it’s a baby girl

I have not forgotten how to write… I have not disappeared… but this pregnancy is definitely not going smooth.

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our baby girl at 20 weeks

Let me quickly update you.

Our baby girl (!!) is doing great. She is growing well, steady heartbeat, and moving frequently. Pretty much ideal.

I have a hard pregnancy with all small kinds of symptoms, which were signs of heading to an early delivery. I was put on bed rest for a week twice till I had to stop working mid November.
And all I did was take care of Chris and Noah, knit and sew a bit, and sleep. I slept pretty much all the time for the last 10 weeks, and honestly I could take a nap right now. My body is just worn out. Probably not just because of the pregnancy, but the years before have been rough on me.

But this is the first week of my maternity leave (34 weeks), so we started our count down. I’ll try to write more often again.

how to create a personal holiday

It is still 17º C outside, sunny, and Daylight savings hasn’t even ended yet… and still.

The black Pete discussion started all over again about  month ago while Sinterklaas will not be here for another 6 weeks. Christmas is till 3 months away, and yet I am starting about the holidays.
While I still try to convince Chris and Noah that all the candy and goodies are leftovers of last year and we have to wait till Sinterklaas has arrived for a new load, I already started looking at the calendar and quietly planning.

sinterklaas 2

First of all, checking the custody schedule. I am lucky, the boys will be with us at Sinterklaas night, and Christmas will be split.

Next thing, how much, how big? With extended family, or just the four of us? And what about presents? I should probably order some already, before stores are driving up the prices.

Noah told me he isn’t too excited about Sinterklaas, as it will not be as much fun as last year. Then the 2-homes Pete had a surprise:

Sinterklaas comes on “pakjesavond” (present night, always December 5th), but the boys were at their father’s place that night. This is the story I came up with.

The letter I wrote came from Grandpa Pete (All Sinterklaas’ helpers are called Pete and their function/personality is included, like presents Pete, Pete chief, Pete Panic) telling the story how Sinterklaas didn’t what to do, but that the “2-homes Pete” had an idea. He opted to bring the presents a day early to myplace and Sinterklaas liked that.

“But sssht, not a word to mommy, she doesn’t know it yet.”

After dinner, the boys received a second letter from Grandpa sinterklaasPete. He had put a present in the basement. There the boys found the present and another letter, which let to my dad’s car where 2 more presents were hidden and another letter, which let to the balcony. The boys loved this game and it also helped taking breaths in between the gifts.
We had a wonderful evening together as a new family. Thank you, Sinterklaas!
This is probably that last year that both boys are ‘believers’ and I think Sinterklaas will have a big treasure hunt this year. Looking forward to a another personal holiday with family fun and not so much about presents.

pregnancy fit

I have to admit, this whole pregnancy is freaking me out. Isn’t it weird? We longed for another child for quite some time, but now that it is reality, it is scary.zwanger buik 2

My pregnancy with Chris and Noah was everything but easy. After

finding it was twins (help!), the doctors also found the boys had TTS. Two or three times a week I drove to the nearest specialized OBGYN, an hour away, to have an ultrasound to found whether they were alive or not. Not at all how I wanted to be pregnant.
While I hardly suffered any problems myself, I was far from fit. I was over-weighed, exhausted and had a love affair with the toilet during most of the pregnancy.zwanger buik

So here I am, pregnant again, and I just feel like I do not want to have the same experience. There was nothing I could do about the TTS, of course. But I really wanted to enjoy this pregnancy and I decided to stay fit. Having (just) one this time and not dealing with TTS is definitely helping.

Stay fit
How to stay fit? There are so many ways that you easily find yourself lost. My church friend, Laura, ran during her pregnancy. I prefer team sports and have been playing korfball most my life. But korfball is a contact sport. So, safety first and I decided to stop playing at 17 weeks pregnancy.

But what’s next? Stop being fit, pregnancy fit, is not an option.zwangerfit I decided to go for ‘ZwangerFit‘ {PregnancyFit}, a training program with a physiotherapist for pregnant woman. The awesome thing about this, you can keep doing this all the way till labor (the record in the gym is 41+3!). And 3 weeks after labor you can start training again.

I am excited to stay as fit as possible. And I so hope and pray this will help me to be much more fit, especially after labor.

you’re getting a baby sibling

The boys came back home from a 3 week visit with their father. It had been the longest three weeks of my life. First of all missing them is one the hardest things. It just never gets easy. Plus this year, I wanted to tell the boys the most exciting news in years for us: the expectation of a baby brother or sister.

So when they finally arrived, I had to bite my tongue for a while as I wanted them to settle down and be ‘home’. So, after a few days we had a coffee moment in the morning and I placed cupcakes with “muisjes” (a Dutch anise treat, traditionally given to families by the birth of a newborn).

Geboortetraktatie-cupcakes-muisjes-300x224Picture credits: bijnamoeder.nl

The boys were quite surprised by such a treat with our morning coffee (tea/lemonade). We told them that we are expecting a baby sibling. They asked a million questions, even more than usual. We patiently answered all questions, about where the baby was going to sleep. Then went off to play outside again and told all their friends in the neighborhood.

A few days later I brought the boys with me to the ultrasound. And even though it was hard to realize that this baby is actually in my belly, it became much more real. I have to say the ultrasound technician did a great job explaining to the boys how big the baby baby 1was. At some point the baby was showing her hands (yes, I do think it is a girl) and the lady said: “look, the baby is waving at you!” Chris and Noah were just staring at the big screen and Noah waved back.The bonding process has started.

and it became quiet…

I am sorry for not writing for a long time, but I honestly just ran out of energy and inspiration for a while. We had a heatwave early July and I just slept pretty much all the time. I am not really good with heat, so I figured that I was simply overwhelmed by it.

We were all tired. The school year was about to finish, everybody seemed to be ready for a much needed break. And on top of it all, I had my monthly week early. It wasn’t too surprising I was exhausted.

Summer break started, the boys went to their father for 3 weeks, and I had to see a doctor about a cyst (I have had several in the past, nothing too scary). They checked me with an ultrasound and there it was… a small tiny heartbeat!

Yes, we are expecting a baby! Adding some new genes to our blended family. What a huge blessed surprise for us! And it explained the exhaustion much better than a bit of heat.

We couldn’t be more excited.expecting

By now we’re in week 14 and I am less tired. I will try not to overwhelm you with weekly baby updates, but we’re definitely starting a whole new era.

blogging anniversary

Today, it has been 10  years since I wrote my first blog post:

“So, here it is. Our own weblog. As from today you can see how we are doing on the road to and at Ithaca. It will take some time to find out how things work…. we’ll see!”

Yes, 2005, it feels like yesterday, but it was the year:

  • YouTube was launched;
  • Touristic bombing in London;
  • Lance Armstrong retired;
  • Hurricane Katrina hits the Bahamas, Florida and New Orleans;
  • Saddam Hussein was on trial;
  • The 6th book of Harry Potter was released;
  • Of Brokeback Mountain…sneeuw

And the summer I moved from The Netherlands to the USA. The blog was more like a travel journal of all things we (my ex-husband and I) encountered while starting over with 4 suitcases. I wrote about getting my driving license again, looking for a job, unexpected hardship with permits, and just daily life. The website was simple, plain, and mainly for friends and family.bobs lake

During those years, I became a mom, writing about the first years of Chris and Noah. I made some blog contacts of other Dutch people in de USA, and actually met one of them.

After 5 years we moved back, I switched writing from Dutch to English, and the website become sort of a diary the other way around. Over the years it become less of a journal, and more of a diary, blog, less of our family, more personal. I started writing about things that matter to me.

twins
Chris and Noah, 10 weeks pregnant

After the divorce, I decided to start a new website. I started all over in life, and also online. The old blog address even carried my ex-husbands name. The website is gone now, the host (Weblog) doesn’t even exist anymore. But I kept it all; it is for Chris and Noah, they will be able to read all about our adventures, the first years of their life with mom and dad.

It became time for something new. A new life as blended mom, a new focus. I still write quite personally. I like to share our positive story of a blended family and the contradictions of parenting.

Blogging changed, 10 years ago people wrote as a journal, hardly any advertising. Commercially blogging, making money with your blog, was hardly known (I still don’t). But for sure, your blog needs to be more fancy. The options are endless.

Also the risks are known. I never thought someone would steal pictures, change them and use them for their own benefit. I know friends who stopped blogging or put passwords on their site. I became more careful as well, Chris and Noah are not real names, no more last names, no mentioning of where school or work is.

Slowly, but surely, people started to recognize my writing and blog. I got asked to write for TYM.nl , my articles are quoted in several American online magazines, and I still enjoy it. Of course, I still dream of a second home somewhere in France, where I will be making money with writing while sitting in a vineyard. May my dreams come true!

10 years… happy blogging anniversary to me!

our 12,5 year anniversary

One of the things I learned is “celebrate”.

In the Dutch culture it is quite unusual to celebrate things, we do celebrate our birthdays, but that is about it. Christmas, yes, but only if you feel like it, no pressure or commitments. Baby shower, bridal shower – all American things.

Celebrate? We, Dutchies, like to keep things real, a bit sober. A saying in Dutch: “Act normal, that is crazy enough” And I so disagree!
bff 4
Concerts, New Years Eve, and always silly!

Why not celebrate? Time is limited, we found out the hard way. Why wait to say ‘I love you’, make that trip, celebrate something you worked for? And no, it doesn’t have to be a crazy party with too much food, it can be just the two of you on the couch. Whatever you feel like.

Last weekend I celebrated my anniversary of 12,5 years. Wait didn’tyou really meet Henno in 2013? Yes, we did.
I celebrated my anniversary with my friend Marion. Weird? Maybe. Worth it? Yes!

bff 5
Maarssen, The Netherlands, 2003
bff 3
Bob’s Lake, Canada, 2006

It was 12,5 years since I moved to a new town, got introduced to her and we just hit it off. In 12,5 years we have gone through heartbreaks, hangovers, weddings, marriages, divorce, many rounds of board games, pregnancies, moving overseas and back. We went on a honeymoon to Mexico together (funny story!), visited distant family in Canada, and camped many times. She flew to the USA to meet my boys shortly after they were born.

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Maastricht, The Netherlands, 2014

After I moved back with my sons, we found that living closer together did not necessarily mean seeing each other more. Instead of having a week (or two) together 24/7, we were seeing each other more often, but usually quick and fast. Things had changed and we had to find a new way. One of the things we started doing was having a girlfriend weekend. One weekend a year, we book a hotel, shop till we drop, have dinner, play games, and chat.

bff 2Last weekend was our 5th weekend, and happened to be our 12,5 year anniversary.

Cheers!

Thanks Marion, for being there!

last days of

Just 2 more to go… the last days of school. School is almost over, all the extracurricular activities will be done. Just no more! And I am so relieved and sad at the same time.last school day 3

I am so proud of Noah who will be starting ‘groep 4’ next year – even though he started with a set back after switching schools, he worked hard and made it.last school day

And also very proud of Chris, who is the number one of his class in mathematics. He can tell you a funky details about pretty much any subject. But he cannot read, so he will restart ‘groep 3’ and hopefully will learn to recognize the letters with the extra time. I am so proud he tried absolutely his very best,he tried to trick everybody that he can read – remember the words other people were reading, but honestly, he simply can’t.last school day 2

I am so relieved that the boys can take a break from all that working, sleep in, relax, and just don’t have to for a while. But I will miss the boys terribly as they will spend half their vacation with their father.

the blended summer bucket list

Confession 1: I just made my first bucket list.  Confession 2: I hate bucket lists!

And the reason is actually quite simple, because a bucket list, for most people, is a list of things they would do if they had unlimited time and money. That is just sad! Unless…

Unless you make a list you actually tend to do and make a deadline, because bucket lists without a deadline are dead. It would just be a ‘someday somehow’-list. Not happening.

been there
been there
Why not dream big?

Dreaming big is awesome. Seriously, go ahead. Just don’t just dream…. But make it happen!! Because when you’re bucket list is filled with awesome but likely impossible things, you might forget to really enjoy the things you do. So yes, dream big, make plans, think outside of the box, and make it happen now.

Why now?

Because the next decade, year, even tomorrow might not come. I agree that is a scary thought. But I have seen it: “We will change the bedroom as soon as I retire.” But she never made that. One of the most painful things I ever heard, was at the funeral of a good friend, killed in a car accident. There was a girl who loved him obviously, but she never told him: “it is all too late now”.

been there, done that 2
done that
Enjoy all the things you did

I have a ‘been there, done that- list’ for years. Just to keep all things in perspective. I did a lot of things other people dream of. I love going over the ‘perfect tumblr’ pictures and see what I have done already:

been there, done that
been there, done that

Some might seem silly like “go bowling”, but I did it. Others might be on your ‘sometime somehow-list’ and I already did that. Not that I feel like I have traveled much nor let an extraordinary life.

Summer bucket list

Like I said I did make a bucket list. It is one that suits our family, as we will also spend 3 weeks without the kids. I purposely also added some date things as we will have more time to do those as the kids will be with their father. The perks and hardship of custody schedules.

But I think we should be able to do these things this summer.

bucket list

What is on your list? What do you still want to do? What are you moving from your ‘someday, somehow’ to your ‘I really want to do this’?

all about our blended family, parenting, happy homemade, and decorating