Friday, December 27, 2013

The Louse who stole Christmas

Our new family shampoo
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a LOUSE...

Ok, that was definitely not true in my house this Christmas Eve. Nope, there was a party going on because along with the sugar plums, mama and papa louse were dancing, dining and laying little Christmas babies all throughout my son's and my head!  

And if you have followed my blog long, then you know that my biggest fear of the motherhood journey is the possibility of getting Lice!

Yep, Junior and I had the creepy crawlies for Christmas. I knew there was a case in his class last week and his head and mine for that matter had been itching, but I had been checking for eggs daily. NADA!

Then all of a sudden after Christmas brunch, I discovered not only was Santa busy on Christmas Eve, but also mama Louse and her egg laying machine - my son's head was full of eggs. 

My sis-in-law grabbed a comb and combed through my son's beautiful thick-as-hell-Lice-breeding paradise and what happened next changed my life: a live creepy crawly was on the comb.

I suddenly felt like I was in a bad dream where I couldn't run from the monster. I had avoided this fear for 40 years and now on Christmas day they show up.

Then when I thought it couldn't get any worse, the comb ran through my hair and out popped twin creepy crawlies.

I felt dizzy for a moment, but then quickly realized I had to take action. We had a Christmas dinner in exactly 3 hours. I had to eliminate these Christmas wreckers!

Thank goodness I had already bought a bottle of Listerine to kill those bastards just in case. An email was sent around last week warning parents that the LICE were rampant in Luca's class. You see, in Holland lice are very common and don't really have the stigma that they do in America. Thank God, or I would be double traumatized. The Dutch are very pragmatic and open about lice and Dutch mothers are always willing to give advice. I guess they have realized that it takes a village to get rid of the lice!

Back to my trauma...We rushed home and faster than you could say Santa Clause. We soaked our heads with Listerine under a shower cap and Saran wrap for two long mouth-washingly tingly hours.

Then I went on a bed stripping frenzy! I spent Christmas afternoon frying lice with Listerine mouthwash and washing everything in my house that could fit into the washer and dryer!

Our two hours were up and it was the moment of truth, time to comb out the Listerine. I bravely combed my own hair first. But I wasn't psychologically prepared for what happened next: dead lice everywhere. No way, this couldn't be happening!

I wanted to vomit, shave off my hair and run away. And that's when it hit me. It wasn't only happening to me, I had to comb out the corpses from my son's hair too.

I choked back the tears and the urge to cry for my mommy and grabbed my Mommy Balls. I WAS the mommy and I was going to kick these nasty little pest's ass. 

I combed my son's hair with vinegar until every little dead body was out. It was a battlefield and we had won this round. And I had the irritated burning skin on my face to prove it. You see, not only did I have a head full of alcohol based Listerine but I had also gone through a skin cancer treatment on my face days earlier that left my skin raw and peeling off. Dripping Listerine + Raw Skin = Hell on Earth. Merry Christmas!

After our treatments,we were on our way to the family Christmas dinner smelling all minty fresh when I suddenly felt an overwhelming feeling of being proud of myself (because you know that's my new thing anyway). 

But seriously, I felt like I had just laid in a bathtub full of snakes and survived or let a thousand spiders crawl all over my body without dying. I survived my biggest nightmare and I felt like a full-fledged mother.

I know strange, but it was how I least until bedtime when I started processing what I had gone through earlier in the day. The images of dead lice and eggs kept flashing before me every time I closed my eyes. My head began to burn and I began to stress about having to harvest more eggs in the morning. I was battling a case of PTSD and there was no escape. All I could think about was what if there were more bugs in my head running around. I couldn't sleep.

Of course, the exhaustion from the day took over and I finally slept, but I was a basket case the next day thinking about how I was going to get rid of these invaders. I became obsessed and could only think about nits the entire day. I ended up cutting the eggs out of my son's hair and he ended up looking like a mangy dog. Yes, I went crazy.

But I am back to the land of the sane today. I realize it's just a part of life, it could be worse, most kids get them here, they are just bugs, they will eventually go away, its not the end of the world, they don't harm you, we are not dirty, it's all part of being a mother, blah blah blah blah.

But one thing is for sure, I will never ever forget the year the Lice stole my Christmas...I just hope they stay put in 2013!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Are you proud of yourself?

Well are you? Are you proud of yourself? For anything? How many times have you said to yourself, "Self, you rock, I am so proud of you?"

I can honestly say I almost never feel proud of myself.  I try because I know in my head I have lots to be proud of in my life. Yet, there is a little voice saying "Noooo, what matters is what other people think."

Maybe there are people out there who are genuinely proud of themselves. Not the braggers, over confident people, I am talking about the people out there who don't need people to tell them, "Wow, I'm so proud of you."

Well I hope I'm raising two of these such people.

You see, it all started a year or so ago when I saw Marie Osmond being interviewed by Oprah after her son had committed suicide. When talking about his death, she said the one thing she regretted was not asking her son if he was proud of himself.

When I first heard this, I thought huh, that's a strange thing to regret. Did she not regret telling him how much she loved him or how special he was as a person? I was actually kind of shocked at her regret.

Then I started to really think about it and finally my one remaining brain cell went off like flashing ambulance lights.

Why DON'T we ask our kids if they are proud of themselves? Who gives a shit what we think! Marie was right, I should teach my kids that the one person they need to be proud of is themselves and not worry about impressing others. 

So that's exactly what I have been trying to do over the past  year. Every time I wanna say, "Wow, Mama is so proud of you", I say instead, "Sweetie, are you proud of yourself?"

Of course, they first reply, "But mama are you proud of me?" And I then say "Of course, but what matters is if You are proud of YOU. They usually appease me and say "Yeah I guess so Mama". Even though these responses were vague and they only said what they thought I wanted to hear, I persisted.

And guess what? It happened!! Just last week my 5 year old built a Lego helicopter all by himself and he showed it to me proudly. His face was beaming, it was a look I had never really seen before. His head was held high and his chest sticking out.

And that was when he said it, "Mama I'm so proud of myself! And you know why, because I made this all by myself, I did it!"

He really didn't have to say it, I could feel it. Tears in my eyes I said to him, "And that's all that matters!"

"Self, you are far from being Mother of the Year, but you are hanging in there! I'm proud of you."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Goodbye 30's, you suck!

My list of 40 things to do on my 40th
When I turned 30, I cried for weeks leading up to my birthday.

Now I am 40 and I can't wait for the rest of my life.

Strange, I never thought I would be so happy about getting older.

Maybe because coming out of my 30's was like coming off the battle field. Don't get me wrong, many great things happened in my 30's, one being the miracle of having my two kids, but it wasn't all easy street for me.

Turning 30 brought on so many insecurities such as: was I on the right career path, would I ever find a baby daddy and even then, would I be able to even have kids. Especially since I was told in my early 30's that I would never be able to have my own children due to premature ovarian failure.

And once those insecurities were gone,  an insecurity tsunami struck when I became a mother. Top off being a new mother along with being thousands of miles away from the people I loved most and who loved me, I was Insecurity Queen!

For me it was an unknown territory, I had never been so unsure before in my life. I was far away from home and my support network. It was so hard. Every day was a struggle. But my saving grace was that at the end of every day my babies were healthy and happy. They didn't sleep much but they were happy.

However, there were days when I thought I wouldn't make it from all the sleep deprivation and exhaustion. I couldn't just call up my mom or my best friend to come over and give me relief. I had to solider on and looking back, i'm not sure how I made it physically.

Also in those 10 years I lost who I was. I didn't have time for anything ME and inside my mind I had to put my dreams on hold. I didn't have the energy to take care of myself. After having two kids in two years my body had transformed into some animal form, a cow or hog.

It was so bad, I didn't like to look into the mirror most days to be reminded of this person I had become. I didn't know her anyway. I didn't want to know her. I was ashamed.

My life only revolved around surviving. And I did.

I don't know why but about 3 months ago something clicked inside of me. Maybe my brain cells started cranking up again because I was getting more sleep. I don't know, and I don't care how it happened but it did: I decided it was time to stop surviving and start living. I was about to be 40 and fabulous!

So I crawled off the 30's battlefield, scarred but full of life experiences that no one could take away from me. I finally had the time and most importantly the energy to find me again. With both kids now in school, I started working full-time again, which really got those brain cells a buzzin'!

My confidence grew with each passing day and the motivation to start thinking about me snow-balled until I joined a gym, started eating healthier and realized it was ok to stand up straight again.

I was not that person I was at 30, but thank God! I suddenly realized that I survived these tough times because somewhere deep inside I was a strong person. Maybe I didn't brush my hair most days and I could only fit into yoga pants, but underneath it all, I was in there, fighting to the end and I made it! Finally, I was a butterfly crawling out of my cocoon.

And I couldn't wait to turn 40, for me it was the starting point for the best part of my life. I really have everything now: my two babies, my dreams and my self-respect back.

Like I said, it wasn't all negative, I have amazing memories with my kids. But now the memories will include the real me: a confident mother who, at 40 is following her dreams and living instead of surviving.

Maybe my 30's would have been different had I lived in my native America, who knows, I don't, but it doesn't matter now anyway. What matters for me now is living, being 40 and fabulous! This is awesome people!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why the world should stop worrying about Zwarte Piet and see what's happening in Dutch McDonald's

Are you wondering what in the world could be more important than ending one of the most anticipated Dutch traditions for millions of non-racist children? 

Well take a look, canines are taking over the Dutch McDonalds.

This is an outrage! Call the UN! Someone needs to put a stop to this while we can. 

And to top it off, the McDonalds staff are feeding the dogs, welcoming them with McTreats! 

I am sure the McDonald brothers are rolling in their graves.  I am sure when they opened the first McDonald's restaurant they never imagined such a thing! 

Besides, the staff don't hand feed me McNuggets when I come to eat. It's discrimination people, I'm telling you before you know it our kind (human) won't be welcomed anymore.

What is next with these Dutch people? 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mama, do you like your butt?

Mama, do you like your butt? My daughter asked me last night.

Not a question I expected after reading her a Curious George bedtime story. Where in the hell did this question come from?

Honestly, I had not thought about in a while. Did I like my butt? Well, I thought a lot about how big it had grown and how I wished it would fit in a pair of normal jeans, or how I wished it wouldn't hang out when I bent over. I tried for years to make it smaller, but of course, since having kids, I decided to give up.

But she asked me about now, at that moment, did I like my butt?

Then it dawned on me. “Yes, Charly I do like my butt.”

“Why do you like your butt Mama?”

Good question, why did I like my butt? Hmmmm…

“Well Charly, I like it because it’s mine, it’s a part of me and I like me.”

“But why do you like IT?” she persisted. I was in trouble; she wasn't falling for superficial answers. I had to be honest.

Then “Baby Got Back” started playing over and over in my head.

“Because it’s round and juicy, like a bubble”, I blurted out.

“Mama, you are silly, what does that mean.”

I thought about it again. Yes, my booty was round and juicy and would make Kim Kardashian's derriere look like a Pancake Butt. But I did like it. Yes, matter of fact I loved it!

“Charly, I like it because it doesn't look like anyone else’s butt. It’s not perfect and it barely fits in a pair of pants, but I love the way it feels like a cushion when I sit. It is very strong, it helps me lift you guys up and if I fall it helps protect my bones.”

Little did she know, that her Mama, almost age 40 was finally learning to love the goods God gave her.  I was far from perfect and why in the world would I want to be? Just because it was what society pumped into our heads from the time we were born as little girls? 

No, I was a real woman and my daughter needed to see that being a real woman was something to be proud of, something to love. I wanted to give my daughter a chance. I knew I couldn't protect her from what she saw in the media and heard from friends, but I wanted to be a role model for her. I wanted to be her base. I wanted her to see a healthy and happy person who loves herself, flaws and everything. I wanted her to be proud of her junk in the trunk!

This was the best gift I could ever give her and I decided from that point on, I would love myself, bubble butt, saggy boobs, muffin top belly and all. And for the first time in my life I meant it, thanks to my four year old daughter.

"I like your butt too Mama, it's soft and snuggle-buggle."

Tears in my eyes, I hugged my baby girl. "Charly, you are so right! Mama's got back!"

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why I think my son is the next van Gogh

I know, it oozes talent
Am I the only mother who could stare at something their child created for an hour?

God, I hope not. I hope I am not the only mother mesmerized by some drawing or clay figure their child has made.

No lie, when my five year old draws and colors one of his pictures of a shark eating a fish, I swipe it up from him like an original Monet and just marvel at his talent until the screams of “Mommy give it back” bring me back to reality.

When I look at his pictures I see nothing but brilliance. I see a story, his imagination spread out on a sheet of paper. My heart becomes all warm and fuzzy and I can feel the tears well-up in my eyes.

Now granted, if you or some other random person saw this picture then you would probably see a round blob with sharp teeth chasing other round blobs.

But I see a great white shark with his enormous killing power chasing a school of tuna through the raging sea. God my son is a genius!

Nothing you can say about these scribbles could ever change my mind…Nothing…ever…

And the thing that intrigues me the most is that I created this little person. I grew him in my belly, he came out looking like an alien and the alien grew into a little boy who is able to create such treasures.

I think that’s also why I collect every single drawing he has ever made.  I can’t even imagine throwing one away in the bin. It would be like throwing a little piece of him away, like an arm or a leg.

Ok, I am beginning to sound a bit Psycho-child-obsessed-Mom. And maybe I am, or maybe I am just so in love with my kids and hope that one day they believe in themselves the way I believe them.

Either way, I am just gonna keep on snitching these drawings from my son and plastering them all over my workspace. And I’m dying for my daughter to start creating masterpieces…the laundry will never get done then!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why I compare my kids to other kids

The Golden Rule of Parenting: never compare yourself to other parents and never compare your kids to other kids.

But of course, most parents break these rules often comparing their kids to Johnny-next-door or to Cousin Cary's perfect offspring. Not me. I have been too busy beating myself up to take the time to look around.

You see, one huge disadvantage to raising children away from your network of family and friends is that you don’t have anyone around to support you or any examples to follow. 

My kids certainly didn't come with instruction manuals and I have only been a mother to a hamster and a bunny and both ended up running away.

Of course, I don’t want my kids to eventually run away, so I constantly worry about doing my job properly as a parent.

It wasn't until my daughter started school a few weeks ago that my self doubt hit its climax. I was not only stressing about going back to full-time work after five years, but also not only exposing my daughter to the world but my parenting skills, too. 

Breaking the rules
Then it all changed during a stressful school morning drop-off. It began when I was settling my daughter into her seat. And I noticed that her nails were filthy. They looked like she had used them for shovels. I was too tired the night before to force her to take a bath and that morning I was too tired to remember if she had washed her hands.

I sucked as a mother! My girl was a filthy pig!

And that’s when it happened. I decided it was time to break the Golden Rule and check out the other kids in her class. I had never done it before.  Never had I really looked at the other kids noses for crust or their mouths for left over oatmeal.

So one by one, I inspected each child sitting at my daughter's table: boy and girl, no discrimination. And that was when I realized that almost every kid had at least one dirty finger. Some even had a handful of nasty nails and nails so long they looked like claws. 

Compared to these kids, my daughter's nails were squeaky clean!

Every day after that, I began to discover imperfections in the parenting abilities of the other parents from the class. Charly was not the only little girl with hair that looked like a rat crawled and died in it. Charly was not the only child that wore her pajamas to class because I forgot to see what she had on under her coat. The room was filled with crusty noses and boogie smeared hair! 

Her class was full of failure, neglect and laziness! Yahoo... other parents sucked too! I love the Dutch culture!

After those first weeks I no longer doubted my parenting abilities as much. Either I sucked as a mother or I was just average. Either way, it didn't matter to me, at least I wasn't alone! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Featured on Scary Mommy Travel Guide for Amsterdam

If you are a parent, you have to check out Scary Mommy's website. It's probably my most favorite place in the whole world to get a good laugh or honest dose of motherhood.

And I am so lucky to be able to contribute to the Scary Mommy travel guide by giving my top 10 things to do in Amsterdam with kiddos!

Check it out!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Why does my 4 year old wanna dress like a hooker?

Why does my daughter insist in dressing like a hoochie mama?

It's not because I don't pick out perfectly respectable clothing for her every morning. Matter of fact, most mornings I even dress her myself.

Yet when I am locked away showering she changes her clothes and morphs into this hoochie mama 4 year old with shorts on so short you can see her My Little Pony running across her butt.

So is this why she wants to dress like a pole dancer to go to school? Or am I overreacting and actually shorts that go so far up where the sun don't shine are so comfortable?

I know what you are thinking, then why do I buy her such clothes? But I don't, she actually found an old bag of summer clothes that are size 18 months. Hello, she is 48 months! That's like 30 months too small.

For the last three weeks going to school has been a nightmare. I get out of the shower, flip my lid and she whines and begs to dress like "Daisy Duke gone wrong". I won't even mention the belly shirts she puts on from that bag.

Stupid me made the mistake of making a rule that Fridays are Kids-get-wear-whatever-they-want Day. For the last 3 Fridays my daughter looks like one of those little girls from Tots and Tiaras and I look like the world's worst mother. But she is happy and especially excited because also on Fridays she gets to go to after-school care with her "friend" Dan from class.

I'm not sure, but I am sure of one thing: I can not wait for colder weather  Maybe then my sweet little Hello Kitty wearing four year old will come back. Thank goodness I will be an old fart and half blind by the time she reaches puberty!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Quirky world of the Redneck

The meaning of home is different for everyone. My definition of home is where I grew up, where I can still run around barefoot and go dirt bogging down remote country roads. It just so happens my home is tucked under the tight grip of the Bible belt in the good ole USA, where you drink your tea sweet and iced. It's actually a magical place and every year I look forward to experiencing its wonders and rediscovering my redneck roots!

Southern generosity
We southerners are known for our generosity, not only towards strangers but also towards those who live in our own neighborhoods.  Here is a perfect example. The first photo was taken from my parents front porch looking out over the front yard. You might be asking yourself, is that someone sitting across the street? 
Your eyes do not deceive you, yes, as you see in the zoom in, it is a person! This is a young man who lives down the street who has pulled up a chair across the road. And what is he doing? Well, that's where the generosity part comes in. He is using my parents WiFi!  Yep, my parents have one unprotected line and the boy-next-door has figured this out. So whenever he needs to surf the net he just brings along a chair and trust me, he can sit there for hours. It doesn't seem to bother my parents, they just wave to him.

What church you go to, Sugar?
Living in the South, you might get asked this question a million times and depending on how you answer you will either get a "oh my cousin Rodney's first cousin's brother-in-law's sister's babysitter goes to that church" or "well you should try out my church next Sunday." And if you are like me and don't go to church, well to be honest I just make up a church. Trust me, it's one time when the truth will not set you free!

The funny thing about the churches in the South are you never know where you might find one. Of course, there are the conventional churches like this old country church in my hood. This where you would just walk in, read a few bible verses, listen to how crispy you are gonna burn in Hell and to wrap it all up, sing a hymn or two about sinning and forgiveness. Then in exactly one hour later, you regain your freedom as the doors open to the real world and you are home just in time for Sunday dinner (or lunch as the rest of the world calls it).

Then you have churches that can pop up anywhere like this one to the right. I was shocked when I drove by this one because as you can probably see from the design, it used to be a dance club. I used to burn up the floors dancing in this club and if the walls could talk, i'm telling you the holy water in this newly anointed church would boil! But to Southernsers, doesn't matter where you worship as long as you show your face every Sunday.

When are you gonna get indoor plumbing?

Ok, not all Southerners have an outhouse, but I sure did get a kick out of teasing my son we were gonna get one in Amsterdam. This was in back of an old farm house up in the Great Smokey Mountains in North Carolina. I swear it's one of the most beautiful places on Earth, still quite untouched. My family has been camping up there for almost 30 years, its amazing!

 Calling all Full Blooded!

Even I was in disbelief when I saw this sign when we drove through Cherokee, North Carolina. I had to think a minute, a dance by a full blooded what? Bear? Then it hit me! NOOOOO a full blooded Cherokee Indian. Obviously there were some complaints that some of the dancers were not full blooded. Guess you have to give DNA samples with your job application...I'm not full blooded but I do have Cherokee ancestors, guess I would have to be a back-up dancer.

Gold in them there mountains!

No, not from the mines but from the rainbows. As you can see, rainbows climb sideways up mountains in NC, I guess so the pot of gold at the end doesn't roll down the side of the hill.

Time stands still

 The thing I love best about the South is that time stands still. If you wanna get away from the hustle and bustle of life anywhere else in the world, just go down South. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why traveling with kids is like childbirth

My parents front yard in South Carolina
Everyone knows that giving birth is supposedly the most painful experience on Earth.

At least that was what I thought until I traveled 16 hours last week with my little Dutchlings to my home in South Carolina.

First of all, we were late getting to the airport to check-in and once we made it to the desk we found out my son's American passport had expired. Thank goodness he has a Dutch one too, so we had 20 minutes to arrange a visa for him to travel to the States.

Of course, we made it but the flight had closed before our connecting tickets could be printed out which later caused us to miss our connecting flight. Yes, it was stressful and I thought it couldn't get any worse.

However, little did I know there was a natural disaster about to strike on our final flight from Detroit to North Carolina. Little did I know I would walk off the plane a changed mama.

It was pure bliss knowing this was the last leg of our journey but when we arrived at the end of the connector, I became a bit nervous. It wasn't a normal plane. It was what we call a puddle jumper. To me, it looked like a model airplane compared to the big 747 we just flew from Amsterdam in.

Cautiously, we literally climbed on the plane, it was so tiny there was only one seat on each side and you couldn't have carry-on's. Half the plane was opened with two huge doors. You could literally fall off if you didn't walk carefully down the aisle.

I was a wreck and quickly strapped my kids into their seats. That was when it happened. I bent over to hook my son's belt in the seat across the aisle and I almost vomited. He smelled like a 5 year old piece of festering poop. Apparently on his way down the tunnel, he had an "accident".

I looked frantically for a toilet, it was at the back of the plane and the flight attendant said we couldn't use it yet. She would regret these words later!

It was so hot on the plane, we were wet from sweat and I could now smell my son from across the aisle. Oh god, I thought, forget about the fear of crashing or taking off in this World War II leftover, I hoped we survived the trip without anyone dying from my son's toxic fumes.

We finally took off and were up in the air for about 5 minutes when extreme turbulence hit. We were literally bouncing in our seats and that's when the captain came on to give us the devastating news: no getting out of your seat, even to use toilet.

Great, I thought, its just an hour flight, surely that's not long enough to stink up the plane.

It wasn't 10 minutes later when I saw the lady and her teenage daughter sitting in front of us waving over the flight attendant and whispering in her ear. Darn! They had to be whispering about the smell! My heart raced, I had to do something. But going to the toilet would risk my son's safety, not an option.

I could see the man's nose (two rows ahead) begin to twitch and then he covered it with his hand. Oh shit! The funk was slowly creeping, filling the tiny plane. I knew it wouldn't be long and it would reach the pilots in the cockpit. They were only about 7 feet away.

I could just see the headlines, "Poop caused pilot to make emergency landing." I know crazy, but you never know these days, especially in the States. I would then be arrested for negligence and my kids deported back to Holland.

The plane really began to rock and roll and I was convinced the fumes were to blame. I sat there in shame, wishing the turbulence would stop so I could possibly solve this problem.

And finally, my window of opportunity came and we rushed to the toilet with spare clothes in hand. To my surprise, it was little more than a skid mark in my son's underwear. Not sure why this pissed me off, but it did. All this stress and it wasn't even worth a change of new pants. He changed his underwear but we left everything else on. Problem solved!

At least that was what I thought until we were sitting back at our seats for a good 10 minutes and the funk returned. I was fuming, I immediately accused my son of a relapse. I could see the noses up ahead begin to twitch and the uncomfortable shifting in the seats.

All I could do was sit there, we were out of underwear and I gave up. Thankfully, soon we were on the ground and at the gate. The doors were opened up  and the plane was immediately an inferno again.

Meanwhile there was a problem with the connecting walkway, so we were waiting about 5 miserable minutes which seemed to magnify the stench by 1000 times. The plane was instantly turned into the city sewer and people were now avoiding my eye contact.

The walkway was fixed and we tried to rush out, but not before I was shamed the worst I have ever been in my life. The whispering lady and her teenage daughter walked out just ahead of us and that's when the flight attendant said, "Thanks ladies for putting up with the smell."

I shrunk to the size of a smurf and dragged the kids behind hoping to quickly escape. The flight attendant just looked at me, coldly and didn't say a word! She didn't say a word!! Not even to the kids!

I wanted to cry, not sure why, maybe it was the stress of the flight or maybe it was just from the delirium caused by the shit fumes.I grabbed stinky boy by the hand and made a bee-line to the toilet.

To my surprise, he was squeaky clean but apparently the smell was absorbed into the microfibers of his jogging pants. Jezzzz!

And then tiger mama came out, I wanted to turn around and grab that snotty flight attendant by her face and tell her how dare she be rude to me and my children. I was proud of my son. He just traveled 17 hours without complaining, crying or fighting with his sister. So what if he smelled like a dirty toilet. He rocked!

But I didn't go back, I was too tired and glad it was over. Just like when I gave birth to theses two little creatures, it was long and painful but worth every moment. I was home...poop and all!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Can you find the 80 year old in a thong?

Can you find the 80 year old man in a thong in this picture? 

No not the long haired person lying on a camping mattress wearing a thong. She is much younger and topless I might add. She is at least in her 60's.

And you should thank me for not posting a frontal shot of her. However, when I first saw her I did feel a bit more "perky" myself.

This is what summer is all about in Amsterdam, lying in Vondel park people watching. You never know what you might see. Thats why I stay down at the South end where its more family oriented.

But every now and then you will get a little eye candy like this old guy in his weeny bikini from 1965, when he was a Chippendale.

This is why I love Amsterdam, people just aren't afraid to let it all hang out (literally)!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Will I ever be on the list?

My baby on the bus looking so sad

Throughout life there are so many lists we want to be included on. 

I can remember in kindergarten wanting to be on the “Little Helpers” list and then the Honor Roll list in grade school. 

Before I knew it, I wanted to be on the list to graduate high school and then the list to make it into journalism school. 

Once I was old enough, I wanted to be on the lists at the doors of my favourite clubs or parties.

And luckily enough I was included on all of these lists. And I guess for almost 40 years I have taken this for granted, until today. Today I wasn’t on the list.

You see, today was my son’s school trip to Sprookjeswonderland and Baby Daddy had signed me up weeks ago to go as a chaperone. Matter of fact, I recall him saying to me on the phone, “Great babes, you are at the top of the list.” At the time I didn’t realize the significance of this statement.

All week Luca and I had been talking about going on this trip together. I took a day off from my work and woke up extra early to pack our picnic lunches. We sang on the way to school and talked about all the things we would see today.

We bounced into the classroom and it was like a beehive buzzing with excitement. Luca was bragging to all of his friends, “My mama is going with us”.  Then it was the time all the kids had been waiting for, time to get in the groups with chaperones. The teacher began passing out all the group information papers to the chaperoning parents. She finally came to the bottom of the stack and every parent in the room got a paper, but me. I was left standing there without a group.

I asked the teacher why I wasn’t included and that was when she told me “I wasn’t on the list.” Well actually I was on the list she said, but I was number seven and they only needed six parents. Why hadn’t she told me earlier?

I choked back the tears. I knew right away it wasn’t the truth. I knew why I wasn’t on the list and I knew it deep inside for a very long time. I wasn’t like the other parents. And the thing that broke my heart was that I knew I would never be.

She left me standing there with a little boy looking up at me with eyes begging me not to say the words. But I had to, there was no other choice.

“Luca sweety, mama can’t go this time, but the good thing is now I have time to go buy you a dinosaur.” I didn’t know what else to say and yes I tried to buy away his disappointment.

He immediately began sobbing, like he does when he scrapes his knee or falls off his bike. He was in pain. I was in pain. We were in a room full of kids and parents and there was no where to hide. I was the outcast and my son was suffering the consequences.

I hugged him tight and tried to get myself together. By this point, several of his classmates were surrounding him asking what was wrong with Luca? All I could say was Luca was verdrietig. He was sad.

I am not even sure what I said to him after that. I just smiled and held him trying to convince him he was going to have the time of his life without mommy. By the time we walked to the bus, the tears had dried up and I was able to convince him to get on the bus.

I followed his little shadow to end of the bus and I could see his sadness through the tinted window. I just had to hold it together for a few more minutes until the bus was just a silhouette down the street.

And I did. I walked back to my bike feeling like a failure as a mother. I failed in trying to fit in, learning the language, and being a part of my children’s culture. I didn’t make the list this time and I doubted if I would.

Being a mother is not easy, but being a mother in a place where you will never be accepted adds another dimension of insecurity and self doubt. No one could imagine the beating that was going on inside of my head after I heard the news. 

When I woke up this morning, I was a confident, strong mother and now I was this weak, irresponsible mother who couldn't be trusted with a small group of 4 year-olds. Two years of sitting in a classroom trying to learn everything I could about the culture and language washed down the drain. I knew nothing.

Of course, I will get over it and my tears will be replaced with smiles when I pick my little guy up from the bus this afternoon. However, I will spend half of the day worrying about him and the other half convincing myself I am a good mother and it doesn’t matter if I fit in.

What does matter is that I have two beautiful souls that I call my children and no matter what, I will always be on the top of their lists. Even though I  won't always be on their most popular lists,  I will know my kids love and accept me for who I am...a mother who will never be perfect but one who loves them with all her heart, just me.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How I let go of my son's hand

The forest where my son killed dinos and deer
People are always eager to give advice. For example, "you should feed your child food at 6 months" or "your child should be potty trained by 3 years." You can find advice on every corner, especially in Holland, where it takes a village, the village next door and the village next to that to raise a child.

But there are things that people don't tell you. Important things, like when should you let up on the reins and give your child to the world. The moment you set them free and trust that they come back and in one piece. You know, like letting them walk around the block by themselves or trusting them to play outside alone.

I might sound like an over-protective mama, but this has been very difficult for me to do. You see, when my son was four years old we lost him at the beach for two hours. It was the worst two hours of my life. After the first hour that he was missing, I was already starting to mourn him. His short life was flashing before my eyes. When I finally collapsed in tears onto the sand, I got a call that he had come back to the where we had last seen him.

Ever since, I have kept the leash short, but now he is 5 1/2 years old and I can see him turning into a little boy more and more each day. I can feel the world drawing him into its pull and begging him to come explore. 

Its scary. I'm scared to death. I wanna keep my baby boy safe and hold him close. I know how bad it is out there. I know the world is filled with bad people who would hurt my sweet, sweet boy. I also know, what the world has given me: the adventures, the fun, the memories. Of course, I have crossed paths with bad things and bad people, but I thank god my parents instilled in me the feeling to not be drawn into it. They gave me a safe environment so that I had the confidence to believe in my intuition about people.

But I am not my mom, she knew what to do. Sometimes I have to reassure myself I am a mother of not only one but two human beings on this planet. I still feel like I am seven and these two little ones are just over grown Cabbage Patch dolls that poop and pee and talk.

Yet, this weekend I was forced to face this dilemma. I had to make a choice: do I let go of his hand or do I hold on tight and deprive him of an experience of a lifetime?

I let go. I let him roam the camp ground with a new friend he made while camping on a farm this past weekend. We were with a group of about 30/40 people and tons of kids. Kids running wild, in the big dark forest, in the overgrown pastures, around the old haphazard farm. I could see danger everywhere and I could see strangers everywhere. But I saw my son. I saw the look on his face when he asked if he could roam the fields with his new friend. I saw my baby turning into a boy and I knew it was time to let go. 

I have to admit, the first of the three days I spent wandering around every hour checking to see if he was ok. And every time, I had a heart attack. I wasn't able to find him right away and I visualized the Amber Alert on Facebook. I started listing what he had on that day and where I last saw him. 

The second day I spent half the time worrying and by the third day I had only sent out the Amber Alert maybe 3 times. We were in the car on the way home after the camping weekend and my son started telling me all about his adventures "deer hunting" in the fields and about the "dinosaurs he killed with his spear in the forest". He went on for an hour telling me all about his new friend and the places they discovered, things I would have never known. But most importantly, experiences he would have never had if I hadn't let go of his hand.

I could feel the tears rolling down my cheeks as I remembered holding him in my arms just after he was born and telling him I would never let go. But these weren't sad tears, these were proud tears, not only proud of him but proud of myself. I let go of my baby's hand and he grabbed it back as a little boy.

Friday, May 17, 2013

My 9 advantages to having a preventative mastectomy

I have to admit, my doctor has been asking me for years to please consider the BRCA1 mutant gene testing. You know,  the test Angelina Jolie took to find out she was at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer which led to her preventive mastectomy.

I have given him every excuse why I should not to do it and as a compromise I agreed to go to the "booby doctor" every six months for a check. But of course, between the potty training, sleepless nights, and just trying to survive as a mom thousands of miles away from my family, I have neglected to go every six months. And, matter of fact, after getting stuck in the Mammography machine last time, I have even avoided the yearly breast squeeze this year.

Terrible. Irresponsible. Selfish. Yes, I know. Plus, I have two small kids, why would I be so stupid?

To be honest, like everything else that has anything to do with ME, it’s always on the back burner. So when Angie came out that she got rid of her girls and got a newer and safer model, I decided to really think about making the appointment.

But what was holding me back? I think my biggest reason for avoiding the test is the what "if's".  I forced myself to face the issue: What action would I take if the test was positive? Well, I would do whatever it would take to make sure my babies have a mama to raise them.

To help psyche myself up, I came up with 9 advantages if I am a mutant and decide to follow in Angelina's footsteps and get the preventative chop-chop!

1. A new rack - After two kids and breastfeeding for what felt like 10 years, the girls have decided to migrate south. And when they aren't south around my knees, at night they travel so far east and west I can hardly sleep. So a new rack would be awesome! I could pick my size, they would always be perky!  Of course, I would miss Trusty and Lucy, but at least I would be healthy.

2. No more bra's -Along with a new rack comes no more over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders! I could wear backless shirts and enter wet T-shirt contests during Spring Break! And get on Girls Gone Wild!!

3. Run Baywatch Babe, Run- I could run up and down the beach Baywatch style and not worry about getting a black eye.

4. No more Mammograms - This is probably not true, but how would they squish my new plastic triple D's in that horrible machine. They would burst right? Anyway, a girl who has actually had a boob stuck in pancake mode during a mammography can dream!

5. No more feeling myself up- This is also probably wishful thinking. But I love the thought of not having to worry to remember to check myself. I’m the mama who forgets to brush her hair most days and my kids names on a good day.

6. No more sore breasts - I know the surgery would be hell and the reconstruction even worse but once I’m healed that’s hopefully it. No more monthly soreness. Shit! Would have to think of new excuse to keep Baby Daddy off!

7. Bikini top for humans - I will be able to finally wear a bikini top that doesn’t have enough metal to build a life-size robot. Plus, I could wear tops in normal shapes like little triangles instead of an oversized watermelon.

8. I will be in control – For the first time since my bosom blossomed and the fear of me of inheriting the breast cancer that took my great grandmother, has attacked my grandmother several times, has threatened my cousin who fought and won and my aunt who is on her way to winning now was instilled in me, I will be able to control my fear of that dreaded diagnosis. Of course there would still be a small chance, but the relief of not ever knowing would be gone.

9. I will be around for my kids - This is the most important. Even if I’m not able to get a pair of “new girls” and reap these benefits, I would do anything for my kids. People often say they would give their right arm for this or that. Well I would give my right breast or left or both for my kids. Besides, who would embarrass them the way I would running across the playground Baywatch style in my triangle top string bikini to pick them up after school.

Ok, I’m making the call now.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Baby Daddy finally gets it!

For five years, Baby Daddy has been coming home from work or wherever to share his life changing conversations about parenting he has had with other parents. And every time, he comes home with this "brilliant" advice from these way-better-parents-than -we-are highlighting how much we have failed with our own offspring. Each time, I count to 10, breath deeply and patiently listen.

Then I respond in my very annoyed, somewhat defensive voice, "But honey, every child is different and it's just a phase."

You see, as women are more perceptive than men, I learned this awful truth some time ago and have been free ever since. The only problem was I could never convince Baby Daddy that these people were full of shit and their kids would probably end up in Juevy by age nine.

Now don't get me wrong, our kids are far from perfect. My son has inherited his Dad's laziness (He shits in the tub at 5) and my daughter can be as bitchy as her mother (she has no friends at daycare). But in general, they are sweet kids who go through all the same phases as any other child.

Yet, according to the "expert parents" that Baby Daddy comes in contact with, our children are little terrorists and we are in desperate need of a Super Nanny intervention.

However, last night Baby Daddy came home after a work "drink" and gave me a shock of a lifetime.
He sat down beside me like he normally does when he wants to regurgitate something he has learned from Holland's Best Parent. I began to sweat, nervous and somehow knew this was going to be some serious business.

He sighed and leaned over and said, "Baby, parents lie about their kids". 

WTF? Did he really say this I wondered. I pinched myself on the leg. Ouch, yes he really said it.

I was getting excited at his revelation, but I could feel the disappointment in his voice. He began to shake his head and seemed to be replaying all those conversations we had about the best advice that never worked with our own kids. 

Then he lifted his head and I could see the relief in his eyes when he realized he wasn't a failure after all.

Finally, Baby Daddy got it! Amen! My suffering was over! He was free!

"Lies, it was all lies. Their kids have problems, too."

"Yes, sweetie, all kids have issues, it's all part of learning."

"Why," he asked me, "why do they lie about their kids?"

So I gave him a big hug and looked into his eyes and said, "Because Sweety, they didn't have amazing parents like us to teach them that every time they tell a lie, a blue strip appears on their forehead."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My last Queen's Day before I die

Ok, maybe I might make it 30 more years when King W hands over his crown to Amalia, but I will be too busy travelling on my yacht around the world after retirement to worry about Queen's Day! Anyway, it was my 10th and quietest...all the peasants were home watching the crowning except me who sold homemade sandwiches in Vondelpark. Im on my Momcation right now in Spain and internet sucks so I can't caption pics until I return to reality next week!! So till then, Long Live the King!

The new King and Queen were even honored on cookie tins

Here you have some orange sprinkled royal mystery meat

Here is the Dutch diet staple: Royal potatos

The royal Coke Colas!

Even the balony grew in the shape of a royal crown

Here are my Dutchlings shopping in Vondelpark

This family danced and belly danced for their coins in Vondelpark

I gave these future break dancers 2 euros for their show. Amazing talent!

Unfortunate for us, this prodigy was just across from our sandwich stand

Here is Babby Daddy making homemade sanwiches and selling one to the King

Here are the Dutchlings trying to sell in Vondel park

Friday, April 19, 2013

I feed my kids rotten meat

Here is the rotten meat in a box
My kids are FREAKS when it comes to eating. I am constantly reading or listening to other mothers complain about their children's eating habits. Either their children won't eat, or won't eat veggies, or will only eat sweets.

Not my kids. No, my kids love broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and even sprouts. They will eat just about anything you put in their dinner "bowl". They are like little hungry pups, literally lapping up their feed. Not normal!

And to really flip me out, they pretend their food is actually something else. Green beans are grass for the plant eaters and broccoli are baby trees. Hello, they are not suppose to know that trick! That was the trick I had ready up my sleeve to get them to eat their veggies.

Let me give you an example of the latest kookiness of my offspring. I decided to start acting like an old fart and work on my digestive sytem. So I bought myself a box of Kelloggs Bran. You know, that cereal that actually not only looks like little tree twigs but tastes like it too.

Well sometimes I eat it raw, or without milk and the other day I had left a bowl on the table while I went into the kitchen to grab a spoon.

Then I hear, "Yummmm carrion!" "Ahhh look Luca, I found some carrion." And I can then hear the sound of the bowl being tossed around the table from their lapping.

Yes, my kids were taking turns licking up bran cereal from my bowl (Ok I never said they had good table manners). Disgusting!

"Mama, we are eating carrion, we are T-Rexes!" First of all I have no idea what the hell carrion is, the only thing I know is that they talk about it on Dinosaur Train. So I look it up quickly on my phone: Dead, rotting, decaying meat.

So now every morning since, my kids jump on me begging for carrion for breakfast! Why can't my kids eat oatmeal or toast like the other kids. Nope, my kids insist on eat rotting dinosaur meat for breakfast! I told you, FREAKS!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Warning: Neighbors and Nakedness

Take a peek in an Amsterdam binnen tuin...see any nakedness?
For those of you who don't live in Amsterdam, here is a little fact: A good percentage of Amsterdammers do not have curtains in their living room (which is usually the only room that has windows facing the street).

You can literally take a peek into their lives. You can see all their precious treasures, beautiful art, old fashioned rooms, what they are watching on TV or in my neighbor's case, a big fat naked butt streaking across the house.

Yes, Bible Belt raised Southern Belle aka ME does not have curtains in most rooms of my house, just the two bedrooms. So, when I go from the shower on one side of the house to my bedroom on the other,  neighbors out on their balcony have front row seats to the "Naked Mama Makes a run for it show".

I mean, come on it's Holland, it's too cold to go on your balcony, so I thought I was safe trotting around in my birthday suit. And of course I have a bathrobe, but normally I do not have time to even wash my "pits" before the kids are killing each other, much less throw on a robe. And they don't make towels big enough towels in this country to cover a real woman's body. 

Sometimes I even settle disputes en route to the privacy of my bedroom that is why it's not shocking for me that my neighbor has seen me naked. 

I know, now you are wondering how do I know he has seen me naked. Well, it's not like he came up to me one day and said "Love that tight ass!"

Nope, I could tell when I saw him in the supermarket yesterday. He was walking out when I was walking in, I smiled and said hello and his face turned green and he looked like he was going to vomit. HELLO,  I was a social worker for five years; I know what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder looks like!

Poor guy couldn't get out of there fast enough. He practically kicked his toddler daughter out of the door. Last time I saw him he was all friendly and even said "Hello". 

So it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out why he reacted the way he did: He must have seen me streak across the house. He was probably out on his balcony  innocently smoking a ciggy or watering his plants and he got a shock of a lifetime.

I mean who could blame the guy. He has a skinny home-grown flight attendant Baby Mama and I am sure he has never seen such a sight before in his life. Dutch women only gain like 2 kilos when they are preggers and look like supermodels before their kids even start breastfeeding!

Therefore, you can imagine his trauma when he saw my body after birthing two babies. It's a miracle he didn't turn to stone after seeing the body with a "muffin top" even with my fat girl underwear on! 

Yep, he saw me! I guess I should be embarrassed and maybe even buy curtains, but actually I can't be bothered.  Maybe one day I will remember to buy some of those window stickers to block the view. Or maybe I just keep traumatizing my neighbors!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Eat my eggs, snobby mamas!

Yes, I rock! I am the Queen of the Paas Ontbijt or for you non-Dutchies, that means Easter Breakfast. This year yours truly, the Outcast-Expat-Yoga-Pants-Wearing Mama was asked to make stuffed eggs for my daughter's class. 

Look at these eggs! And I am the only working mother in the class! After 12 hours of working and commuting, I came home and made these stuffed eggs. I agree, they look like they are on Crack but I was cutting up the pickles at 10pm with only one eye opened.

The kids loved them and I am now the reigning teachers' pet! I arrogantly basked in the limelight while the Albert Hein Supermarket-Easter-treat buying-In-crowd Mamas scowled from the corner. I can now hold my once left-out head up high walking across the school yard, I am down with the teachers, I am Teacher's Pet, hear me ROAR!

And hello, I may not brush my hair very often and dress like I'm always on my way to the gym yet obviously never get there, but watch out all you Fashion Show Barbie Mamas on the schoolplein, I'm a creative chick!

Happy Easter!! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Daycare and Preschool: You suck!!

Charly and Puk with his suicase full of things to be lost

Dear Daycare and Preschool,

I would first like to say thank you for taking such good care of my babies. God knows you practically raised them and most probably taught them everything they need to know about manners, hygiene and going poo poo on the potty.

And for this, I am so grateful.

But there is one thing that I think you should know. And I know you mean well and it’s all part of this advanced teaching thing you guys have going on to try to get more kids into the daycare and preschool. I know its crisis time.

Yet, I am also in a crisis. In the last month my daughter has brought home this “logeer knuffel”or a.k.a stuffed doll that comes home with the child for a few days. I totally understand the lesson behind this Doll, but it’s just one more thing for me to keep up with (along with all the contents in its suitcase).

Trust me, my three year old is not responsible yet to keep track of this Doll. It would be all fine if she would just leave the thing home, but noooo, you guys have conditioned her to take it everywhere, give it experiences.

Come on people! The only experience this doll gets when it goes out with my daughter is its face being dragged on the street. I end up finding it left on the floor of the supermarket or behind the bench at the playground. And God forbid we lose this Doll. My daughter would be shunned by the class and  I would forever be known as “That Mother who lost Puk or Ed.”

And if this was not enough to worry about, I have to dress the damn thing twice a day. So now that’s 4 bodies I have to dress the last two mornings and nights. And to be honest, this Doll is probably the most difficult out of the four to dress because some parents must have washed his pajamas and outfits in 200F. Its clothes are like 2 sizes too small (which probably means some kid shit or snotted him all up with crusty boogies so mommy had to wash…Puke).

Great, for the last two mornings I have taken 15 extra minutes to try to squeeze this Doll into its clothes making us 15 minutes late for school this morning. So you know what I did, I called Charly’s teacher and said she was gonna be late because we were dressing that F-ing Doll.

And the icing on the cake: my daughter brought this Doll in bed with me and stuffed him practically in my mouth this morning, saying I need to cuddle him. I swear I almost vomited! Hello, germs and fecal matter from all the little snot noses who have also snuggled with this doll. So now on top of everything, I will most probably get sick!

Thank God this germ infested doll goes back to school tomorrow morning. But of course, there is yet one more thing I must do for this Doll before it goes back. I have to write all about his wonderful adventures while staying at our house IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE!!

Since I have to write in Dutch and I am warning you teachers, it will go something like this: Puk sleep at our house. See Puk run. Go Puk, go! Puk is a pain in my A double SS!

Ok, I am now finished with the bitching, so daycare and preschool, I hope you can understand why I am not too pleased with this idea. But I am only complaining to you, because to be honest, my daughter has so enjoyed the experience and I know she won’t soon for get it. So I thank you for that…



PS. Charly has lost the Doll’s teddy bear somewhere in our house and hopefully we will find it by the time she is in high school!