Jul 30, 2011

sthpethial amsterdam finds

1. Authentic TitiCaca merchandise. The kids love these.
2. A fascinating read by world renouned author John Gordon Davis, famous for his collected, down-to-earth approach to everyday situations
3. Unfortunately no clothes are sold at this store.

Jul 28, 2011

julia is six!

After a week of some intense counting down (if you've ever visited our house, you know how all-important the art of counting is around here), Julia was finally able to celebrate her 6th Birthday today! She had her heart set on a princess cake for months and I nearly didn't attempt it. In the end I'm glad I did because the look on her face when I brought that thing out, all pink and sparkly, it was worth the countless hours in the kitchen (and exploded marshmallow mush in the microwave - ugh). Before going to bed I asked her if she had had a nice day, and she confidently told me it had been the. best. birthday. ever. Julia, I love you to pieces.

Jul 27, 2011

deity among deals

While walking through downtown Amsterdam with Liz yesterday, we ooh'd and aah'd at all the fun stuff that was to be seen and  bought. The reason we were there was so that I could go through the nerve wrecking process of renewing my American passport at the American Consulate. And so to celebrate that it had gone well, we shopped. We went from American Bookcentre to H&M, from Intertoys to luxurious soap shop, from De Slegte to jewelry store and finally our legs and tummies started to revolt. The golden arches eagerly greated us, and we sat down in their surprisingly comfortable and colourful lounge chairs to indulge in some fries and a honey-mustard wrap, while we rested our weary bones. We were seated on the second floor near a window and enjoyed watching out at the shoppers passing by. We agreed that next time we would forget about shopping altogether, and just people-watch for an entire morning or afternoon. (Though I'm not completely sure we would be able to actually forgo on the shopping :::especially when sales are on::: I am certain that we would have heaps of fun observing, scaling up, and jokingly judging everyone passing us by.) 
Suddenly we looked past the shoppers and noticed what was blatantly staring us in the face without us even realising it: a beautiful, quaint church, situated smack in the middle of all that bustle. Nobody was looking at it or even noticicing it, and nobody seemed to be entering in through its dark doors. We shared a look and agreed that that would be the next place we would visit. We sat and ate, rest, chatted and laughed until we were ready to leave (or rather until we were made ready to leave by the employee with the worst BO ever who kept hovering near our table), and we ventured out with curiosity as to what would await us once inside this little place of worship. The surprise was a happy one. It was nowhere near small on the inside, and the second the doors closed behind us, the noise and chatter from outside was shut out completely and we were greated with silence, and wonderful tranquility. We walked around, admired all the beautiful art and the impressive architecture and took pictures. 
So we found deity among deals, and religion amidst retail, the sacred between the sales. Yep, we felt pretty cool when we resumed our shopping.

Jul 25, 2011

speaking of analogies

Let us compare my household to the Blijdorp Zoo that we have recently acquired family passes to.

1. The sounds. Animal sounds and kid sounds are (obviously) very similar, and similarly loud. Add to that the sounds of a husband singing (I use the term loosely) Grease/Disney songs while washing dishes (don't look so surprised, everyone knows what a slavedriver I am), the sounds of 3 Skype accounts, 1 landline and 4 cell phones, 1 iPad, 1 laptop and 2 iPods, 2 TVs..... and the primitive, eardrum piercing screams when food is in Elliot's sight.... and you get the picture. That takes me to...
2. Feeding time. Much like an animal that relies on its caretaker to feed it at set times, my children circle doorways and hallways when I am working on a meal in the kitchen. Their hearing has evolved to something that can really only be called a sixth sense for that sound that is produced when turning the key in the lock to the pantry that houses the treats, or that little creak the one floorboard in the hallway makes that tips them that mama is on the move, and she might just be getting food. If I, once found out, do not proceed to sharing whatever food it is that I am getting/eating/preparing/standing-in-the-general-vicinity-of, they launch their attack. They open fire with a barrage of 'MAMA MAMA MAMA MAMA MAMA's, and they do not stop until I give in. Once food has been given, it usually ends up everywhere. And please don't think I'm just saying that for effect. I have found strands of spaghetti stuck to a wall nowhere near the dinner table (they keep on sticking when they dry up, you never know when you might need that knowledge), had pretzels come tumbling out of my bra upon undressing for the night, green beans in diapers, potatoes under the couch, apples IN the couch, and (my favourite) bright orange babyfood flung high speed, Jackson Pollock style, onto my white living room wall and smeared all over Elliot's head. We saw a bird show at the zoo and one of the birds fed on snakes. It would find a snake, pick it up in its beak, and lift it up only to throw it down onto a hard surface with all its might to kill it so it could eat it... and I swear I've seen that happen in our house at least twice - though, granted, not with live prey.
3. The smells. You know what smells the absolute worst at the zoo? The bat cave. You know what smells the absolute worst at the Koot residence? Elliot's butt. I would say the level of nastiness is equal, or tipping the scale in favor of Elliot. Elliot Smelliot.
4. The cute. I don't think I have to explain myself when I compare baby elephants with Julia's huge eyes and shy smile when she goes 'I love you more'. Or when I compare a fuzzy baby llama to Elliot's curly mop that tickles every single cuddle bone in your body. How about when Max goes 'Ooh' in that tone that is halfway between 'Oh right, duh' and 'Ew', and sounds way too adult. Animals and kids alike, they are trying to kill me with cute.
5. Accidents. Rule: when you don't put a diaper on it, it will pee against the window for the world to see. This is widely known to go for both zoo animals as well as 3 year old boys.
6. Don't get too close. If you get too close you can get bitten, slimed, pee'd on, burped at, grabbed, smacked, inappropriately touched, knocked over, scratched, or suddenly find yourself in a not-so-symbiotic relationship.

There you have it. Living in this house is exactly like living at the Blijdorp Zoo, which is probably why we love going there/living here so much.

Jul 20, 2011

eye of the storm

Oh mah gosh, Becky. Is summertime a crazy time? Yes. Does it feel like autumn? Yes. Was yesterday's attempt at getting Lindsey registered and all visa'd up utter ridiculousness/insanity? Yes. Are we doing it again today? Yes. Is this possibly the most annoying way to write a blog post? Definitely. Is it raining today? Not sure. Am I taking everyone to the zoo regardless because we just got year passes and we GOTTA DO SOMETHING?? YES!! So to make it through all of this, I give you a calming picture (really I give it to me, I'm the one who needs it).This because when we watched storm chasers yesterday I remembered the good old 'eye of the storm' analogy. Have you ever seen that show? Those guys are nuts.

Jul 16, 2011

after playing hard...

... comes resting hard. Elliot does this regularly: he'll be so caught up in whatever he's doing that he doesn't realise how tired he is and suddenly, in the middle of play, he'll plop down and start snoring. I think it's the cutest. He's the only baby I have ever had who will then let me pick him up (thus waking him slightly) and carry right on sleeping after being put into his crib, in a slightly more comfortable position. Though, you have to wonder with those flexible little limbs, he was probably just as comfortable like this.

Jul 14, 2011

lights on/off

Ever had the feeling you were being watched? I had it last Saturday when Sytje and I were over at Liz' place to watch movies and eat cupcakes. When I took a picture of my foot after I had given myself a pedicure (as you do), I had no idea of the apparition I would discover days later while processing my photo's. Take a close look at the photo when the lights are still off:
And now hold your breath as I switch the lights on for you, and we uncover what was lurking in the shadows..
I think she's after my purple nail polish. It is rather wonderful, so I don't blame her. I just hope she doesn't come to haunt me over it. Ghostly presence, if you read the internet: the nail polish does not belong to me... go see Sytje please. She's the one in the middle.
P.S. How ridiculously gorgeous are those two gals huh? Of course I'm the one next to all that stunning-ness with my awkward angle, double chin and over-exposed face.. but I'm okay with that because, well, I'm holding a cupcake aren't I? And sorry guys, the scrumptious sisters are both spoken for.

P.S. #2  Have you noticed my shiny new blogheader? Whaddaya think? I wanted to focus on summer and think that worked pretty well?

Jul 12, 2011

on landscapes in the night air, and never forgotten clay pigeons

Whatever is taking up my creative energy lately, it certainly isn't leaving much left to benefit my writing. I have just been sitting here for about 20 minutes writing and rewriting the first sentence to this post over and over again when all I really want to do is share some great music with whoever reads this. So you know what? Forget writing. Forget creativity for now, and just have a listen!

1. Esperanza Spaulding and Gretchen Parlato - Useless Landscape (Inutil Paisagem)
This just kills me it's so beautiful and on the mark. As someone who sings a lot I can tell you how incredibly difficult the singing and harmonising in this is. The restraint, control and technique, and what's more, they manage to add so much emotion and personality that it really just blows me away.

2. Blaze Foley - Clay Pigeons
This man has such an interesting story: He was homeless and never put out an album. His equipment was so old an rickety that he had to keep it together using duct tape which gave some of it a specific sound he became known for. He ended up being shot to death, and if it weren't for the internet I would have lived my life without ever hearing this stunning song. This is really my favourite kind of music. Sincere, beautiful in its simplicity, and moving.

3. The Civil Wars - Forget Me Not
Something tells me I have posted a song by these guys before.. but I don't feel like going back and checking right now and I can't imagine anybody minding hearing another by them if I did. These two make me smile so much, I'm kind of annoyed that they're not a couple (they're each married to someone else) because the energy between them is so great. Also, if there are any guys out there with a half decent voice and some guitar skills who would be interested in doing a cover of this with me, please sign up here: _________________.

4. Jamie Woon - Night Air
Fans of James Blake, pay attention. I came across Jamie about 2 years back when I his version of Wayfaring Stranger got my ears flying high. Well, he put out his first album not too long ago, and when I gave it a first listen I was so, so excited. It's easy to hear why, it has everything I want in music: haunting vocals, soul, slinky beats, and a rather attractive guy with more talent in his right nostril than I have in my entire head. Oh, just one word of warning to the sqeamish: if you can't handle bugs - look away... while you still can.

Jul 9, 2011

funny little frog(s)

Remember the blog post with the art by the beach at Kijkduyn? While walking back to the car from the boulevard we took a dune path and on it we encountered hundreds of the tiniest frogs you have ever seen. We initially mistook them for rabbit droppings, and it wasn't until one jumped that we did the same. They seemed to be mass-migrating from the one side of the path to the other because they were just everywhere and we were so scared to step on them as we walked. Lara loved them to bits and at one point had 5 of them in her hand. I think that she's still a little upset with me that i made her release them back into the wild instead of taking them on as part of our ever-growing family. At least we have the pictures! And here is a little song to go with the theme - I love Belle And Sebastian!

Jul 7, 2011

practising our 4th of july's - who knew

I have been holding out on blogland a teeny tiny bit and I can hold out no longer. Many of you will undoubtedly already have heard the big news the Koot Family has to share, but let us mark today as the official big reveal: We're moving! I'm not just talking house, or city. I'm talking country, and even continent!

Allow me to speedwalk you through what made us come to this decision, since the entire story is a rather long one. My mother is American, my father is Dutch. They raised my siblings and myself right here in Holland but eventually one by one all but one (me) moved to the US.
I missed them terribly but never has the option of moving even come into my mind, until - until when last Febuary I went through a rough patch and Sander sat me down and made me consider what had until then seemed impossible.

It took a good couple of months of deliberating, thinking, praying, weighing pro's and cons, and figuring out the practical side (would we even be able to do it financially speaking? And what about green cards for Sander and the kids?). I didn't want this decision to be made based solely on me missing my family. We took so many things into consideration. Finally both Sander and I 'just knew' that this was what we had to do and we decided to take the plunge without looking back. I literally felt lighter after the decision was made.
This is going to be the hardest and scariest thing I ever do! I love this city, I love our home, I love the family and friends we have here, I love the kids' school, I love the beach and I love the church ward that we are in. I love being Dutch. I'm going to miss this place like crazy and I'm hoping it'll miss me back just a tiny bit. That said, we really look forward to getting to know our future hometown of Ogden, Utah.

Telling Sander's side of the family, especially his mother and brother, has been the hardest thing. They were our number one reason for possibly not going and we feel awful knowing that our decision brings them pain.
But I can't lie - I'm so excited. I'm happy that I'll be able to give my children things like space, a yard, cousins to play with, a bigger support network within the church, and I am so happy I will be right there to see my sweet nieces and nephews grow up together with my kids.
So this was our Fourth of July practice run! Lindsey inspired us and we had the best time BBQ-ing, lighting sparklers and enjoying some watermelon after we put the boys to bed. Some of us enjoyed the watermelon more than others *cough*Sander*cough*.

Wish us luck this coming year! Our goal is to move sometime around May of 2012 and there is plenty to be done before we can reach it. Also, please indulge our need to hang out with all of you a bit more than usual - we need to get as much of you to rub off on us now that we still can!

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