I'm here! The thunderstorm that is hitting Den Haag as I type this is a truly awesome one, in the purest sense of the word. There are lightning flashes so bright that if I could time a photo with one of them, I bet it would come out over-exposed. The rolling rumbles that provide tonight's soundtrack are explosive and loud. The scene is set. Add the sound of every type of siren you can think of, and you have the mood: we're headed towards the scary end of the excitement spectrum. A building somewhere close must have gotten a direct hit because every single police car/ambulance/fire engine is racing around our neighbourhood at this very moment.
I think perhaps Lindsey might be a siren magnet. I seem to encounter a vastly larger amount of them when she is with me, than when she is not. But I digress.
This isn't going to be a very long post but I wanted to stop in really quickly to say: I am 30. Thirty. Years old. I feel pretty good about this fact. I had an amazing Birthday thanks to sweet family and friends who spent time with me and gave me the best gifts ever -- which in another post I will go into in more depth -- and ate unhealthy amounts of junk food with me in celebration of me finally becoming a 'real' adult. Of course it's only been a few days, so it might be too early to make a statement so bold, BUT(T): I'm liking the 30s everyone.
To celebrate being such an adult I decided to set myself a few goals his week (and this week only. To begin with at least). First up: only 1 hour of computer time per day. By writing this blog post I am exceeding today's hour, but(t) in my defense, most of my computer time was spent looking up people's phone numbers . I had to call a bunch of the other parents from Lara's class to pass on some news. Definitely not most of it was spent gawking at pretty blogs such as this one. Promise.
Another goal: do yoga twice. I could have done yoga today and gotten double points for turning it into Bikram Yoga :: temperatures around here were hitting well into the 30s (Celsius, duh) today :: but I didn't. Have a little faith though guys, the week is still young, even if I'm not that young anymore.
Yesterday was Max' turn to be thrust into the spotlight, receive lots of kisses and cuddles, open presents and eat all the junk his little body could handle. Yesterday my little boy turned 3, and I am hoping this means those terrible two's with their tantrums (remember when he would hold his breath until he got his way, resulting in him fainting on a couple of occasions?) and general unruliness, are over. Is unruliness even a word? You know what I mean.
When I used a picture a few blogs back that had a definition of the word 'boy' in it, that was truly what Max is all about: noise with dirt on it. Max doesn't walk, he hurdles. Max doesn't talk, he shouts/yells/whines/sings. Max does not stand or sit still, he bounces and jiggles. Max is simply our little monkey, which is why I decided to make him a monkey cake. For the recipe and instructions click here.
He loved it as was to be expected. I mean, it contained banana's (his favourite fruit), sugar (his favourite food) and was shaped like a monkey (his favourite animal/alter ego). I was fairly certain I couldn't go wrong with this one. Granted, he asked for a Lightning McQueen cake, but even I have limits people.
We had a great time, despite 75% of the invited guests not showing up, which has been a trend for us lately. We'll take most of the blame this time since we invited people a little late. The rest of the blame can go to the fact that it was also Father's Day. Just remember: the Koot's are, like, supertotallyawesome people who have been associated with the likes of Madonna and a couple of the Backstreet Boys. If that doesn't convince you may I add that we serve lots of yummy food at our parties? For free. On occasion, selected lucky ones can even catch Sander performing the magical, mysterious and legendary Dance of the Seven Veils. So don't be shy anymore, okay? Okay.
A great time was had by all, as you can clearly see. His favourite presents are a Buzz Lightyear (from us) and a set of cars (from oma Marianne). He's been playing with them non-stop.
For the last 45 minutes of the party, Max and Sander played ping pong/tennis with a little wood paddle and a balloon which caused Max to break out into a sweat. Nothing out of the ordinary when you exert yourself after a long day of being the centre of attention, or so I thought. Turns out he had a fever of 39.6C (103.3F) when we put him to bed! Even with a fever he did not miss a single beat. I'm in for some fun with that kid, I tell you. He 'seems' fine again now... but even so I'll keep a close eye on him today.
Allow me to conclude this post with a little word to the fathers in my life (warning, sappiness ahead):
1. My own father. Dad, I just love you. I don't know how else to put it. Sure we've had our challenges but it is so wonderful to me how we have risen above any of that. You are a blessing in my life. Thank you for all you do for me still.
2. Sander, you are the best dad any kid could ask for I think. You're silly and sweet, funny and slow to anger. I love that about you. Thank you for being on this adventure with me and doing it so well!
3. My father-in-law Jan. He never got to meet his grand-children, and yet he is mentioned in our house on an almost daily basis. They love him and I know he loves them even though he is not here to say it. We can all feel it.He would have been an incredible Opa and he was such a sweet father-in-law to me. He really made me feel so welcome in his family and I will always be grateful to him for that.
Den Haag is a great city for art and there are open air exhibits all over the city at different moments throughout the year. My favourite was when they lined up Botello sculptures along the Lange Voorhout. When Lara, Lindsey and I went out for some fresh air last Monday we came across one at Kijkduyn by the beach. There were some interesting installations going on. Reflection and glass seemed to be the main theme throughout.
Last Sunday, June 12th, our little Elliot had his first birthday. We kept the celebrations small with a song and a little present at breakfast, which delighted him. Elliot is an all over happy, go-with-the-flow boy and even though finding out I was pregnant with him was probably the biggest shocker of my life, it has also been the best thing to happen to me in the past two years. Being able to be his mother has made me a better person in so many ways and I am looking forward to all the many ways he'll continue to shape and define our family in the coming years.
On his birthday the little dude ate his first strawberries and later in the day his first piece of Banoffee Pie (which all of us in the house agree is the best pie e-v-e-r). I was a little afraid that after all that deliciousness he'd never allow me to put anything else in his mouth again. How wrong I was: I found him devouring an empty toilet roll after church. Boys just aren't fussy when it comes to filling their tummies!
I was so proud of myself that I had remembered to charge the camera battery, make sure the memory card was in there, and actually get it out during Elliot's birthday celebration. I even remembered to shoot a little video for grandma's who go nuts for video's of their grandchildren. In case you're wondering who the 'stranger' at the table is who is celebrating with us: Lindsay Dompier is our new house guest/tenant/friend/cuddle toy and will be occupying our spare bedroom for a while. She served a mission here in 2005/2006 and recently felt the urge to come back to Holland and work here for a while after graduating with a degree in Public Health. It is an absolute pleasure to have her here, we couldn't have asked for a more considerate and fun person to hang out with us for the next while. But now, without further ado, I present to you Elliot's Birthday song:
Stay tuned for more boyish birthday bashes coming soon when Max turns 3 on the 19th....
I finished it. It took me 4 days and I knit everywhere (in the park, on the couch, at the computer, on the roof terrace, in the car, at school) and at all hours of the day (or night, like the time I couldn't get back to sleep at 5AM). Of course we had a major heatwave right when I was knitting my daughter a wool tunic - knitting with sweaty hands: not good.
Luckily the weather shifted and it was cool enough for her to wear it to school over a t-shirt. Her first words to her teacher that morning: "My mother made this, isn't it PRETTY?!". Bless her adorable little heart.
I don't know about you but I like how I do Music Monday's on any day of the week nowadays. I'm a free spirit baby, don't try to reign me in! There has been SO much great music I have been listening to lately and what I am about to share with you truly is just the tip of the iceberg. Only a select few that I deem just a little bit more worthy than the rest make it onto The Blog!
1. Audra Mae has one of those voices that I could quite happily never stop listening to. How lucky is it then that she is also a creative and insipiring songwriter and brings natural soul into anything she plays.
2. Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks. This has become my go-to song when I need to shimmy.
3. The Secret Sisters - Do You Love An Apple. Listen closely... do you hear that? Yep, that's the sound of unaltered pitch, perfectly in tune. Old fashioned beautiful talent.
4. Rival Sons - Get What's Comin'. This song is perfect if you want to get rid of your 'softie' image. Just roll the windows down as you pull up to the stoplight and have this song blasting from your stereo. Instant cool. Add some leather and shades for added effect.
5. The Avett Brothers - Murdered in the City. Brothers with guitars, banjo's, beards and sexy voices. Need I say more?
... remembered that time she googled 'unfortunately, Karina' and how funny the first lines had been, so she decided it was time to talk about herself in the third person again and do some more googling!
1. Suddenly, Karina remembered what an exciting day it was going to be: Mother Bluestripe, the badger Mum of Redwall, had promised to tell her about her great ancestor, Karina of the River.
2. Suddenly, Karina stiffened.
3. Suddenly Karina Jackson, a world class kickboxer, felt something hit her in the upper part of her left arm and she was knocked down.
4. Suddenly Karina, the special investigator, with a shoe on his head comes running in chasing Mujina, some kind of badger.
5. Suddenly, Karina put on brakes and reversed the whip, shooting the challenger back into the corner with
thunderous force. 6. Suddenly, Karina takes a big spill on Ralph's coat tails. 7. Suddenly, Karina thought about her reasons for trying to escape. 8. Suddenly, Karina screamed as her headlights shone on the tree in front of her.
What did Karina learn from this endeavor? There is a LOT of twisted fan-fiction out there abusing her name, and Karina is a good name for girls who want to kick butt. What is up with #4 though?!
It's not usual for me to be writing a blog post on a Sunday morning, and I most definitely will not be making a habit out of it. Sunday mornings are, quite literally, holy to me and I normally spend them at church. Unfortunately I am sick at the moment. Some weird fever hit me yesterday and is sticking around for reasons unknown.
Lately church has become something of a challenge for me for a few reasons. First because we have moved out of our regular building because it needed renovation. Each Sunday we now meet in a local High School where we have to set everything up every Sunday again. It's not a very 'spiritual' place and the logistics of meeting there are awkward and not helping the reverence (something our ward wasn't too good at to begin with).
Then I was asked to serve in the Primary (to work with the children for 2 hours each Sunday, on voluntary basis) and however much I love children, my first thought when I got this calling was "It's not enough that I have to deal with my kids all week, I also have to deal with everyone else's on Sundays?". 'Unfortunately' I have a mother who has always set the example of willingness to accept most any calling she received, and I couldn't think of a solid reason to say no.
Then something else occurred to me.
I love going to church. I go because I want to and so does my family. I've never made my husband go, he actually really wants to be there as well. Of course we make our children go sometimes because they are too young to stay home but if that becomes a real issue for them at some point I will encourage them to use their own free agency wisely and decide for themselves. Because my decision to go to church is so actively my own, I have to try to get out of what I can, and if there is one thing I have learned over and over again (regularly the hard way) it's that I always get more out of church when I adopt an attitude of reverence and service. I am there to grow spiritually and I can only do that when I am quietly serving the Lord and opening my heart to whatever he wants me to hear that day. When I spend my Sunday waiting for what others are going to do for me and my family, I am usually sorely disappointed. Mainly because with those expectations I won't even notice what people are actually doing for me, I am blinding myself with them. When I adopt a reverse attitude, the amount of love and joy that fills my heart is enough to last me the rest of the week. Also, when I go to church worrying about what others think of me, or judging the people around me for how they live their lives or act on Sundays, church simply becomes a burden.
So I have been struggling with these things lately, but I am grateful that I at least have a comprehension of how to win the struggle. Perfection is far, far, far away from me and it's an uphill climb, but I'm getting there one step at a time.
I'm a little wary posting all of this. I know a lot of the people who read this are in no way religious, and I don't want to use this blog as a platform for my beliefs. Having said that, my faith is the cornerstone of my life and I would be a hypocrite to omit it entirely from this place. Also I like to think that anybody I consider a friend is someone who doesn't care about things like religious differences.
All images are by amazing photographer Akos Major.
Have a lovely week everyone, I think I'll go lie down again now.