Saturday, February 28, 2015

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (89)

Ten Things of Thankful

I'm writing this post from my new laptop!!  Big thankful right there for hubby to spoil the heck out of me and buying me a new laptop as my old one quite annoying, freezing up for longer periods of times after about 15 minutes of using it. Very happy with my new HP!!

More thankfuls for this week:

1. A great last week of maternity leave. I got an extra hour of sleep in the mornings after Calvin decided that the perfect time to start the day is between 5:30 and 6:00, because my wonderful hubby volunteered to get up with him every single day!!

2. Making progress with Calvin's bedtime routine. We try to teach him to fall asleep without nursing, so today, after his nighttime nursing, I held him and rocked him to sleep. He's been asleep ever since, despite coughing up a storm, poor baby!

3. A wonderful doctor who rather considers all natural and little-invasive options first before prescribing the hard stuff. Right now, so many doctors are all-too.happy to prescribe antibiotics for about everything. So far, Violet has only gotten them once after everything else has failed, and they worked perfectly. Now, Calvin is again on natural remedies for yet another of his upper respiratory infections, and we hope that they will also work this time around. Hurts me listening to the poor baby cough over the babyphone, and definitely need some nighttime sleep myself again soon!

4. Chocolate cake! Delicious, delicious chocolate cake!

5. Lily having friends. Starting elementary school, I was a pretty lonely kid for the longest time, with books being my only friends.  Even though Lily loves her books and I physically have to draw her nose out of them at times, she also has a lot of friends she spends time with, visits, argues and reconciles with. This week, she was gone 3 out of the 5 afternoons while still being on top of her school work and reading books as if her life depended on it!

6. Free library passes for the girls. Our local library hands out free library passes for everyone under 18, which is an awesome way to ensure that the kids of low-income families also have access to books, educational games, CDs, etc.  And both girls are very proud of their very own library passes (I found that my own had expired when we tried getting books for the girls, since I usually use my work's library).

7. Morning walks to kindergarten with Violet and Calvin. The mornings are still quite brisk here, so the grass is frosted and the puddles covered with a layer of ice, which is the highlight of Violet's day at that point. By pick-up time, the ice is usually gone, so no more stomping on ice puddles for her then.

8. Rediscovering the local farmer's market. I bought veggies there twice this week, and it's so nice to buy there instead of the grocery store. Meeting the people who actually grow the food and are able to answer questions about the fruits and veggies they sell, bringing paper bags of loose food home versus shrink-wrapped packages, etc.

9. Our wonderful, silly D&D group. We may not be together as we are now for all too much longer, as a couple from our round may have to leave the country in the next months, but in the meantime, we enjoy being together, killing stuff, singing songs, eating and drinking together, and everything else around the greatest game ever!

10. Time outs for adults. Today, I really needed my 10 minutes, and I was thankful I had a place to retreat, calm myself, consider, and come out again in a much, much calmer mood, ready to face the rest of the day.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!  Consider your thankfuls, as they are not for granted!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Being Strong

What does it take to be a strong woman? I've been meditating and pondering on this question for about 6 weeks now, and I think my initial opinion has changed quite a bit.

First, I considered a strong woman as someone who is independent, educated, successful in the career she loves, and follows her dreams unconditionally. 

I was forming the posts on my head, when I started to wonder: why do I define being a "strong" woman so narrowly? There are so many different women, with different backgrounds, different dreams, different abilities, and different situations. Why would a stay-at-home-mom not be a strong woman, just because she wants to be home or the situation won't let her work for the time being? What role does education play in being strong? Many women all over the world raise their families or lead their lives with no or next to no education, and they are still the strongest women out there.

So what IS a strong woman?  It is a woman who takes over responsibility for her lives and the lives of those who are dependent on her. She is a partner to her husband of wife, not a subordinate. She accepts her situation and makes the best of it, works hard towards changing what she doesn't like and to preserves the good things in her lives. She loves unconditional, fights fiercely, forgives often but only sometimes forgets. She learns from her mistakes, and learns to laugh about them in hindsight. She focuses on the good, not the bad. And she never stops dreaming.

This post was written as part of the Strong & Influencial Sisterhood project.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (88)

Ten Things of Thankful

It's a "Schnapszahl"-TToT this week (look this up, German is so much fun!!), and it's not my first post of the week, thanks to a number of wonderful women thinking up the amazing project of 1000 Voices speaking for Compassion. Such an outpour of emotion is truly something that will be remembered for a while!

Besides the #1000 Voices on Friday, here are this week's ten thankfuls:

1. Being home for Lily's winter break. Once the spring break will roll around, I'll be back at work for 15 hours per week, still have plenty of time to spend with the kids, but it will be different. I am really thankful for the time I got to spend with my family these last 8 months, which was a unique opportunity and has opened doors we didn't even know existed for our family.

2. A game of musical "Go Fish" with Lily on Monday morning, while Calvin was napping and Violet was in kindergarten. After starting just normal, we started singing at each other more and more, until we were only singing to each other, to the tune of "If you're happy and you know it...". So much fun!!

3. Spending some quality time with Violet, doing hair. She's definitely my little princess, and loves to get her hair combed and styled. Even though I love when she cuts her hair to this adorable bob she used to have, I also can't wait for her hair to be long enough to try out even more styles!

4. Looking at our baby, sleeping peacefully, when I go to bed at night. I enjoy those short moments every night, in between me going to bed and Richard finishing brushing his teeth. In no time, our little boy will be all grown up. I can't believe he's 6 months old already, halfway to toddlerhood, rolling all over the place; therefore these moments are so very much treasured in my heart.

5. A glimpse of spring. Even though I would prefer some more winter-wonderland, taking the kids out to the playground to enjoy the balmy air was fun. The girls were plaing with other kids and Calvin was sitting in the swing all by himself for the first time.

6. D&D Friday night. It's been so silly, when the bard came up with singing a song of endless praise to the minotaurs, with the warlock as harmony and the barbarian and fighter as background dancers. Obviously, it freaked out the minotaur and his gnolls enough to just let us pass the road. One of the easiest fights ever  :-)

7. Another one of my friends moving to our town. She's going to have her third baby in September and I am looking forward so much spending more time with her and her family!

8. Dark, dark chocolate and hot chocolate with a cream hat.

9. An outing with all three kids to IKEA. We got some odds and ends and we enjoyed a yummie lunch together. I was doing outings like that every once in a while with the girls before Calvin was born, and I didn't think I could take this tradition back up so quickly!

10. Backrubs from my Lily. She's such a doll, sneaking up behind me and rubbing my back, because she thinks that I deserve it. I don't think so, but she's such a sweetheart!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, February 20, 2015

One Of 1000 Voices For Compassion

Love and Compassion are Necessities, not Luxuries. Without them, Humanity cannot survive.
The Dalai Lama 

At the moment, writing doesn't come easy to me. I feel like all I can do is going through the motions in order to keep up with the schedules of a first-grader, a kindergardener, and a baby. Add teething, some level of anxiety about going back to work in a little over a week, and a serious case of sleep-deprivation, and voilá, welcome to my world.
But this is not about me, this is about everyone out there. While I'm indulging in my personal life, sitting on my comfy couch with our healthy children, sleep in my warm bed with the only noises being my snoring husband and cranky baby, trying to figure out what to make for dinner to make everyone happy, there are so many more for whom my life is a dream, or a distant memory, of a life in safety, of a life with all necessities being met, of a life of listening to their children laughing and playing.

Right now, as refugees from all these places in the world where atrocities are committed against these people, they are not welcomed with open arms everywhere. These people, who had to live through and survived more then most of us can imagine are met in initial processing quarters that are unimaginable; sometimes so unimaginable that people rather go back to where they came from. Once they made it through the processing, which can take up to 3 months, they are distributed on to communities that are unprepared and unequipped to lodge hundreds or thousands of people.  They are brought to places where they have to remain behind high fences topped with barbed wire, just to keep them safe from the mob outside, who doesn't want any of "these people" near their homes. They see facilities with horrible graffitis or burned-out houses that were meant to house them before a mob decided that the house should rather be burned down than house refugees. There are demonstrations with protesters claiming to protect the Christian West from the terrorists that are coming in waves to this beautiful country to corrupt it with their own culture.

But in this entirely hopeless situation, there are still bright beacons of compassion. A large, family-owned company providing - at their own cost and expense - an empty warehouse and equipping it with room dividers, bunk beds, and bathroom facilities within hours of hearing the news that a few hundred of refugees are headed towards a completely unprepared community.  People are coming together to collect necessary provisions for the refugees, provide medical and language services, and toys for the little ones. They organize language classes for the adults and make-shift school for the children. And they come together to outnumber protesters 10 to 1 at their so-called Monday demonstrations, which, in and of themselves, are perversions without compare.

These individual small and large acts of compassion are what makes this world a better place. A place I want to leave for our children. A while ago, Lily asked me why people in this world were starving while there is so much food in our supermarkets. I told her that there aren't stores like that everywhere in the world, and that in some places, there's no food growing, there was war, and no food available in the stores that still remained, if there were any to begin with. She wondered, with the compassion of a child, why we in the rich countries did not simply share our food with the people in the poor countries to ensure that everyone had food. It was hard for me to explain to her why it wasn't this easy, even though it could be, but I also encouraged her to grow up, to keep her compassion, and to be a change every step on the way. I am thankful to have compassionate children who do their little part to be a change as they can. And I am thankful that they let me learn from them every day to be a more compassionate person myself.

Compassion Logo

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (87)

Ten Things of Thankful

I have a valid excuse for having been absent all week - yet again. It's been a busy week, and I can't believe how lucky I am having the hubby I have who supports and loves me even if I'm a stressed-out, sleep-deprived, nagging zombie who doesn't do laundry and - according to him - kicks him out of the bed at night.

More thankfuls for this week:

1. Completing a big project without hubby filing for divorce while I'm buried over my head in the topic of options trade.

2. Lily bringing home a wonderful first report card. I am so proud of our girl!

3. Two of my favorite things (coffee and red wine) combined: South African Coffee Pinotage. Who ever was the genius who put this wonderful wine into smoked oak barrels: THANK YOU!!

4. Calvin sleeping better. Even though my nights were late nights, at least I got some good sleep 5 out of 7 nights (let's not talk about the other two!)

5. A wonderful lunch with my friend. Hint: if you can, get yourself an Indian friend. All of her cooking is just so out of this world delicious!

6. My new diaper bag. I would have never spent that much money on a diaper bag, but was lucky enough to be chosen as a product tester. I love everything about this bag!!

7. Cuddles in the couch with the kids. As most of us feel under the weather due to lack of sleep and/or being sick, snuggling up under a bunch of blankets in the couch, watching Tom and Jerry cartoons just cannot be beat!

8. The fact that hubby and I are on one page about boycotting Valentine's Day. We don't need to spend money to show each other our love. It's the small things every single day, from a small box of chocolates under my pillow to a book I find in the book store for him. From him letting me sleep another hour after a bad night to me making him coffee.  To us, every day is Valentine's!

9. A great afternoon with my sister, her family, our parents and some of her friends celebrating my niece's birthday.

10. All the encouraging comments regarding my somewhat leave of absence. I will get back in the flow eventually, I promise!

Have a wonderful new week, everyone!!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (86)

Ten Things of Thankful

Even though I'm not much around these days, I still wouldn't want to miss my end-of-the-week meditation on all the wonderful things in my life during the previous 7 days. It's become a ritual in my life, and I'd miss it; reflecting about all the good things in our lives is something that more people should do in order to not only improve their lives but also help create a better world. So, at this point, a big fat THANK YOU to the wonderful Lizzi for creating this wonderful place of thankfulness on the internets!

This week's ten thankfuls:

1. Getting to celebrate 7 years of mommyhood, aka Happy 7th Birthday to our big girl, Lily!!  It was a wild ride with challenges, lots of locking heads, even more love, cuddles, and the proudest moments I could imagine. I love you so much, my big girl!

2. Getting to take my mom to be pampered. She told me that she had Thursday off and needed a hair cut BADLY but didn't want her usual hairdressers to try their luck again, so I took her to mine that I'm quite happy with. We had a great time in town and later at home.

3. My appointment with my physical therapist. There's just no words that describe having your back fat be torn off your vertebrae to prepare your back for the proper exercises. Maybe OUCH!!!!!! gets close. But I'm already feeling the benefits of the treatment, once the pain had subsided.

4. Watching children's shows from my childhood with the girls, with Lily's head cuddled up on my shoulder and a large cup of cappuccino in my hand.

5. Wide, toothless baby smiles.

6. Spontaneous, last-minute inspirations to a scavanger hunt that Lily wanted so badly for her birthday party.

7. Surviving said birthday party with 10 girls between the ages of 4 and 7. 'Nuff said.

8. Hubbie taking over first shift of getting up with Calvin both days this weekend! Got to sleep in as late as 7 am; yay me  :-)

9.Lily making 3rd place in their school's reading competition. So proud of her!!!

10. Feedback from the intervention between Lily and her friend last week: The other mom told me this week that Lily's friend told her that she thinks I'm nice. Mission of reconciling the girls without drama accomplished big time!!

Have a great new week, everyone!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Missing On The Blogosphere

I don't know if my absence has been noted, but I've been spending much less time on here at the moment than usual. Because I'm plain and simply exhausted. By the time Calvin is going to sleep, I'm barely able to form a proper thought. My back and neck hurt, there's laundry to fold, papers to sort, cupcakes to bake, costumes to saw, and then there's still this guy called hubby.  I simply need more time in my day, and especially my night!

So, what am I currently up to when I'm not whining:

I'm currently...

... reading:  Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

... trying: To move in a way that is not painful. Trying to get back into shape plus the first sessions with my physiotherapist turn me into a big old pile of Ouch.

...  anticipating: Bedtime.

... buying: Last groceries and accessories for Lily's birthday party on Saturday.

... lusting for: Hot spiced wine, a hot shower and a warm, cozy bed.

... listening to: HIM, the classic radio station in the car, the girls' CDs.

... watching: Rizzoli & Isles (I know, guilty pleasure).

... devouring: Pretzle sticks, dried plums, hot cereal.

... waking up: Whenever Calvin does.

... feeling: Tired, exhausted, drained, but still thankful to have the life I have that makes me tired, exhausted, and drained.

Hoping for a proper night's sleep, and tons of cuddles with the little stinky boy!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (85)

Ten Things of Thankful

A lot of things are going through my head right now. Today is the first day of my last month of full maternity leave. These past seven months have past so quickly, and most things I had planned didn't happen due to life happening at full force. On the one hand, I am happy to return to work, but then again I am sad to miss time with my aby, even though I only work 15 hours per week for the next few months. And of course, on this eve of Imbolc, I am remembering the first of Feburary of 2008, which I spent quite miserable in my second day of labor, which ends with the birth of our wonderful oldest daughter on the day of the Celtic goddess Bridget (I've recently learned that piece of information from a friend of mine, and knowing Lily, it is indeed a lucky coincidence!). This past week was busy with preparations over preparations of carnival, which happened Saturday afternoon and left two little girls excited and happy (and even somewhat sleeping in on Sunday).

Despite the stress, there were many things this week to be thankful for:

1.My mom coming over and staying overnight to watch the girls while Calvin and I went to see hubby's concert. it was wonderful, and he aced all his solos. So absolutely proud of my wonderful and talented husband!!

2. Having dinner out with a colleague of mine from Portugal and, of course, Calvin on Tuesday evening. It was so much fun, the food (Arabic) was delicious, Calvin absolutely adorable, and the conversation wonderful.

3. Getting a somewhat decent night of sleep once or twice this week, and on the others not having to go to work and sneak in naps instead.

4. Awesome parents in Lily's class. Kids tend to be best friends today and can't stand each other the next. Lily had some issues with a friend of hers; luckily, we met her and her Mom on the way home from school the other day, and we had the girls talk. No involvement from the adults, just the girls telling each other what they didn't like about their friendship at the moment, and then finding solutions together. The encounter ended with two happy girls hugging each other!  Mission accomplished!

5. Lily not getting seriously injured. She fell during outside recess in school and she came home with a huge bruise on her cheek and half of her face being swollen, poor girl. It's better now, even though the bruise is still visible.

6. The kids' carnival party being over. Somehow, I dread this day all year long. I hate basically everything about carnival, most of all the very special (?) music and the noise.  Done for another year..

7. Ending the carnival day with having two of my colleagues from Protugal (see no. 2) and Morocco over for dinner. The food was delicious and the conversation even better. Hoping for a repeat next year!

8. A shopping trip with my mom. It was frustrating as usual, because she has big troubles finding clothes that fit her properly, but absolutely fun!

9. Those unexpected moments with Calvin. I was so stressed this evening getting last details done to prepare for Lily's birthday tomorrow, and then he fusses again in bed. When I went to check on him, he was happily smiling at me is little sunshine smile, holding my finger and chewing on it as he was falling back to sleep. As his eyes were falling shut, he opened them a few times to give me some more of his smiles. I certainly live for moments like those!

10. Quiet mornings drinking hot chocolate with the girls while Calvin plays happily on his play blanket. Already lookign forward to the time when he's drinkin ghot chocolate with us!

What are you thankful for this week?