Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Two days before our trip to Washington, our first little get away as a couple, with grandma and grandpa taking care of our little boy for a weekend. and of course Joseph decided that now it was his turn to have a cold. So in between trying to get my cough down, get suits and dresses clean, I am trying to apply suction to a little nose attached to the most wriggly boy this side of the moon. Who is currently very unhappy with me for some reason. He wants to go outside to play, but it is way too cold to do so until the afternoon. So he is just a cranky little fellow today, his chin dripping with saliva and his nose running like a faucet. And I feel my heart tug at the idea of leaving him behind. Ahhh... motherhood. It's not for the faint of heart.

Friday, November 14, 2008


just in case you are wondering if I have dissapeared from blogland: a vicious headcold first grabbed my husband and now myself. I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Such a perfect day...

It's rare to realise in the moment how perfect and precious these moments are. Yesterday in the afternoon though, I could not help to notice what a perfect day I was having.
The sky was this magnificent deep blue without a cloud in sight. It was november. And I was sitting in a chair in the garden, in a thin cotton sweater looking at my son running around and enjoying himself to the hilt. He poked into leaves, crouched down thousands of times to pick up the most interesting things like acorns, leaves, little branches. He ran around like a little wild man and he enjoyed every single moment of it. Despite my urge to be at his side the whole time to keep him safe, I kept sitting in my chair, knitting and just keeping my eye on him to stop him from putting unsafe things in his mouth or falling into the pool.

I could hear the birds singing, I could see them playing a few feet away from me. I could hear acorns falling, I strongly believe tossed down by either birds or squirrels. The air was filled with the scent of fall and flowers at the same time. And I realised: this is one of those perfect moments. I wish I could have just halted time, but blogging about it is the next best thing.

The day itsself had been a wonderful one. My second night of uninterrupted sleep in two weeks, getting up early to have time to pray and time to work. Being able to greet my little man with a smile on my face instead of my grumpy morning mood. Two loads of laundery done and dried and the kitchen tidied. I felt like I had accomplished something. And now there was this wonderful interlude of blue skye, knitting and a wonderfully healthy, happy little boy running around as if someone had just handed him the keys to a new and enchanted kingdom.
Who would have thought that the weather would be beautiful enough mid november for just such a day.

When we came back in, Joseph was dirty, he had a red welt over his face from a branch and a thorn in his arm from the roses, but he hadn't even noticed, nor had I until I started cleaning him up. Most of all... he was exhilerated at all the freedom. My baby is becoming such a big boy.
And me... I had been running around all day in a long skirt, with my apron over it most of the time (our foremothers knew what they were doing in wearing one all day, I'm telling you!!) and I had enjoyed every moment of my housewifery!

Monday, November 10, 2008

back on track?

The last few weeks my new found schedule went to pieces. After a visit of friends and a stuborn cold that terrorized our household, it was back to sleeping whenever I could and things here fell by the wayside. I am not good at getting up at the same time with baby because I miss my quiet time in which I get a lot of things done. This blogpost for example. But also some prayertime and knitting time which helps me start the day on the right feet.
So today, I went back to getting up at 6.45. It wasn't easy since I probably only managed to fall asleep after midnight. I know it will be worth it during the rest of the day though. At least that is what I am telling myself now, and what I remember from a few weeks ago.
My plans for the day are simple: I will tend to Joseph first and foremost. I will work on a website, tidy the kitchen and make a simple schedule for the rest of the week: I need two days for website work. One desk day. One ironing day. And one writing day. That is the basic of it, aside from of course cleaning and cooking! And aside from the fact that tuesday is library day and thursday is museum day. Am I making sense?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Between wants and needs...

These last few weeks I have been thinking a lot about the difference between wants and needs. For some reason there are a lot of things that I see that I want or think I need. Most of them are easy to distinguish. I want one of those little pc easy thingies... the ones that are small and easy to carry and would make me independent from my husbands laptop when we are on the move and would be easy to carry my calender in etc. etc. I saw them at Target when I was there to shop for babyfood and was immediatley entranced. That however is easily identifiable as a want. I do not need it. I have a nice, working pc here at home, which is where I spend most of my time anyway. It would be handy to have, certainly, but it is a want.
Then there are the things that are mostly want and sort of a need. I want a handy steamcleaner for my wooden floors here. Joseph makes a mess every day, and I want something that makes it easy to clean up quickly after he has gone to bed each night. I have a big, bulky, loud floorcleaning machine that I simply do not have the umph to get out at night, never mind the fact that it is so loud it might wake him up again, which is definitely not a want. So... I would like one of those light and handy shark steamcleaning thingemies. Especially since having the swiffer mini vac has indeed worked very well for those small daily messes.
And then there is the breadmaking machine. My apologies to all my American friends but it is asbolutely impossible to buy a decent loaf of wholeweat bread here without paying an insane amount of money. The crusts are never crusty, they're chewy instead, and the whole bread can be squeezed like a sponge. *shudders* Do I need the breadmaking machine? Not really... since I absolutely do not have the time to bake bread the oldfashioned way though... we will have to do with the storebought bread like just about everyone else.
What I do need is a wintercoat. That is a necessity, or I will be freezing through the season. And one or two more winter basics, like a good sweater and maybe one more skirt or dress. But the winter hat I have my eyes set on... is that a necessity?

With the economy in shambles, it is good to stop and think about what you want and need. As long as the want does not become a deep longing in your heart, wanting material things is not harmful. But there is the trap of becoming obsessed, about feeling deprived when you can not have what you want. I am not deprived for having my breadmachine and I most certainly am not deprived without that cute little on the go computer thingy. Wanting something, even something material, is not a bad thing, as long as it does not become a priority in your life. It can inspire you to live more frugally to save up for something. It can teach you hard work to reach a goal. This kind of want is productive. It can spice life in affording you a little extra after you have waited for it and earned it. It is a positive force.
I used to keep a list of wants on my computer. If I wrote it down, it was 'on the list'.
I visited it every few months and found out that a lot of things I wanted I simply did not have a great desire for anymore. It is one of the reasons why people who teach budgetting and frugality tricks tell you to always go home and wait a day or two before making a purchase that is not strictly necessary. Quite often after even a short wait, you find that the burning desire is gone or diminished.
I am certain that, when I look back at my little list in a few more months, it will have boiled down to things that are really essential, and as a bonus by then I will also have saved up for them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My husband... the uber nerd

Why I love my husband. I can probably write a whole host of reasons why I love my husband, and I remember quite clearly the moment I tumbled completely in love with him: over a game of trivial persuit at my mothers house. Only a mind as quirky as my husband would be able not only to win the departemental election prediction pool.... but also to write an acceptance speech afterwards, worthy of any real political candidate. Without further ado, I give you this historic speech.

My fellow Americans (and appropriately credentialed resident aliens),

At times like these, one is humbled by the immense opportunities of this great land of ours. In no other country on this earth would our Founding Fathers have been able to design an electoral system so deliberately complicated as the one we enjoy today. Therefore, I can only be thankful to live in a country that allows us not only to create a challenging election pool, but would allow a mere news junkie like me to rise to the top of this group.

The last couple weeks of this campaign have been hard on all of us. In particular, I’d like to thank my wonderful wife Eva and my son Joseph for supporting me through countless hours of CNN political coverage and web surfing. Without their help, I never would have learned all of the trivial and useless information that made this day possible. I’d also like to thank my colleagues, especially John Gordanier, for suggesting many days ago that I should enter in to this Presidential contest. I’d also be remiss to leave out former Vice-President Al Gore, without whom I would not have access to the Internet and would otherwise have to spend time on more productive pursuits.

Finally, I must also extend a warm hand of thanks to Senators McCain and Obama. Their campaigns were hard-fought at times, but even as Election Day neared, they remained largely predictable. For that, we should all be grateful, no matter what our political preferences.

Now, we must look to the future. The challenges ahead of us are great, but I have faith that we can all put this quadrennial obsession that we call democracy behind us. With trust in our ability to focus on the present, I sincerely expect that we will be up to not discussing the next election until at least January of 2010.

May God bless us all, and may God continue to bless America.


And the new president is... Barack Obama

I guess I feel a stranger in blogland this morning. Because I do not know how to feel. First of all, there is the fact that, as an American resident, this election would influence my life, but since I am not a citizen, I can not vote.
What I like this morning is the fact that every conservative blog I have read (which aren't that many) have very gracious posts on them. Many are able to step past their dissapointment and see the historic significance of this event. I also see very little gloating from the people whose prefered candidate did win. Instead I see a warm, reconcilliatory tone, and an eye towards the future. Both responses inspire me with hope and faith that this choice was the one that had to be.

What makes me feel like a stranger though, is that I do not seem to fit in the category of the victors or the vanquished. I have kept silent during the campaigning period on politics and will rarely rear the topic here. It is not my... field or my expertise and I have more to say on the way to change the future through small daily actions than I have confidence in my voice when it comes to politics.
And yet.... I like Barack Obama. I think he has the potential to be a great president. While I appreciate McCain's service to his country... part of me wanted Barack Obama to win. And part of me did not want him to win. I like his positions on economy... I like his plans for healthcare. I don't mind government interference. I come from a country with a lot of it, and in my mind it works better. I never needed to have near heart failure after a doctors visit because of the bill, or think about where to buy a house based on the schooldistrict. All schools were accessible to me, and people would have laughed at the idea of starting to save for college when a baby is just born.

And yet... there is the one part of Obama's views that I have such great problems with. Some people call these 'his moral views'. I disagree. All of the above... healthcare, economy, education... are all part of someones moral view, and thus part of Obama's is in my opinion excellent.
It is however hard for me to give my wholehearted support to someone who believes that any person has the right to determine the humanity of another person. It always strikes me as even stranger for African Americans to support this idea, since they have been, quite literally, at the other end of the stick.

There is so much good president elect Obama can do. And I pray he will do it. I have confidence that he will be a good president, and I pray for him that he will focus on those things America needs right now: a brighter future for all our children, with decent healthcare, wonderful schools, oportunities and underneath it, a net to catch those that threaten to slip and fall.

Yesterday, when the news was anounced, I did not know what to feel. Joy on one hand, and doubt on the other. I look forward to having that doubt removed. I look forward to finding out later that this was indeed a historic moment. I felt regret also that I had not had part in this victory. If only that one fraction of Obama's views had been different, I would have been out in the streets campaigning for him. Did I win? Did I lose? I do not think I did either. It feels strange when history happens under your eyes, and you have no part in it, not because of indifference, but because you can not morally chose to step forward or backward, but are rooted in one spot.

Yet there is something comforting about being rooted. Presidents will come and go, history will change around us, and amidst it we will live our life, and make our own little choices every day, as important as that big vote of only 24 hours ago. What was I doing when Obama became president? I was knitting a scarf as a christmas present, a scarf that, ironically, I needed to unravel today, due to a little mistake in the beginning. It might be a good metafoor... history was knitted in those stitches, and yet unravelling them only gave me an oportunity to try again, to have a new start. I am a tree in the forest. My roots were far from here, but here they have been replanted. The wind of history is rustling my leaves, whispering it's message. But I am still here. Tomorrow I will need to make decisions again. Choices. Every new day calls for so many votes for or against, in my life as well as in Obama's. May both our choices each day be the right ones.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My one hundreth post: on history and change

Well, actually it is somewhat of a cheat. I had to delete a previous post to time it better, and realised that now, Joe the Plumber is not post number 100 on this blog. I really wanted something substantial or profound for this post, though in a way, maybe Joe the plumber is a better choice, more unexpected and real.

Still, this is post number 100 and I don't know what to blog about. Perhaps I should mention the historic elections that are taking place today, so that when I read back over this, in years to come, I can remember what everyone was talking about. But will this pos be special in a number of years? And will this election have been as historic as they say?

There is a funny thing about the word 'historic'. All it really means is that something is part of history, or if used in a different way, that something changes history. But every moment that you live or breath changes history. My decision this morning on what to eat changes history. The diaper I changed changes history. Every small decision, whether it is your choice of clothing, of food, of what to buy or what to do, is a part of the rich tapestry that will form your history.

During research, one of the greatest sources for Historians are not really the treaties that have been signe, even though those are the things that end up in museums. What tells us infinitely more about our ancestors are their diaries. We don't just want they did, but why. How they lived their life. One of my new favorite books of all times "No idle hands: the social history of American Knitting" takes us into the lives of women, from the first colonists to ninenteenseventies college girls. We look through diaries and letters and see lives filled with completely different activities. We understand more how great social changes came to be by the amount of time that needed to be spend on spinning and weaving, on knitting for the troops. We understand better how a woman was perceived differently as tasks that needed to be done with great skill by hand were replaced by machines
History is not just made in battles, it is made in the crumbs of the breakfast table this morning. In the conversations struck up in lines waiting outside the polls today just as much as in the votes that will be cast.

History is made in a smile that you send to a stranger, and the kiss that you give to your child. You never know if that smile will encourage someone on a bad day, will give him a laugh to look at life again, might make him into a more confident man, which leads him to find and ask a wonderful woman to be his wife, who gives him a wonderful child, that turns out to become the next president of the united states. And all just because you smiled. Well... maybe not just because of that, but still... the point is that we all make history. One breath at a time.