Monday, January 25, 2016

My first milestone

Walking, talking, the first day of school, the first loose tooth, these are all milestones children experience. But recently I discovered there are milestones that we experience as parents.

I realized this when my baby girl read a full sentence to me for the first time. She is in Groep 3 (1st grade) so I was aware that she was slowly learning how to read.

I had been through the process already with my son, two years ahead of her. I knew that that by Christmas she would be able to read simple books and that a new world would open up for her. I knew she had a milestone coming.

But what I didn't know was that I too would have such a milestone. This happened one night at her bedtime when she began to read a simple three word sentence to me.

She picked up a book and with no effort, read a sentence. I know, it doesn't sound earth moving, but hearing her read this sentence took my breath away.

This was my baby and with those three words she grew into this little person. She was growing up and  I could imagine helping her pack her bags to go away to University or move out to be on her own. 

One major string that was connecting her to me snapped at that instant. Of course it's not a bad thing to experience this as a parent. No one wants their kids to be dependent on them forever, but it took me by surprise because it was happening so fast.

I wanted to take that moment and put it in a jar to keep forever. I wanted her to stop growing and turning into a little person, just for a while, just so I could catch up with her.

Then I realized this is the part of being a parent that no one can explain to you. No one can explain that you spend your entire life waiting for this person to come into your world, you carry them inside you for nine months and then you have to slowly learn to let them go.

No one tells you that you have to trust that you are teaching them the right things and set them free one day into the world hoping they will survive. Not only survive, but thrive and shine and be the person they were meant to be.

I look at my two "babies" and I think it's just a matter of time and they will be leaving my nest. Until then, I have decided to enjoy all the little milestones in between. And slowly let go...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My big fat Albert Heijn sticker obsession

Turned this card in today for a fancy Japanese knife
Is there a support group out there for those addicted to collecting bestek zegels (silverware stickers) from Albert Heijn? If so, I need to join ASAP.

For you lucky ones who have no idea what I am talking about, Albert Heijn is a supermarket chain in The Netherlands that has a promotion: shoppers collect stickers from their grocery purchases in order to buy special edition knives and silverware (last year it was glasses).

So for every 10 euros you spend, you receive a sticker to stick on your collector's card. Once you reach 50 stickers you can purchase one of the knives or a one person set of silverware from the Villeroy & Boch collection.

I know, its the biggest marketing gimmick, but I can't help it. You buy 500 euros worth of groceries so you can pay 5 euros to purchase on overpriced piece of cutlery (I'm collecting the knives).

And for those of you not living here, Albert Heijn is no cheap supermarket. Normally, I would never shop there. I prefer the cheaper supermarkets so I can stay within our monthly budget.

But I walked into Albert Heijn just as the promotion started and I saw those sleek knives and I was hooked. You can even fill-up a card up to buy the ultra modern bamboo knife block. I was sold!

I filled three cards of 50 stickers in two months. Don't worry, I haven't spent 1500 euros on food in the last two months. I had enablers.

Colleagues have given me their stickers and a mother from my children's school gave me an entire card FILLED for Christmas! Best Christmas gift ever!

I am so obsessed I know which cashiers at which Albert Heijn will give you extra stickers. I even figured out ways to get them to give you extra stickers, like telling them how desperate I am to get the kiddie spoons before my due date in February. Ok, I haven't stooped that low, but I whined a time or two to get extras.

Just like any addict, I came to a point where I realized I had a problem. After only filling one card, I decided to give up and decided to buy myself a new set of knives for consolation. That was when it happened: Albert Heijn stickers fell from heaven! I was walking down my street and what did I about step on? You got it, AH stickers! Three of them! Thirty euros just lying there on the street.

I decided it was sign from the sticker collecting gods and I began to fill a new card. However, in order to control my problem, I no longer shop exclusively at AH. I decided only to buy my gluten free products there and if I fill up a card by the time the promotion ends in February, then it's meant to be.

But in the last 24 hours I turned in two of my filled cards and purchased the bamboo block and the fancy Japanese knife from the collection. For my first card, I like the rest of the Dutch population collecting, I bought the set of two knives (more bang for your buck). And I calculated I can fill one more card before the expiration date and I even picked out which knife I will get last (cue the Gollem voice) "My precious" bread knife.

My precious!
I know, psycho! I am trying to make excuses for my behavior, like how it reminds of me of my Garbage Pail Kids sticker collecting days. Or how I desperately need a new set of knives. However, in the back of my head, I keep thinking once it's all over I will have a knife block and four knives that cost 2000 euros but are worth maybe 100!

Crazy! It's sick and I am ashamed but seriously, if anyone has stickers they don't want, I'm up for negotiating. I traded half my lunch today for six!