Thursday, May 28, 2009


At the beginning of may, I jumped back into blogging after a short hiatus. Life had just become too busy to spend time updating my blog. It had also become too busy for many things that are much more important.

March and April were insanely busy. (note to self: when you agree to do something, don't just look if you are free on that day, look at what the week or the month looks like!). In those two months I got completely off track with all my housekeeping, personal care and other routines. We were sleeping too late, not praying enough, staying up too late, spending too much time in front of the tv in the evening. And as a result I was tired and grouchy. Not good. The consequences of all this spilled over well into May until I actually started looking around and paying attention.
The last week we are slowly getting back on track. We are getting up a bit earlier (around 7 am), eating out less and cooking more from scratch. Much more healthy and definitely necessary since I also put on a few unwanted pounds during these three months. I started being more conscious of what I did when packing my husbands lunch and to mine as well, in contrast to the 'grab whatever we have frozen' routine of the last months. Now I just need to get on the tredmill!

Unfortunately, while I have been getting up earlier, Joseph has been doing the same these last three days, and that means I still do not have my morning quiet time to pray, sit and stare, and do some food prep or laundry as well as just get ready and dressed for the day. Not having that morning time is making me a bit grouchy, so as a treat we went for a first visit to an indoor playground. It was absolutely wonderful.
After driving home, Joseph was very tired and went down for his nap around 1 pm. Since I've put chili in the crockpot this morning (Yes! Mealplanning is also getting back on track!) I now have some downtime. Plans for today: start reading one book for my retreat next week. Get some knitting done on a prayer shawl for a friend. One or two loads of laundery and tidying up the kitchen. I am feeling SO much better.

have a blessed day!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Raising a bilingual child

From before he was born, my husband and I decided to raise Joseph bilingual. I speak Dutch to him, my husband English (and sometimes Dutch as well). I read to him in Dutch and English, as does my husband. (the childrens books are actually just the right level of Dutch for him at the moment.) I think that I should probably stick to Dutch books and my husband to English but... I am so happy with Joseph's interest in reading that it is hard to resist when he enthousiastically drags an English book out of the basket and tries to settle into my lap with it. Even if it is the fourth time I have read "If you give a mouse a cookie" that day.

Joseph is very bright, but as is natural for bilingual children he has a slight language delay (which normally straightens out by age three or four). He is twenty months old and has an extensive enough, but not extra ordinary vocabulary (fifty to seventy words). He favors monosylabic words though. Ah.. for apple. "Wah" for walk. He has no problem with repetitives sylables like 'mama' "nana" and "woefwoef". He sometimes uses the full sylables like "banana" or banaan (the dutch version), but that happens for only a few words. He doesn't combine two words yet, except for "bye mama' "Bye woefwoef" or "hi dada"

While I know the benefits of raising a child bilingual, it's hard for me to deal with even this slight delay. I am so verbally oriented and I want to talk with him. I love to see his little mind work, I love to hear his ideas and thoughts. I know in a few more months I will probably be begging for him to shut up, but for now... I am grateful for every word. Especially as an alternative for tugging on my skirts and the repeated "uh..uh ..uh" that he tries to get something that he can not explain yet.

So.. is there anyone out there reading this that raises bilingual children or that has been raised bilingual? And if not.. what are your ideas on raising a child bilingual?

Monday, May 25, 2009

I know I should not let him do it.. but he looks so cute...

"I know I should not let him do it.. but he looks so cute."

I wonder how often we will be hearing that phrase. My little boy has mastered the art of looking utterly adorable while either wielding general destruction or at the very least getting into misschief.

Here for your horror and entertainment are two more stories of my little troublemaker. A week or so ago, Joseph had been a very good boy most of the day. He had been playing with his stuffed animals, with the blocks, ran around like a banshee in the garden, but generally stayed out of trouble. He likes to use words now, and tries to master them as fast as he can, considering he learns two languages at the same time. He especially likes animal sounds. "woef woef" "Miauw" and for the bunny "Hop" inspired by the musical easter bunny his grandmother had given him, which sings "I gotta hop, hop, I just gotta hop" when you press his foot.
While I was tidying a few things in the living room I therefor did not think twice about it when I heard Joseph happily chanting 'hop' 'hop' in the kitchen. After all, as every mother knows, it is silence you must be really beware off.

After a few minutes though, I wanted to see what he was so happily playing with and stopped in my tracks when I rounded the counter and saw him playing 'hop.. hop' manipulating 'bunny ears' of.. my kitchen scisors!!! He opened and closed them, simulating the movements of the singing and dancing bunny, not noticing that he had actually already cut a hole in his T shirt with the downward pointing scisor blades. Spoilsport mommy quickly ended that hopping session!

Last sunday Joseph pleasantly surprised us. We try to keep him in church with us almost every sunday, but now and again when either one of us is serving, we try and place Joseph in the church nursery. He liked it once or twice, then proceeded to cry like a banshee the next few times so we had to come and get him. We gave up on the nursery for a while but after a recent visit for the mothers group, Joseph seemed to have picked up an interest. Since I was serving we brought Joseph to the nursery and as soon as he saw the toys and the other children he seemed to have forgotten our existence.

To our surprise we did not get a call during mass that we needed to get him and while it felt slightly strange not to have our little boy with us, we managed to actually keep our attention on the service. After mass we went to pick up our little boy and at first glance.. did not see him. The lady who volunteers in the nursery was smiling widely though, so we knew nothing was wrong. And then she uttered those fatefull words: "I know I know I should not let him do it.. but he looks so cute." And with that she looked down.
We followed her eyes down as well, and there, right behind the counter sat Joseph on the floor: the cupboard opened and a bag of goldfish crackers retrieved from which he was gleefully scooping out the crackers and putting them in his mouth with the air of a triumphant adventurer.

Mommy put an end to that session of misschief soon as well.

"I know I know I should not let him do it.. but he looks so cute." Why do I have the scary feeling that I am going to hear that sentence a lot more in the future?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cleaning the pool for the covenant...

My beloved husband and I are fast aproaching our three year anniversary. In a month and a half we will be married three years. And every day more I fall in love with him. People kept telling me when I married him, stars in my eyes and all, that this 'first phase' would be over soon amidst the worries about the household and most definitely when we had children.

If you've read my blog you know that I will definitely not hide that having that first child (non sleeping and early walking) has been a tremendous challenge for both of us. But instead of making the feeling of 'being in love' dissapear, this actually made it grow with each passing day and challenge. After all.. who can NOT fall in love with a husband who, after three years of cooking still thanks me for every single meal. Who still tells me how sweet I am to cook for him, every single day? How can I not want to kiss and snuggle up to someone who comes home after a long day at work to take our baby out for a walk so I can have a few moments of "oooph" or can be able to cook that dinner without someone tugging on my leg?

Each day, we strive to be 'worthy' of the other. On one hand, that is a tall order. On the other hand, we also know that if we fail the love does not diminish. It makes us want to be the best husband and wife possible for eachother. And in that, each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses.
My strengths are mostly in listening, and being there and cheering my wonderful husband on. My weaknesses are in the domestic area. I cook well and happily, but keeping up with laundry (or more precisely folding and putting away the laundry) and tidying up after "Mr.Duracell Bunny" are not exactly my strongest points. I try. I honestly try. But by the time he goes down for his afternoon nap I have the strong need to just.. sit and gaze at something. Do some knitting. Read. Play on the computer. Anything aside from work.
I try to keep the household running and most days it runs fine, though now and again, I look around and think 'Gah, things have really gotten out of hand, I MUST do something about it. My husband however never complains. He is grateful for what I do and somehow overlooks or at least does not find fault with the things I do not do. Which actually inspires me to want to do better more than any nagging would do.

A few weeks ago, I asked if he would not mind if, instead of watching Joseph on saturday morning, I'ld clean the pool instead. This is usually his job, but I felt rather groggy after a bad night sleeping and needed to do something more physical to snap out of it. He watched our little Mister Energy Bunny, and I cleaned the pool and afterwards I felt much better. Of course this did somehow set a presedent, and a few days ago, my husband casually asked while he went off to work if I minded cleaning the pool for him. While I said (and meant) of course not, there was something grumbling inside me. I didn't mind cleaning the pool in itsself, but I wanted to do it while he was taking over watching Joseph, not really in my oh so precious hours of Joseph's naptime. Never the less, I promised to clean the pool if it wasn't raining. After all, the weather looked very changeable, we might have an afternoon storm again as we had had several times the last few weeks.

My first impulse was to say some quick prayers for rain during Joseph's afternoon nap. I had said I was going to clean the pool if it didn't, and of course I would, but I really didn't want to 'waste' any of my precious free time on this chore. While pouring beans with Joseph however, something seemed to touch my mind. Perhaps the Holy Spirit was giving me a nudge. What kind of an attitude was this? Did I resent this one, small request my husband made? When had naptime become 'my' time, just for fun time instead of an oportunity to serve the whole of our family? Something changed and while I pushed the stroller towards our daily visit to 'the doggie around the corner', I started to pray that it would not rain during Joseph's naptime. Because cleaning that pool was, to use an overly grand expression, a way of honoring the covenant of our marriage.

When I married my husband, I gave myself away to him, and he gave himself away to me. Doing something for him should not be a chore but a joy. It should not be something to grumble that I give away something of myself (in this case 'free' time) but instead a self evidence as nothing is mine or his, but all is ours. That does not mean we stop being individual people, on the contrary. We are people who chose freely to give of ourselves to one another. I know that of course, and in principle I have no problem with it. It's the practicality of it that sometimes threatens to get away from me. It's easier to be sacramental in spirit than it is body. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Still, the spirit overcame the flesh in this instant at least, and my prayers for it not to rain were answered. I put Joseph to bed and managed to actually almost joyfully clean the pool, which took longer than it usually did. Afterwards, I felt so much better about myself than I would have if it had rained, and I had been 'excused' from cleaning the pool by that.
After all, I had served my husband. And guess what? That wonderful husband of mine thanked my happily for it, because he appreciates what I do every single day. From the first changed diaper, to the last made meal. How blessed am I?

Monday, May 18, 2009

The innocence of children...

I told you earlier how much of a flirt my son is. But I didn't realize we would need to start some lessons in chivalry and modesty so soon. I guess it is my fault. Or my mother's. I can blame this on my mother, right? After all, she was the one that taught him the word. And mothers can be blamed for everything, right?

"the" word is 'opendoen'. The Dutch word for 'opening up'. Joseph used it mainly in the context of his buckle. He wanted the buckle of his high chair opened, not just to spring out, but mostly because he wanted to fasten it again. Opening and closing things are Joseph's greatest delight! He has actually caught the meaning pretty accurately, using it when he wants a door opened, or a box, or even his shoes.
Joseph's version 'ohthetoe' of course puzzles the English speakers around him, and usually we gladly translate as proud parents of our bilingual baby.

Last weekend though, silence was probably the better part of valour my husband thought. Our parish had an after church breakfast of shrimp and grits with other Southern treats and we all joined in. Anyone who has a todler, knows that expecting him to sit still for an hour after he just HAD to sit still for an hour at mass would be cruel and unusual punishment. So while mommy waited in line with the plates, dada let him run around. Our Parish is blessed with many children, and for some reason Joseph always is an atraction. Like a little prince he atracts people to him. Especially if they are female. Even more so if they are female and under five.
So when he was running around in the hallway, probably looking for some stairs to climb on, a little girl tried to get his attention. She pointed at him, called baby, baby... but unlike his usual behaviour, Joseph did not seem to be too interested. That changed when she came closer. They stared at eachother, pointed the way todlers of like age do. Probably touched eachothers hair. But it were the buttons on her dress that really fascinated Joseph. He was very clear about what he wanted and stated it proudly. "ohthetoe".

Oh my... they start so young these days!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Animal lover...

A busy week it has been with plenty of cute moments, and the usual todler terrors!
I forgot to mention it in my previous post, but friday morning before we headed off to Hilton Head we went to Edventure's childrens museum where they opened a new butterfly pavillion. It took Joseph a minute or two to realise what it was all about, but then he was absolutely entranced by the beautiful creatures sitting right there, all around him where he could actually touch them. Not that we LET him touch them of course. But he was fascinated.

He is a pint sized animal lover who knows all the dogs in the neighbourhood and who does not understand why the birds near the playground in the park fly away when he runs up to play with them. He loves kitties as well, points at all the squirrels gleefully chanting 'khoo, khoo' (from the Dutch eekhoorn) and will rush up to the television for any commercial in which there is an animal visible.

A few days ago he spend minutes sitting in the street watching a beatle scurry past and trying to follow him, something the beatle did not seem too enthousiast about. Yesterday in the garden, to his utter delight there was a big, fat bee zzzzzoooming from flower to flower in the confederate jasmine. He crouched down and amidst mommy's warnings not to touch he just looked fascinated at the little flying fuzz and informed me, while pointing with a small chubby finger bij... bij... bij (from the Dutch word for bee).

How long do you think before he will ask us for a puppy?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Grandma's are mommy's with lots of frosting

That sentence crowns the mothersday gift I selected for my wonderful mother in law. I have been blessed so much, not just with my wonderful husband, but also with his parents and actually his entire family. This weekend we are luxuriating in their company near Hilton Head for a mini vacation. Joseph adores his "Mimi" and "Gra-Pa". Even if they did not bring their dog with them, which was a big dissapointment. However he is spoiled with attention, love, favorite foods, trips to the playground, new clothes, new shoes and whatever a young boy can be spoiled with. And mommy and daddy are spoiled with enthousiast baby sitters who just urge them out of the door to go for a nice dinner together or a trip to the movies or to go shopping or anything.
So last friday, my husband and I went out for a dinner together to a place I found in the local restaurant guide. I would say it was one step up from a dive, but really.. it wasn't even a step up. The food though was REALLY good. And there was lots of atmosphere. Including a reggae version of "Country Roads". We had such a great time: a wonderful date under the full moon.

I also splurged on a dress. I found it at Steinmart which means it was seriously discounted, but still more than I would usually spend on a dress. When I put it on however, it made me look like a Greek Godess. My husbands eyes lit up when he saw it. Only, it was a bit too long, and more than I had planned on spending. (though not out of our budget of course. I am just a pinch penny) I put the dress back on the rack and left without it. The next day we went shopping in the outlet mall but nothing really 'hit me'. I had a dress that looked nice, but when I looked at myself in the mirror in it.. it did not make me look like a Greek Godess. I only spend money on clothes when I absolutely love what I see in the mirror, because I think it is part of my duty and priviledge as a wife, a mother and a daughter of the King to look atractive. I hung that dress back as well and only bought the two camisoles that I wear under some summer dresses.

But the first dress kept sticking in my mind. How often do you find a dress that makes you look like a Greek Godess, especially after you have given birth and with still five pounds that seem to belong to someone else? When before dinner my mother-in-law and I went to the grocery store, I asked her to come into Steinmart with me for just a moment and give her opinion. She convinced me to buy it. I will just need to have it shortened three inches or so. And I promise you some pictures of me wearing it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My son, the charmer...

Joseph is a flirt. We have long established that. Maybe it is because he watches his father flirt with his mother quite often, but whatever the reason, he spreads it around. He flirts with waitresses in restaurants, with ladies in passing shopping carts in the grocery store and with any children he can see. He always has done it. With cooes or glances, or cute little smiles. Now that he has more and more words at his disposition, he even starts using those to charm others. He should be behind in his speech development due to learning two languages at the same time, but vocabulary wise I don't notice too much of that.
Never the less, I had to admit, I was laughing when my wonderful husband told me the following story after he came back from a walk with Joseph while I cooked dinner.

Joseph and dada had been walking towards a house not too far away where a dog named "Bogie" is often outside. The dog has an electrical fence but is very friendly. Joseph is utterly devoted to Bogie. He wants to go and visit him several times a day and would if I let him. The owners allow us to go unto their driveway and visit with Bogie, pet him and talk to him. Joseph asks about "Boh" several times a day and is very dissapointed if we walk by and he is not outside.
Unfortunately, Bogie had not been outside, to Joseph's great regret. After having walked a little bit further they encountered a mommy with a girl of about two. Joseph immediately ran to her, calling out "behbeh! Behbeh! Behbeh! (his version of baby). They probably exchanged smiles and such, but Joseph wanted to tell her something impressive. So pointing back the way he came, he kept saying "behbeh... Booh! Booh! Behbeh.... Booh!" clearly intent on telling her all about the wonderful dog that could be found a few houses back.

I am not certain how the girl reacted, but I am sorry I missed the exchange. A few more years, and I am going to have to beat the girls off of him with a stick. Who am I kidding? I need that stick already! He spent fifteen minutes of mass last sunday on the lap of another lady who happened to sit next to us in the pew, happily playing with the buttons of her vest, and she was beaming all the time....

Monday, May 4, 2009

Body Painting

Today was one of those days. It kept on raining, and if we tried to go outside in a moment of dryness, it would start to rain again before we were halfway down the street. Joseph was going stir crazy inside. He is in terror mode of late. Not really intentionally bad but so much into everything and not sitting still for a moment that mommy is ready to lock him up in padded room. Or herself. We tried colouring, but for some reason Joseph never seems to be interested long in his crayons. We tried blocks. We tried memory. 'We' were at our wits end.
Then mommy had the brilliant idea to try fingerpainting once more, even though the first try out a few months ago had not been an overwhelming success. Joseph loved to put his fingers in the paint and mix them together. The idea to put those painted fingers on a sheet of paper though seemed not that interesting.

Today started out the same. Joseph played a bit with the paint but did not seem that interested. Until... he tried to grab one of the buttons on my blouse. You see, Joseph has a rather strange fascination with my belly, especially my belly button. He likes to poke it, touch it, rub it... Frequently he will just start pulling up my shirt to get to the 'buh' (from the Dutch 'buik'.)
In order to protect my clean, new blouse, I quickly pulled it a bit up. Joseph stared fascinated at the belly. Trying to get his interest back to the paint, I dipped my own finger in it, then made two dots for eyes and a smile on it. Now that got his attention. He dipped his own fingers in the paint and started enthousiastically to paint this much more interesting canvas: mommy. And oh my that canvas could be cleaned with just a baby wipe, and then he could start all over again. Which is why I probably still have some paint in my belly button. But we had giggles and laughs on a rainy day. And that is what counts, right?

Seeing my earlier posts on modesty, I am certain you can understand why there is no accompanying picture of my son's artwork. I can assure you though, it was worth it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Knitting update

My blog has not been the only thing that has fallen by the wayside these last few weeks, or even last month. My knitting too has fallen victim to an overscheduled agenda. (Note to self: don't DO that anymore.). The last three days I have actually knitted more than the entire month of april put together and guess what? It still has the same calming and soothing effect on me. I should not have let it be pressed into a corner. The result is though that I am still working on that first sock that I have been talking about for months. I am now very soon nearing the actual 'foot' part that I have been dreading and anticipating at the same time. We will see how it goes. The picture above however does not show the sock but a scarf I had great fun in knitting for christmas. After this sock, I have a shawl waiting. I need to make a baby blanket. And I need to start making baby socks. Amidst all that I need to manage a small embroidery project as I need to have a wedding hanky ready by next april.

Be soft of words and gentle of bearing

I will return to my series on attractiveness and modesty on a later date. I do not want to wear it out, so to speak, though there certainly is plenty still unsaid on it. My head however does not want to wrap around the subject today it seems. I guess this is one of these days in which I will blog about... nothing. Unless.. I would grab back to my "guide motive" as a woman so to speak:

Be soft of voice
and gentle of bearing
be kind of heart
and gentle of hands

be bright as the morn
and still as the evening
within you they'll find
God's love reborn.

Lately I have been rather disturbed by the tone of Christians on the internet, especially in the highly volatile topics of gay marriage and abortion. Now these are important topics and it is important to speak out on it.
Perhaps this qualifies me as a 'shrinking violet' but I often have great problems though with people who try and make a point about something they are passionate about in a sarcastic, or harsh way. If you hurt someones feelings, they will never accept what you are saying, no matter how right it is. So a question you may need to ask yourself when speaking on topics about which you feel strongly, especially on the internet is, do I mostly just want to be right? Or do I actually want to communicate something to someone.

At university we were shown at the beginning of a course the first very simple diagram of the communication process. You have a messenger, a medium, a message, and a receiver.
You(the messenger) speak (the medium) about a certain topic (the message) and a receiver actually get's the message and processes it. If while you are speaking though, you use a medium that the receiver can not receive, nothing gets communicated. For example, you could call someone who has no phone. Or you could speak really loud English to someone who only speaks French. Or you could say "Only someone who doesn't really care at all about what Scripture really says would believe..." or "That's not what I said, you idiot, I meant... and you well know it".
Whatever point you were trying to make has long gone past any receiver. If a discussion has gone to this point, you probably better just leave the subject because you are not going to communicate a message. The only thing that will happen is that you keep talking. And the more you talk, the further you will allienate the person with whom you are trying to speak. But the truth must be said, I hear some people argue, and other people may be too chicken to tell it like it is, but I am not. The truth can only be spoken in love. If your tone is angry, you are angry. If you are angry... chances are you will not only not be heard, but also speak in a way that causes you to sin.

"I call a spade a spade" is all good and well for gardening tools, but we can never allow forthrightness and frankness to be an excuse for unkindness in our words or our tone.