia to Gravelly Point, which is a large parking lot right across the water from National Airport. If you stand near the water, the planes come over so low to land, that you feel you just have to reach up and touch their wheels. Kai thought that especially cool. We took a nice long walk along the Potomac and I was wondering why I don't do that more often, there is so much parkland around here!

On Tuesday, the 29th, Kai turned 11 years old! I can't believe my little boy is getting so big. I keep wanting to shrink the kids again, but on the other hand, they're very enjoyable as they are. He treated his class to cupcakes (which I ran out just before school to get, as I'd forgotten them ) and for his birthday dinner, we went to Rainforest Cafe, always a favorite. For the more diet conscious (me :)), they have a great appetizer which can be eaten for a meal, Leaping Lizard salad wraps I think it's called. It's marinated chicken, chopped peanuts, noodles and pepper salad that you wrap in a big leaf of lettuce. Very good!

Thursday morning 8am, the phone rang and it was my friend Marie Anne, who lives in Singapore (she is in the process of moving to Tokyo). She was in New York and wanted to see if she could spend the night with us on Thursday night. Of course I was thrilled, she is one of my best and oldest (in length of friendship time then) friends! So Saskia and I went to National Airport to pick her up, but as I tried to start the van (just picked up from the dealership), it wouldn't shift out of "Park". After some trying, Rick succeeded, but I didn't dare to drive it downtown. So I took Rick's car and the van went back to the dealer yesterday to get fixed. Of course they claim it just being serviced and the problem were not related. Uh huh!

Anyway, we picked Marie Anne up and had a wonderful visit on Thursday night and yesterday morning she had to go to Washington for a meeting and I went with Kai's fifth grade class on a field trip to Great Falls, Virginia, which was gorgeous, by the way, which made me immediately think I'm not visiting these awesome nature sites close by nearly enough! We were both back at around 2 and Katja and I took her to the airport to fly back to Singapore. Her schedule is something I seriously wouldn't survive. I'm really impressed how she juggles it all: an extremely demanding job, lots of travel and a son at home. She's the kind of friend that I may not talk to for months on end, but then when we see each other or speak to each other, it's like that time just melts away. Truly special.

Last night, the kids' school had a Fun Night. I was supposed to come and face paint in the last hour from 7:30 to 8:30, but the lady that was there already was having so much fun doing it, she told me she'd do it for another hour. Fine by me! So we socialized with people we knew (these types of events are starting to feel like family reunions, after 7 years with kids in the school, we know a whole lot of people, lots of fun!) and Kai and Saskia played on the playground.

This afternoon, Kai is having his birthday party. They're going to the X Men 2 movie. First they're coming here for cake though and we couldn't find an X Men cake. So Rick printed out a picture from the Web and that's being screened onto the cake now. So cool! I'm really curious what it's going to look like!
I have no interest in the movie, so after dropping the boys off, I'm leaving them to Rick and am going shopping at the mall across the street. Christine is coming to pick up Saskia for a sleepover, so we have more space in our cars.

Tomorrow, Rick and I are going to the Arboretum (I hope), as now the azaleas are completely out and it's supposed to be a nice day. Well, I think I've hit on the highlights of the past month. I'll be starting on my Disneyworld blog next and hopefully finish it by the end of the weekend.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

You can hear what I've done in the past two days by clicking on the "audblog audio post" signs below.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Spring has sprung! It's going to be 75 degrees today! And as I look out the window, I see all kinds of trees starting to bud and bulbs around. Consequently, we've been outside *a lot* and my computer time has diminished even more.

Actually, I think that's a good thing, because it prevents me from going to the news sites all the time and worry myself with what's going on in Iraq and the rest of the world. We're once again under an orange terror alert and there is a lot of controversy here in the county about the emergency plans the schools are devising in case of a chemical or biological attack. Everything seems so dark sometimes, when it comes to the future!

Therefore, I'm working hard at concentrating on the present. Since I updated my blog last, we had Katja's birthday. She's 13 now! And what a great kid she is. I'm very, very proud of her. We had dinner at the Melting Pot and on Saturday, she had her party: shopping at the mall, then pizza, movies and a sleepover with 8 friends. She also has a really nice group of friends, some were new since she went to middle school.

Last weekend, we (Katja and I) unexpectedly flew to Massachusetts to celebrate my nephew's first birthday. We flew out on Saturday and back on Sunday, short, but it was well worth it.

Tomorrow, Kai and I are going to do things together. I'm allowing him to stay home from school to spend some one on one time with him. Well, off to enjoy spring some more!

Monday, March 10, 2003

This weekend it was *finally* warmer! Yesterday, it even got to be 61 degrees, before another arctic front swept in and made it freezingly cold again today (it's 35 degrees as we speak, brrrr!!!!).

On Saturday, Katja and I went to work out together and then went into the hot tub. It was fun to go with my daughter, I can't believe she's almost 13! Rick jokingly said "I'm shopping for a cane" this weekend, but really it does feel so old! (ok, I know everything is relative ;))

In the afternoon, I engraved a glass for Rick. It's the first one I've done in many years. I used to engrave them for everyone and on commission. But they hurt my fingers, so I can't do it as well anymore. What I do is write the first name in calligraphy, scratch it in the glass and then draw flowers or grasses or vines on it (depending on the type of glass). It's a very satisfying hobby as the result is always very unique. I just wish I could produce more!

Yesterday, after working out, I went to Michael's, to get some spring stuff for the house and supplies to make a door decoration. I like to make new ones every season, the Valentines ones were outdated and now I have cute Easter ones hanging. To cheer up the house a bit, I got some Easter accents as well: eggs with designs on them, yellow and orange candles and a huge pluche duck who hangs over the back of one chair. Rick declared that the duck doesn't do anything for him ;).

Today, I first went to work out with Christine, all the way in Centreville, but traffic on Mondays is so bad she would take forever to get to my neck of the woods. Then I rushed to Fresh Fields, where I love to shop, as they have so many good things and many tastings too.
I was back just in time to get the kids from school and pick up a friend's little girl. My friend just lost a baby after a 20 week pregnancy and my heart just aches so much for her! Saskia and her little girl played very well together and I just took her back home and stayed to talk. I'm glad we have such a great community, she's getting help everywhere and for weeks on end people have signed up to bring them meals.

Ironically, tonight, I have to go to a baby shower for my neighbor. Life goes on.