Thursday, December 31, 1998

Musical Beds

Tara moved out of our family bed a few months ago. She still insists on having me sleep with her though :-) Now that we moved to our new house, I have given her a queen size mattress on the floor of her room, so that there is enough room for me, and maybe later for her little sister. I nurse her there, then stay with her until she is asleep. Sometimes I fall asleep too and sleep there for the rest of the night. Otherwise, I will sneak out and go to our own bed, where my husband and Jane sleep.

If Tara wakes up at night (not every night, but still pretty regularly), I just walk over to her bed and spend the rest of the night in her bed. Jane sleeps through the night, so that's not an issue most of the time. Of course, there have been nights when she didn't and I kept changing beds all night. If they are both awake at the same time (very seldom), I sometimes take Tara to our own bed with me, but she is not too happy about that.

Not sure how this all is going to work when we add a newborn in March...

Wednesday, December 30, 1998

Heart Beat!

After reading a post on a mailing list today about picking up heart beat with stethoscope, I tried it today with this baby and was able to locate the heartbeat really easily. I am 28+ weeks I think. This is just a cheap stethoscope from the pharmacy. But first time to hear the heart beat for her, so it's very cool.

I was able to pick up Tara's heart beat with a stethoscope at 26 weeks, can't remember when I could with Jane.

Saturday, December 26, 1998

Our Christmas

We had a nice and quiet Xmas this year. In between the moving boxes, but the Xmas tree and the computer were set up. Priorities! :-)

The kids were excited about their presents. The Rokenbok was a big hit, even the girls play with it. Other great successes were the Lego and for Cees a book about how mummies are made. He would walk into the room, read some details (like getting the brains out with a hook) and gleefully declare 'Gross, huh!?!' :-)

Hubby got a big box of insect lego and Tim couldn't wait until he would start to build it. So after the turkey was in the oven, he and the boys spent a few hours building Lego together. We had a turkey dinner and will have turkey for a lot more dinners :-) The kids didn't touch it, apart from Jane, but only a few bites. Oh well :-)

Friday, December 25, 1998

All I Want For Christmas

Cees lost a tooth today, on Christmas day! This means the tooth fairy will bring $2 instead of $1 since it is such a special occasion.

Little does she know, that Cees's accomplishment will be repeated by his brother Erik, nine years later, in 2007.

Monday, December 21, 1998

Bad Parenting Award

We did some pretty bad parenting this week! We had to unpack thousands of boxes (well maybe a few less :-) which we got out of storage last week and used the vcr extensively. The kids spent quite some time in front of the tv, although they also spent a lot of time playing with the toys they hadn't seen for 9 months. Still, I think there was too much tv and they went to bed much too late, but at least we got a lot of unpacking done (not everything though) I think Tara watched Winnie the Pooh at least six times or so....

We hope to move into our new house tomorrow or Wednesday, depending on when we will be able to move over our computer :-) The Christmas tree is all set up, that's one thing out of the way. We did sleep in the new house for a few nights already, so we could get a lot of unpacking done. I haven't found all the comforters yet, we are using sleeping bags instead.

Parenting should be flexible, right? Sometimes you do well, sometimes you have room for improvement.

How to Prepare for the Second Baby

On Sun, 13 Dec 1998 09:10:32 EST, someone wrote:

I was up all night worrying about this crazy question. K is sure a sweetheart and I worry so much that a new baby is gonna really put a damper on all this. Will he be able to understand what's going on? Is there anyway I can prepare such a young baby for yet another baby who will be getting quite a bit of my attention? For those of you who had kids this close together, do you have any advice? I mean, what do you think I should do, if anything?

Your kids will be about the same age difference as my first two were. My oldest was very verbal, so I talked and talked and talked about the new baby, telling him about it, showing him pictures of when he was a baby, telling him that the new baby wouldn't be able to sit etc, just lie down. Also, I stressed that the new baby would be nursing too and couldn't eat anything else (Cees was still nursing)

We read books about babies and pointed out babies when we saw them somewhere and visited friends with new babies.

What I also did was try to get him used to waiting a few minutes before I answered his request. For example, if he wanted something to drink, I would say. 'OK, let me finish this letter (or whatever) and then I'll get you some'. I think this helped him to accept that he sometimes had to wait a few minutes before I could attend to him and that helped when I also had to take care of the new baby (no temper tantrums about wanting a drink, while I was in the middle of a poopy diaper of the new baby :-)

It will work out! The first year was crazy for us, with kids so close together, but after that it got easier.

Thursday, December 10, 1998

Placenta Brain

I definitely suffer from 'placenta brain' again this pregnancy! Here just a random example about trying to get a cup of tea this morning. I got up, made some breakfast for my 5yo (he was the only one who got up as early as I did), then put some water in the kettle to make tea. I put it on the stove, turned on the stove and went to the computer to check my email. Then I tried to log on to Bose in the Netherlands, because I was going to do some telecommuting work for them and I was successful (for the first time)! This exhilarated me so much, that I got sucked into the assignment they sent me on Monday and worked on it very concentratedly for quite a while. I was successful in solving half of their problem already and had a good feeling about it. Then I smelt something...

And yes, I had totally forgotten about the kettle with water, which has turned into a very hot kettle without water by now, which was glued to the stove.... So I turned off the stove, and decided to wait until it was cooled down before trying to solve the sticking problem.

I let it cool down and one or two hours later, it was cold and I could unstick it pretty easily and the damage wasn't as big as I expected. I decided that I still wanted tea and put on some new water. Then I went to make a phone call and of course you can guess what happened... I forgot about the water again... Stupid! But luckily this time it hadn't been cooking for quite so long and there was still some water in the kettle, so I just added some more to cook, so that I could finally make my tea.

The tea was steeping and I forgot about it again... Then I walked past it, noticed it, took the teabag out and wanted to pour it, but got interrupted by one of the kids. Fast forward a few hours. I still hadn't had my tea and just realized that. I didn't want to make new, so I just put the cold tea in a cup and stuck it in the microwave (I know, I know, it's not really the way to do it, but I was pretty desperate by then :-) Of course now I forgot about the tea in the microwave, but by the time I remembered it was still hot enough to drink.

So that was the story of how I finally got my cup of tea.... Pretty good example of my placenta brain problems :-)

Wednesday, December 02, 1998

Triangles and Squares

Today, I found out that Jane can sort things by triangle and square shape. We had cheese-it's, both the normal square ones and the Nacho Chees triangle ones. I had a bowl with both kinds in them. Jane came over to sit on my lap, picked out all the square ones and fed them to me, than walked off with the triangular ones to sit down somewhere and eat them all...

So, I guess she does recognize the triangle and square shape, even if she doesn't name them yet :-)

Monday, November 30, 1998

Kids Update

Cees, just turned 7yo: doing great, very interested in the world around him, just decided he will take up astronomy as an hobby. So today I let him web surf and he spent quite some time reading about the Cassini mission to Saturn. He is also very much into Goosebumps. He had his 7yo checkup today and was very healthy, apart from the throwing up issue of course and he is dropping in percentiles in weight. He is now totally off the charts, while he used to be between 5th and 10th percentile for most of his life. Another one to push calories on! When we are settled in our new house, I plan to make a lot of foods from scratch and add calories and things like protein powder wherever I can.

Tim, 5yo. He is doing reasonably well, although all the stuff surrounding the upcoming move is really hard for him. He thrives on structure and it is hard to provide it all the time for him in the middle of trying to get everything ready and painted and organized for the move. Still, I do homeschooling with him almost every morning and that helps him a lot. I keep it short, just some math and phonics, it just has to be there. But I think things will go much better once we are settled in our new house.

He is very creative, I think that's one of his strong points. He can spend hours just cutting and taping and drawing and making up stories and games and adventures with the props he creates.

Sleeping is still an issue. Even on medication, he goes to sleep after 11pm. But he doesn't lose it all the time any more at night, like he did before we started medication. I hope things will get better when we are more settled. I might up the medication, but not yet. We'll see what happens.

Tara, 2y5mo: another non-potty trained 2yo. She was very interested in it about a year ago, but with all the moving around, we have not been able to follow up on it. I plan to start putting her in underwear when we are settled into our new house and just see how she does. I think she must be ready, but of course, you never know :-) She can scream extremely well and is very very grumpy every morning when she wakes up. She speaks in full sentences and can be very caring one moment and yelling and hitting the other. Very two! She is starting to count, sometimes it is 'one doll, two dolls, two dolls, two dolls, two dolls', other times it is more like '1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 6, 10'. I have heard her count correctly a few times, but it still needs some work most of the time :-) She is very much into shapes, especially triangles and squares. Also rectangles, which she call 'beds'. We have geoboards for the boys, but Tara seems to spend the most time with it, almost every day. Winnie the Pooh and the Teletubbies are her favorite characters. Her favorite computer game is Reader Rabbit Toddler.

Jane, 1y4mo: emulates lots of behavior from her big sister Tara, both positive and negative. Is too independent for her own good, running off whenever she gets the chance. I have to keep her in sight every minute when we are out. She is using lots and lots of words and if she can't make it clear with words, she will use signs and gestures. She is another climber, she reminds me a lot of Timmy at this age. Including the non-sleeping characteristics.... She is in the process of giving up her nap, since if we let her nap, she won't sleep till 2am or so.... She loves singing, especially songs with gestures. She loves to play with dolls and bears or to carry them around in the sling. It is impossible to keep her confined to a shopping cart or a stroller, she will climb out of everything, even when buckled in (only then it takes her 10 seconds, instead of 1) Good temper tantrum thrower, she is clearly close to being 2yo! :-)

The Birthday Present: -3.5mo. Not much to say about this one. Moves about a lot. He/she is now big enough that I can identify the different body parts and point them out to the other kids. Neat!

Friday, November 27, 1998

Our Thanksgiving

We had a different Thanksgiving this year. Usually we have a nice dinner as a family with a big turkey (and lots of leftovers, since the kids won't touch the turkey or any of the other food :-) But this time we decided it was more important to get some things done in our new house, instead of watching a turkey bake in the oven.

So I did some grocery shopping this morning and in the afternoon we went over to our new house and did some more painting. The former owners had a huge dog and it destroyed a lot of the lower part of the house, including gnawing some door posts. The paint looks horrible. But, the good thing is, that with a layer of Fresh Start and a layer of paint, it looks so incredibly better! And we got the house for a real good price because of the condition it was in, and I kind of like painting. So today we tackled the hallway and it looks so much nicer already! Tomorrow maybe the dining room and the top of Tims room. We'll see how far we get.

Then we went back to our rental and had an easy dinner with chicken instead of turkey. The girls had fallen asleep in the car, so after the boys were upstairs, it was really quiet. Until the girls woke up again and Jane spent the rest of the night running around (she is still awake at 12:45am) and Tara did fall asleep again, but only after I laid down with her for almost 2 hours.

A different Thanksgiving, but it still feels good to us. It is a nice feeling to work in our own home and get it ready for moving into it!

Thursday, November 26, 1998

Too Much McDonalds...

I do a phonics lesson with Tim every day, which slowly introduces every letter, with a sound and a keyword. We just started a few weeks ago, so we have only done 6 letters or so. Today, when we got started, he told me 'I know where the M stands for'. 'Oh yes?' I replied. 'Yes, for MCDONALDS!!!! A giant M!'. I could only agree :-) Then he proceeded ' And the giant T is for Timmy!'

I guess we have been going to McDonalds too often when we were living in the hotel :-)

Wednesday, November 18, 1998


Jane got a hold of crayons a few weeks ago here in the furnished rental we are living in now. She had drawn on quite a few walls and doors before we got her.... And we have regular showings, so the house should look neat. Bubby and I used a hard brush to get most of it off and found that the places where she had used pencil instead of crayon worked well with an eraser.

About painting: we have started painting our new house. It badly needs new paint in a lot of places. I started yesterday in the downstairs bath room, which was painted BLACK! So, after two layers of primer, it now looks like somebody tried to paint white over the black... :-) I am going to put a top layer on today, hope it will cover the black better than the primer does.

I mean, what were they thinking???? Who, in his right mind, would consider painting a whole bath room black??? Not only that, but all the fixtures are gold colored...

Tuesday, November 17, 1998

Cees's First Web Page

Cees has me seen working on my own home page lately and decided he would like to write something for a web page too. Today we sat down together and he dictated what he wanted on the page and I typed it for him. Then he used paintbrush to draw a picture to go with it.

The result.

Not a lot, but I thought it was neat that he did this!

Cute Things They Say (2.5 years old)

Yesterday, Tara came over to me with the book 'What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know'. She asked me to read it to her. So I wanted to start reading in the literature department, some poems, etc, which I have done before with her. But she got all upset. She yelled 'No, not that! Africa! I want you to read AFRICA!!!!'. ...... So I went to the geography section where she was totally happy to discover Africa and hear some about it and then she spent the rest of the night telling me to read more about Africa and then every time I tried, turning over the pages to look for more Africa.... She also pointed out America to me, but told me that I shouldn't read about that...

Guess somebody had been paying attention while I was reading to the boys about the continents a few days ago :-)

Saturday, November 14, 1998


Jane swallowed a penny last week... It took about 2 days to get through her digestive tract.... She didn't seem bothered by it at all. I, OTOH, was bothered by looking carefully for it in every poopy diaper.... The joys of parenting :-)

I put in over a hundred spring bulbs today!

Friday, November 13, 1998

Our First House!

Since early this morning, Friday the 13th, we have been the proud owners of our first home!!!!!!!!!! Now we can finally start to settle down! (after we have done all the painting and stuff that is needed :-) We have never spent so much money in one day as we did today!

It is in a nice neighborhood, has 4 bedrooms, 2 baths upstairs, living room/kitchen, dining room, 1/2 bath and 2 extra rooms downstairs, a mud room with lots of cubbies (very convenient for us with all the kids) and an attached 2 car garage. There is a large, unfinished basement, that we are considering to change into a big play room and maybe an office. This all on an 1 acre lot. We are very happy about it!

We will take our time getting the painting etc done and move our stuff out of storage. This is the first time in the last 8 months or so, that we don't have to move in a few days! We want to be settled there by Christmas.

Of course, now one of the cars broke down later this afternoon, so I guess we will spend even more money over the next week!

Thursday, November 12, 1998


Here a cute one of Tara: we went on a hike last week, over an easy river trail. At some point we found a tree that looked like it had been chopped off by a beaver. The boys enjoyed looking at it and talking about the beaver. Tara looked at it and then declared: 'Uhoh! Tree broken. We need to buy new tree!'. :-)

Saturday, October 31, 1998

Halloween was Fun!

The kids were really glad that we were back in the States in time for this. When we had just come back, they saw Halloween costumes everywhere and of course immediately wanted to select some. Cees is the Red Power Space Ranger, Timmy is Spiderman. Tara and Jane both are Winnie the Pooh, their current favorite character.

We had a relaxed Halloween, we just went one block. That was more than enough for both the kids and the parents! :-) Jane insisted on walking a different direction from us the whole time and would be very indignant when we tried to correct her. Tara quickly caught on about the 'trick or treat' part. She had only one screaming fit, when somebody threw candy in her Halloween bucket and it was not the right kind of candy in her toddler opinion...Cees and Tim just enjoyed the, in their eyes, enormous amount of candy.

We let them splurge on it when we came home, and then it was off to bed!

Friday, October 30, 1998


We will have one Space Power Ranger, one Spider Man en two Winnie the Poohs. All costumes are store bought, I just was not up to making anything myself this year (Hmmm, I wonder why :-)

My kids are very happy to be back in the States for Halloween, since it is not celebrated in the Netherlands

Tuesday, October 27, 1998

We are Back!!!!!

We are back in the States!!! Finally!!! Times have been rather stressful and hectic, but we are surviving. I still HATE moving, but we have only one more move to go and then we finally can settle.

The move out of our Dutch house took longer than we expected. It is scary how much stuff we still accumulated in only 6 months and we actually had to go out and buy an extra suitcase on the airport, because our stuff just didn't fit in the few suit cases we brought :-) We gave away lots of stuff and sold our car and computer. The last night we stayed in a hotel, where we got the room that was on the 2nd floor, as far away from the stairs as possible and there was no elevator, so it took us a while to get all our luggage there. In the morning we had to move it all back out...

The trip was uneventful, apart from almost missing our connection at New York Kennedy. It took us pretty long to get through the INS, to get our luggage, get through customs and finally locate our next plane. Then when we were in just in time, they announced that they just heard that Logan airport was partly closing down, because of very gusty winds and we had to wait for an hour or so on the runway before we really departed....

In Boston, we all were very tired of traveling and just wanted to go to the hotel and go to sleep. We got an especially big cab, in which we just fitted with the 4 kids and the innumerable pieces of luggage and 2 car seats. We arrived at the hotel, got everything and every one out, I went to check in and found out that they didn't have a room for us..... They had booked us in another hotel though, although at that point I wasn't very happy about it, since that meant another cab drive and loading and unloading all the luggage again. Well, we managed to do it and the other hotel turned out to be the Carlton Ritz, very posh, way over our budget but paid for us by the first hotel. We got a nice suite, which even included a Nintendo. Two little boys were very happy about that :-)

Next day, Sander got our car from the long term Logan parking and managed to get it back to our hotel, only getting lost about 10 times or so... To our surprise it still worked fine, only needing some oil, which we had anticipated. So early afternoon, we were able to leave Boston and drive to White River Junction, where I had made reservations in the Shady Lawn Motel. I had chosen that one because they had kitchenettes. This was a big mistake..

The Shady part of the name was very well earned. The front desk was very unhelpful and unfriendly, the rooms were just not it and they first put us in a room without a kitchenette (I had reserved one with a kitchenette and when Sander checked in, he had stressed that we wanted a kitchenette). So I went back and they grumbled about it, but still gave us a room with a kitchenette. This was just an old refridgerater, a sink and a stove and nothing else. When you closed the door too hard, part of the kitchenette's wall would fall down. Still, we figured it would be good to have a kitchen so we could at least do our own cooking.

Next day we met our realtor to look at some rentals. The moment we were in the car to leave, one of the people at the hotel immediately went into our room. When we came back at the end of the day, there had no housekeeping being done at all. So we suspect they just wanted to see what we brought in??? We told the realtor about this hotel and she told us that a new Marriott Residence Inn just had opened close to here a few months ago and called them for us to see whether they had room. They did and that afternoon we went there, got us a 2 bedroom suite and went to the other hotel to get our stuff. We had reserved for 7 nights at the Shady Motel, and had to pay in advance (now I know why) and I was prepared to pay for 2 nights since we were checking out so late, but they didn't want to refund us any money.. So we'll have to dispute the credit card company to get the other 5 days back.

The Residence Inn was so much better! We had stayed there before, a few years ago, when we lived in Philadelpia for 2 months. It was a nice suite, with 2 bed rooms, 2 baths, living/dining room with fully equipped kitchen. And the staff was friendly and caring. Such a difference! It still was not easy staying in a hotel with 4 very active kids, but it was so much more do-able!

We ended up staying there for 2 weeks, until we could move into a short term rental. It was very hard to find something short term, people prefer to have at least a year's lease. We are now living in a big, old, furnished house, which is up for sale, so we get occasional showings, for which we need to clean up every time. Still, it is so much easier to live in a house instead of in a hotel. But the thing I long for most is settling down somewhere and getting our own stuff back!

We spent a lot of time looking at houses and trying to decide which one we wanted to buy. It was not always easy, dragging around 4 kids, but we did it, although I have to admit I used m&m's as bribes :-) The good news is that we did find a house, our first offer on it was accepted, we were approved for the mortgage and it looks like things might work out for that house. If it does, we will close on Nov 13!!!

In the middle of all this, Sander started his new job on Oct 1st. It seems to be a nice place to work and he is happy to be back in an office instead of at home with the kids. I, on the other hand, am very glad finally to be a SAH mom. I started homeschooling, although I don't have all the materials yet, but I just wanted to get myself and the kids into the routine.

The kids are still adjusting. Cees is happy to be back in the States, but misses his Dutch friends. Tim has a very hard time adjusting, but the last few days have been a little bit better. Tara has started sleeping in her own bed (MINE, MINE! :-) She was ready for it, although I still often have to go over to her at night to nurse her. But she does sleep through on some nights. Jane is not sleeping very well. She has an extremely hard time falling asleep and often is still bouncing around at 2am or so. Haven't been able to get that turned around yet, guess we need to keep working on that.

All in all, we are happy to be back and hope to move into our own house soon. We really want to get settled!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Karen, mom to Cees (6yo), Tim (5yo), Tara (2yo), Jane (1yo) and The Birthday Present (3/15)

Tuesday, August 18, 1998

Jane Builds a Tower

Jane is almost 13mo and concentrating very hard on building a tower. She loves this building toy, it often keeps her busy for quite a while.

2018 hindsight: I like to think that this was a building block for her joining robotics in high school, but who knows :D

Monday, August 17, 1998

Watching Television or the Joys of Teletubbies

Our kids all together, watching television. A rare picture! Most of the time only a few will be watching, and they might be fighting each other for the best viewing spot.

2018 hindsight: I have been enjoying reliving the past by checking out and updating my old blog posts. I remember our time in the Netherlands as a good time, being able to share my Dutch heritage with the kids, even if they don't remember much of it now. Cees and Tim went to a Dutch school, so that gave them a good language boost.

The television program I remember most is the Teletubbies, it was so ridiculous to me as an adult but so captivating to the children. And I can justify the television watching as reinforcing their Dutch language learning so they became more bilingual. I wish I had been speaking more Dutch to them when we moved to the States, it is so easy to slide into English. But all of them can understand Dutch and produce some, so not all has been lost :)

Tuesday, July 21, 1998

Jane Turns One Year Old!

Jane is a very good walker now and insists on walking everywhere instead of being carried. She tries very hard to do the same as the rest of her siblings. She understands almost everything that is being said to here. Just like her big sister Tara, she uses lots of baby signs to communicate. I really love using sign language for babies.  She has a high cuteness factor and a huge degree of persistence and determination to get what she wants.

'I love opening presents!' Tara was happy to help her in this task.

'That looks interesting'. Even although she was born in the USA, she celebrated her first birthday in the Netherlands (Edam) with a Dutch birthday cake.

'I wonder what it tastes like'. She had no problems diving right in!

'Pretty good! I can't complain!' Glad she enjoyed the celebration!

Dolphinarium Harderwijk

We spent Jane's first birthday in the Dolphinarium in Harderwijk, in the Netherlands. They have lots of shows with dolphins, seals, etc and aquaria with sharks and more. It is like Sea World, but the Dutch version.

The kids really enjoyed the show and the animals, what we did not like is that it rained on and off the whole day. And when it rained, it poured, literally!

In the picture we all look kind of wet and we were! It rained a lot during the time that we spent in the Netherlands. We lived there for six months and I think it rained for at least 4.5 of them! The picture shows Karen and from left to right Tim (4yo), Tara (2yo), Cees (6yo) and Jane (on her first birthday).

2018 update and disclaimer: This was before I became aware of the issues surrounding places like Sea World and the Dolphinarium and I am not sure whether I would go there now, knowing more about the possible mistreatment of animals which would be better off swimming the oceans.