Monday, July 31, 2006

Basement Find

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Boston Day Trip in Pictures

On Wednesday, we made yet another trip to Boston. This time it was just for fun. Imagine that! No airport drop offs, no passports, no stress.

It's always a long drive, so we had to take a sanity break for Sylvia. She was soooo fed up with sitting in her carseat.

The big attraction was the Museum of Science. It is sooooooooo huge, we could easily spend another few days there and not get bored.

We brought a bunch of friends and met a friend at the Museum, this is almost all of us (two missing). We were up to twelve now, good that we have a big van.

Time to visit Chinatown and do a lot of shopping. Erik correctly identified the durians.

The kids all bought new drinks to try out, the most memorable ones were the ones chosen by the girls. They were glass bottles, with a glass ball inside, which you had to dislodge before being able to drink it.

It literally took us at least half an hour and the help of someone in a chinese restaurant before we could open those. Amazing. Here people are trying to open them. And trying, and trying, and trying.

We had a nice dinner in a chinese restaurant, meeting yet another friend. I would like to say it was a nice relaxing dinner, but I would be lying. Erik and Sylvia both were tired by now and were literally bouncing off the walls. After I had eaten, I decided to take them out for a nice stroll to burn off some of their energy. They desperately needed it.

While we were walking, we came upon something which looked like the back of a strip club. Dangerous looking bouncers, well muscled, dressed in black, while I was passing with two little ones. One of the bouncers considerately and worriedly told me that there was some bleach on the street there (they must have cleaned something or whatever?) and that it would be better to walk around that with the little ones instead of through it.

Boston is never boring.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Rain and Floor

Today, we had one of those fun summer thunderstorms. This was not rain, this was a downpour. So of course, my kids had to go outside.

The good news: we found the basement floor! Turns out there actually is one beneath the mess. We are up to 61 bags of trash so far, and counting. Today, I got rid of another old microwave (I didn't even know we had a second one of those), a bunch of broken bedrails, an old crappy kids table and more. Maybe I'll be able to make another dump run tomorrow.

Isn't it amazing? You can now actually walk in the basement. Or dance to music, as my kids were doing. I can tell already that this is going to be a great hangout for them.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Five Kids Ago...

Yet another basement find. There is a stack of envelopes totally full of pictures, I am looking forward to going through them some day and reliving the memories. For now, here is our family, five kids ago.

Looking back, it looks so easy, only two kids. But in reality, I found the adjustment to two kids the hardest of all. Having a baby and a toddler, both with medical needs, was no walk in the park. Seven kids in a way is way easier than it was with two little ones. I think a big difference is that we have older kids around now, who can be helpful at times.

Time flies.

Cooking Fun in Pictures

Last Friday, we had another fun cooking session with friends. This week had been a beautiful week, blue skies, warm and humid, and no rain. We were sure we could do the session outdoors.

Of course, I am sure you can figure out what the rest of the story is. Indeed, after we all got settled outside and had gotten everything to the picnic table, it started raining. And raining, and pouring. And raining more. We decided to move indoors, even although that was a bit crowded, since there were ten kids running around too.

Not like I had cleaned the kitchen table in preparation of this either.

I made bread dough, and we started filling dumplings for steaming.

Where last time we made them boring and round, this time our friends taught us how to make them into cute porcupines, and triangles and other shapes.

Amazing how just a few snips with a scissor can turn a boring roll into something cute and fun.

Those dumplings turned out very tasty. Of course we had to quality test them.

They passed the test. Kate special ordered a bunny, Mosaica was creative enough to make one that looked exactly like one.

After those dumplings, we made another batch of dumplings, using wonton wrappers this time.

Those turned out really well too. Amazing how much of those things you can make when you are together. I would never have to patience to sit down and do this by myself.

Time for some calligraphy to round off the afternoon.

Mosaica had been wanting to learn how to do this and was very happy about the demonstration we got. She even got to do some by herself.

Beautiful calligraphy. Maybe in my next life, I'll learn how to do that, I don't think I can quite fit it in my current one. For now I'll just concentrate on learning to read and speak chinese.

During all this, we snacked on watermelon, blueberries, nuts, and tea eggs.

Tea eggs are quite simple to make, just boil cracked hard-boiled eggs in tea with some extras. I remember making them sixteen years ago, when we had friends over for dinner. I made tea eggs, and noodles, and made a nest out of the noodles. I placed the peeled tea eggs into the 'nest' and put a toy dinosaur next to it to guard its nest. Turned out very cute. I think my friends were a bit flabbergasted about the presentation, they had never heard of tea eggs before. They politely declined to even touch them ^^

Sylvia had no such issues with tea eggs and happily ate them.

Such a fun afternoon. Would have been even better if the sun had been shining. The rain was very bad timing. Heck would have been perfect if my house had been cleaned up.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More Trash

Fifty six bags and counting, woohoo!! Did another trash run this morning. Only a few bags, but it included an old, broken microwave and two sucky chairs. Two chairs which basically would fall apart every few weeks or months, only to be put together again, over and over. At some point I was so tired of them, that I put them in the basement, hoping I would never have to see them again. They matched well with all the other things there.

Today, I found them again, and decided to immediately put them in the back of my car to get rid of them. Now! Did I mention how good it feels to get rid of all of the old crap?

This seems to be a good time to post progress pics, so that Annelies can be happy ^^. Or should I call them lack-of-progress pics? This is one of those projects where you don't really see much of a difference until you are 75 % into the project. I go around and find things to put in my garbage bags, but there are still so many stacks left. They might be smaller, but hard to see that.

This was a few days ago, so more progress has been made. We still have a long way to go, but at least we are moving along. As you might be able to see on the pics, kids have been having fun playing with all the legos which are down there.


Yes, I did it again. Went to Boston. But it wasn't as bad today because I didn't have the passports stress and because I was with a friend who did NOT freak out about taking a wrong turn once in a while. Even better, she drove most of the time, woohoo!

We dropped off Cees at the airport. He is flying to the Netherlands, all by himself! Weird and nerve-wracking, and wonderful, all at the same time. He is going to spend some time with my brother, going all kinds of fun places. I know he'll be ok, but it is a bit scary to drop off your kid for an transatlantic flight.

Dropping him off mostly was a lot of waiting. Took us ages to get him checked in and do the 5,000 things which need to happen for an 'UM' (Unaccompanied Minor) They were nice and let us bring him to the gate, we got special gate passes. Even Sylvia had to take off her shoes to get through security. He should land in the Netherlands soon, I have the phone next to me so I can take his phone call when he finally arrives :)

Now it was time for Chinatown. OK, that is after getting lost a few times. We found a nice parking lot and handed over the $22 parking was going to cost us. First stop was at a bakery. They had some impressive looking cakes with dragons on top. We got some rolls with all kinds of filling, I got the sweet red bean paste ones.

We found ourselves a big chinese market and had fun browsing everything. I got a bunch of different teas (sipping some pu erh tea right now), and guess what else I found? Durian!!!! I bought two of them, you can never have too much durian, right? ^^ Also got some fresh lychees and a friend talked me into trying bitter melon. As in 'This is my wife's favorite food, it is horrible, I don't think you will like it.' I never have been one to back down from a challenge :D New fruits to try: dragon fruit and guava.

More chinatown fun, including buying the book 白雪公主 for Sylvia. I wondered what all the tadpoles in the story had to do with Snow White, but it got clear to me when I realized it had three stories in the book,and only the last one is Snow White.

Lots of fun, wonderful dinner (Buddha's duck, never had that before) at Mary Chung's Restaurant. We gotta practice our chinese, Sylvia was bouncing off the ceiling, and very happy with her very own glass of ice cubes.

Time to pick up Sander and get lost yet again. Well, only a bit, but yes, we did get lost. He had some delays, but eventually we made it home past 11pm, yawn.

Update: just got a phone call from Cees, he has arrived safely at my brother's house. So I guess I can go to sleep now.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Few Birthday Pictures

Jane had a great birthday, she now is the proud owner of her very own kimono. She got some cheap fans to go with the kimono, and a chinese friend brought her a real sandalwood fan, so pretty. I love the smell of sandalwood.

She got a mp3 player (a cheapie at kmart) and a 'makeup chick' barbie... And the inevitable doggie gameboy game, they are really into Nintendogs. She had a few friends over to help celebrate, and it looks like we'll have to plan the dreaded 'shopping for matching outfits' expedition soon.

I have been thinking back to her pregnancy. I got pregnant pretty fast after Tara was born, it seemed too good to be true. For the longest time, I thought this pregnancy was not going to work out, but it did. We even tried listening to her heartbeat with a doppler at 12 or 13 weeks, because I was so worried. Couldn't even find it, which didn't help. Tara and Jane are only 13 months apart, they are my closest spaced kids. It was hard when they were still little, but it is perfect now.

Jane was the my second unattended birth. At Tara's birth, the midwives didn't quite make it in time, but they assured me that they had never missed two births of the same mother. Well, after Jane, they had. At least this time they made it before the placenta was born.

Jane was my second water birth, I still think back fondly to the kiddie pool we used. Tara was an 'accidental' water birth, but for Jane we planned it this way. The only thing we hadn't planned was inflating the kiddie pool, so Sander was doing that while I was in pretty strong labor already. Lesson learned: inflate birthing pool in advance ^^

She wants to be an artist when she grows up, I think she will do well as an artist. We'll see whether she holds on to this plan or chooses another path in life. When she was smaller, she wanted to be a vetinarian, but I haven't heard her about that for a long time. I think she also wanted to be a doctor at some point.

Makeup chick...

Tim eating birthday cake...

Rain and Sadness

Today, I went to the memorial service of a homeschooling friend and father of two little boys. Beautiful service, lots of sadness. The skies wept with us, it kept raining all the time we were there.

Tara made this picture a few days ago, somehow it seems to fit the occasion.

Quote of the Day

Erik was mad at Cees for something and asked Sylvia 'Sylvia, can you bite Cees?'
Sylvia 'No! Yucky Cees!'
Erik 'Hit Cees!!'
Sylvia 'No hitting Cees!'

Too bad Erik, you'll have to do your own fighting.

Blast From the Past

Reading Chris's post about her baby's misadventures with a poopy diaper this morning, made me travel back in the past and recall this day. I had only two kids, and was trying to get pregnant with number three. Life sure was messy back then.

This was posted to in July 1995.

What a day!

This was just one of those days. Cees (3yo) has had chicken pox since last Wednesday and is recovering from it now. He still has a low fever and gets new spots, but his energy is definitely back. He also wants to go out the whole time and is very disappointed that we don't want to do that :-)

Today they were both kind of crazy, lots of excess energy I suppose. Timmy (23mo) was climbing and running and acting silly the whole time and Cees was only marginally quieter.

At one point Timmy was playing downstairs in the playroom and then he started to cry and call 'Mama, mama!' I started to go downstairs to see what the problem was and he was going upstairs at the same time. We met halfway the stairs, at a little platform. I was not sure what was wrong, so I asked whether he had hurt himself and took him on my lap.

Well, the moment I took him on my lap, I immediately knew what was wrong: he had poop everywhere!!! A real blowout diaper! On his legs, on his feet, on his belly, on his t-shirt, on his hands! Gads! Of course now it also was on me :-( The joys of parenthood :-)

Sander and I started cleaning Timmy and me up and then we noticed Cees standing at the top of the stairs with this special look in his eyes that usually means that he has to throw up.... So we asked him whether he has to throw up. He was not able to answer, what is usually a bad sign.

So I ran upstairs, carried him to the kitchen and started to locate cloth diapers. When I put him down, I noticed that I still must have poop on my hands, since it now also was on Cees's t-shirt :-( I was just in time to catch the first wave of throwing up, a lot, so I had to change cloth diapers. He threw up in 4 waves, 3 of them a lot.

During that time Sander had managed to clean most of Timmy. We thought this was a good time for them to have a bath :-)

So we put them in the bath, which went pretty well. We put in oatmeal to help Cees with his chicken pox. During their bath, Sander went downstairs to investigate where Timmy was when he got his blow-out diaper. On top of the Mutant Ninja Teenage Turtles Sewer Hockey table!!!! (that we had to buy when I took Cees with me to garage sales and he saw it :-) It was only $4 so that was OK with me) (It is a table with Turtles and other creatures that all have a hockey stick and that can be moved around to hit the hockey puck. So there is a lot of openings for poop to get inside :-( ) Luckily Sander was able to clean it, but it took him pretty long.

Then they wanted out of bath and I put them in a towel and put them on a sofachair. While they were sitting there, Cees got his infamous look again and yes, sure enough, he had to throw up again! But this time I was not in time to catch it, but luckily it all hit the towel. Now we just needed to get him out of the towel without getting the vomit on Cees or on something else.....

The remainder of the day was pretty 'normal', with only Timmy falling one tooth through his tongue (not whole the way through luckily) and one minute later Timmy falling another tooth through his lip......

Now they are both in bed, Timmy asleep, Cees not yet. But that is after Cees was close to throwing up for about half an hour tonight and then at last threw up again, 3 waves this time. It happened while he was playing behind the computer. We were in time to catch at least. So after that episode we waited a little while, gave him a drink, gave him his medicine and got him into bed (with a lot of protests) Of course now we still have to see whether he throws up tonight. He might actually, when I listen to his breathing...

I hope this story explains why we always have tons of laundry :-)

Am I crazy for wanting a third one???? :-)

Karen, mom to Cees (3yo) The Spotted One and Tim (23mo) who will most likely have chicken pox on his BIRTHDAY! :-(

Friday, July 21, 2006

Toddler Faces

Too tired to post other pics, just want to tell that we had a great day. Jane got so many fun presents and the food prep session was tons of fun. Here some Sylvia faces which I took today and really liked.

And blogger seems to have changed something. I can't post pictures anymore from my Mozilla Firefox. Have to use *gasp* Internet Explorer. But can't edit in IE. So have to go back to firefox to put them where I want them. I hope they fix this soon.

Too Hot To Post

Just spent fifteen minutes following ball which Sylvia rolled down the driveway. Gotta love hilly neighborhoods.

Yesterday marked the 50 thrash bags milestone in my basement quest. I was going to post pictures today, but it will have to wait, it's just too darned hot to think. And I am going to have visitors for a new outdoors cooking session this afternoon (woohoo!!!) so want to do some cleanup before they are here.

Today is Jane's birthday. She has a friend over, and they seem to be sleeping in. Might have something to do with the fact that they were still awake at 12:30am last night when I went to bed 'It is Jane's birthday now, we are having a PARTY!!!' And yes, this means yet another shopping expedition in the making.

Off to make tea.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Scales

Yesterday, I had my van soooooooooooo full with thrash. Not only my own, but also quite a lot from my neighbor, who is moving out. We arrrive at the dump, the attendant takes one look at the contents of the van, and tells me that today I can go on the scales. They use those to weigh dump trucks before and after dumping. I felt like I was told I could play with the big boys now. No puny 3 or 4 garbage bags for me, this was the real work ^^

Eleven dollars, not bad for the amount of stuff we had. Today made another dump run. When we moved into the house, there was this horrible, ugly, old, big dishwasher in the basement, filled with dirty hoses. I knew the best way to deal with it was just to ignore it (At that point it was the fifth move within a year and I was very pregnant with Kate, the basement was not very high on my priority list.).

After ignoring it for eight years, today was the day of actually disposing of the monster. It was not easy to get it up the stairs, but we did it. Turns out that this counted as metal recycling and it was FREE. I had some other thrash, but all together, today was only one ticket (is $1). And I am sooooooooooooooo happy to have the stupid dishwasher be GONE.

We can see a tiny bit more of the basement floor now, so much thrash, so little time ^^

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It Can't Have Been Eight Years!

Our neighbors are moving out, and today, we met the new neighbors. Nice people, they have kids (which is what my kids had been worried about) They asked me how long we had been here, and I told them eight years. Kate was taking it all in, and a few minutes later told me 'Mom! It can't have been eight years! I am 7yo, Erik is 5, and Sylvia is 2, so it should be at least 14 years, since we all have been born here.'

We lost power twice today, no thunder storms either. No idea what they have been doing. But I was forced to go outside and study go instead of clean out the basement. Too bad ^^

Going to make another dump run soon.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

10 + 10

Ten bags went to the dump today, ten more have been loaded in my van for a dump run tomorrow. So much thrash, so little time. Still can't see a difference in the basement, although visitors politely tell me that there is a difference. I can't quite believe it. This brings our thrash bag total to 43 bags and $11 so far. Not bad.

We had three extra kids today, getting us up to ten. Felt just the same as with seven, just more kids to trip over when carrying something ^^ A bunch of the kids actually helped a lot with the basement.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Basement Finds

Such a hot day, seemed perfect to work in the basement. The girls found a bunch of old pictures, I remember them. We gave Cees and Tim both a disposable camera, and let them go at it. They were 7yo and 5yo at the time, so the pictures are taken from an interesting perspective. Here are the three I liked best.

My father, a few years before he died.

Baby nursing. I would like to say that I immediately knew which baby it was. But I will have to admit to my failure as a mother and disclose I turned the picture around to see whether it had a date, and then realized it must be Kate nursing in this picture.

This was Tim at five years old. He sure has grown since then. Less than a month and he will be a teenager!

In Memoriam

This morning, 9:15 am local time, my father-in-law passed away. He was surrounded by his loved ones, and died very peacefully. Sending him love on the path he is on now. We will miss him. This was quite unexpected. Five or six weeks ago, he still was almost perfectly healthy.

I am glad Sander got to spend some time with his dad before he passed. The cremation will be on Thursday. Sander will be able to attend.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Day at the Beach in Pictures

First thing we found out, was that the signs to the state park beach suck. As they told me at some information booth 'Oh, you are the 42nd person today to ask me. We have complained for three or four years about the signs, but the town still hasn't done anything' Finally found the beach.

What can be better than playing with sand and water? Sylvia wasn't so sure about the water. First time I took her in, she declared to be 'Scared!'At the end of the day, she was happily throwing fistfull after fistfull of sand into the water.

We got an inflatable boat at KMart, today was the first time we got to use it. The boys spent quite some time inflating it. They did get the reward of being first ones to use it though.

We had made a quick supermarket stop before the beach, picking up watermelon, blueberries, and grapes. I love summer fruits!

Indeed, these are matching bikinis... One of the finds during their last shopping expedition.

Sylvia enjoyed the swings. Better than the scary water.

Everyone lined up for the pinata (this was a friend's birthday party)Nothing like doing pinata bashing on a crowded beach to make one feel even more like a circus act ^^ Especially all the cheering on which happened. Yes, from other people, not belonging to our group.

We totally and utterly got lost on the way back home. We even ended up at the same information booth as in the morning, but this time they had gone home already. Of course, none of the five roadmaps / gazettes in my car could be located, and I had left my GPS at home. Bad decision.

He Made It

Sander made it safely. His father still is alive, but very weak. He was aware that Sander was there though, we feel good about it.

Off to the beach, but wanted to share the good news.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Electrical Elephant

My father-in-law is still hanging in there, but it seems like it's not going to be long before he passes away :( I sooooooooooo hope Sander will make it in time, he should be entering the air plane by now. Please send good thoughts their way.

This all has made me think back to my own father. He passed away a few years ago.

When I was a little girl, he used to travel a lot. When he would go on a business trip, he would always find me a little present to give to me when he came home. One day, I think I must have been around five years old, he asked me 'What would you like me to bring from this trip?' Being a typical 5yo, I answered the first thing which entered my head 'An electrical elephant.'

Fast forward to his trip. It was in Brussels, Belgium. He had quite a lot of meetings, but found some time to go shopping. He went into store after store. 'Can I help you?' 'I wondered whether you sell electrical elephants' 'No, sorry, we don't.' 'Do you know any place where I could find those?' 'Hmmm, no, sorry'.

After a while, he just gave up. There didn't seem to be an electrical elephant in existence in the whole of Brussels. He jumped on the offer of a nice sales lady who told him that they did have a plush elephant, just not electrical. She wrapped it and he took it back to the hotel.

While he was walking there, he passed one more store he hadn't seen yet. And guess what was in the window display? Indeed, an electrical elephant...

He came home to one happy daughter. That electrical elephant still lives at my parents house. It has terrorized generations of toddlers by now. The sound it makes can be quite scary to a little one.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Eight More Bags Gone!

Never to be seen again. This brings total to 23 bags and $8, not bad. Cees went with me to the dump, he was disappointed not to see a HUGE mountain of thrash. Instead those were just boring big containers to throw in our thrash.

So hot today! Someone summarized summer so far as three feet of rain and three feet of sweat. Sounds about right.


Yes, this is how bad it was. I would like to say that it wasn't as bad in reality as it was in the pictures. But I don't want to lie.

Sylvia would say: 'What a mess!!!'

I said 'Let's ignore it for eight more years, or just burn down the house.'

But then the pingpong table came our way and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to actually DO something about the basement.

We found face paints.

We found new and interesting toys.

We are still plodding along, we have actually freed up quite some floor space. Still a long way to go. I got rid of 15 full garbage bags so far, the dump is going to love me. To use our dump, you have to go to city hall to buy tickets. A few days ago, I went there and said I wanted to buy dump tickets. 'How many would you like?' 'Fifty, please.' 'FIFTY!!!!' Indeed. Figured I'd better be prepared to get rid of lots of stuff and didn't want to have to go buy new tickets every few days.

So far I have used $5.50 worth of tickets and the satisfaction of throwing away all those things was worth way more than that.

Chocolate For Breakfast

The joys of cleaning out the basement. Sylvia found herself a piece of chocolate for breakfast ^^ I hope to post basement pics later, we have discovered a FLOOR! Never knew we had one.

Cees: 'Sylvia, are you big girl now?'
Sylvia: 'No! Sylvia tiny!'
Cees: 'You are a big girl now.'
Sylvia: 'Sylvia TINY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'
Cees: 'ok.'

Passport Saga

After tons of telephone calls, and lots of frustration, the passport issue finally has been resolved. They are in Boston now, and Sander is going out to get them today. He is on the bus right now.

Tomorrow, Sander will fly out and spend the next week in the Netherlands, hopefully still in time to spend time with his father. Please keep both of them in your thoughts.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Called the consulate. No, the passports haven't been sent out, they don't know when they will, they will send email to New York. Oh yes, getting an emergency travel document is no problem at all. He just needs to get to Boston in person (in between 10am and 1pm on full moon days) and they will get one from New York. Takes only a few days to do that...

I don't know whether we have a few days :(

This is so frustrating. He just wants to take a plane to see his dying father and the freaking bureaucracy is messing everything up. This sucks.

It has been 15 days now since our Boston trip. When I went to get my passport in March, it took eight days to get it. Why does it have to take so long this time???

My Father-in-law

Was brought home so that he can pass away in the peace of his own residence. Hubby still doesn't have his passports, it's 15 days now. I will call the consulate yet again today.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Our Yard in Pictures

One of the big reasons I liked this house, was that it has a really nice big plot for a suburban location. We have an acre, and over the years, I am planting more and more veggies and fruits, so we will eventually get tons of our own produce each summer.

Maybe one or two more weeks and we'll have our first home grown tomatoes.

I want to plant some more blueberry bushes, I just love, love, love fresh, sun warmed blueberries right from our own bushes.

A few years ago, I dug this pond, it has been a source of a lot of joy and entertainment for the kids and myself.

We have a bunch of very fat and happy frogs living in our pond.

We have flowers too, but only ones which are resistant to neglect and are more weed like than flower like ^^ I am not much of a flower person, I like them, but I don't want to spend too much time on growing them.

More berries. Such a wonderful yard.