Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


we celebrated the birthday of peter pan today. it seems that although he does not want to grow up he would like occasionally to celebrate. so we complied. with garlands, balloons, gifts (i am now the proud owner of my own mowgli doll and a barbie television). and a french-style apple tart. this was a real joint-venture: isabelle wrote the shopping-list, carried the groceries from the store, made the dough, rolled out the dough, filled the pie with apples, smeared the apricot jam over the top of the pie and licked clean every utensil and container she could lay her hands on. i supervose. antoine threw the cored, peeled and sliced apples into the bowl with water and lemon juice. and then out of it again. fun was had by all.

(the recipe for the apple tart comes from this fantastic, best ever, i-am-so-happy-i-bought-it cookery bookery)

Friday, September 19, 2008


- mama, ik ben zo misselijk, ik denk dat er drugs zaten in die snoepjes... oh nee, toch niet, want ik heb géén gekke dagdromen erbij...

- mama, weet je wat leuk zou zijn? als de kindjes en grote mensen in china die barbies maken wel gewoon centjes en eten ervoor zouden krijgen, en dat ze wel af en toe zouden mogen slapen, en dat ze dan barbies zouden maken met grotere voeten, en met rechte voeten zodat de barbies zouden kunnen lopen en staan, en ook met grotere handen, zodat ze zouden kunnen werken en koken en baby's vasthouden, en ook met echte hangende borsten met zo'n puntje in het midden, dat is dan de tepel waar de baby melk uit kan drinken... en dan zouden die barbies ook niet de hele tijd glimlachen, en ook gewoon normale korte benen hebben, en een dikke taille, en niet zoveel make-up... dan zouden het echt mooie barbies zijn, vind je niet?

(ahem... do you think i might be overloading my four-year old?)

(I. - mama, i am so nauseous, i think there were drugs in those sweets... oh no, i guess not, because i am not having any odd day-dreams...

II. - mama, you know what would be nice? if the children and the adults in china who make the barbies did get money and food, and if they were allowed to sleep from time to time, and then they would make barbies with bigger feet, and straight feet so that the barbies could walk and stand, and also with bigger hands, so that they could work and cook and hold babies, and also with real hanging breasts with a dot in the middle and that would be the nipple, where the milk comes from for the baby... and those barbies wouldn't smile all the time, and they would have normal short legs and a thick waist, and not so much make-up... then those would be really beautiful barbies, don't you think?)

Thursday, September 18, 2008


just found out (here) that it means 'that which gives life meaning' in japanese. nowadays, little big things. a new yoga class. sunshine. signing up for sewing lessons. these patterns. this book. this book. this artist. an entire day spent lazing about. the fact that my mobile phone has a video function.

Monday, September 15, 2008

fairy house

we spent the weekend roaming a belgian forest with some two-footed and some four-footed friends. then, on sunday morning, isabelle and i went for a mama-daughter stroll, just the two of us. and we found this one spot, with this one tree, absolutely perfect for a fairy house (we'd been talking about building one ever since this book arrived in the mail).
there it is. we started with the main house (on the right in the photograph), but then isabelle decided we needed a separate bathroom annex, since the roof of the main house should be waterproof, but the roof of the annex should let in the light and the rain (the rain to fill the bathtub and the light so you can look at the sky from your bath). the bathroom also contains a towel-rack with a leaf towel and a leaf mirror on the wall (mama, the fairy can't see herself in that mirror, but look, when the sun falls into the house like this, she can see her shadow reflected in it).
the little poles around the house fence off the fairy's garden, and the beech nuts (green balls) laying in the niche between the house and the bathroom are the fairy's reserve food supply for the winter.
here is a view of the inside of the main house, you can see the white table on the right, with a stool covered with a red rose-petal cushion. behind the table, in the far corner, tucked into the roots of the tree, there is a bed, with a very soft feather mattress and a down-and-leaf blanket. next to the bed (on the left), there is a rocking chair made from the same birch bark as the table, and on the floor there is a green leaf carpet in the shape of a flower. on the table, there are bowls (walnut) and cups (acorn), and a flower vase containing the most amazing little feather i have ever seen (real-life size of feather 2 mm).

i simply loved doing this with her. it was magic. and i had such trouble leaving it behind in the woods; i wanted to take it home, or alternatively move right in myself. 'but mama', she said, 'if we don't leave, how can the fairy ever come out of hiding to look at her new home?'. sigh.

Friday, September 12, 2008


i did a brave thing this week: i went to the zoo. and no, this is not an animal story. i went to the zoo with a group of very nice people whom i have been fearful, shy, excited, nervous and reluctant to meet for almost a year: the homeschoolers of zuid holland. when we first decided to keep isabelle home in january of this year, i signed up for the homeschooling mailing list, but after one greatly helpful phone conversation with the moderator, i basically stopped looking at the list and never got around to meeting any of the people. not that i didn't think about them. in fact, i thought about them most of the time, these fascinating people i had never met. they were my joker, my wild card, my 'if all else fails, i can always...'. and as the year progressed, they acquired mythical proportions. as did my fear.

then last week, i happened to look in on the list and there was this idea of going to the zoo, and before i knew it, i had written to say we would be coming too, and with a wild beating heart, and my stomach in my throat, i went (together with marc, who was kind enough to drag his flu-ridden body along to help me with this) (i have a goood husband). turns out they are normal people. lovely, friendly, extremely normal people. who just happen to have made certain choices with regard to their children which happen to be the same choices we have made.

and meeting them was amazing. because it meant putting down this big heavy back-pack i didn't even know i had been carrying. i had not realized, until tuesday, how very lonely i have been feeling. how isolated. how misunderstood. how insecure too, in this BIG thing, this NOT sending isabelle to school. not that i ever doubted the rightness of the decision itself, but it has been such a heavy, serious thing.

and it has made me hold back too. when things got rough, which they do periodically, i did not dare to speak, to voice my doubts and fears, because whether you said it or not, you good people who love us, i could hear it in the back of your head ('i am worried that she is lonely' 'you should send her to school'; 'i am afraid that she is not learning anything' 'you should send her to school'; 'it sometimes drives me up the wall that she is constantly here with me' 'you should send her to school'). and the reason i could hear it is because it was in the back of my head too.

i've been thinking about this: it's as if every time i say i'm having a bad day, someone says 'you should move to africa':

- i had a bad dream last night
- you should move to africa

- i've had this pain in my chest for a few days
- you should move to africa

- i am worried about losing my job
- you should move to africa

and now, since tuesday, i know people who know what it's like to live right here. with all the doubts and worries and fears. and the joy, the fun, the freedom. the sheer exhilaration. of not moving to africa. of not even thinking of moving to africa.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

not the plan

'the nursing philosopher'. i wrote it and then realized that if this was a famous painting and that its famous title, the centuries to come would probably assume the philosopher was antoine, as opposed to yours truly. gender issues can still make me go 'ggggrrr!'. anyway, i meant me.

we were supposed to be in france this week. but the children got sick, and marc got sick, and then i got sick (don't want to be the only not-sick person around here, since that means pretty much the same as 'workhorse') and so we decided to just stay put. and take walks. and throw sticks in the water and watch them appear on the other side of the bridge. and enjoy the indian summer.


hallo hallo hallo
regen regen rikketik
we wilden net een pick-nick

Friday, September 05, 2008

love letter in bullet-point format

  • blueberry monster
  • climbs out of baby chair
  • constantly moving when not asleep
  • loves: dancing, music, clapping in his hands after a show, rolling balls on the floor and following them, crawling around bare-bottomed, climbing over and into everything, cars, kisses, hugs
  • light switches
  • waves at Oma
  • eats by himself
  • light switches
  • brushing his own teeth
  • brushing other people's teeth
  • opening doors - closing doors
  • drawing
  • when happy, says 'ugh!', 'kkkrr!' or 'uh!'
  • when unhappy, cries 'ama!'
  • hugging the cat
  • smelling lavander
  • eating chalk
  • the crown of his head, perfect spiral
  • sucking on wooden clothes pegs
  • his smile
  • sleeping in the sling
  • his eyes
  • light switches