Oct 26, 2010

RIP music monday

You may have noticed that Music Monday has been on the back burner for a few weeks now and I'm not sure it's coming back. Things have been kind of hectic in my head for a while and that makes it very hard to perform organized tasks such as a weekly theme-post.

But all is not lost! I still have plenty of music to share, I'll just do it in a more random fashion for a while.

How about you feast your ears on these INXS covers that Beck and his entourage of supertotallyawesome musicians have been making?

Or whaddaya say we do a little dancing to this new Lykke Li song?

Lately I've been taking on the daunting task of putting the best selection of ALL the music I have into the mother of all playlists. I've been at it for about 30 minutes every day and have still only gotten to 'R' (I'm doing it backwards from 'Z', I'm a rebel.). So far I believe I have 4 solid days of music lined up, so this list will end up taking 2 days just to load once I finish adding to it. I know I could just throw everything I have into a player but the point is to make sure that only the songs I really want to hear end up in there. I have some crazy stuff and I'd rather not be faced with a hardcore Death Metal song, or one of Weird Al's polka's while I'm trying to keep my head together in this crazy household. I'll put those on when I'm in that specific mood, thank you very much.

How do you organize your music? Do you have it categorized by genre, by alphabet, by year of release? A combination of several of those? What do you do with songs that cross over into several genres?
These questions keep me up at night!

Which music player to you like to use and why? What kinds of playlists do you have, if any?

In other music news: Starting this next Thursday I'll be spending my Thursday mornings teaching piano to my friend Hellen after she overheard me complaining about the limited number of people capable of accompanying the singing in church. I made a pact with her that I would teach her for free, if she solemnly swore to take it seriously and not give up until she could comfortably play at least 5 hymns from the standard hymn book.

Let's see how long that lasts ;)

Oct 23, 2010


... is being in the tender care of a devoted school teacher. Lara with Juffie Monique at the St. Michaƫl's Fest.

Oct 22, 2010

Yes, yes, yes....

... I know it's been all about the kids lately but that only accurately reflects my life. These two keep me busy:
This one keeps cutting her hair:
Then I found the perfect recipe for cake frosting:
And baked a bunch of apple pies after a visit to an orchard:
And I still managed to lose 12 pounds/6kg. I'll probably lose some more tonight as I'm being taken out on my first ever Sushi experience.... wish me luck.

Oct 21, 2010


Elliot has a fever, Max has a fever, both of them wont stop spewing all over me, and I'm coming down with a bladder infection. Want to hear the really disturbing part? I'm still enjoying motherhood.

Oct 16, 2010

for everything..

.. there is a season. It is a well-known fact that an emphasis and recognition of each season and the natural rhythm of the year in the home will help a child develop a sense of time and give them a certain security.

 I remember all too well how comforting it was to come home to a completely differently decorated home when time came to celebrate Easter, Halloween or Christmas. This is one of the major things that makes me happy to be a home-maker, so I can pass that wonderful feeling on and make absolutely certain my children don't miss out on that warmth and fun. 

 The nice thing is: it doesn't have to 100% hand crafted decorating and it doesn't have to cover every single inch of your house (though if that's how you like it then that's obviously just lovely too!). It doesn't take a whole lot of effort to resonate the seasons and the Holidays in your home, especially considering what you get in return: children who enjoy being at home, feel safe there and constantly interested in it. 

Oct 14, 2010

and another quickie...

... because I'm PMS-ing and can't stop playing with my camera/editing tools and eating chocolate chip cookies.

Elliot is 4 months now. Someone please make him stop growing.

Oct 13, 2010

a quickie...

... because I am being single mom for a day and time is a forgotten luxury.

Have a great Wednesday everybody, enjoy the Fall season and carve a pumpkin or two on my behalf!

Oct 8, 2010

i was a paid photographer....

... for a day! Sander's office is revamping their website and didn't want to spend a ton of cash on a professional photographer, so when Sander showed his boss some of the pictures on my blog I was asked if I would help out. I told them I don't have any professional equipment, and I don't actually know what I'm doing, but they seemed intent on the cheap way out and that's how I ended up doing a photo shoot at the beach yesterday morning. I've still got sand in places I shouldn't from lying down to get better shots, but that is greatly compensated by the memory of bossing a bunch of business men around for an hour. I had to bring the boys but Elliot slept the entire time, and Max naturally didn't mind being allowed to play in the sand while the guys were busy striking poses and making love to the camera.
I just spent all morning editing and trying to get the best out of the (mostly incredibly mediocre) shots I made and just sent them all off to The Office. Fingers crossed they'll like them and maybe even be silly enough to refer me to their business friends... wouldn't that be a hoot.

I will now go and do something that doesn't make my eyes hurt.

Oct 6, 2010

school for the girls...

..... means work for me.

Our decision to send our kids to a Waldorf School was a very conscious one. We checked out a couple of schools about 3 years ago, when Lara was getting close to the age of 4 and were having a hard time deciding. The closest school is the same one I used to go to as a child. This school has now become one of the what are known as 'Black Schools' here in Holland. It has nothing to do with actual black people, and I still think it's the worst naming choice in history (except for that guy who named his son Pilot Instructor) but it is what it is. What it means is that more than 50% of the children who go to that school were not born in Holland and usually do not speak the Dutch language as fluently as a Dutch native would. In the case of the school I used to go to the percentage has gone up to about 75%. While I am all for mixing cultures, hearing different languages, learning from each other's differences and being tolerant, I also find it really important that my children hear and learn proper Dutch, and unfortunately that has become something of a problem in these 'Black' schools.

Our next option was a school a little bit further away and we thought we had found our school. We enrolled Lara in pre-school there (two mornings a week from the age of 2,5 - 4). While she enjoyed her time there I kept feeling like this still wasn't the right place, and I knew that if I was going to make a decision about changing schools I would have to do it soon before Lara started going on a daily basis and got really settled. Reasons that that school still felt 'off' included the size of the groups (34 children in 1 class!), the amount of junk food that was served every time someone had a birthday (seriously, you would not believe the money some parents would spend on treats for everyone) and the sheer amount of plastic toys that were stacked clear up to the ceiling on nearly every wall to ensure any form of imagination/dreaming/natural discovery is discouraged. Also I must admit that I didn't feel comfortable with the other parents. It felt a LOT like high school all over again, with the cool group, the weird group, the jocks, the gossips..... not good.

  Then my dear friend Hellen, who has a daughter the same age as Julia, told me about the school she had attended as a child, and that she was probably going to have her children go to as well. It was a Waldorf school, and though I had heard of them before I didn't actually know a whole lot about them. All I knew is that it was where all the hippies took their children, and that the running gag is that when you've gone to school at a Waldorf school you can knit a fairy but you can't spell fairy. Safe to say I was a little unsure. It doesn't help that they're called 'Free Schools' here, making them sound like kids just hang out there doing whatever they want, which is probably dangle from the ceiling half the time and poke a pile of mud with a stick the other half.

 Then I began to find out more and more about how this particular Waldorf school I was considering operated, and that a lot has changed in anthroposophical education since my childhood. Mainly I learned that at a Waldorf school a child is encouraged to learn what they need to learn, in a way that works for them. For some that is with their head, for others with their hands, for some others with their hearts. Let's face it, we all learn best when we are able to experience something new with as many senses as possible, then do it ourselves and finally really get a feel for it and make it our own. They are also very aware that we are not just our body, we have a spirit and children don't just magically appear on earth after a miracle of nature. They believe we existed before we came to earth, but leave everyone quite free to fill in details as in what form or level of consciousness that might have been. They also celebrate Christian/Pagan holidays and are very close to nature. Children bake their own bread on Tuesdays, go for a walk in the neirby forest on Fridays and as the seasons change, so do the songs that are sung every single day.

Upon visiting the Wonnebald for the first time I was struck by the atmosphere. It felt so calm, warm and welcoming. Simple toys made from natural materials were arranged in inviting ways for play. A 'treehouse' stood in the corner of the classroom for the 4-6 year olds and you could tell the children were engaged in lots of arts, music, nature watching and story-telling. The other parents were so nice to me as well, and Lara immediately took to 'Juffie Marianne'. We were sold.

Lara and Julia still absolutely love their school and have many friends, and we haven't regretted our decision for a moment....
....except perhaps when I am yet again asked to make something by hand for my child that every other person would simply buy at the store for a Euro or two. They really get a kick out of these things. Each Christmas/Easter/Halloween/Sinterklaas/Summer Solstice I receive a note from school describing (very badly too I might add) what they would like me to make for my child this time so they can learn the value of receiving small gifts from the heart that took time and love to create. Or that, in my case,took more time and and a lot of yelling at inanimate objects to make.

The latest example: a special custom-made pencil case (that I received the wrong measurements for!) to hold all the craft/writing equipment Lara will need now she's begun to learn to read and write. I was sure happy to have that sewing machine I got earlier this year because if I attempted to make this thing by hand (like I made her tote for her gym clothes by hand when she first started going) I think you would found me running around the house wearing my underpants on my head and laughing maniacally... again.

Oct 3, 2010

help me, I can't stop...

... cooking and baking! 
I thought everything was fine and that I needn't worry about a thing, until last Friday when I somehow decided that I needed to bake a plum tart that required a home-made plum jam, a frangipane, and a made-from-scratch pie crust.

I spent a full 3 hours in the kitchen completing each task and suffered only one minor disaster when, after having frozen the pie crust for an hour and attempting to pre-bake it for 10 mins, it drooped down the insides of the lovely earthenware dish and didn't appear very capable of actually holding all of the other ingredients together. I tried to push it back up a bit with my fingers (forgetting it came straight out of the oven on the first go - ouch) but it slumped right back down and I got a little nervous. 

 I decided to go ahead and throw in the jam, then the frangipane and then the fresh, quartered plums macerated in icing sugar, and finally to carefully sprinkle some almond slivers on top - as if their weight was the one thing that was going to make this thing collapse upon removal from its baking container. When you've put 3 hours of work into something, you kind of want to be able to enjoy the end result, you know?

It all looked terribly soupy once assembled and my nerves were getting a little out of control, something that was worsened by my crazy idea that I could stick the tart in the oven, leave home to pick the girls up from school on The Beast, ask Lara's teacher a few quick questions and hurry on back home in time to take the darn thing out of the oven.

Of course I hadn't considered Lara falling down the stairs at school and needing care before we could head back. Once we determined she was in one piece and she was able to stop sobbing I tried to pedal that Beast back home as quickly as my legs could handle (which sadly was so slow that I got overtaken by an old lady, twice!). The recipe said that the tart would need about an hour in the oven and by the time I got home it had been in there for at least 75 minutes, but a quick check revealed a still sort of soggy looking mess so I left it in there, set the timer to an additional 15 minutes, and prayed. At the end of those 15 minutes I noticed bits were starting to go a bit blackish so it had to come out. Much to my relief it didn't look too bad! It looked like it might actually hold together and taste kind of good!

 And, well, it did. It tasted VERY good, much to my surprise. So good some people had seconds (and thirds). Jamie Oliver sure knows his way around plums and almonds. I love how the colours in this piece of sweet yet tart yumminess perfectly go with autumn.
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