Saturday, December 31, 2005

Gingerbread House Making Hell

We have this tradition of making a gingerbread house around Christmas, and then smashing it on New Year's Day.

My fantasy has this as a great family activity, happy kids, smiling parents, clean kitchen, joy all around. The reality included
  • Big fights about which music we could listen too
  • Baby peeing on the kitchen chair
  • Discovering that the whole house was devoid of baking soda
  • searching ten minutes for the darned ginger, and then discovering we were almost out of that too
  • Jane yelling that she would be nice to Kate if only Kate hadn't ruined Jane's childhood
  • Everyone fighting about the gingerbread leftovers from the house
  • Phone ringing at crazy times
  • Erik needing to eat right now, and only something that I could make
  • Sylvia hanging on to my legs, crying, if I dared to move more than two steps away from her

I am sure you get the picture. The worst thing is that this was only the baking, the contruction still has to happen. So why do I do this to myself every year? I think after a few days, the bad things kind of get forgotten, and the good memories remain. At least, that's my story and I'll stick to it :p

Aiki budoin was fun today, we did free style fighting. One in the middle, the others attacking. Wow, it was hard. I had no idea what I was doing, and would have been killed many times in a real fight like that. But it was so much fun!!!! Better than trying to roll with a sword in my hand, still haven't mastered that skill :p

Friday, December 23, 2005


Sylvia is starting to be too independent for her own good. She likes to go play outside, you know where you have to put on all the snow clothes/ boots and paraphernalia, only to have her spend two minutes outside. Then come in again saying 'brrrrrrrrr! cold!' About fifteen minutes of work, for two minutes of outside time.

She often also runs around naked in the house, puts on her boots, demands the door to be opened, and tells me 'brrrrrrrrr! cold!' and explains i'd better close that door again. Very cute.

Tonight, she was half naked and did the boots thing again, but also insisted on her snow suit. I knew it was going to be an 'open door and decide not to go outside' event, so I just kind of hung the suit on her, using the hood. She went outside, I closed the door behind her, and monitored her through the window.

She went to the stairs, I expected her to turn around. She didn't. She went down the stairs. Still didn't turn around. She went over the snow and the grass, still kept going. Now I wondered whether she maybe wanted to go to our neighbor's house, since she had played there earlier today. I slipped on some boots and followed her. She did not notice me.

She went down the driveway, didn't take the turn to the neighbor's. Walked down the street, still not noticing me. Looked like she was going for a walk. After a while, she finally noticed me, and I asked her whether she was ready to go home yet. An empathic 'No!' was her answer. Mind you, she was still half naked, with snow suit draped over her back. I decided to just follow her and see how long she lasted. But first needed to dress her more, since this was more than the one or two outside minutes I had been anticipating.

Putting on a snow suit while standing is not easy, since we couldn't sit down on the snow anywhere. But I finally did get it done, without covering us in too much snow. The walk continued. And continued. I would occasionally ask whether she wanted to go home yet, and she would vehemently deny that possibility.

We walked and we walked and we walked till she finaly decided that I could carry her now, and I could sneakily get us closer to home. What fun! It's amazing how she was going to make this walk all by herself. Too independent for her own good. Now if only she could go to the bath room all by herself too!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Happy Solstice!

Happy solstice to you all. We have a nice fire going (the one time a year we use the fire place) and the kids have been roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. They love this holiday. A friend came over with some really nice Haba blocks for Christmas present, life is good.

Even Sylvia learned how to roast marshmallows. You put them on a stick, point them in the direction of the fire, touch them, say 'Blech!' and throw them out... She preferred the chocolate for the s'mores instead :)

The kids made papers with things they want to get rid off like 'bad temper' and burned them. Although Kate made nice and sunny pictures to burn, not sure what that symbolizes. But fun was had by all.

Sylvia had a checkup yesterday, she is 24 lbs now. Exactly average, kind of unusual for my kids. The only way to weigh her was by me holding her, weighing me, and then weighing me without her. There was NO way she was going to sit or stand on any of the scales by herself. I now know that I weigh 135 lbs :)

Not much exciting going on here. We have all the christmas presents bought and wrapped, I feel very organized this year. OK, just christmas present wise, luckily it's not spilling over to any other areas of my life.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Yes, we have entered the possessive stage. If Sylvia has touched something two months ago, it is 'Mine!!!!' the moment anyone even looks at it. This morning, we had another toddler over, one who also is in the possessive stage. Which led to some amusing situations, where both of them were standing next to each other, clutching a bunch of toys and stating 'Mine!!!' to each other. Then they would put some down, wait for the other to do the same, and grab the other's toy and do the clutching / stating thing again. It was funny to watch.

She has decided that she's a big girl now, tells us when she has to pee, or just climbs on the toilet herself. She has one accident today, and that was it. Looks like this will be an early potty trainer, nice. I even take her out in public now without diapers and usually it goes fine. Apart from when we had a nice puddle on the floor of the Borders cafe...

Yet another snow storm ready to hit us. Tomorrow we'll have 4 to 8 inches of snow and ice pellets. Oh joy!

Christmas shopping is done, almost all the wrapping is done, somehow it's so much easier now that the kids are old enough to help with all that. Gone are the hours long wrapping sessions in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Four Inches and Counting

Sigh, winter is here for sure. Today we are being hit with our first significant snow storm. It's noon now, four inches so far, and still falling heavily. Why did I want to live in New England, again?

Did I mention that I have two puking kids, and one who is 'not feeling well'? On the upside, now I can't go to the homeschool support meeting, but will have to stay home and study go all day long. Too bad :)

I played in a go tournament this weekend. Yet another snow storm hit us that day, although it wasn't as heavy as this one, it still wasn't fun to drive in it. I did ok during the tournament, ended up fourth place in kyu division. My official rating now is 5k, which means I only have five stones to go to shodan (kind of black belt level) It was so nice to be out there, all by myself, without 4,000 kids interruptions. I would like to say that I played better than when I have sylvia with me at go club, but I don't think that was true, still made so many mistakes.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

API Meeting

Today was the second API meeting at our house. One of my friends recently started up a local API chapter and I offered to host at our house. Figuring it wouldn't be bad to have another reason to clean up the house once in a while.

Of course, my clean up got a bit complicated by the fact that I had go club last night, and had a friend calling me for a ride late at night. But somehow I did get things accomplished. I even was going to go to bed early, like before 2am, but it was 3:30am before I noticed the time again :p

Today's topic was positive discipline, but somehow it morphed into life with a toddler and a baby. We all agreed that it just plain is hard to be caregiver of two little ones. Things never get done. Toddler- baby interactions are not always optimal. There is lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth. By the toddler too.

I told people that seven kids actually is way easier than two kids was, back then. Things just sucked for a while, the transition to two kids was incredibly hard. I also shared about the parenthood mantra 'This will pass. This will pass. This too will pass.' Yes, it all is coming back to me and I have to say I am very happy that we came out at the other side, and all still were alive.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


We had a nice quiet thanksgiving with just the nine of us. Being Dutch and vegetarian, we decided to skip the turkey and eat pad thai instead. Which horrified some people we told about this, that was funny :) But I really wanted to make something which wouldn't take me a lot of time, but still tasted well. After all, I had to make sure to have time to play go too :)

Sylvia is such a toddler now, always on top of things and into things. And she is so convinced that she is always right, that everything is hers, and that we all exist to cater to her wishes. She can be quite loud about it when reality catches up with her :-p

We have had snow last week,the kids really enjoyed it. Did I mention how I am not ready for winter??? Oh well, we'll get through it somehow.

Monday, November 21, 2005


We went geocaching and Sylvia wanted to explore out of the sling. This was in the middle of the woods, while I was trying to find the cache, staying pretty close to her. She was happy for a while, playing with sticks, until she suddenly wanted to be back with me. She very clearly yelled 'Help! Help!' Usually she would just call for mama, so I thought it was cute how she was asking for help :)

The older kids have figured out a new 'game' with her, where they almost fall off the couch and call for help. Sylvia will go over, and push them back, or grab their hair and try to help them get back that way...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I don't want them to talk about me!!!

One of those nights.

Kate running into my room, very upset 'I don't want them to talk about me!!!' After a moment's thought adding ' I don't even want any one to say my NAME!!!!!'

Tara piping up from the next room 'Kate!'

It detoriated from there...

Is it midnight yet, so that this day can be over?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Quote of the Day

Kate yelling at me this morning.
'I wish you were dead!!!'
'I wish you weren't even born!!!'

Ummmm, that makes for an interesting paradox, darling :)

This was when I seperated her from Jane, when she was attacking Jane. A very justified attack of course, since Jane had taken the Pokemon cup today, because it was actually Jane's turn... Kate is sure that if it's not her turn, she has to attack the current Pokemon cup holder...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I Got My Sword!!!!

Yes, at aiki budoin, they have been out of their mind enough to actually give me a huge wooden sword, a bokken, or also called katana. Now all those other people roll and fall and do all kinds of cool things with their sword. I can't even do a roll correctly without a sword. The idea of trying to make a good roll with a sword in my hands is not too attractive to me. Let's hope it's something that won't happen till I am black belt or so...

Talking about rolling and falling, it's amazing how hard it is to do that well. Where the rolls look super gracious and totally natural and easy for the others, they do suck for me. I slap my arms at the wrong time, keep my legs wrong, and do one thousand other things incorrectly. I can improve one aspect at a time, but then forget about the 999 others. Not to mention that I can't just jump up in a fighting position immediately after my fall or roll either. This will take me a while to master!

The kids were super excited when I came home with my big sword. They all had to touch and hold it, even Sylvia :)

Today, after homeschool club, I ended up with ten kids. All the extras went home again though, so the house is nice and quiet now. Hmmm, that might be because it's 4am, maybe I should go to bed :-p

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hurting Everywhere...

and loving it! Last night, I had my first class of aiki budoin. The only thing I worked on was rolls and falls, since they need to be mastered before you can learn any of the other techniques. Boy, it's hard to fall the right way. And the rolls, which look extremely graceful when they do it, were totally clumsy and wrong when I did it. I am sure I very closely resembled an elephant or a whale, at least, that's what it felt like.

Very happy that I made the step to do this though. I can tell already that I am really going to enjoy this, that is, if I ever master the rolls and falls. The sensei told me that it took him a long time to master this, which made me feel a bit better. But still, it just was hard! Today, I can feel that I have used muscles which I haven't used in a long time, so huring everywhere. But it's a good hurt, the hurt you have after a good workout.

Have had a busy weekend, Cees turned 14 years old, go club, homeschool support group, lots of other things going on. Tomorrow is LLL meeting, so maybe I should vacuum the house instead of sitting at the computer. OTOH, better to vacuum later, so that it still will looked vacuumed by tomorrow :) Most of the house is ok anyway, because of yesterday's homeschool meeting.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Tactical Self Defense

I had signed up for a tactical self defense class at our karate school, because it sounded both interesting and useful. Last night was the second class. Wow, i am having so much fun doing it. We are learning a lot of techniques to fight back if you get attacked, but there also are many other things to learn. There is emphasis on personal safety by avoiding violence. The teacher is really good, and has some amazing stories to tell.

This is a three weeks class, but they are considering lengthening it to twelve weeks, to give every one more opportunity to really learn the techniques. Last night we did exercises like standing in the center of a circle of seven persons, who would take turns 'attacking' you (just shoving) and you had to sidestep and attack on his way past you. Pretty hard to have to keep track of so many people and have the possibility of attack from all sides.

Doing this class has me convinced that I am ready to pick up martial arts again, I used to do jiu jitsu and aikido in a former life. Way, way back, when the Earth was still flat and dinosaurs roamed the plains. OK, maybe not that long ago, but it was still in the Netherlands. I only did it for a year or so before life happened, but that was enough to now know that the time is ready to pick it up again. I spoke to my kids karate teacher and got the name of a good local sensei. The only issue was that the class mostly is young, male, college students, so it can be kind of rough at times. I told him that I didn't mind, and he added as an afterthought that maybe this was actually good and would make the skills I learn even more useful in a real life situation.

So going to look into starting aikido or jiu jitsu classes, I hope it will work out. Somehow I feel totally ready for it.

This morning we had the very first local API (Attachment Parenting International) meeting at my house. It was a good meeting, nice people, fun was had by all. I baked my 'famous' cinnamon raisin bread, and had managed to have the house ready and cleaned up, and the bread started at 10am, even after playing go till 4am this morning :D

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Eagerly anticipated, long awaited, happily prepared for, Halloween finally arrived. A few weeks ago, I took them to the thrift store and let them go wild in the halloween sale. They all put together all kinds of interesting costumes, and Tara made sure Sylvia got a cute costume too. Over the last few weeks, Kate kept losing parts of her costume, swords kept being broken, but eventually all costumes made it more or less to Halloween.

This morning, we carved pumpkins. It is nice that most of the kids are starting to be old enough to do it without much or any help. The only thing I did for the older ones, was to cut off the top. They were quite creative in their carvings. Kate me a sunflower with a square sun (I had told her that curves are hard). Jane made a rat on one side, and a face on the other. Tara meticulously carved the word HATE in her pumpkin... @_@ Tim and Erik made more standard jack-o-lanterns.

The boys went trick or treating with a friend, in a different neighborhood. I dropped them off, came home, and found part of Tim's costume in the car... So I had to go back and get it to him. The girls had a friend over to go trick or treating with them, they had a blast. Dh and I were out with only the little ones, weird to suddenly be a two kids family. We almost looked normal! Sylvia figured out fast how to behave when trick or treating. She would ring the bell, and the moment the door opened, she would eagerly hold up her halloween bucket, looking expectantly at the person who opened it. She often tried to push open the door, making it go faster.

Erik kept talking about all the humans we were trick and treating at. 'Let's go to that human's home now!'

Now every one is in bed, not necessarily asleep. It was quite an interesting evening with eight kids on sugar highs... Kate totally lost it before she finally fell asleep. She kept crying about nothing, over and over. So every one was happy when she went off into dreamland. Most likely filled with lots of candy :)

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Did some geocaching maintenance today, replaced the cache with the dent, which didn't look like a moose accident after all. The dent was such that I think it might have been there anyway, but I assumed that an ammobox would be waterproof, not realizing that this slight dent would break the waterproofness of it. The cache had been totally filled with water, but dried out by a nice geocacher. Now I put it in a new ammo box, so it should be fine.

Also did maintenance on my Peace Cache which had gotten wet. Hmmm, sense a theme here? Maybe it just rained way too much lately. Sylvia helped out a lot putting back the cache, insisting on putting it in the wrong container, but at least, it was in the right location. She was so totally convinced of this being the way things should be, it was cute.

Of course, before I went out caching, I had to play just one game of go. Ended up being a half pointer, I won by half a point. Somehow the victory seems sweeter if it's a halfpointer :)

One of Those Nights...

Last night, I stayed up way too late to play go (not unusual for me :-p) and fell asleep immediately when my head hit the pillow. Only to be rudely awakened a few hours later by Cees 'Mama!! Tim just puked all over his bed!'

So much for sleep. Spent a lot of time cleaning up, making his bed, getting him comfortable, and by that time, it was too late to go back to bed. Luckily he was fine after a few hours, but now I am wondering who else will get it.

Last farmer's market of the year. Did I mention how I am soooooooooo not ready for winter? Maybe I should live somewhere else, somewhere where there aren't nine months of winter. After the farmer's market, I planted some bulbs for a friend, and dug up my rosemary and sage to take in the house for the winter. I found two plastic cereal bowls outside, we seemed to be having less and less of them. I wonder where the other missing ones can be. If they are outside, we'll lose them under the snow soon.

Go club in the afternoon, always fun. Sylvia enjoyed herself for a while eating an egg roll and drinking some chocolate soy milk. Then she suddenly wanted to nurse, now!, and happily fell asleep on my lap for a while. Nice relaxed playing that way, didn't have to keep track of her.

Tonight we'll have an extra hour, when daylight savings time ends. Will I spend it on the go server, or shall I use it for sleep? :)

Friday, October 28, 2005


Finally I got my act together enough to post a picture of all of them. This one was taken in September.

We had homeschool club this morning, the kids had fun doing all kinds of Halloween activities. We are now the proud owners of a bunch of grave stones and of stained glass pumpkin decorations... I was smart and had brought my go books, so I could do problems while the kids did their thing :)

We came home with one extra kid, so we are up to eight kids for the night. They are sewing something now, I think a Halloween goody bag or so. I got a new sewing machine last week, when the old one broke. I haven't even used it yet, but Tara is very happy and has made a bunch of simple things already (pillow, blanket) The sewing machines has fancy stitches, and she thinks that that is really neat. I would like to make something on it, but not badly enough to actually sit down and do it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I am sooooo not ready for winter. Today we got hit by lots of rain, the basement was partly flooding again, and then it started snowing! Blech! Cold and nasty. And our dishwasher is broken too...

Sylvia enjoyed the snow, she was walking outside, half naked, wondering why the rain had turned white... She is getting more and more verbal, adding important words like 'No!!!', 'Blech!', yummy, and open to her vocabulary. She is so able, she can do ANYTHING. At least, in her humble openion.

We got boo-ed last night, one of the neighbors left us a Halloween basket with treats, the expectation is that you boo two other neighbors in exchange. So my girls are out now, boo-ing people, they had lots of fun putting baskets together.

One of my caches was totally dented in and full of water, it's in the middle of the woods, not even that close to a trail. Our theory is that a moose must have stepped on it, how else could an ammobox get destroyed? We also lost a micro in the woods, which was hidden in another tree. This time we are blaming a curious raccoon, or a pesky squirrel :D Those blasted critters, messing with our geocaching!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Quote of the day

'MAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He is touching a new piece of food before he has finished chewing his last one!!!!!'

Yes, Tara really expected me to micro manage the way my kids eat... Tim was eating cookies faster than she did. Mind you, there were more than enough cookies for all to eat as much as they wanted and then some. But it's the principle of the thing. Touching food before properly having chewed your last bite... Horrible!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Good News and Bad News

We had a homeschool support meeting today, so we spent yesterday getting ready for it. Kate was vacuum cleaning, and Sylvia was 'helping'. After ten minutes or so, Kate came over to me 'Mama, I have good news and I have bad news! The good news is, that Sylvia now can turn the vacuum cleaner on and off. The bad news is that she is doing it all the time... ' :D

Homeschool support meeting was fun. Not many people, but had a nice chat with the ones who did show up. Afterwards, I did some go studying, and had a friend over for a few hours.

We saw the sun today!!! I almost had forgotten what it looked like!

Didn't do much (if any) around the house, but at least things were cleaned up for the homeschool meeting, so it's not too bad. Maybe I'll get myself to unload / load the dishwasher soon. Maybe :)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Back from a fun weekend of go

Spent last weekend in the Catskill Mountains, playing and studying go. What fun! I learned a lot. I took Sylvia, Cees, and Tim with me, the other kids stayed home with hubby. The only negative things were Timmy puking like seven times, and Sylvia having diarrhea. Nothing like playing a game, and being interrupted by Cees coming in with a happy 'Tim puked again!' Oh well.

The week had just normal stuff, LLL meeting, homeschool club, go club, and such. It rained and it rained and it rained. Did I mention the rain? Very depressing!

The garden is still spitting out tomatoes, but I don't really feel like picking them with all the rain. Amazing that it's October already and we still haven't had our first frost.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Long day today. The kids really wanted to go to Borders, so we planned that for the morning (after doing some go problems of course). Sylvia is at the age when it's challenging to take her to a book store, there are just so many books to be pulled down, so many things to get into. Heaven for her, frustrating for me. But at least she is uber cute while she does all her things. I am grateful that at least she didn't take off all her clothes.

We picked up some lunch, and went to the playground, where the kids played, and I did go problems. Sylvia is sure she can do all the same things the older kids can, and usually she is right too. Amazing body control for a 16mo. Yes, she is 16 months old today, time just flies.

Back home, getting ready for karate (three girls), starting bread, getting them to karate, doing some dishes, getting them from karate, baking bread, making soup, doing go problems, doing lots of other stuff. Busy day. But no, I didn't get any tomatoes or basil picked.

I signed up for a Tactical Self Defense class at our karate school. Sounded interesting and useful, looking forward to it!

Just heard that a good on line go friend still is in the hospital, with his broken leg, and it turns out that he might lose his foot :( Please send good thoughts his way.


Yesterday was a potato day, today was an apple day. We went apple picking with our homeschool support group. Started out with a tour of the cider house, and then we got a wagon ride to the apple trees to pick. The kids had a wonderful time. Sylvia was sure you had to eat at least three apples at once. Kate had a hard time deciding on which apples to pick. Tim's apples had to be just perfect. Cees just went for fast and big quantity. Tara and Jane went off and did their own thing, returned both with a bag full of apples. Fun how they all did it differently.

Ended up getting some cider and a pumpkin and every one was happy. We now have enough apples to last us for the next three years or so...

Put some tomatoes and basil in spaghetti sauce for dinner, but still tons of tomatoes left to harvest. Guess I need to do that soon!

Monday, October 03, 2005


Gorgeous weather today, so I wanted to do something outside. My potatoes had been beckoning for a while. This was the perfect day to tackle them. Tara and Sylvia both helped, Tara was more effective at it than Sylvia. But at least Sylvia now knows that potatoes grow under the ground, and that they come in the colors red and purple. She really enjoyed walking around with potatoes, I wouldn't be surprised if we find them everywhere for the next three months at least.

I also went out to scout out a place for a night time cache. Sylvia didn't want to bother with those pesky clothes, so she took them all off about halfway the hike. Oh well, at least she is cute. Then she spent a lot of time throwing her clothes on the ground, so we could pick them up for her. She has trained us well.

There were 32 mallards, and 17 Canada Geese. The geese were amazing, honking and loud and just fun to watch and listen to. They were so noisy! I loved watching them.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Farmer's Market

Last month of our farmer's market, it's bittersweet to think that the season is almost over. It was a gorgeous day, and the atmosphere at the market is always great. The kids got their bakery treats, and home made ice cream. They ate honey samples, chatted with friends, and had a great time.

I got a card to send to a friend who's in the hospital, it has a close up of a cow, looking straight at the camera. Turns out that the cow's name is Blossom. I'll tell my friend that Blossom wishes him well too. I have been sending cards and letters to people, which I enjoy doing, but hadn't done in ages. I have so many people I would like to write a letter or a card, but I was unable to do it since shortly after Sylvia was born. Things just weren't right, and somehow I couldn't find the energy to send cards or letters. So I am very happy that I am getting back into the habit, I hope that it lasts.

This afternoon I went to go club. Sylvia had a great time running around and climbing on everything. I spent a lot of time chasing her instead of playing. She is so cute though, that I didn't care at all.

Friday, September 30, 2005


Still being overwhelmed with life, so sitting at my computer and blogging instead of doing things. Very effective, I know :-p

At least I got lots of veggies cut for tonight (thanks Tara) and I can think of something good to make for dinner. Maybe simple stir fried veggies and tofu over rice. That is one of my 'I have no idea what to make for dinner' meals to fall back on.

Last night I got to play a 9dan professional go player! So amazing. She played a simul somewhere in Vermont, and I got in. Loved, loved, loved, loved it! She is the second strongest woman go player in the world. Makes me want to get stronger even more!

Sylvia just is relishing so much in her abilities. She will climb on the chairs or the couch, and stand on the back, high up, just showing off that she can do that now. She is uber cute, even although she also is into everything, and is learning to throw some nice temper tantrums.

We have a homeschool support meeting at our house on Monday, I guess I should think about getting the house ready soon. Such boring work.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


A few days ago, it started getting much colder at night, and I started worrying about all the basil that's still in the garden. If we get the first frost, it basically will be ruined. So I got myself together, and picked a lot of it, and some parsley too. Spent more time than I really wanted to, but ended up with pesto for the freezer and for our dinner that night! That was nice.

Brought some basil over to a friend's house yesterday, but still have more in the garden. I am out of pine nuts though, so I will either have to make pesto with walnuts, or wait till I can hit the supermarket. Luckily it's raining badly today, so that I have a good excuse not to do it all today, since it won't be that cold tonight with all the clouds cover. Always nice to find good reasons to procrastinate :p

There are new tomatoes in the garden too, ARGH!!! I need to start leaving them in people's cars. Nobody would know it was me, right? And nobody would mind, those aren't zucchinis after all...

The joys of gardening :D

An Important Skill

Sylvia has mastered a very important skill. She now can take off all her clothes, including her diaper, whenever she wants. Within record time too. So she spent a lot of time at go club today practicing her skill, and I spent a lot of time chasing a naked baby through the hallways of the theater and cultural center.

Another important skill is getting the step stool and using it to reach whatever she otherwise couldn't reach. I was very impatient for that mile stone to be mastered. Life sure has gotten a lot more interesting since she can do that :D

Monday, September 26, 2005

Yes, I still do exist...

Just have been busy with stuff and more stuff. My mom visited me for a week, from the Netherlands, it was great spending time with her. Last time she saw Sylvia, Sylvia was only a newborn. It was nice to have her, although it's also nice to have our house to ourselves again.

We gave 8 rats back to the pet store, have only 6 left, one of which is going to a friend. STill more rats than I really wanted, but better than 14 of them.

Life is hectic as usual. I don't cook as much as I want to, but I did get to make pesto last night, quite some to freeze, and some to eat at night. I also froze more the 50 bags of tomatoes from our garden, this will be great in the winter. More later, but wanted to let people know that I am still ok, just overwhelmed with life.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


So many lives lost, such devastation. Hard to imagine.

Yesterday, I took all the kids, and we went out went to the grocery store, got a lot of stuff and brought it over to one of the Vermont drop points. I liked doing this as opposed to (or in addition to) sending money, because it was more visable to the kids. They went shopping with me, we talked about what the people would need, we consulted the list we had (from the news paper) and they helped carry the things in and out the van and at the collection point. We also talked about having to evacuate and having to decide what they would bring. And how horrible it would be to know that anything else would be gone.

When dh came home, I left him with the kids, and made another quick grocery run, dropped it off and then stayed for four hours or so, helping to sort and pack stuff. It was amazing how many cars came and dropped off things. This is not a very densely populated area, but it seemed like cars sprouted out of nowhere, and the stacks of donations kept growing.

I wish I could do more.

The rats are doing great, still amazed with how many we ended up. And here I didn't want a litter of baby hamsters...

Yesterday, we saw a bumper sticker on a car saying 'Fat people are harder to kidnap'. The kids and I were talking about it, and wondering why some one would put that on their car, and just having fun discussing it. Till Kate piped in with a 'I think they tried to kidnap a fat person, and it was really hard!'

Sunday, July 24, 2005


We just celebrated Jane's birthday. She had a wonderful day, enjoyed all her presents. Especially the pet rat she got. Yes, you read it right, a pet rat. It was all my own fault too.

Last month, when we went out to buy a hamster for Tara's birthday, they tried to talk us into a rat instead, telling us that rats make way better pets than hamsters do. Tara wasn't convinced, so we got a hamster anyway. So Jane wanted one for her birthday too. Being the math maniac I am, I could calculate too easily the sum of two hamsters though, so I proposed a rat instead, and she thought that that was a great idea. I was just happy to have two non cross breeding species of small furry animals. No endless supply of babies for us!

Fast forward to her birthday. We spent the day before driving around and running lots of errands, culminating in the important decision of which cage to buy and which acessories. When we finally had selected everything, we went to get a rat. No rats available. Rats! We bought our stuff anyway, and went to another pet store, our sixth stop or so for the day. By now, I just wanted to go home, so didn't feel like spending tons of time on buying a rat.

So we ran into the store, a small, local pet store. Yes, they did have rats! So we select a cute one from the 'male rats' section, and ask whether this really is a male. The clerk holds him up, looks for a moment, and ascertains us 'Yes, this is a male for sure'.

Fast forward to home, rat gets installed in new cage, and bites Jane. Ouch! All the books I read said that biting is very unusual for rats. At that point I still think he might just be scared because of all the stress of moving into a new house / location / family. But then he bites Erik too. And me. Not badly, just a nip, but still... I had expected the pet store to sell more socialized rats. Shows me that you always should ask the right questions when buying a new pet. Learning opportunity.

Sander comes home and asks me 'Are you sure this is a male? He sure does look pregnant'. I look at him too and have to agree. He does look a wee bit fat.

One day later, we find out that no, this is not a male rat, and no, she is not pregnant anymore. Instead we now are the proud owners of thirteen baby rats... Let's just say that I am NOT very impressed with that pet store...

Any one wants a pet rat?

At least we can socialize those babies properly.

Good news! Isabella is home from the hospital. Still lots of stuff going on, but she is home!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Isabella is out of Intensive Care!

She still isn't peeing or eating, but at least she is improving a tiny bit every day. She even laughed when watching a video yesterday. She even went out for a walk in a wheel chair, and enjoyed being outside again. Please keep sending positive energy her way.

Not much going on here, it's a quiet week this week before next week the daily swimming lessons are starting. We went to the fireworks on the Fourth, the kids always love that. I am less thrilled about sitting on a field, surrounded by too many bugs and people. Sylvia was very much in awe about the fireworks, not scared at all. She applauded when there was a particularly loud one.

Still gardening and playing go, have been geocaching a bit less lately. We have green tomatoes, can't wait for them to turn red!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Witnessed an Accident

Today we were on our way back from the farmers market, happily driving along on the highway. When suddenly a car in front of us starts swaying and first bounces into the guard rail to the left, then the one on the right side of the road, and comes to a stop, smoking. This didn't look good. I stopped and got out, as did the person from the car in front of us. I feared what I would see, but to my utter relief and amazement, she was basically ok. Yes, she did have a bloody nose, and a cut close to her eye, but seeing the accident, it was a miracle that she wasn't more seriously hurt. Not to mention that this was on a bridge, so I have been thinking what if the guard rail hadn't been able to hold her car.

What did worry me was the way she kept talking about her husband. 'My husband is going to kill me! My husband is going to kill me! My husband is going to kill me! I am not going to call him!' She just kept going on and on. We kept trying to reassure her 'You are ok, the car is replaceable, you are not replaceable', but it didn't reassure her at all. I was so tempted to tell her that he was a jerk and to forget about him, but thought that that wasn't the best thing to say right then. Neither did I think a wisecrack joke about especially not calling him on her cell phone while driving. We just kept trying to reassure her, while she was freaking out.

It turned out that she was talking on her cell phone, and dropped it, so she had to bend over to retrieve it. She said she took her eyes off the road for only a moment. Well, one moment too much. I have never been fond of people talking on their cell phones while driving, and now I feel even more strongly about that. At least it generated a good discussion with my kids about this whole issue. This accident made a big impression on them. I hope it will plant in their minds the importance of not talking on the phone while driving. They were coming up with all kinds of solutions about what you could do when some one called you while you are on the road. Including making sure you had an older kid like Cees with you, who could answer the phone :-) Yes, would be nice if we all could travel with a personal secretary like that.

After this, I spent a fortune to get every one new shoes, and we had something to eat and drink before heading home.

Isabella is doing a tiny bit better, her numbers are improving. She is still on a ventilator, and she is on daily dialysis, but at least things seem to be heading the right way. She was clogging up her line during the last dialysis, which is bad because she needs a new line now, but good because that means her platelets are getting back to normal. She still needs tons of prayers though. Please keep sending positive energy her way.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Please keep Isabella in Your Thoughts

My friend's 3yo is not doing well, they put her on a ventilator today. She is having another session of dialysis too. Please pray, light candles, send healing vibes, send whatever positive energy you can spare. Her name is Isabella.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Live Dangerously

That's what I told the UPS man when he couldn't believe I was sitting outside in the yard, planting some rose bushes while there was a thunder storm going on. I also told him that I didn't particularly feel singled out by the gods as some one who should be hit by lightning. Geez, there were tons of trees to be hit first, not to mention objects like houses and such. He said he would never be gardening out in a thunder storm.

I thought about it some more, and decided that thunder storms definitely rate high on my list of favorite weather types. Especially when it has been in the high nineties and horribly humid for the last few days. My only regret is that we didn't get a nice rain storm to go with the thunder.

Harvested lots of strawberries again today, our strawberry bed is producing like crazy. I guess that's one thing that's good about the hot weather.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Attack of The Killer Frogs

sylvia at the beaver pond

We have a tiny pond next to our house, in which more and more frogs have found their home. Last count there were 14, and we also have a bunch of tadpoles, so we are definitely frog rich. Sylvia likes to look at the water, and the frogs, and a few days ago, she was laying on her belly next to the pond, dangling her hand in the water, and enjoying the frogs jumping away from her. Till suddenly, one of the frogs swam back, and broke the water surface very close to her face, which startled her enormously. She jumped up and started crying. She has not been dangling her hands in the water since. Attack of the killer frogs!

Too much going on here, including having a friend's 3yo in the hospital with E. Coli sepsis, which developed into HUS (Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome). She is on dialysis now, because her kidneys have stopped working, and it's going to be a long road to recovery. Please send positive energy her way.


Friday, May 06, 2005

Gardening, Geocaching, and Go!

Those three words are a pretty good summary of what has been going on around here. It has been raining a lot, but on the sunny days, I am always outside. I have moved tons of cow manure, planted a few rose bushes, and done all kinds of other stuff around the yard. Bulbs all have sprouted, we have crocuses, daffodills, tulips, and more. I just love spring!

In between all this, we have been able to do some caches, including some in the White Mountains. That day was just perfect. The cache was at some beautiful falls, I love standing there, hearing the water rush down, seeing the rainbow, enjoying the solitude. I thought it was a nice day already, but it got even better when we saw FIVE moose on the way back down from the mountain. Yes, five! Never had seen a moose in the wild before, so this was quite a treat. We also saw a turkey, which wasn't as spectacular, but still fun.

On the way back, we saw so many amazing sights, and a magnificent sun pillar. Such a wonderful day!

Go is going well. I am progressing, slowly but steadily. Last weekend, I played in a tournament, and I am an AGA 11k now. I am getting closer to shodan, only 11 stones to go :-) I spend a lot of time studying and playing, and once in a while I even make a good move :-)

A few days ago, we were looking at old photo albums, including ones where we only had Cees. Erik clearly started thinking about the sequence of one kid, two kids, ... etc, up to seven kids, and then extrapolated it in the other direction. He was convinced that I must have been living on my own, before his dad came to live with us. He pondered that for a bit, and then came with the question that was haunting him about this 'Mama? When you lived all alone in this house, how did you have sex??????'


Monday, April 25, 2005

Busy Day

Wow, what a whirlwind day this was. Started out by doing twenty go problems before even getting out of bed :-) Then the normal morning rush, breakfast, two loads of laundry, starting bread, dishwasher, and such. While doing that, I looked at my kitchen, and decided to make it my project for the day. It was in desperate need of a cleaning. Then I looked at the floor, and decided to offer an incentive to make those the kids project for the day.

We all got started on our stuff, I was going to reward myself after doing part of the kitchen, by playing some go. But the kids weren't ready yet with their things, and I thought I shouldn't sit down at the computer while they were busy working still. So I kept going, and going. And going, and going, and going. Till suddenly, the kitchen was clean! What a miracle! Not only that, but the kids were about ready with the floors, so I could run a vacuum over them and they looked great.

Now I was going to reward myself with go, but who calls, but one of my geocaching friends. She didn't have much trouble convincing me that it would be way more fun to go out geocaching with them. She was right :-) Was still in the middle of making bread, so just shaped it and put it in the basement to slowly rise.

Off we went to go caching! Nice hike into the woods, a bit muddy. We saw mallards, and very recent beaver activity. It was so nice to be out in the sunny spring weather. Sylvia loved watching the water in the river next to it, she kept making the 'water' sign.

Did another cache, and then suddenly realized how late it was, so we hightailed it back home. My friend was driving the van, so I could be in the back with Sylvia. She misjudged something on our driveway, and managed to get the van stuck in the mud next to it. Really stuck...

We tried cardboard, didn't work. We tried bricks, didn't work. We tried sand, didn't work. We tried about 5,000 other things, nothing worked. So eventually called AAA and had a tow truck show up at 10pm on Sunday night... They did manage to get it out, phew. What an excitement, more than we really needed.

Got the kids to bed, and then suddenly realized that I never baked that bread. Walked into the basement, having visions of the bread dough haven risen so much that it would be crawling up the stairs. Luckily, it wasn't that bad, just a bit overrisen, but it's fine! Finally finished baking it at 1:30am or so :-)

So a nice productive day, with a bit too much excitement in the end. Oh, and the electrical system on Sander's van seems to have died, looks like there will be yet another nice big car repair bill...

Friday, April 22, 2005


Spring is finally here! That's one thing about living in New England. The winter is too long and bitterly cold, but the spring just is so magnificent. Bird songs every where. Robins hopping around on our lawn. Hiking for hours and hours. The first cockroaches, I mean crocuses blooming in the front yard. Forsythia blooming every where. The first frog in our pond. The wonderful sounds of peepers at the beaver pond. Start of gardening season. Yes, I love it.

Yesterday, we went hiking for a few hours. The trails still are a bit muddy (spring is also called mud season around here), but we still had a great time. Erik wanted to know whether the hike was going to be freaky. 'Ummmm, no, it won't.' I was a bit puzzled. That is, till he went on with 'So it isn't Freaky Gorge?' LOL! That explains it. Our caching was at Quechee Gorge, so he must have misheard that :-)

Saw a wonderful rainbow today, just in the middle of the day, no rain to be seen everywhere. It was straight up, just sitting there, such an amazing sight. Another amazing sight yesterday, was seeing an air plane being refueled in the sky over our house. I had never seen that before. Heck, I hadn't even thought about the possibility of in flight refueling. It looked like a big air plane was pushing a little air plane. The little air plane was doing the fueling.

Today was clean up day with our homeschool group. We picked up all the litter around the church that we use for our support meetings. It was mind boggling how much litter there was to be found!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

First To Find!!!

Yesterday, I happily discovered that one of our local cachers had hid a new cache. Not only that, but it was pretty close by, and we didn't have any other commitments for the day. So it was an easy decision to go for it.

Still, by the time we got our act together, it was afternoon. So I thought somebody else might have been there before us. The terrain was supposed to be 2 (out of 1 to 5, 1 being easiest), so I figured it would be an easy walk. Hmmmmm, not as easy as we thought. We ended up bushwhacking, climbing, sliding, and there was some whining and gnashing of teeth. But eventually, we made it to the cache location.

This was next to a rapid river, Sylvia loved seeing the water and kept excitedly signing the water sign. The other kids just liked the rocks and the river, and were partly looking for the cache, partly just goofing around. We looked, and we looked, and we looked. We looked some more. But still no cache. Cees was asking me whether we finally could go home, and asking me that again and again. But finally, I heard Tara's voice exclaim excitedly 'I found it!!!!!!!!!' And yes, there it was!!!!

Not only that, but we were the very first ones to find it! Always fun to have a first to find. Especially since about an hour later, another local family came to find it, and found out that they were the tenth person there (We were 8 + my friend Iliana). Serves them right for being so unorganized that they couldn't come out sooner :-) :-)

Had a wonderful dinner last night, something that same friend gave me the recipe for last week. We found 'beef' TSP strips in one of our local veggie places, and she made up this recipe with it. I made it last week, and I liked it so much that I decided to make it again. Here's her recipe.

I took a cup of the TSP and poured a cup of boiling water mixed with 2-3
T of regular ketchup on it, set it aside.

After four weeks worth of dish-doing, I drained the few tablespoons of
hydrating liquid out of the bowl of TSP, and I added the following marinade:

1-2 T Kecap Manis (instead of the listed Dark Soy Sauce)
2 t crushed/pressed garlic
1 t cornstarch
1/4 t baking soda
a drizzle of olive oil (peanut or sesame prolly much more authentic)
pinch of salt

Then I made 3/4 of a large onion into long rough shreds (next time I'd
use the whole onion) and then I julienned, roughly, those teensy baby
carrots I got yesterday. I also chopped 3 fattish scallions, and I set
all that aside.

I heated wok on pretty damn high, and when it was well hot I added a
tablespoon or so of peanut oil. I put the marinated TSP & associated
juicy bits in the wok and tossed for a minute, tops --just until heated
and barely carmelized.

Then I added another tablespoon of peanut oil and the carrots & onions.
I cooked them for maybe 4-5 minutes, pressing them with my wok tool
thingie against the side of the wok in an attempt to get the onions,
especially, nice and carmelized while still crispy. Next time, I'd do
the onions solo, and then add the carrots toward the end of this bit.

Then I added the TSP back in along with the scallions & a generous
tablespoon of pepper. I tell you right now, it was a bit much pepper
:-) Next time, I'll try 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. This was good, just a
WEE bit more peppery than I wanted.

I tossed it around a bit, and voila! It was really pretty magnificent
over some brown basmati rice, but I think it would be even a tiny bit
nicer over fried noodles.

Last week, we had it over brown rice too, this week I made pad thai noodles to go with it. It was good!!!!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Purple Cockroaches

Yes, purple cockraches! Bet you had never heard of them, had you? I hadn't either, till, about a week ago, Jane ran into the house excitedly. 'Mama, mama!! I found some purple cockroaces!!!'. Now I might not be the world's greatest housekeeper, but I am not that bad that cockroaches usually are an issue. So I was kind of puzzled, thinking she might have seen a purpish beetle or so.

We went outside, I figured the beetle might have long flown away by now. But no, she led me to this patch of flowers, and, happily pointing to the crocuses 'See!!! Purple cockroaches!!!' :-)

Things have been a bit hectic here, lots of stuff going on. Sylvia is growing up way too fast, walking, signing, climbing, and just a joy to be around. I had a birthday party with my very own birthday cache, Kate had her birthday party with a store bought easter egg cakes and bunny ice cream cake. We cut Kate's hair, we went caching, we did all kinds of wonderful things. Oh, I played go too.

I will try to keep up a little better, I did need some time to myself, to process some stuff that was going on. Hope to be back now.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Master Flusher

Sylvia has mastered yet another important skill: flushing the toilet! She is extremely happy with this accomplishment, and makes sure she practices it a lot. She hasn't thrown anything in the toilet yet, at least not that I know of, but I am sure that moment isn't far off.

Not much has happened lately. I have started cooking and baking a lot more often again, and I discovered that the disadvantage is that we have way more dishes to clean now. Sometimes convenience food has its merits :-)

Still playing go, not progressing much, but immensely enjoying the studying and playing. I have thought about why I like it so much, and I decided that it must be the intellectual challenge it is giving me. I love my kids dearly, and I tremendously enjoy being with them, but I think I miss a certain mental challenge in my life. Go seems to be providing that for now. By the time I am a first dan, I might find another activity to hyperfocus on, to stimulate me :-)

Been geocaching, although not as much as when there wasn't all the fluffy white stuff around. We are being hit by yet another snow storm, I am so finished with winter!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Visiting Spain

Since our Texas trip still hasn't worked out, here a picture of the kids in Spain, where Erik's travel bug is.


Yes, it's done by the same person who made Be-ah's page. So nice of him! Talking about travel bugs. Tara's BunBun II is in Peru! Our second international travel bug!

Went geocaching today, did a bunch of urban caches in Manchester, NH. What a clever hides! It's amazing how hard it can be to find a film canister in an urban setting. It was frigidly cold, so we ended up using the van to do a longer multi cache. It would have been a nice walk if the temperature had been thirty degrees higher than it was today. Brrrr!

The kids were in awe about all the tall buildings. We went into the City Hall Plaza, which was nice and warm, but they didn't allow visitors to go up to the top floor. That was a small disappointment, but at least they had the revolving door as a neat new discovery. I guess we don't get out much. Last month in Burlington, VT, the highlight was the escalators, this time it was the tall buildings and the revolving door :-)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Travel Bug Fun!

Erik's travel bug, Be-ah, a little helicopter made it to Spain. Erik gave it the mission to travel around the world and it sure is doing that now! Not only that, but the finders made a web page for it (click here) where it looks like Be-ah is flying around in Marbella, Spain. My kids were totally amazed by that. Their reactions:
Erik 'How did they make it fly????'
Kate 'Is that really Erik's Be-ah? Where is the travel bug dog tag?'
Jane 'I think they scanned it on the page'
Tara 'I know it! They took a real helicopter and painted it in the colors of Be-ah!'
Tim 'I think they did it on the computer
Cees 'I know how they did it! They used very thin strings.'

So much fun to hear all those theories, especially the one where they took a real helicopter and painted it as a travelbug :-)

One of Tara's travel bugs is in Virginia now, and on its way to the Amazon! If that works out, it will be our second out of country travel bug. Who needs school if you can do geography by geocaching? ;-)

Went to the go club again today, and actually managed to win a game. I have been on a losing streak lately, so this was nice. I guess all the studying is bad for my play, I try out new things, and they don't always work out. Oh well.

My big activity for the day was cleaning out the fridge. It's amazing the number of science experiments which were hiding in there. I hadn't dared to even open one of the vegetable drawers for months! You don't want to know how it looked in there, unlike my kids, who were all looking at it with very keen interest.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Happy to announce that I dug up Robert from the back of the fridge, and managed to revive him. Just in case you wonder about me now, I'll tell you that Robert is my sourdough starter. He has lived with us for a few years now, and I still haven't been able to kill him, although I have tried at times. This time, he had been ignored since before Sylvia's birth, and I had been kind of avoiding the whole issue by just not looking at his container, figuring that there might be too many gross science experiments growing in there.

But lo and behold, he was totally fine, if a bit sluggish. I used him for sourdough pancakes, and they came out perfectly. He is at my counter now, with fresh flour and water, ready to make sourdough bread soon.

I was very organized today, and even made barley stew in the crockpot before we went to hide a cache. Yes, I feel that I am starting to get my life under control again. At least certain aspects of it.

Last night we had nine kids, tonight we have only four. Amazing how the number of kids keeps fluctuating. The house is amazingly quiet, although that could also be because all those kids are asleep :-)

Friday, February 11, 2005

Fudge Drops

Have been wanting to make those for a week or so, and now I finally did! Not in time for this morning's homeschool club, but hey, that means there is more for our family :-) We have more kids anyway, having two extra kids here for a sleepover. So I am sure the drops will get eaten somehow.

This is not only about fudge drops, but it is also about actually being organized enough to get them baked. As opposed to planning to bake, but life getting in the way. It really is time to get pregnant again, to throw off my back on track life :-)

Had a fun homeschool club meeting, the kids had organized a valentine's day party. Any excuse for a party :-) There were all kinds of entertaining activities, yummy treats (too much sugar :-) and a magic show. A good time was had by all.

The snow wasn't too bad, just a lot and very heavy, but we got ourselves dug out in just a few hours. We have had worse storms than this.

Not only did I make fudge drops today, but I also got dinner made for 9 kids and 2 adults. Hmmmm, maybe I am ready for twins instead of just one baby :-)

Thursday, February 10, 2005


We have been doing some baby signs with Sylvia, but I hadn't been sure yet whether she was using them yet. But yesterday, she very clearly made the papa sign when we were talking about him. Not perfectly, but still very clear what she meant. I just love watching her develop and grow and do cool things like that. She is really able to communicate more and more.

Life has been hectic, as usual. Between geocaching, the go shodan challenge, cooking, baking, cleaning, grocery shopping, decluttering, and homeschooling, there just isn't much time left for writing.

We are being hit by a major snow storm, blech! I got myself stuck on our street today, the car just refused to go up in all that slush. That was after going to the dentist for the umpteenth time, not a good day. Now Sylvia has a fever, and I never got to bake the cookies for the homeschool club tomorrow, and we are supposed to get 12 to 20 inches of snow. Very heavy, very wet snow. But I got split pea soup made, and baked yummy whole wheat bread.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Snow Shoes

Last Friday, I got myself a pair of snow shoes! I spent half an hour in the store, staring at all the different options, checked out another store, came back, and stared some more. So I went and found myself the 'resident snow shoe expert', who pointed out a pair and told me how easy they were to put on. He should have stopped there, but instead went on and demonstrated it to me on his own shoes. For at least five minutes, if not longer, he was standing there, struggling to put the darned shoes on, all the while explaining how easy it was. I told him that I could just see myself doing this with my baby in the sling.

He claimed it was because he was male and those were women's snow shoes... I asked whether he really was the expert? I ended up buying a different type of snow shoe for some reason :-) Spent more money than I had planned, but now have a pair of mountaineering snow shoes, with optional 8 inch tails. And I saved more money by buying the expensive ones, since they were all 20% off. So I would have saved less with the cheap snow shoes.

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to try them out, looking for an almost local cache. As in we had to drive less than an hour, which is pretty local, right?

One observation is that they are BIG! I immediately tripped over my own feet. It's not too bad to just walk, it was the manoeuvring around the car that was the pits. I had ski poles to help me stabilize, and I am so glad I used those. Otherwise I would have found myself flat on my fanny a few times I think.

It was a very beautiful pond, with people walking, sledding, cross country skiiing, and using snow mobiles on it. We would have had to walk around the pond for a bit, but now we could just walk over it. That was fun. The only thing less fun was that Sylvia insisted on no hat. And I kept dropping things. I did not enjoy picking up pole, after pole, after pole, hat, after hat, after hat, glove, after glove, after glove, and so on.

Sylvia 's hands were totally blue... That worried me for a few seconds, till I realized that she had eaten blueberries.

When I was starting to get really desperate, thinking we would NEVER find this cache, the batteries in my GPS ran out. Did I mention that I had forgotten to bring new ones? Luckily my friend had some new ones with her. Phew.

After all that, we didn't find the cache. Too much fluffy snow hiding all the hiding spots. We did enjoy seeing lots of beaver activity though. I didn't care much, it was too perfect of a day to care about not finding a cache. So much better than being stuck inside.

Cees is really pushing me to start getting ready for our caching trip to Texas. My lack of organizational skills has really held me back in planning for it. I would love to go, but I am so overwhelmed with the whole planning thing. So he is planning it now. Figuring out how much we can drive on a day. Finding fun things to do on the way. He even offered that he would help to clean out the van, since there is too much stuff in it to go on a long road trip now.

We'll camp once we are in warmer states. And on the way down, I am hoping that I can ask people for some floor space where we can camp out. But I am still so overwhelmed by the whole planning aspect of it. Strangely enough, the idea of the trip itself is not overwhelming at all, maybe because it's still so up in the air.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Caching Through The Snow

The kids were suffering from too much cabin fever, so today, I thought it would be good to take them all out geocaching. We searched for and found 14 mittens, 8 hats, 14 boots, 11 pairs of pants, 5 warm coats, and a bunch of assorted other stuff. And off we went.

Almost missed the right road, but found it after turning around. Parked the van, and found out that Kate and Erik had fallen asleep. Both were not thrilled to be woken up.

Snow mobiles had made it a nice, easy walking trail, but we still had much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the cold and the snow. Even more when we had to get into the deep snow to find the cache. It would have been an easy find if there hadn't been two feet of snow on top of everything. And I forgot my trusted ski poles. Still was pretty easy, but the screaming level was increasing. It was a book cache, so we traded some books, and then kind of covered up the cache again. It would be a lot easier if we actually had been able to find sticks / leaves / bark or whatever, as opposed to snow flakes and snow flakes.

Oh we tried a virtual after this cache, but there was a 5 feet wall of snow in front of the monument, and I decided that I would do that one another day instead. So we got some hot chocolate and went home instead. After spending all that whining and hiking energy, it's amazing how much better the atmosphere in the house is.

Sylvia is not only cruising, but I have caught her a few times, standing by herself, without holding on. Not for long yet, but I still think she is way too young to even contemplate trying it!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Clean Kitchen!

The unthinkable has happened! I cleaned my kitchen. Mostly because I was stuck inside after this snow storm, but hey, it doesn't matter why it happened, right? OK, actually I also cleaned it because it was starting to get bad, even to my admittedly loose standards. It's a joy to be in such a sparkly kitchen, maybe I'll even get around to more cooking and baking than I have been doing lately.

The snow storm did hit us, but we only got about 12 inches or so, as opposed to South of us, where they got a tad more. Yesterday, it even was sunny, although bitterly cold. We got our driveway unburied, and dug out the cars. Dh's car is leaking coolant, so it's going to the shop today. Not looking forward to hearing how much that is going to cost us.

yummy blueberriesmorning dove in the snowsquirrel in the snow

Sylvia has two more teeth! She now has the two bottom middle ones, and the two top outside incisors. She looks like a little Dracula :-)

I am still working hard on getting to 1st dan, it's going way too slowly to my taste. Maybe I am more of an instant gratification person? And yes, I am still 16k at the go server, really need to get that back to 15k soon!

Saturday, January 22, 2005


This morning, I woke up to -28 C and wind chill warnings. It was so cold! I didn't really want to get out of bed, but Sylvia kept bopping me on the head with toys and trying to take away my book, so at some point I gave in.

Finally went to my favorite grocery store and spent way too much money. That was after discovering a few green coolant puddles underneath dh's car, so I am sure we will spend even more money soon. But at least we are all set for the snow storm that is upon us now. We are supposed to get 6 to 12 inches, way too much for me! How will I be able to go caching tomorrow????

Glad that I went caching today at least, it was fun being out in the woods, even if it was a bit frigid. Chickadees were chirping, we saw lots of interesting tracks, I didn't really mind the cold. Although I do admit that just a few degrees higher would have been nice. It started snowing when we found the cache. It won't stop till tomorrow afternoon. Good that we brought hot tea to drink when we were back in the car.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Sadness and Happiness

Two years ago, I had my late miscarriage. I have been thinking about that a lot the last few days. I wish I could have met that baby. Or maybe I am meeting that baby, Sylvia would have been the kind of person who would just keep trying until I got it right. I will never know, but will always have a sad spot in my heart about all the miscarriages.

The sadness is tempered by my current happiness though. Sitting here, writing in my blog, holding the sleeping baby I love so much. Her warm and sweet body cuddled against me. She doesn't want to be put down, neither do I want to put her down. Such a wonderful treasure.

This happy baby was even happier yesterday, when we were visiting a friend, and she discovered that there was a special bowl of food for her on the floor. She immediately started eating, while the rightful owner of the bowl watched her in dismay. Yes, she got into the cat food... And she was very proud about it too. Sitting next to it, gleefully stuffing pieces of cat food in her mouth... At least it was the dry kind of cat food, but I still took her away from her find.

Life is good, the only minus I can think of right now is that my ranking at the go server dropped back to 16k. Guess I have to practice some more. Or I will never make it to first dan.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


I am planning on starting the naturalization process soon, so that I can actually drive down the I-91 and not get into trouble with the border patrol. I was talking about it today with Cees and Tim and Cees asked me whether I would need surgery to become an American citizen. I was kind of surprised and replied 'Why??? What kind of surgery? Brain surgery?'

No, that wasn't it, he just thought Americans looked different from us. Timmy piped in to tell me that I would need to wear different clothes too. Don't you love how kids sometimes see the world totally different from how we see it?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Go And Geocaching

On Sunday, I went to my very first American go tournament! It was in Boston, and I tremendously enjoyed playing against real people. I even won one of the games. That means that I lost the other three, but I am focusing on the win instead :-)

Not only did I go to my very first go tournament, but in a moment of insanity, I committed myself to becoming first dan by August. The AGA (American Go Association)was looking for participants for their Shodan Challenge, and it sounded like fun. Why not go for the stars instead of focusing on just one step up. The Massachussets go tournament got me an official AGA rating of 14k. So only fourteen levels to go to first dan! Although I will not really believe the 14k rating till I have reached 14k on KGS too.

On Saturday, we went to the Montshire Museum to celebrate Erik's birthday. We had a great time, and I even managed to find a locationless cache. It's amazing how I can fit geocaching into my daily life :-)

Yesterday, we had Dungeons and Dragons club at our house. Only one of the player characters died, and he got reincarnated into a big, black bear, which led to a very interesting play. We barely saw the players, once in a while a bunch would come down to grab some food, and that was it.

Today was geocaching day, even although the windchill was like -20 F or so. We did a virtual that mostly required a lot of driving on a local road, so we could stay in the nice, toasty car. We did one traditional cache, almost freezing off our fingers trying to deal with the nice, icy ammo box. It was at a very nice location, but for some reason we found the cache and almost ran back to the car, because it was so coldy, cold, cold (as one of our local cachers tends to say in her logs).

Now I need to study more go problems! What did I do? Was I insane to sign myself up for this? Oh well, I'll just have to do it now, since I publicly committed myself :-)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Happy Birthday, Erik!

Four years ago, my youngest son was born. It is hard to imagine how fast the time has flown, I look at him, trying to remember that tiny newborn, who was born in the birthing tub upstairs. I try to remember how helpless he was, and how tiny. How many hours I spent, just holding him, falling in love with him.

Now he is four years old, and not as tiny anymore. He spends a lot of time running around, always finding something interesting to explore. He has a love / hate relationship with his sister Kate, they either play very nicely together, or fight very bitterly. This can alternate within minutes.

He had a wonderful birthday. A very much wanted gameboy, a brio train track. some dinosaurs, and more. He had a store bought cake, his request, maybe just a tiny bit influenced by me asking him when we were close to the cake display at the supermarket. I am feeling overwhelmed enough that I thought this was a perfect choice.

I asked him who he wanted to invite to his party. 'Papa. Mama. Cees. Tim. Tara. Jane... But not Kate!!!' Hmmmm, I guess he just had been in a fight with Kate. We'll go to a local museum tomorrow.

I made it to 15th kyu on the go server, one step close to first dan!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

More Endocrinology And Some Geocaching

Thanks for all your feedback on the endo issue. We are hoping that the tests will point out that there is no growth hormone issue going on, we should get the results next week. Two more things I forgot to mention last time.One was that he noticed that Cees has a very high palate. He says that that sometimes correlates with pituitary gland issues. I just did some web surfing, and this seems unlikely in his case. The second thing was that Cees used to be on inhaled steroids for the first years of his life. The endocrinologist said that that might cause growth issues too. I haven't really looked into that yet, I always thought that the inhaled steroids didn't have many side effects.

Oh, he also asked me in an accusatory tone whether we used only low fat items. He told me that Cees really needs the fat. If you know me, you would know that I am not a low fat food type of person. If anything, I try to boost nutrition in everything, usually by adding protein, but I have never avoided fat in foods. I think he was sure the 'no juice' attitude had to go together with fattophobia.

And now for something completely different: geocaching! We were supposed to be caching on Saturday, but a snow storm got in the way. I know some people will comment that they are surprised that that was holding me back, so I'll admit that I did go out hiking in the woods to check on our new cache. I just didn't want to drive anywhere.

On Sunday, I couldn't stand it anymore though, so we spent a few hours digging out from the snow storm, and then we hit the road to Burlington, where we were going to do urban caches. They have so many more caches around there than we do here. Not fair! We had a wonderful day. It was our family, my friend M and my friend I who is in a wheel chair. My friend M had tried to do a Manchester urban cache, but she felt so conspicuous, standing in the middle of Manchester with a GPS, all by herself. She figured we would be a lot less conspicuous with seven blonde kids, a woman in a wheelchair, and two 'normal' people. Yes, you can stop laughing now!

Here are some logs.

We were going to do this one on our way to the Halloween Cache Bash, but it didn't work out that time. Today we did find it though! I happily and carelessly walked up the slope, and suddenly found myself flat on my face in the snow. On closer inspection, it turned out that it wasn't just snow, it was snow hiding a 2 inch layer of ice. Very slippery!

It was good that baby Sylvia wasn't in her customary position in my sling, but instead was complaining about being held by mosaica. But at least she was safely in the van. A car came up to check out our fogged up van, but when he saw Mosaica and Sylvia in the front, he decided that we weren't there for off label use. Or at least not for the off label use he was hoping for.

The GPS was very unhelpful, taking us about everywhere but where the cache turned out to be. The snow was unhelpful too, but enabled us to see cool deer tracks. Flyingfisher eventually found it by using a stick to poke in the snow at likely places. There was this typical plink! noise of a cache, as opposed to just sticks, pine needles, or fallen down leaves.

The next problem was extracting the cache from the ice it was embedded in. We managed to do it by applying our knowledge of levers. I was afraid the cache would be frozen solid, but luckily it wasn't. TNLNSL.

The way down was interesting. There still was the 2 inch layer of ice underneath the snow and it is a bit steep at places. Oggette #4 and Mosaica had placed bets on whether I would come down on my butt or my feet. They both won...

And here's a log for a cache which was located in a mall in Burlington, a very sneaky one. We had to hunt for a while before we discovered it.

When I told the Oggettes that we were going to do a bunch of urban caches, Tara was not impressed. 'I don't want to go caching!!! How the heck can we get to AIRBORNE caches????' After some explanations about the real meaning or urban, she was willing to reconsider :-)

We used to live close to here, so it was fun driving around in Burlington and recognizing everything. I even recognized the parking garage, and discovered that the OggMobile fit in it. Well, as long as we ducked at the appropriate times.

The kids were elated when we discovered the escalators. I don't think Erik had ever even been on one. We had to use them a few times, Erik kept calling them 'moving stairs'. I explained to him that they were called escalators, so later he referred to them as 'stairvators'.

Very clever hide, it took us a while to find it. Most people were too busy staring at the flock of Oggettes to pay much attention to our searching for the cache.

We came home after midnight, which meant that we had two kids asleep! And now we are in the middle of another snow / ice storm, and couldn't go geocaching today either.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Pediatric Endocrinology

Which is where we spent a whole morning, a first consult for Cees's growth issues. He always has been off the charts (at the bottom) for weight, but at least kind of following the chart. Lately, at his 13yo checkup, he has been getting farther away from the bottom line though. The gp did some blood work, which all came back normal. She referred us to the endocrinologist, to check into some things, and hopefully rule out hormonal issues.

Off we went, way too early in the morning, and made it almost in time. Before we left, I first had to find the questionnaire they sent me three months in advance. Of course, I had to wait till the last minute to extract it from our mail mountain, and then discovered that I needed data like the height of grandparents and uncles. After a bunch of emergency phone calls to the Netherlands, we had all that info, although I decided that I didn't really want to wake up all six siblings to find out their current height.

The appointment went reasonably well. We did a bone age x-ray, and drew blood for a bunch of hormone levels. He said he wasn't as much concerned with his height, but more with his weight, because even for his height he was extremely light. So now we are supposed to get more calories in him. His advice was Carnation instant breakfast and juices. I replied that I wasn't so sure about the juice, that I'd rather have him eat apples and oranges as opposed to the juice. But he told me he needed the calories, and he didn't care about empty calories. I am not so sure about that.

He also told us that the growth hormones would not have any side effects and that they wouldn't make him taller than he would be, they would just make him mature and start his growth spurt sooner. Cees and I looked at each other and silently communicated with a 'So what? Does it really matter when he hits his growth spurt, as long as he will?' The endocrinologist explained to us that Cees was too protected in our home school environment, that he would want to take growth hormones if he would be attending school.

In summary, I wasn't impressed with the dr's nutritional knowledge, but I did get the tests I wanted, so I don't care too much. I'll try to get some more calories in him, but I am not going to push unhealthy choices. Somehow that doesn't feel right.

On a more fun note, we hid a new cache, The Fairy Kingdom Tree The girls had fun drawing illustrations for the cache page, and now we are waiting to see who is going to be First To Find. When my friend M and I walked today, we decided to do a quick check on it, seeing whether there were any tracks in the snow close to the tree. Of course, we couldn't get too close, because we didn't want to give away the cache location. So we sneaked our way through the woods, hoping that our tracks would throw off any would-be First To Finders :-) It turned out that some one was trying to find the first stage while we were there, but he gave up because it was getting dark. We could have met him, if only he hadn't been so afraid of the dark!

Other exciting geocaching news is that two of our travel bugs made a big jump in their total mileage. Tim's dire frog made it from New Hampshire to Arizona. 3711 kilometers on it now. It looks very impressive on our travel bug map in the bath room. But even more impressive is Erik's helicopter named Be-ah is in Spain! Close to Gibraltar and within easy reach of Africa. Its mission was to travel around the world, well, it sure is doing that, so cool!

Erik was very excited about his travel bug. I showed him on the US map that Be-ah had flown over the water, and then we went to the world map and I showed him where Be-ah is now. I showed him how big the ocean in between was. He had to call daddy and tell him 'Papa! My travel bug is in Spain! It traveled over a river!!!' I guess he couldn't remember the correct word for that type of water. That's a pretty big river.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Caching Day?

Yes, that was the plan. Last night, I made plans to get together today to hit a bunch of caches in Vermont. I haven't cached in ages, too busy with all the holiday stress and sick people. So I was really looking forward to a day totally devoted to caching. That is, till Erik started complaining about being sick. Followed by him sitting down on a chair close to him, and falling asleep!!!! Which is totally unheard of, my kids never sleep. I just knew something was up, and when I felt his forehead... Ouch! He was burning up.

I briefly considered that this could be an illness which would only last for a few hours. But I realized that it was most likely the same virus that Sylvia had, and that that wasn't really a one day virus. So much for that caching day! Poor Erik!

It was nice and warm in the bed during the night, laying between two feverish kids. But at least Sylvia was feeling a lot better today, her fever was almost totally gone and she was active again. Yesterday, her eyes were kind of glassy, today she was her own bright eyed self again. Much better! But Erik made up for it by having a high fever and feeling very miserable. At some point he was asking 'Mama, can you help me? I need you to make me stop being sick!' Awww, if only I could.

I did some stuff around the house, but I really had rather been caching. Stupid viruses! I did go on a walk to my beaver pond though, and found a perfect cache location. So I can count it at least as a partial caching day, right? The beaver pond is always so peaceful and quiet. It was weird to see it without snow in January. The ice even wasn't completely covering the pond, makes me wonder whether it really is winter?

Lisa replied to me about the gingerbread house. The answer is yes, other kids do act that way when decorating a gingerbread house. They also tied a barbie to a nerf rocket and launched her into space. But they're not sociopaths I swear, LOL. I told the boys that some kids were even more creative than they were and they immediately started plotting how to do better than Lisa's kids. So here is my oldest boy, begging me 'Can I cut up a barbie if I have the owner's permission? Please? Can I???? Please, please, please????????????????????' Hmmmmm, reading all those parenting books had not prepared me for this question.

Yes, he ended up cutting up the barbie, with everybody eagerly watching and commenting. Cosmic karma struck though, and he cut in his own finger while cutting off her nose. Jane is now the proud owner of a handless, feetless, and noseless barbie. She taped it to our front door, and reminded me 'Don't forget to tell those people that we tied her to the door!' Thanks Lisa! Your kids have corrupted my kids...

The good news is that I finally reached 16th kyu on the go server! Now I can strive for my new goal, 15th kyu :-)

Monday, January 03, 2005

Gingerbreadhouse is DONE!!!

Only about a week late, but still... Yesterday, the kids decorated it and today it got demolished. Yes, I will post pictures some day. The boys did all kind of weird things with the gummy bears. They met gruesome deaths, being stabbed by candy canes and such. Or they took off their heads and would put the head and the body close together, with accompanying sound effects and violent stories. Do other kids do weird stuff like that when they decorate gingerbread houses????

Today we had a homeschool meeting, I wasn't sure whether many people would show up. The weather was lousy and it's still so early in January. Four families came over, so a nice turnout. The older kids played dungeons and dragons, and had a lot of fun. It's amazing how they can play together really nicely now that they have found a game that both boys and girls like. As opposed to the 'boys in one room' and 'girls in the other room' which used to be the game of choice for quite a while. And then of course, trying to break into the others room. And running downstairs, complaining about the other gender party. All that is gone since they are playing dungeons and dragons. I guess it isn't as evil as I thought :-) :-) :-)

I have been doing a lot of playing go, trying to increase my rating on the on line go server The ratings in go start at 30th kyu when you are just a beginner, going up to 1st kyu when you are pretty darned good. After that you are considered a master and start with 1st dan, 2nd dan, and so on. My ranking bounced around a bit in the beginning (computer trying to figure out what your real ranking is, based on whether you win or lose from known opponents), then it stabilized on 17th kyu. Where it has been for the last two weeks or so. I keep creeping closer and closer to the 16th kyu, but it keeps eluding me. Very frustrating!

Tim baked a cake for today's homeschool meeting, it came out very well. Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and colored sprinkles. It was very popular. I just baked my famous cinnamon raisin bread.

Sylvia is still sick and miserable. She just wants to be held, doesn't play around and isn't exploring the house. Poor baby.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Happy New Year!!!

We had a wonderful New Year's Eve. Kids stayed up, we did sparklers, we drank champagne and sparkling apple juice, and we made oliebollen. I had a lot of baking to do yesterday, nothing like waiting till the last moment. So no, I did not get everything done, but I just can't care too much. We'll just have a later than usual gingerbread house. I baked it yesterday, and today we assembled it. Tomorrow, it will be decorated, and then a few days later, we'll get out the hammer and destroy it! Yes, I know that's our New Year's day tradition, but life just got too much in the way, oh well.

I know a new year should come with new year's resolutions, but I can't really think of any so far. Am I really that boring of a person? I know it's not that I am perfect already, so wouldn't need resolutions. Hmmm, maybe it's just because I consider myself a hopeless case, too set in my ways :-)

Today, we tried to finish the baking that didn't get done. At least we got the new year's eve cake baked, now it still needs to be frosted. Did I mention that I have felt a bit overwhelmed lately? OK, maybe more than a bit. There just are so many things that need to happen, and only 24 hours in a day. And I'd rather be caching anyway. At least I had a few cachers over for an afternoon of gaming earlier this week. That was a lot of fun. But I really want to be out and hiding or finding caches, and that just isn't happening. At least I get my daily walk in, but it isn't the same :-)

Sylvia is pulling up to stand way too often now, she doesn't understand that she's too little. She just is so darned cute. She came down with a fever tonight, that explains why she was so fussy during the day, never sleeping more than 5 or 10 minutes. She now is asleep on my lap, but keeps startling herself awake. Poor little one.