Aug 26, 2013

music monday

It has been waaaaay too long since this happened! And it's not for lack of amazing music, TRUST me. It is for lack of summer sanity. Although that might not be an entirely viable excuse since I think I haven't been doing music Mondays since a while before the summer... sadface. Now, I can't promise they're going to be back entirely, but I wanted to at least throw you a bone and give you something to gnaw  (I just had to retype that word 3 times, apparently it's a tricky one) on. Sink your teeth into THIS, music fans:

1. Shakey Graves - Late July 
Sometimes I come across someone I seriously suspect of having sold his soul to the devil. Meet the insanely talented Shakey Graves. Who plays guitar like that anymore? And writes songs like this? And wears suspenders?? If you have the patience, listen to the entertaining story of how he got his name. If not, just skip to about 2:00 to dive straight on into the music.

2. Cory Chisel - She Don't Mind 
This is simply a beautiful, beautiful song. Cory was pointed out to me by a friend who accidentally saw him in concert. I wish more of those accidents would happen to me!

3. Lorde - The Love Club
Currently a favorite of the kids' to play in the car. I also love the songs Royals and Biting down, go have a listen! I'd also like to note that this New Zealand native is just 16 (!) years old and writes all of her own songs. 

4. Michael Prins - Blackbird 
Sander and I have been watching a Dutch singer-songwriter contest as it aired over the summer, and have fallen for Michael Prins and his rootsy, haunting, and highly emotional songwriting. His voice just kills me with its combination of control and grit. It didn't surprise us one bit when he ended up winning the contest. That said, a more than honorable mention goes to Maaike Ouboter, who was our other favorite for making everyone who hears her song 'Dat Ik Je Mis', cry. Now get your headphones, close your eyes, and let mr. Prins rip your heart right out. I promise you'll enjoy it...

5. The Staves - Winter Trees 
The sisters' big hit is the song Mexico, but I really fell in love with The Staves when I heard this live rendition of Winter Trees. Their voices are so pure and attuned to each other, a perfect harmony that seems reserved for people who share genes as well as history.

Aug 24, 2013

this child

The camera loves her! And it helps that I love her too. I took these shots of her the Sunday after her baptism, when she was ready to go to church in her special dress. The bishop had Jacob and Julia come and sit on the podium, so he could introduce them to the ward. They simply beamed! Of course then after her introduction when she came back to sit with us 'common folk', she was in a huff because we wouldn't let her do whatever she wanted (play on the iPad for the duration of the service). Yes folks, even after baptism, you're still human.
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Aug 20, 2013

camping pt.1 - the beach

A few weeks ago we went camping with the family at Bear Lake. We did this last year as well, and had such a good time that we figured we'd try it with the kids this time. A good decision if you ask me! I think everyone had a blast and, more importantly, nobody lost a kid. Here are the pictures from our day at the north shore of the lake. I haven't posted all of them since there were just too many, but you can go to my flickr page and see the rest (either click on one of the pictures, or use the link in the sidebar).
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Aug 19, 2013

julia's milestone

Turning 8 is something special in our family. Our beliefs teach us that when children are 8 years old, they are considered old enough to be baptized, and Julia made it very clear that that is a choice she wanted to make! I am so happy she made this choice because I, through experience, know what a tremendous source of strength and peace baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost can be. Yesterday we celebrated Julia's baptism with family and friends, and a celebration it was. The service was so different from Lara's: only one other child - Jacob - was being baptized, and so we were able to coordinate directly with the other family to ensure we each took equal part in the service, and made it a personal and unforgettable experience for our them. We got lucky with the other family too, they were so easy going and helpful and friendly!
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The kids looked radiant in their spotless white clothes. Julia's baptismal dress was the same one that Lara wore, handmade by my mother. Then after the baptismal ordinance itself I dried her off and she got to wear a beautiful white dress that my mother bought for all the girls in our family to wear if they want to. Julia's biggest worry was the water being cold, but that fear was quickly taken away when she dipped a toe into the font and found the water "sooooo nice and warm!!". Jacob's mother gave a talk about baptism, and afterwards Lara and Jacob's older brother Samuel sang a beautiful song. Then I got to speak on the Holy Ghost. The people who gave the prayers and the opening and closing hymns were all picked by Julia and Jacob, and aunt Marissa was sweet enough to accompany everything on the piano.
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After the service and ordinances were done, we went back to our house for the after party (basically lots of food). Julia got to open some presents, and play with her siblings and cousins in the pool. After everyone had left I asked her if she'd had a good day. Her reply: "It was the best day ever!". A big thank you to everyone who helped make this day so great.
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There is a soft spot in my heart for Julia. I recognize so much of myself in her. In part that makes me very proud, and excited to see all the things she will do, but often it makes me worry about the challenges I expect she will have to face in life. Because I know some of her weaknesses and challenges so personally, I am determined to give her as many tools as I possibly can to help her face and overcome each and every one. I know without a doubt that the best tool I can possibly show her is a strong relationship with her Heavenly Father. To have her realize that she is His daughter. That He loves her more, and better than I ever will be able to. That He is always there for her, to strengthen, comfort, and guide her every step through life.
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Aug 16, 2013

things that need to be said about my sister

DSC_7706p Today is Marissa's Birthday! Marissa is my 'little' sister - we are 22 months 
apart. I sometimes feel bad for her for having me as her older sister. I haven't exactly always been the most amazing example when it comes to making good 
decisions. Then there's also the fact that we found out pretty early on that we 
are two very, very different people. Especially when we were teenagers we found we had different tastes, opinions, attitudes, tempers, and priorities. I think 
on the major issues in life we saw eye to eye, but we simply had incredibly different ways of going about things. I am convinced that on many levels her 
ways were the better ways, and so she became a role model to me in times
I should have probably been one to her. I actually wrote a poem about us 
once that I've never shown anyone, called "Day and Night". In it she is very 
clearly the day, and I am represented by the night.63451_4788981643435_1067786510_n
That said, I have so many fun and happy memories of growing up with Marissa! I remember so many times we would crawl into bed together despite having separate bedrooms, and talking/laughing/keeping each other company until we fell asleep. She would come and confide in me about boys (not many, mind you! I was the boy crazy one) and I loved hearing her stories and going over her questions with her. We would make music together - harmonizing, playing quatre-mains on the piano, performing pieces in church and (mostly) during family occasions. She is an incredibly talented musician and in my opinion never gives herself enough credit for it. I remember giving her makeovers and picking outfits for her. I was always so jealous of her gorgeous figure and beautiful long piano fingers!
When we were in South Carolina for a while, going to High School there, she was nothing short of my saving grace. I had such a rough time there and she was the only person I felt loved and accepted around. I know I made things extra hard on her during that time when she just wanted to experience new things and have me at her side, and I'll forever be sorry for that. But I am so grateful I had her then.
Then we grew up. I met Sander, and she instantly loved and accepted him as part of our family. Little by little we began to figure out that we were so much less different than we thought. That's when life decided to physically separate us, when we were finally coming together emotionally and spiritually. I got married and settled with Sander in The Hague, she went to school in Utah. I started having children, and she went on a mission. I had some more kids and became more rooted in our life in Holland, and she found love and settled, in the USA. We weren't around each other to see what kind of mothers we were, and be the support for each other I know we could have been had we been closer.
Despite that distance, or maybe thanks to that distance, we grew very close in heart. I came to miss my baby sister so very much. There were times when I felt so lonely and just wished and prayed that somehow I could have her around. There were times when I knew she was having difficult times and it frustrated me so much to know how much help and support I could be to her, but not be able to give it to her the way I wanted to. Then just over 1.5 years ago, we were finally brought together again, and that reunion has been such a tender and sweet one for me!
Marissa, our years apart have made me forget every single one of the things that make us different. I look at you now and see such a beautiful, strong woman. I am nothing but proud of you! You are my friend, as well as my sister. You are a truly fantastic mother to your children and I don't tell you often enough how much you teach me about motherhood. I can not even remember the last time we fought, and I know we'll be able to keep it that way. That makes so happy. I don't know if I can find the words needed to convey what you mean to me. Just know that I love you with all my heart, and I could never want for a better sister than you. Have a beautiful Birthday, you beautiful girl!
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