Sunday, December 30
i made myself a list of things that i wanted to get done during my days off in december. luckily they were all quite fun things, so it wasn't too hard to tick off the boxes.
i made an inventory of my clothes and i ironed and folded everything neatly (luckily i don't have that many clothes, but it still took quite some time) and made a pile to bring to charity. now it's clear that i really don't need anything else expect a few basics that i will hopefully find the time to shop for someday soon.
i also finished the photo album of little imps first year. i know too many stories of people who never got around to it and whose children are pretty much grown up by now. i am quite proud of the result and i love leafing through it.
and finally i ordered myself to buy books. i am so happy with these self-given presents. i guess i find it hard to spend money on myself. i know where it comes from (don't all these strange beliefs start somewhere in our youth...) but i have been trying for years to be easier on myself with this. well, these holidays were a step in the right direction.
Friday, December 28
what would the holidays be without a holiday novel? i prefer them fat and a bit girly and not too difficult, so this one is a winner. my second cecelia ahern and not the best one in my opinion (i also read the book of tomorrow). to be quite honest, i am not as gripped by this writer as i hoped i would be (what with the international bestseller status of her work), and i saw most things that happened in this novel coming from miles (or chapters) away. of course, that is not necessarily a bad thing, and i did enjoy this novel overall.
Tuesday, December 25
to be honest, christmas doesn't mean very much to me. it's always a bit tiring, with three days of family visits in a row. when i think of the christmas traditions that my parents made, i remember the walks that my mum took with me in the evenings to count "christmas stars": the decorations that people hang in front of their windows. those were cold and dark and cosy evenings that i remember with fondness. now i do feel the need to make our own end-of-the-year traditions. little imp will probably not remember much of it once he's a grown imp, but i want him to remember warmth and fun and love. and not just when he thinks of christmas. because what is it really but two days in december.
Friday, December 21
de avonden (translated as the evenings) by gerard reve is the perfect book to read in december. so i decided it was time for a re-read. the emptiness, bleakness and boredom of these last days of the year soon after the second world war are oppressive and tangible and timeless. the silent sadness is familiar. and somehow this book gives me a sense of comfort.
Monday, December 17
this is our first christmas tree in years. i never really cared for it, but these are the kinds of things that change once little imps have arrived i guess... i opted for a very little tree in a pot (so it can be moved to the garden and will not be thrown out like a useless thing in january - it always makes me sad to see beautiful half-dead trees on the pavement in the first weeks of the year) with minimalist decorations. it still feels like a weird thing to have a living tree with stuff in it inside the house, but it looks kind of cosy too. i'm sure i'll miss it when it's gone.
Sunday, December 16
not very much time for extended stretches of reading during these december days, but i did read a few wonderful books: first i re-read de aanslag, translated as the assault, by harry mulisch. i decided to read it again when i read about it in tolstoy and the purple chair. then i read vogel, by the young dutch writer enne koens. and finally i re-read joe speedboot, translated as joe speedboat, by tommy wieringa. if you only read one dutch book, this unique novel should be the one in my opinion.
and now i am waiting for my paycheck because this month i want to treat myself to a bunch of new books. and i am very much looking forward to picking them out.
Monday, December 10
last year, when my water broke at midnight on december nine, we thought i was going to give boyfriend the best birthday present ever, since his birthday is on december ten. but surprisingly enough, things went a little faster than that and little imp was born without any medical intervention (other than the firm commands of a stern midwife during the final hour - which was just what i needed at that point) less than twenty hours later. so, on his birthday today, boyfriend has been a father for a year and a day. a year and a day unlike any other and only the beginning of a new era. happy birthday boyfriend.
Sunday, December 9
one year with little imp. sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard. often we laugh, sometimes we cry. often we are amazed and sometimes we are worried. sometimes things are as we expected them to be and often (well, most of the time) they are not. every day we push our noses into his blonde hair and every day we read stories to him and sing songs for him and watch him play and listen to him babble and hold his little body. my sister-in-law once said that life with her daughter is like a party. that's what it is. a bit of a tiring party sometimes, but then again it's like a friend said: the best parties leave you with a somewhat heavy head the next morning.
a few days ago, little imp fell asleep in my arms after a busy day, and i sat holding him for a long time in the candle-lit bedroom. i remembered the first days and when i closed my eyes i was right there again, just as if he was born only weeks ago. what a magical year this has been. happy first birthday my little imp.
Tuesday, December 4
i remember waking up on the first of december last year and thinking: this is the month in which little imp will be born. december will now always be that month for me. but from this year on, december is also a crazy month (and a month for crafts, which i love). first there's sinterklaas, a dutch festive day celebrated with poems and presents. and now we're getting ready for little imp's birthday. here are twenty-six packets of raisins dressed up as green and blue birds, diligently made for the children at day care. and that's only the first week of this crazy month...
Saturday, December 1
Wednesday, November 28
i made a mistake when i bought this book: i thought the original was not written in english. so i ended up with a translation while i could have read the original american english version. which made me wonder at least once a page: is this a weirdly translated sentence or was the original like this as well? anyway, i got through it easily because the subject is so enchanting: reading a book a day for an entire year, imagine that... it only makes me want to read more and more. on her website, nina sankovitch gives some ideas to make it easier to read all day: read while vacuuming. or even better: read instead of vacuuming. well, my extra reading time must be taken from somewhere, so i guess the grey house might suffer a bit. i have decided it's worth it.
Sunday, November 25
hmmm... this one belongs in the category "one of the strangest books i've read". i did not like it and i only read it until the final page because i don't like to leave things unfinished. i can't even find a nice quote to end this blogpost with, since i think all the sentences are long and confusing and not aesthetically pleasing. oh well, there's always the next book...
Thursday, November 22
all new ones this time:
~ de traay shower gel honey & milk ~ sounds good and feels equally good.
~ dr. hauschka rose day cream ~ a basic, all natural and very nice day cream.
~ lush fresh farmacy ~ a solid skin cleanser that actually made my skin a bit dry. too bad because it is a lovely product.
~ biotherm aquasource eye perfection ~ this came for free with a moisturizer. it's ok, but i like my eye cream a bit richer (in an attempt to do something about those first lines showing...)
~ labello hydro care lip balm ~ supposedly, this brand only dries your lips out to make you use more and more. but it smells so nice...
~ dove original deodorant ~ i actually prefer more natural deodorants, but so far all the natural ones i've tried contain some unknown ingredient that my skin can't stand. or they don't do the job properly. so, for now i'm back with one that always works well. such a shame that it contains all those nasty ingredients.
Saturday, November 17
often enough, the grass looks greener when i take a peek through other people's windows. but there's another side to this as well. a few houses down from the place where everything looks perfect, there's a nice little house where a family with two very young children lives. as in the perfect house, their dinner table is positioned near the windows. but instead of candles at night and cosy pots of tea during the day, there is always - and i mean every single day - an enormous pile of laundry on the dinner table. so in my mind, these poor young parents are hanging and folding and ironing their laundry at all hours of the day and night. they don't get anything else done because there is just too much laundry in their lives.
this is what we do. we see an infinitesimal part of the picture and we think we know it all.
Thursday, November 15
on the afternoons i walk little imp home from day care, i always pass a house where a family with somewhat older children lives. everything is in impeccable order whenever i take a peek through their windows (i love taking peeks through people's windows). the kitchen table is positioned near the street. dinner time is nearing, the plates and cutlery are already neatly put down. two posh candles are invariably burning cosily in the centre of the table. the pans are steaming away on the stove in the fancy kitchen. and when we take a walk past this house during any other time of the day, there is a nice big pot of tea on that same table, always ready for anyone in the house who might fancy a cup.
how easy it is to just go by these appearances and presume everything is simply perfect. i find myself being caught in that trap time and time again.
Monday, November 12
one thing that i must confess to missing sometimes, is how i used to have hours and hours to myself that i could spend reading. as all mothers know, everything changes as soon as a little imp arrives, and the times of reading a hundred pages a day are over, but things are definitely improving. a book doesn't take several weeks to get through anymore, but i have to be inventive and use all the precious fifteen-minute-stretches i can find that don't have to be spent on more useful things. honestly, i am grateful for every page i can find time for and i love my reading as much as ever.
Thursday, November 8
a lovely and uplifting book by a wonderful mother whose style of parenting comes really close to the way i believe happy and confident children best be raised (and fullifilled and strong parents best be made).
the rewards are waiting for us if we follow our intuition.
mayim bialik ~ beyond the sling
Monday, November 5
of course the autumn holidays begged for another not-so-intelligent book to while away the lovely lazy hours with. i simply chose the next shopaholic-book for this. it did its work well for almost 500 pages. now the book is finished, the autumn holidays seem forever ago and i'm ready for the harder stuff again.
Friday, November 2
Friday, October 26
at long last, the autumn holidays arrived. we decided to pack the trunk of our trashy car again, and to travel south again for a few days with our little imp. a little further south this time, in hopes of a little more sunshine and new little adventures. we were so lucky: after weeks of seemingly endless downpour, we now had three days of beautiful autumn weather surrounded by hills and forests and fields. we took walks in short sleeves, we were lazy and we watched little imp grow and learn and be happy.
Sunday, October 21
Saturday, October 20
Monday, October 15
one of the things that i am finding time for again: making meals for little imp. now i know i am a bit obsessive about this, but i'm also proud to be able to say that little imp has never eaten baby food from a store-bought jar in his little life. then again, i love cooking meals for him, and feels good to stock the fridge with these cute containers. even more so now that i don't have to do it in a hurry.
Saturday, October 13
such a luxury. boyfriend and little imp are off to the saturday market, and i emerge from the bathroom half an hour later with an utterly rosy, peachy, glowing, well-rested complexion. or that's what i'd like to believe.
oh well, at least it's lovely to have a face mask every week or so again. it's the small things that make me happy.
Tuesday, October 9
let's wrap up in warmer clothes. for it seems autumn has really come, dreary and wet as usual. i do not really mind it though, as long as i'm not nearly drowned in torrential rains a few times a day (which does happen quite regularly now). days like today are the best: sunny and cold and with the ground full of dried leaves. reminds me of our autumn holiday in france two years back. on the other hand, few things are cozier than falling asleep at night to the sound of rain (which also does happen quite a lot now).
Monday, October 8
~ rituals zensation organic rice milk & cherry blossom foaming shower gel sensation ~ a bit of a long name (i always find that sort of off-putting and useless) but other than that this is a lovely shower foam. a christmas present that i saved for months because i knew it would be something to look forward to.
~ priorin hair growth supplement ~ my second batch of this. new hairs are still coming along nicely. i haven't bought a third box though, simply because it is so expensive.
~ rituals hammam olive secret shower paste ~ someone read my wish for a big tube of this. i enjoyed it thoroughly. thank you boyfriend ♥
~ biotherm aquasource moisturizer ~ what can i say... still a favourite.
~ biotherm skinergetic signs of fatigue repairing concentrate ~ a biotherm serum i hadn't tried before. perhaps not quite as nice as the skin vivo serum. also, you have to perform a weird magic trick i do not believe in: add a powder to the liquid before the first use to activate the whole thing. and then finish it within three months. which is a short period for such a big bottle.
~ dr. hauschka lip balm ~ this is probably one of the most expensive lip balms i've ever tried. i was curious to see if it would work any better than regular lip balms. i guess it does, but not so much as to warrant the high price.
Friday, October 5
having a child gives me more strength, yet at the same time it makes me feel more vulnerable. it was already like that when he was in the womb. i am always on the alert to fight for him and for his needs. but sometimes his total dependence and more-than-average sensitivity strike me hard, making me wonder if i have it in me to raise him well and happy and strong. after all, i am only a girl (isn't it crazy that i still see myself as such) with insecurities and questions and worries galore. another mother told me that your worries grow as your child grows. i'm up for something then.
Thursday, October 4
little imp started sleeping through the night (eleven hours in a row quite easily) around four months old. quite a good track record for a breastfed baby. the day i went back to work though, he started waking up again two or even three times every single night. now i would definitely miss nighttime feeding if it stopped, but sometimes i do wish for it to be over. in the meantime, i have this wise and useful book to hold on to.
Monday, October 1
so here i am with my cup of tea and celebratory muffin with pink icing (and my new socks). feeling fidgety, restless. how used i now am to just going on and on and on. i have to un-learn it. i have to remember how to do nothing again. that will be the first thing i have to do. that and resisting the urge to check my work mail when it is not my work day. the world won't fall to pieces with me not behind my desk.
Friday, September 28
so, obviously, things had to change. as of october, i am cutting my work hours for the foreseeable future. the calm that has come over me with only the thought of it is incredible. but what i love even more is the way in which it already makes room in my head for the little things that i love so much. being creative. pottering about. how i am looking forward to my mondays. let's hope this was the final blog post with this title.
Thursday, September 27
being a mother. a good, sensible, funny mother at that. being a colleague. a hard-working colleague who gets everything done in time and with a smile on her face. being a girlfriend. with everything that entails. being a family member and friend, making sure we all get to see each other often enough and have a valuable time when we do. doing the shopping, keeping the house clean, making appointments for whatnot. getting enough sleep, reading a book every now and then. sometimes i can hardly find the time to take a shower, let alone do all those other things right.
i should weed the garden and water the plants. my nails need clipping, little imp's nails need clipping. i have to sterilize the bottles and i should have bought bread. there's laundry to be folded and i have to find little imp a new sleeping bag. and i need to pee.
Tuesday, September 25
the results of two months of working too hard:
a guilty mother
a happy boss (presumably)
a messy house
an empty feeling in a place inside of which i do not know the name
note to self: do not do this again.
Thursday, September 20
it might sound silly, but this is what made me happy today: little imp and i took a walk through town and i managed to buy four things i needed for under five euros total (not in the store that is pictured by the way, i just looked around gaping in amazement at all the stuff when i was there): a rain cover for the stroller, a bottle brush, dental floss and hand cream (really nice hand cream actually). i might have been slightly influenced by the episodes of extreme couponing that i have been watching online during pumping: the amounts of money people manage to save are unbelievable. well, it took some time and some searching, but it was much fun. and it took my mind off work.
Sunday, September 16
i'm reading this book about attachment parenting (pretty much one page at a time). some of it makes sense to me, some of it keeps me slightly awake at night from wondering which is the right thing to do, some of it amazes me in all kinds of ways and some of it i do not agree with at all.
well, the one thing it definitely does: it makes me think about the way in which i want to parent. which is always good.
Thursday, September 13
i'm still in that great postpartum hair loss stage. so i'm trying out hair stuff among other things...
~ andrélon dry shampoo volumising ~ regardless of the fact that it worked quite well, i seriously suspect this spray can of setting off the smoke alarm at three in the morning. so when i found it suddenly empty the next morning and connected the dots, i switched back to good old talcum powder. one thing (well, one little person that is) interrupting my sleep is enough for me.
~ priorin hair growth supplement ~ the hair loss itself has not really diminished yet, but i do notice quite a lot of new small hairs. so i dug into my wallet for a second box of this...
~ l'oréal elvive volume collagen shampoo ~ fine, but nothing special.
~ andrélon care & repair hair mask ~ this was good, it made my hair soft. but mostly, the idea of doing something extra for myself was what made it nice to use this.
~ weleda almond oil ~ i have talked about this one before, it is so easy and gentle for removing make up.
~ hema strawberry soufflé cream scrubgel mask ~ quite a long name for a simple face mask, but i really liked this one. made my skin look rosy and healthy.
Sunday, September 9
the ninth day of the ninth month of this year. little imp is nine months old today.
the female body is said to need nine months to fully recover from pregnancy and labour. and although part of my body still belongs unequivocally to little imp in my mind, i found the physical recovery to go quite fast. my body doesn't look altogether like it did pre-pregnancy, and perhaps it never will again, but i am surprised by how much i don't mind. so my belly is a bit flabby. because it was home to a baby. isn't that the best reason for some not-so-toned body parts and a belly button that doesn't look like it used to?
in this picture, little imp is barely four hours old. i remember looking and looking at him in amazement (and a strange kind of exhaustion), and wondering about basically everything, and surprisingly i also remember how both his and my body felt so familiar and all as they should be, right from the very beginning.
Thursday, September 6
yes, i'm still here. but i don't have time for anything except a quick few words. little imp and work, that is what life looks like still. and sometimes even in reverse order, which makes me feel terrible and guilty. and surprised, because i never thought i would let it come to that. time to change things.
Sunday, September 2
they are called mint tea mothers: a newly coined phrase for women with children at day care and without jobs. i'm sure they have heavenly amounts of time to spend just as they please. they are despised by working mothers and stay-at-home mothers alike. while the working mothers are frowned upon by the stay-at-home mothers and vice versa.
basically though, we all do the same. we try to raise well-attached and blooming children to the best of our abilities. it's the hardest and the best job on earth (as we are always so romantically told). why make it even harder by wasting our energy on all this judging and condemning. does it ultimately make any one feel any better?
Saturday, August 25
so. work is taking up too much of my time these days. and it will continue to do so for the next weeks. as a result, i am mopping the living room floor at eight on a saturday morning. i would rather be doing something else but with a little imp enthusiastically rolling all over the floor one has to keep up some standard of hygiene. i nurse him to sleep and get back to the office. i let whoever is at home with him call me at work as soon as he wakes up from his naps because i do not want him to be without me during all my extra hours. balancing things out takes up my energy. there's not enough time left for boyfriend, for housework, for grocery shopping, for friends, for books, for family, for being lazy, for anything else. i know it has to be different. at the end of every day, i want to look back to love what i have done and the way i have done it. whereas now, i'm just happy i have made it through.
Friday, August 24
after a workweek of almost fourty hours, it is now time for some nice and futile stuff: a few pregnancy remnants and a few more lush products.
~ lush the olive branch shower gel ~ i got this for myself as a christmas present. still a shame of the watery texture, but so comforting and luxurious.
~ weleda pregnancy oil ~ i finished two of these bottles during and after my pregnancy. gentle and all natural.
~ palmer's body lotion anti-stretch marks ~ also finished two of these giants during and after my pregnancy. good stuff.
~ lush ocean salt face scrub ~ ouch, this hurts! it contains big, sharp-edged chunks of sea salt. despite the lovely summertime-cocktail-on-the-beach-scent, this was not a winner.
~ lush maple taffy lip balm ~ i think this was a special holiday edition. sweet-scented and extremely durable, as all lush lip balms are.
~ weleda baby belly oil ~ initially used for little imp's achy colicky tummy, and then finished by me as a body oil once he grew out of the colic (thank heavens).
Thursday, August 16
Tuesday, August 14
being a mother. sometimes it makes me stop to take a look at myself in the bathroom mirror. who am i again? before i was somebody's mother, i was so many different persons. and now my life is wrapped around the little person to whom i gave life. i became his mother one cold friday evening in december in a room full of bright lights and women who had seen many girls before me turn into mothers in that unforgettable instant of pain and effort and all that's indescribable. the moment he left my body and became a person all his own, i was not the most important person in my life any more. that is who i am. it is not all i am, but without it i would be nothing now.
Sunday, August 12
nail polish, nail polish remover and breastfeeding are not a good combination (courtesy of the nasty ingredients that eventually make it into the milk). so i gave up polishing my nails. but i still miss it. and then i stumbled upon this: nail polish and remover without the bad stuff. i paid a small fortune but it makes me happy. so i decided it was worth it.
Thursday, August 9
this little snail took half the day to cross our garden, and it's not even a big garden. then i decided to take a day to do everything a bit slower. sort of an experiment. i guess it's called mindfulness and i think it suits me well. although it primarily made me realise how tired i feel...
Sunday, August 5
my summer holidays are over, and i finished this wonderfully funny, easy and perhaps not totally worthy of the label literary novel at the end of it. it will always be linked in my mind to scorching hot days in a garden surrounded by pastures with lazy cows, and me stealing minutes during little imp's naps to read just a few more pages. now it's pouring with rain again, i am bracing myself for a ridiculously busy time at work, and little imp can have his way with my lovely holiday novel and eat it.
Friday, August 3
i am very skilled in travelling light: i can carry all i need for a good three weeks in one backpack that is still tolerably carriable all day long. but now that i did not have to travel light, i seized the opportunity. such a luxury to be able to bring everything you may want to use when you are not used to packing that way. we just shoved it all into the huge trunk of our fabulously trashy car. it resulted in a bathroom drawer full of nice stuff. and no, i did not use it all. not by far. but who cares.
Wednesday, August 1
when i write a poem about a place where i am staying, i sometimes copy it on a small piece of paper and hide it somewhere where people may or may not find it. who knows who may read this one unexpectedly some day.
the - quite literal - translation of the poem pictured:
my tender son of seven months
we travelled to the south
the saturday evening bells were chiming
over the donkeys and the apple trees
you cried for your own bed
you wanted everything just like home
we picked summer flowers
we showed you the poppies, the sparrows, the blackbirds
we carried you through the singing fields
you sighed yourself to sleep on my breast
Friday, July 27
cows and donkeys in the fields outside our window
apple orchards with farmers greeting us like an old friend
smalltalk with the owners of the only village shop (the village school still teaches sixty children)
picking summer flowers in the sloping fields
my child gazing, gazing at everything new with big and serious eyes
taking pictures of the wayside holy crosses at all the crossroads that we pass
baby babble from six in the morning, afternoon naps to take us through the rest of the day, and stargazing at night
walks in the blazing sun through fields of gold and with a beer in the pubs that we happen to pass
attempting our french buying cheese and fruit and macaroons at the belgian sunday morning market
walking, more walking through the sunny fields, growing freckles, eating cherries, marveling at the foreign beauty of this our country
Thursday, July 26
boyfriend and i like our holidays to be adventurous. and most of all, we like to walk a lot. what's more, we like to walk all day and for many days in a row, rain or shine. to sleep in a different bed each night and have breakfast under a different roof (or under a different sky) every morning. we only bring the bare necessities and off we go.
except for the same early mornings, things were altogether different this summer. we packed lots and lots of stuff, and we drove down to the south of our little country with our equally little imp. we stayed in the same place all week, did bitesize pieces of walking through the most beautiful countryside every single day and that was pretty much it. and it was lovely and wonderful and a time to remember for ever.
Wednesday, July 18
places like these make me feel alive. they make me understand mysteries that i normally struggle to unravel. they give me the energy and the effortless time to take better care of myself and my whirlwinds of thoughts. it even pays off to sit down for a minute and look at the pictures. to simply remember and feel what it is like. but then the questions come too. it seems to be how life goes. an endless array of answers and questions. difficult and beautiful.