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    Friday, December 30, 2005

    First Snow

    This morning we woke up to a world covered in a light dust of snow. While in the east and north of the country snow is a normal winter occurrence, we only get a few snow days a year here in the west, and usually they are not till after the new year. This December snow was a nice surprise. Growing up in the bay area I never looked out my window to see snow, and though as a child we visited a snow covered Yosemite in the winter, I actually never saw it snow till I went to Tahoe when I was 21. The beauty and peacefulness after a snowfall is therefore still a wonder to me.

    So this morning I bundled Pumpkin up in her snowsuit which I purchased for our planned trip to the snow in January and went to take some photos in the early morning light. Here are some of my favorites.

    Homes along a frozen canal.

    Distant church tower.

    Pumpkin's first snow.

    First snow angel

    What is all this white stuff?

    Under closer examination

    Still happy even after a cold faceplant

    posted by Laura @ 9:44 AM   4 comments

    Wednesday, December 28, 2005

    Going Home

    Thank you for your kind comments to my last post.  I am happy that other people understand how much my in-law’s attack hurt me.  However lest you think that a few terribly insensitive comments from Mr. P’s family are chasing us from the Netherlands I better expand on our seemingly sudden choice to return to the US.

    Shortly after Pumpkin was born I told Mr. P that I feared I would never feel at home here, and that it may be time to consider moving on.  My urge to leave took him by surprise since up to that point it had been him longing to return to America, and me who hesitated, still seeing light at the end of the tunnel.    I do find that there are many advantages to us living in Europe.  Not the least being the importance placed here on traveling, that the education system is much better, and I prefer socialized medicine over the free for all in the US.  However after trying to fit in for the last 4 years, I had realized that the light at the end of the tunnel was dimming for me.  This could be my fault more than it anyone else’s, but it was quickly becoming obvious that the honeymoon was over.  

    We evaluated our choices.  I wanted to live somewhere where English was spoken, where I had the confidence again to place phone calls and deal with day to day issues.  Our list was short: Australia, New Zealand, England or America.  Mr. P quickly vetoed England and New Zealand (why I still do not know, as I have heard it is beautiful!).  That left Australia and America.  Once we looked at the difficulty involved with Mr. P getting a work visa for Australia, as well as the travel costs to visit both our families from “down under”, we sadly crossed that off the list too.   America is big, but our hearts lay in only one place there, San Francisco.  Unfortunately we are not the only ones in love with the bay area, and home prices are outrageous there.  In September, when visiting my family, we took a short trip to Phoenix to see if we liked it there, as it was warm, close to California and housing was still affordable.  No offence to any of my readers from the Phoenix Metro Area, but we both were unhappy with it.  It was suburban sprawl at its worst, and seemed to lack any sort of heart and soul.  

    When we returned to Holland, we decided to shelve the move idea for a while and try and make it work here.  However we both would mention moving from time to time.   The events that transpired over Christmas just made clear for Mr. P what I had been trying to tell him.  I do not fit in here and I will always feel like an outsider.   It was obvious then what we were to do.  So we are stepping off the property ladder for a year or two and moving back to the bay area.  At this point I am truthfully more than happy to let someone else pay for repairs to heaters, leaking roofs, worn carpets and house painting.    Our house now seems like less an investment and more a money pit anyway.

    We have a long path ahead of us.  Mr. P will get a green card through me, but that does not mean that the application process is quick or cheap.  We also must sell our home and ship everything back.  Then it is a matter of finding work, housing and settling back in America.  We estimate we will move no earlier than September 2006.  But I am happier now than I have been in a long time.  I am going home.    

    posted by Laura @ 4:04 PM   5 comments

    Tuesday, December 27, 2005

    It just isn't Christmas if no-one cries

    I hope everyone had a nice holiday with their families. I am sure I will have lots to read on all your blogs over the next few days. For now here is my Christmas entry…

    In Holland most families spend the 25th with one side of their family, and the 26th (Boxing Day as it is in Canada and the UK) with the other. Since we can not travel to California and back in 1 day we did not visit my family on the 25th. We instead had a lovely Christmas Day as a family, just the three of us. Pumpkin slept in Christmas morning as her gift to us, and we, in exchange, let her open all those wrapped boxes under the tree. My mom sent some lovely plush toys of which Pumpkin promptly tasted each and every piece. The wood rocking horse Mr. P and I purchased is still a bit too big for our little lady, but she did taste both the ear and the mane when I placed her in the saddle. Since a success with Pumpkin now is if she can place it in her mouth and drool all over it, I would say her Christmas gifts went over very well. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, and I even managed to finish the book I had been trying to read for the past month. Since it was just the two of us for dinner we made a simple roast chicken, risotto and asparagus soup. We both went to bed full and happy, a perfect end to a perfect day.

    Monday was spent with Mr. P’s family. We arrived at his parents shortly after 2:00pm, and it was all very nice. The family sat around and talked about the new baby, adored Pumpkin and played with lil man (our nephew). Our first Christmas in Holland, 4 years ago, had been hard. Having been only here for over 1 month I did not understand anything anyone was saying and I was terribly homesick. It has gradually gotten easier over the years, and I did not feel homesick at all this year. I like to think that, while I still feel like an outsider generally in Holland, I do fit in with Mr. P’s family. That is why what happened hurt so badly.

    I was giving Pumpkin her bedtime bottle, sitting quietly on the couch, when boom, I was under attack. Mr. P’s Grandmother commented to his father that I now understood all of the conversation. She often talks about me as if I am not there, but she is old so I forgive her that. Her comment was innocent enough, as she tends to make it every time I see her. But then my father-in-law started to complain that I speak English to Mr. P and Pumpkin. Soon my mother-in-law joined in, and I was both attacked and simultaneously talked about as if I was not there. It seems that Sunday, while my in-laws were visiting my sister-in-law at the hospital; we were the topic of conversation. I could not believe it! I am very sensitive about the level of my Dutch, but I have done everything asked of me. I took the integration courses at night for over a year while working full time, passed all the tests, and even got my citizenship. But it seems to them this is not enough. Basically they were upset that I speak English with my husband and my daughter, and that when I can not find the Dutch words in conversation I speak to Mr. P in English so he can help translate. They even went as far to say that I could be talking about them when I speak English, and they would not know it. I am glad they think so highly of me that I would do such a thing. It seems as well that my Dutch has deteriorated since I stopped working (which is funny since I worked at an English company). The blows just kept coming.

    I sat there dumbfounded as they discussed me (mostly as if I was not there), and Mr. P politely tried to defend us. I could not run upstairs since Pumpkin was quietly drinking her bottle, oblivious to her mother struggling to hold in the tears. When she finished the bottle I took her quickly upstairs to bed and was finally able to cry. Mr. P soon came up, fuming mad, and I fell into his arms. He could not believe his family could be so oblivious to how hurtful that was; I was just stinging from the blows. Then and there he told me that was it; we had been discussing moving back to the states for months, this made up our minds.

    I did not want his family to know they made me cry, so I soon sent Mr. P downstairs, where he explained that Pumpkin was a bit restless and I would be down shortly. I eventually gathered myself together and went back downstairs, where I had to pretend nothing was wrong for the next 4 hours till we finally left.

    I have since cried all those tears I could not cry last night. I am hurt and angry and generally just sad. What does it matter to them what language I speak with Mr. P and Pumpkin? How can they not understand it is my language, and just because I am here does not mean I will abandon it? How could they be so hurtful and not see it? But what made me cry the hardest is the confirmation that I have not been super sensitive and paranoid. I really do not fit in here, and I never will. It is time to go. My daughter deserves her confident and happy mother, and that mother belongs in America. The Green Card application has been printed and the balls are rolling, we are moving again.

    posted by Laura @ 1:07 PM   10 comments

    Saturday, December 24, 2005

    Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!


    Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas! I hope that you survive the visiting in-laws, the cooking disasters and the children dragging you out of bed at 5am Christmas morning.

    posted by Laura @ 10:19 AM   4 comments

    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    Christmas Past and Christmas Future

    I love Christmas. I love the lights and the trees, stockings and Santa. I love the cards, the carols and especially the eggnog. I get excited every November because it is ALMOST CHRISTMAS! I can not wait to watch A Charley Brown Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. I can recite every word of Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch who Stole Christmas and can tell you every version of A Christmas Carol ever made. I must get my tree as soon as it hits December. I just love to inhale its sweet pine scent and to admire it all lit up in the evening. I love the way we slow down and enjoy the season, and eachother.

    The best memories I have of Christmas are not of toys I received, of bicycles under the tree in the morning or gigantic candy canes in my stocking. They are the moments with my family. Going to the tree farm all of us packed in the van, my father walking patiently with the saw as we fought over which was the best tree. All of us piling back into the van while my parents struggled to tie the gigantic tree to the roof rack. How we would get home and sort out the ornaments, each of us four kids getting an equal amount to hang on the tree. How my father could never string the lights quick enough, and we would be all sitting there rushing him, our neat piles of ornaments ready to be hung one at a time, each taking turns. It is the Christmas mornings when we would all be up at 5am, too excited to sleep any longer, begging my father to get out of bed so we could have at those wrapped gifts under the tree. It is of my mother in her robe making pancakes as my father tried to light the fireplace, which was only lit once a year, for that occasion. The way us kids all sat under the lit tree, in our foot pajamas, shaking the boxes and trying to guess what was inside. How, after taking turns opening our gifts, and running off to play with our loot, we would return to the living room for our annual Christmas production. My dad would set up the video camera (which back in the day was huge and had to be connected directly to the VCR via cable to record) as I would boss my siblings around, directing the whole show. There would be songs and plays, costume changes and often tears and lots of yelling. But it was tradition, it was Christmas, and I hope to someday have my children putting on their own production Christmas morning.

    The songs and the TV shows all tie into this feeling; they bring back the memories, the excitement about Christmas. I can not hear The Little Drummer Boy without picturing the Christmas record my mom would play every December. I remember sitting down and watching hours upon hours of Christmas cartoons. I loved Rudolf, Frosty, The Grinch and Charley Brown. As we got older we would watch The Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street and A National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

    I look forward to all the Christmas we are to have as our new family. I dream of picking out the tree and hanging homemade ornaments from its branches. I can not wait till Pumpkin sees her first Santa. Putting out milk and cookies before she goes to bed Christmas Eve, the excitement in her eyes Christmas morning. I can not wait till she can watch the cartoons with me, and we can sing the carols out of tune together. Christmas will always be my favorite time of year; I hope I can make it just as special for her.

    posted by Laura @ 9:13 AM   2 comments

    Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    Photos 6-7 months

    Here are some of my favorite photos of Pumpkin taken this last month:

    I love to eat my books!

    Chilling with Mama

    I eat my bath toys too!

    Playing in my new bath chair.

    Yummy rice cakes

    Yummy thumb...

    But mama's watch is the most delicious

    posted by Laura @ 8:48 AM   9 comments

    Tuesday, December 20, 2005

    An Early Birth

    The drugs to halt her contractions stopped working on Monday and my sister in law went back into labor. They continued the drugs to try and slow it down and give the steroids maximum time to help develop the baby's lungs, but birth was imminent, my nephew wanted out. Shortly after midnight Tuesday my sister in law gave birth to her son. He cried when he was born and was breathing without assistance. He weighed in at just over 2000gr (approximately 4 1/2 lbs), which is nice for 33 weeks. I think he would have been a big boy if he had made it full term :-)

    Both mother and baby are doing well. My nephew will most likely be in hospital till at least 37 weeks, and mama will be released in a few days. I am just relieved that this all ended happily, even though it means yet another December birthday. :-) Pumpkin can not wait to meet her newest partner in crime.

    posted by Laura @ 8:31 AM   5 comments

    Monday, December 19, 2005

    Weekend Recap

    Mr. P (and my laptop) returned a bit early Friday, leaving the conference before it ended and arriving home shortly after noon. Pumpkin and I were however at our bi-weekly mommy/baby get together, so Mr. P hopped back in the car and picked us up. That was a nice luxury since it had been storming since Thursday evening, and we did not have to wait for the bus while dodging hail the size of pebbles. Happy to have my man home again and to have extra hands to help with Pumpkin, I celebrated the early start to my weekend by popping open a beer at the early hour of 2pm. Man was that one tasty beer :-)

    While we laid low on Saturday, chilling in front of the fire place with the tree all lit up, Mr. P's sister was unbeknownst to us on her way to the hospital. She is 33 weeks pregnant with her second child and had started bleeding. From what I understand as well, it was not a little spotting or the early loss of her mucus plug, but enough blood where she thought her placenta had ruptured. As most moms also know, the movements of ones baby becomes such a constant by that point in pregnancy, a mom can often not remember the last time she felt a kick. And Mr. P's sister was no different. On the appearance of all that blood she started to panic that she did not remember the last time she "felt life”. Having heard the story through Mr. P (who of course does not get nearly enough info for my liking), I am not clear on all the details, but at some point, either on the way to the hospital, or upon her arrival, the contractions started. I can only imagine her fear, 7 weeks from her due date, loosing large amounts of blood, not feeling the baby move and going into pre-term labor. Mr. P's sister is an incredibly strong woman, but I am certain even she was in a panic.

    Fast forwarding a bit, to when we were informed of all this... The baby eventually gave a swift kick and seemed to be doing just fine on the monitors. My sister in law was given an internal exam, upon which they could not pinpoint the cause of the bleeding, but they guessed that perhaps a blood vessel in the uterus burst. (What would cause this I am unsure as well, but I wonder if it could have to do with the c-section she had 18 months ago). She was given drugs to stop the contractions and steroids to speed up the developments of the baby's lungs. She is now stuck in a hospital bed, I assume till the baby is born. When she reaches 34 weeks they will take her off the contraction stopping drugs, since at that point they no longer stop labor. It is possible that she does not go back into labor then, just as it is possible that the drugs stop working and she goes into labor earlier. So I guess the chance of a Christmas baby is quite high. I know the survival rates for babies born after 33 weeks are very high, so I am not really worried. I just feel bad for my sister in law who is stuck now in hospital away from her other child over the holidays. I feel bad that she will possibly have to face the challenge of a baby in NICU, and all the fears that do come with a pre-term birth. I just hope that she can keep that lil boy in her for as long as possible.

    On a much milder note, to end our lazy weekend we finally broke down and got the digital cable plus packet. I had become fed up with the lack of programs on, and was jumping for joy when Mr. P arrived back from the store with our new digital cable box. On top of all the worthless channels we get with the new packet, we also get 4 more BBC channels making a total of 6 for my BBC viewing pleasure. And Mr. P is overjoyed with the three new Discovery Channels, for his brain building viewing. There are some other good channels in the lineup, like the Travel channel and Performance TV. Mr. P is thrilled to again have E! while I could definitely do without it and yet another MTV. But what have I discovered already? That even with 100 more channels there is still NOTHING ON TV!

    Update: I forgot to mention the biggest event of the weekend, both of my sisters are now University graduates! Sis A got her BS in Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz last weekend and Sis B got her BS in Wildlife Fish and Conservation Biology from UC Davis yesterday. I wish I could have been there to celebrate this HUGE accomplishment with them, but we will have to wait till my trip in February. My mom must be checking off her list - 3 down, one to go...

    posted by Laura @ 10:01 AM   2 comments

    Friday, December 16, 2005

    I've been Tagged

    I've been tagged by Becky. Now it's your turn.

    Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot.
    1. Hanuman
    2. Running2Ks
    3. Queen of Spain
    4. Becky
    5. Ms. Mama

    Then select five people to tag.
    1. Geronimo!
    2. I am Growing Into Me
    3. The Diaper Pail
    4. Slush Turtle
    5. Watching Me Grow

    Now, on to the questions!

    What were you doing 10 years ago?
    I was 19 and living at home again after a terrible stint living with an ex-boyfriend/ fiancée. After a brief hiatus from school (due to unhealthy attachment to said ex) I was studying communications at Santa Rosa JC and finishing up my transfer application for CSU Chico. I was also in another doomed relationship with a huge looser who was messing around on me behind my back. Luckily my life made a turn for the better soon after!

    What were you doing one year ago?
    Planning the nursery, making lists, re-modeling the house for said nursery, making more lists and eating a lot of ice cream.

    Five snacks you enjoy
    Brie and crackers
    Popcorn
    Peanuts
    Grapes
    Cookies

    Five songs to which you know all the lyrics
    Five too many baby songs!

    Five things you would do if you were a millionaire
    Travel around the world.
    Buy a home in Tuscany.
    Buy Mr. P a Porsche.
    Buy my mom a home.
    Buy a yacht.

    Five bad habits
    Smoking when I drink
    Swearing too much
    Not listening
    Biting my nails
    Overplanning.

    Five things you like doing
    Traveling.
    Sleeping
    Reading
    Going out to eat
    Hanging with good friends

    Five things you would never wear, buy or get new again
    Navel piercing
    Mini skirt
    Neon clothes (hey it was the 80’s!)
    Stretch pants
    Tube Top

    Five favorite toys
    For me or for Pumpkin??

    posted by Laura @ 8:52 PM   3 comments

    Thursday, December 15, 2005

    Awash in Tears

    Just in time for Mr. P´s trip out of town, Pumpkin´s top two teeth are now erupting quite painfully through her gums. The house has been awash in tears since last night (half of which are mine). Just how many teeth does a kid get? I am not sure I like the idea of going through this every few months for years to come!

    On a happier note though, we had our 7 month checkup at the well baby clinic and Pumpkin is cruising along right on schedule. She is now 7530gr and 66.2cm (that is 16.6lbs and 26.06 inches). And my social gal even forgot about her sore gums long enough to flash every mother, baby, nurse and doctor a toothy grin. Unfortunately as soon as we returned home she remembered... It is going to be a very long night tonight!

    posted by Laura @ 3:24 PM   6 comments

    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    Alone and without my friendly laptop

    Mr. P left me early this morning, and he took the laptop with him! The gall of him!

    Pumpkin and I will be on our own till the weekend, and I will be mourning the temporary loss of my friend - my Dell laptop. Well actually the laptop is Mr. P´s, and is way to fancy for my measly use, surfing the net, but it sits great on the dining table allowing me to surf surf surf all day. Mr. P and the laptop are at Javapolis, some nerd fest, in Antwerp, Belgium. The laptop is probably ecstatic about being used for its main purpose, and what it was specially designed for, all that J2EE stuff (don’t ask me what that is - but Mr. P is a J2EE architect).

    This is the first time since the end of my second trimester that I am on my own at home. I hate being on my own at night, I sleep terrible when Mr. P is not next to me. It is funny, since I used to live alone, but I have become a scardey cat in my old age. I get all paranoid, and imagine people breaking into the house while I lay in bed. I think I watch horror films and the news too much. It does not help that our house, which is 100 years old, creaks and groans at night, that I can hear the neighbors on their staircase, which to my imagination sounds like someone on MY staircase. I try to tell myself I am being silly, but damn, I just get all worked up. I live in a very safe neighborhood and have never heard of any break-ins, but that is little comfort to my crazed mind.

    So for the next few nights I will be triple checking the locks on the doors, leaving lights on in the hall, and most likely laying awake with the phone near my head. But there is an upside of being on my own again. I plan to catch up on some chick flicks once Pumpkin is in bed, and I will eat my fill of unhealthy (but tasty) ready meals. As for my computer time, I will be hiding out now and then in the guest room on the desktop, who has been feeling mighty neglected lately.

    posted by Laura @ 12:54 PM   2 comments

    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    Mommylicious

    My prize from the Queen of Spain's December Photo Contest arrived! I will spare you all a shot of me in the Yummy Mummy thong, but here is a shot of me in my new Mommylicious T-shirt!

    Go get your own today at the Queen Store!

    posted by Laura @ 8:18 PM   2 comments

    Toe Jam

    My little pumpkin seems to have mastered a new trick.

    She really has taken a liking to those cute little toes of hers!

    posted by Laura @ 4:47 PM   6 comments

    Monday, December 12, 2005

    Remembering Those Less Fortunite this Christmas

    Warning – below is a gag, puke, “Oh My God could you be any sappier” post… Read at your own risk! But I promise it has a very good point.

    Sometimes it just hits me, how very, very lucky I truly am. Yesterday I realized, as I was shoveling spinach and rice into pumpkin’s mouth, I do not have a single thing in my life I could complain about. Yeah, I could go on and on about the weather here, though we have had a VERY mild fall this year, and I could gripe about my post-pregnancy body till the cows come home. But real complaints I do not have. I have a wonderful kind, loving, sexy, handsome and hilarious husband who absolutely adores our daughter and loves me to pieces (though I often wonder why). I have a healthy, curious, beautiful baby girl who is the light of my world. We have our families, who are healthy and happy, though sometimes very far away. We own a home, have money in the bank, food in the fridge and can afford for me to dedicate myself now to raising our daughter.

    So many people have so much less. Why do I deserve such happiness when there are so many others suffering today?

    When I lived in San Francisco I saw homelessness on a daily basis. People down on their luck, people in need of rehab programs or mental care, people who the world had turned their backs on. All this surrounded by us yuppie kids, throwing our dot-com money around. It was easy to become numb to them, to the men sitting in doorways in sleeping bags, cardboard boxes used as shelters; the people who would talk to themselves or to no one, pushing shopping carts with their only possessions. The women, even the children I saw begging for money on the corner. I would give them a dollar here or there, rolling my window down at the intersection of Geary and Van Ness to hand the veteran with one leg something. Yet what was that dollar really? I would probably blow $50 easily that night going out, not including cab fare. For that same $50 they could have a hotel room for a night or two, a warm meal, perhaps buy a coat and shoes at Good Will.

    It is easy to feel like I have done nothing while enjoying my own good fortune and happiness. What really separates me from the homeless in SF or anywhere else? Luck of the draw? Good health? Not much more than that. In fact what separates me from a child in Africa who is starving? From a woman dying of AIDS, from a child prostitute in Asia? I basically had the privilege of being born healthy in a wealthy country to loving parents. I had the privilege of clean water, healthcare and an education.

    I alone can not change the world; I can not make a difference for all those people who do not have as much privilege as me. But I can try and make a dent in it, look at my luck and try to bring some luck to someone else. I can try to make the world just a bit better place for my daughter to live in. Mr. P and I will not be exchanging gifts this year for Christmas; instead we will each give to one of our favorite charities.

    This holiday season I urge you to do the same. Look at your lives and all that you have, and then see if you can give a little of what you have to bring something to someone who is less fortunate. I have listed here links to just a few of the major charities and non-profit organizations that could use your donations. If I have missed one you feel should be here please let me know.

    Acumen Fund (Clean Water)
    American Cancer Society
    American Heart Association
    Children International
    Direct Relief International
    Feed the Children
    Freedom From Hunger
    The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
    National Coalition for the Homeless
    March of Dimes
    The Nature Conservancy
    Planned Parenthood Federation of America
    Save The Children
    STOP AIDS NOW
    UNICEF
    United Cerebral Palsy Association
    United Way
    War Child International
    World Food Programme
    World Wildlife Fund

    And for the person who has everything, this Christmas why not buy them a charity gift basket or gift certificate from JustGive.org.

    posted by Laura @ 6:10 PM   4 comments

    Saturday, December 10, 2005

    Finally - 100 things about me!

    I had started this a few months back, but Mr. P turned off the computer without saving it, and I was too frustrated to start again, that is till now.

    Attempt #2 - 100 Things about me:

    1. I am originally from San Francisco, CA.
    2. I currently live in the Netherlands.
    3. I am a short person in a land of giants.
    4. I moved here in November 2001.
    5. My husband, Mr. P, is Dutch.
    6. We met in a bar in the Height
    7. Powered by a few drinks I pulled up a stool and introduced myself to him.
    8. This was done on a dare.
    9. For doing this I won a pack of cigarettes.
    10. I also unexpectedly won the heart of the most wonderful man.
    11. He won my heart too.
    12. We dated for exactly 1 year before he asked me to move in with him.
    13. But we practically lived together already, just in two homes.
    14. We talked about moving to the Netherlands.
    15. It happened sooner than we thought. His company gave him 2 weeks notice that he was being sent back to his home office, in Holland.
    16. I packed up my entire life to come with him.
    17. I never have regretted that decision.
    18. Sometimes I hate it here.
    19. Sometimes I love it.
    20. I took a year of Dutch courses at night.
    21. I do not believe I speak good Dutch, even though others say I do.
    22. I just got my Dutch citizenship.
    23. It is very cool to have two passports.
    24. Now I can visit Cuba.
    25. I do not feel either Dutch or American.
    26. I graduated Summa cum Laude from CSU Chico.
    27. I drank too much in uni.
    28. But man did I have fun!
    29. My major was Media Arts (video/film/radio etc).
    30. I worked as a camera woman for the evening news when I was still a student.
    31. I never worked in my major after graduation.
    32. Instead I took a job in advertising as a Media Planner.
    33. I hated it and eventually quit.
    34. I have done various jobs since.
    35. I am not fit for the office life.
    36. I am now working as a CHO (chief household officer)
    37. I love staying at home with my daughter.
    38. I am the oldest of 4 kids.
    39. I have two sisters and a brother.
    40. I want 3 kids.
    41. My parents are divorced, but have not re-married.
    42. They split when I was 20.
    43. I miss my family.
    44. I try to visit twice a year.
    45. I talk to my mom on the phone all the time, it is not the same.
    46. Mr. P proposed to me after taking me to the Opera and dinner.
    47. I was in my pajamas and getting ready for bed when he popped the question.
    48. We got married in St Lucia, just the two of us.
    49. It was incredibly romantic and relaxing.
    50. We tried to get pregnant for 5 months before succeeding.
    51. I planned a home birth without any drugs.
    52. After 36 hours I was begging to get an epidural.
    53. I was transferred by my midwife to the hospital since I was not progressing.
    54. After 52 hours I gave birth to my Pumpkin.
    55. I immediately forgot about the pain.
    56. I broke my wrist when I was 23.
    57. I was backpacking with my sister and fell on the way back out of the park.
    58. Some other packers went and got the ranger.
    59. I had to drive myself to the hospital, while my sister shifted gears.
    60. They gave me some good drugs.
    61. I asked for a waterproof cast because I was going whitewater rafting the next weekend.
    62. The doctor laughed at me and told me no I was not.
    63. I still had the cast when I met Mr. P.
    64. He does not like backpacking, so I have not gone since.
    65. My favorite color is turquoise.
    66. My favorite season is spring.
    67. My favorite food is sushi.
    68. My favorite drink is a margarita.
    69. I do not eat sushi while drinking margaritas though - ick.
    70. My first trip abroad was to Costa Rica when I was 19.
    71. I backpacked in Monte Verde Cloud Forest for 10 days.
    72. I saw howler monkeys and some sort of wild cat.
    73. I have since visited 9 other countries not including Holland.
    74. I would love to travel around the world for a year.
    75. This year I will visit country #10, Austria.
    76. Before I die I want to go on a safari.
    77. I would also like to win the lotto and own a yacht.
    78. I do not often buy lotto tickets so the above is a long shot.
    79. I have moved 14 times since I turned 18.
    80. I am now 29, the last time I moved I was 25.
    81. That is 14 moves in 7 years. An average of twice a year
    82. We are thinking of selling and moving again.
    83. I collect shot glasses, from every place I visit.
    84. Photography is a hobby of mine.
    85. I take way to many photos.
    86. I used to paint and draw, but never liked what I created.
    87. At one point though I wanted to major in art.
    88. My father did not approve.
    89. I am over critical of myself.
    90. I am never happy with my decisions.
    91. I also obsess too much about silly things.
    92. Like what people think about me.
    93. I die my hair blond.
    94. I am not happy with my body.
    95. I have never been on a diet, I do not believe in them, only exercise.
    96. I do not exercise enough.
    97. I hate the gym, except the climbing gym.
    98. I have not been climbing since Pumpkin was conceived.
    99. I gave my sister my gear, so I do not think I will go again.
    100. I can not believe I made it to 100!!!

    posted by Laura @ 5:17 PM   4 comments

    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    Christmas trees and feverish tears

    I waited as long as I could. Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet had barely left the country, but Tuesday I had to get my Christmas tree. Unable to haul a tree home while also carrying Pumpkin, I sent Mr. P to work with the orders not to come home without a tree that evening, and he knew well the consequences. Along with the orders were my very specific tree selection criteria. It had to be taller than me (not to big of a feat, I just barely break the 5 foot mark), and nice and full, with no gaping holes. It also had to have a long narrow trunk at the bottom, to ease the process of getting it into the tree stand. I have had enough in the past few years of sawing off branches to get the tree in the stand.

    Well Mr. P outdid himself. He not only came home with an absolutely beautiful tree which covered all my criteria. He also got the biggest tree I have ever had, and for a bargain price to boot! This tree is massive; we had to move the dining table to fit it into its home. I am glad I bought that extra strand of lights, just in case. We would have never been able to do without them.

    So Tuesday evening we put on the Christmas music, lit a fire in the fire place, made up some hot cocoa and decorated the tree. Except for the usual frustrations that come with stringing the lights, it was a wonderful tree decorating evening. Our normally exclusively purple and silver ornaments have some company this year from little Sesame Street figures my mother sent for Pumpkin. But they blend in well and are a good way of slowly breaking me into the soon to be kiddie dominated tree. I am one happy chappy. The best part though was the look on Pumpkin's face when she saw the lit up tree Wednesday morning. She stared and giggled, and when I held her up started swatting at the ornaments.

    Unfortunately her joy was short lived. She had seemed and bit fussy and barely drank her bottle that morning. By noon, the fussyness had become full blown screaming and she had a fever of 102. The doctor says it could be her teeth, but I think it is more likely a virus. She is not drooling like with her last teeth, and there are no teething bumps. Plus she seems like it hurts her to swallow. Last night was hard. We struggled to get some fluids in her before we put her in bed, and she woke up quite often crying. Mr. P and I took turns getting up through the night and holding her till she fell back to sleep. It felt like she was a newborn again. Her fever was gone this morning, but is back now. Luckily she drank most her bottle with breakfast, though the lunchtime bottle did not go in. She will not even go near her solid foods, but right now I just want to keep her hydrated. I feel so helpless, I do not know what is wrong, and besides giving her Tylenol to take down the fever I can not make her better. I just hope she gets over this soon; it just kills me to know she does not feel good.

    posted by Laura @ 12:34 PM   7 comments

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    Sunday evenings and socks full of vegetables

    Want to know how I spent my Sunday evening? Really you do? I spent it sitting in bed with a sock full of frozen spinach held to my face. Yes, you read that right, a sock holding a bag of frozen spinach, (or the poor woman’s ice pack).

    It all started innocently enough. Mr. P and I were feeling a bit in ‘the mood’ and decided to head to bed early (OK, perhaps it is not really that innocent). But being the sick obsessive parents we are, we stopped first to look in on Pumpkin like we do every evening. This is where disaster struck. As Mr. P leaned down to plant a kiss on Pumpkin’s chubby cheek, she woke up. Startled, and wanting to quickly get out of her room before she fully awoke and found her crazy parents staring over her, he proceeded to stand back up and move out of the room at the same time. However due to the dark I was unaware of his haste to leave the room and I at the same time was heading towards the crib. Boom! Ouch! The right side of Mr. P’s forehead collided with maximum force into the bridge of my nose. I grabbed my nose, which I thought was certainly broken and stumbled from the room tears streaming down my face. Pumpkin, startled by the commotion of her parent’s collision started to cry, and Mr. P stumbled after me while frantically yelling ‘where’s a mirror, where’s a mirror?’, also horrified that he had broken my nose.

    I managed to get to our bedroom, and collapsed onto the bed. By that point I realized I was not bleeding, so most likely my nose was not broken. Mr. P ran down the stairs and grabbed the first thing he could find in the freezer, a massive bag of frozen spinach. Back up the stairs he came and handed me the bag-o-spinach. I laid my entire face onto the bag like it was a pillow, while he laid his forehead next to me.

    Having recovered from the shock we suddenly found the humor in this situation. Here we were, in bed, both of our throbbing heads attached to a bag of frozen vegetables. This lead to a discussion of the common treatments for bangs to the head. As we tried to work out why people applied raw meat to their faces to prevent a black eye, Mr. P mentioned that his mother would apply butter to a head bump. Here we were, heads plastered to the spinach, discussing steak and butter. “You hungry or something” I asked laughing. It sure seemed like there was a dinner in the making – butter, spinach and steak.

    However that bag-o-spinach was just to cold for my poor head, and it was a bit ridiculous to be holding a pound of vegetables to my face. So Mr. P went back down to the kitchen and separated out some of the spinach into a Ziploc baggie. Then he rustled through his sock drawer and stuck the baggie into what I hope was a clean sock. So that is how I came to spend my Sunday evening holding a sock full of frozen spinach to my face. Needless to say our ‘romantic’ intentions went out the window, and we both went to bed with massive headaches.

    I am happy to report though I have survived the incident without a black eye. I was most certain that I would look in the mirror this morning to find myself with a massive shiner, sure to convince all the neighbors that Mr. P was horrifically beating me. But I am just sporting a nice bump above my left eyebrow and a very sore nose. And man what a story I had to tell the internet!

    posted by Laura @ 8:04 PM   5 comments

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    We're famous!

    Hehehe, the photo I entered below in the contest by the Queen of Spain was featured on Blogging Baby today! Pumpkin and I are famous! :-)

    Greetings to all of you who may be visiting via Blogging Baby, hope you enjoy your stay!

    posted by Laura @ 8:13 PM   5 comments

    Revisiting the poopie diapers

    If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will already be aware that I like to post about the contents of Pumpkin's diapers, or more specifically poop. If you are new to this site, and think you may continue to pop in for a visit every now and then, I warn you this will probably not be the last post you read about poop. I also suggest if you do not understand a mothers obsession with her child’s diapers, and prefer not to read about it, you just skip this post altogether.

    Pumpkin has never been a predictable pooper, while her movements were usually once a day after the introduction of formula; we could sometimes skip a day, or be bombarded by three poops in 12 hours. When we switched to the colic formula her nice, not so offensive poop switched to an alga green liquidly mess which often exploded out of her diapers and up her back, sometimes nearly reaching her forehead. But nothing could have prepared me for what I now find lurking in her diapers, and how often I find it.

    Solid food has definitely brought her poop to new levels. It seems that with their immature digestive systems, foods often exit the bodies of babies in the same colors they went in. This means with Pumpkin, who eats lots of yummy orange carrots, butternut squash and sweet potatoes, that her poop is often very-very orange. However since she also eats her share of green beans and zucchini, she does have the intermittent green poop.

    Now that she is up to three varied meals a day including fruit, veg, potatoes, rice cereal and yogurt, not only the color of her bowel movements has changed, but also the overall appearance. As I said, the colic formula she has been on had the unfortunate side effect of liquefying her poop. But now the addition of solids seems to have countered this and we only rarely have the diaper explosion. But it seems that what comes in often comes out differently. Sometimes her poop is a play-dough like mass stuck to her nether regions, other times it looks like she has excreted a mass of gritty sand or oatmeal.

    Most surprising of all though is how often she now soils her diapers. Wednesday I had changed a total of 4 poopie diapers before 11am, and by 9am this morning I had changed three poops since she awoke at 7:45. In fact no sooner had I changed poopie diaper number one, marveling at the smooth round ball she had excreted, was she grimacing and grunting. One minute later that awful odor was emanating from her behind and I was carrying her upstairs for another diaper change. I guess I should be happy we are a cloth diapering household, otherwise she would be single-handedly filling all the landfills with her poopie diapers.

    posted by Laura @ 2:26 PM   1 comments

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    Selective Sight

    Last night Mr. P and I had a discussion (you know raised irritated voices but not quite yelling) when I mentioned his selective senses.  Most men seem to have these, the most common is selective hearing, when a man can tune out anything they may not want to hear, or completely block you out when watching football/soccer etc.  But with Mr. P his selective sight annoys me the most.  

    Last night he decided to go upstairs for the evening completely ignoring the four mugs and scattered coasters on the coffee table.  I just did not understand why he did not put these away before turning in for the night.  Yes, I can just as easily also put the mugs in the sink, and I did before going upstairs and confronting him, but I did not see why he ignored the mess in the first place.   He took this very personal; feeling attacked about what he does / does not do about the house.  Yet that was not my problem, as he does help out around the house (though mostly when asked, not via his own will).  

    My issue last night was with how he manages to just ignore things and walk past them when they are obviously cluttering up the house.   Like his underwear on the bedroom floor when the laundry basket is les than 5 steps away in the bathroom.  Or the pile of junk slowly accumulating on the dining table, dumped there as he comes in the house.  The mess he leaves in the kitchen, crumbs on the cutting board, tea rings on the counter.   The silverware that does not get washed but somehow gets left on the bottom of the sink when everything else gets cleaned.   The saw that is still laying half under the guest bed since it was last used in that room over 3 months ago.   These things irritate the hell out of me.  I can not just walk past the clutter and ignore it.  Things left lying around make our normally tidy home feel very dirty.  So I do not understand how he can ignore it, pretend it is not there, or just not see it at all till I point it out.  

    Last nights argument – sorry discussion – ended with us both irritated.  Mr. P, feeling personally attacked, me feeling frustrated by his selective sight and his denial of it.   As I turned out the lights and rolled over in bed, strategically facing my back towards him, Mr. P said what I think is the most telling thing of all.  He does not see the clutter and the mess, because he does not care.

    He just does not care.  He does not care if the house is cluttered and untidy, and he does not care that it bugs me.  I guess I need to find something not to care about… something that he does, and we will see what happens then.  In the mean time any suggestions on how to make him care just a little bit, enough to see the dirty underwear at least?  

    posted by Laura @ 1:42 PM   4 comments

    Yummy Mummy

    The Queen of Spain is hosting a photo contest. I decided to enter under the category of "Yummy Mummy". This photo was taken after Pumpkin had nursed. This time had miraculously ended with neither of us in tears, and she fell asleep resting her head on my boob, full of my yummy milk. Wish me luck, I want to win me a "Yummy Mummy" Thong :-)

    posted by Laura @ 8:37 AM   5 comments