Back to work

I’ve had a two week Christmas holiday but it really went by in a flash! Busy Christmas days, nice New Year’s Eve with friends and after that I thought I’d have all the time in the world to relax. That wasn’t quite the case. Went to IKEA for a new desk for Mr E’s work room that he shares with my daughter, the room then needed to be painted (which Mr E and my daughter did), I then helped organize everything there again. Also did my refugee volunteer work, my mom and sister needed help with stuff, cleared away Christmas things, got things organized in the house, etc. etc. It all kept me pretty busy.

On Saturday we finally got around to going on a day trip to a town called Bergen op Zoom, about an hour from where we live. I’d never been there before, but it was a sweet place…

Today it’s back to work. Luckily I get to start easy, with a cup of tea in a lovely mug beside me and a little time to blog. From tomorrow it gets very busy again.

2023 is also starting with some challenges in our little family, like Mr E still struggling with some stuff with work since the fall and verging on a full-blown burnout, which means he’s had to take a step back and re-construct things. Junior in the meantime has quit his sports management studies. He has decided that full time school is just not for him, mixing with 17-18 year old students and a university programme that does not live up to its promise. He does want to do something to better himself, so is now working a part time job and from February onwards will do university part time as well (he’s going to study marketing), where he can use his job for all the practical coursework that comes with it. Luckily I’m still happy with my job and mini me is doing well studying nursing, so there is that. Anyway, fingers crossed that everything works out OK for my two men!

I came across this little song today, which is so pretty and very fitting in a way. A good one to keep in mind, and a new artist for me to follow as I really like what this Rose Betts is doing. It’s all about silver linings…

Have a good start to the new year, everyone, with a little love in your life.

Christmas chaos (but fun)

Christmas has been very busy and a tad chaotic but it’s been fun for us.

We never used to do much on the 24th but a few years ago a close friend of ours lost first her father and then her mother to cancer and to make it all a little less lonely for her and her sister, we invited them over for Christmas Eve dinner. It’s now become a tradition of sorts for a few years (they bring dessert) and it’s always lovely having them. We keep it simple with table grilling but it’s still festive. A little slideshow picture impression of our December 24th (and yes, I blur faces of everyone except Mr E and myself).

Our Christmas Day on the 25th always starts with a brunch that Mr E prepares and after that we exchange a few gifts. In the afternoon my in-laws arrive for drinks and dinner and we celebrate Christmas with them.

Oh, and the cat too enjoys the gift unwrapping!

Boxing Day, or Second Christmas Day as it’s called in The Netherlands, is always reserved for Christmas with my family at my mother’s house. My mother does a reading and a little speech for all of us, we then unwrap gifts (we do Secret Santas instead of everyone getting everyone else gifts they don’t need), have a buffet dinner, there is always a lot of chatter and singing and dancing and we end with sparkles. This year, due to circumstance, it ended up with Mr E and myself doing most of the work regarding the food (from cake and coffee to buffet dinner), so it was pretty busy for us. But fun nonetheless.

Granted, we do need two days to recover! It all looks lovely and great and it really was, but we’ve had some challenges to deal with as well, which means we have been a little less resilient. It has made doing all this this year somewhat straining despite all my efforts to not make too much of an effort. So, despite all the fun and warmth, it does make me happy that the biggest chaos of hosting the holidays (and lets face it, we pretty much hosted three parties three days in a row) is now over and it’s time to just chill.

And speaking of chaos: yesterday morning my mother called me to tell me that at 1.30 am, she, my older sister and my younger brother (who are staying with her) were awakend by fire engines. Apparently there was a fire in the apartment below my mother’s and she could see flames outside her window! A fireman even came into her apartment to assess the situation below. Luckily it was quickly extinguished, turns out it had ‘only’ been a fire on the balcony below and no one needed to be evacuated. Phew! In the second picture below, it’s my brother and sister looking down at the action outside my mother’s front door.

Also yesterday I vowed to not take care of anyone for a change, although that didn’t quite go to plan as I unexptedly had to cat-sit my older sister’s cat (he loves attention) and accept the groceries in her flat that she had ordered online.

Today a little more chilling time with some time for blogging now. Junior is at work today (he badly injred his knee a few weeks ago, so we chauffeur him to and from work as he can barely walk), Mr E is reading a book I gave him for Christmas and mini me is chattering away with our cat in her lap. Most obligations must wait for a later time, like me having to send out the new family calendar (that I make every year) to family members who were not able to come. What’s an extra few days, right? Hopefully tomorrow.

I go cat-sitting again at the end of the afternoom before I pick up Junior (Mr E brought him this morning, I pick him up again) and this evening, after a leftovers dinner, we go see the new Avatar movie on an IMAX 3D screen. I’m glad I have another week and a half of Christmas holidays left. 🙂

In sickness and in health

My younger brother and my mother both have Covid. They both have symptoms (mostly coughs and extreme tiredness) but aren’t too sick, so that’s good (yay for vaccinations!), we’re hoping for quick recoveries. I too have been felled by Covid like symptoms but four home tests in the past five days reveal that I don’t seem to have Covid, so I guess it’s just regular flu for me.

My aunt has been dealing with some very rough health issues since this past summer and has now been taken into hospital since yesterday. I’ve been feeling helpless with that, not much I (or my brother and mother) can do while we too are sick. My older brother is away for business, my older sister has just left for Seville for a week long holiday, my two other older brothers live abroad, so it was left to my younger sitster to deal with it all on her own yesterday when everything came to a crisis. I hope light can be found at the end of this long dark tunnel for my aunt. We’re all very worried for her.

In better news, our old cat has been slowly recovering from his little adventure when he went missing. For the past three days he has pretty much only eaten and then crawled into his preferred resting place, the cat carrier, to sleep.

Yesterday I saw a glimmer of his previous energy emerge again, he was walking around a bit more. We have blocked off our back garden, so he can’t wander out of there and today he just sat in our back garden like this for half an hour, looking a little more like his old self:

For now our little old man seems to be here to stay. I hope the rest of my family will also be able to make a slow but steady recovery like that.

Summer holiday starts with Ed

It’s Saturday morning, 2.30 am and I should be going to bed but I first quickly wanted to post this.

Yesterday, Friday until about 2 pm, I was stressing to get all my work done before the start of my summer holiday and luckily I succeeded. To start off our holiday, leaving all work stress behind me, Mr Esther, Junior, Mini me and I went to see Ed Sheeran live in concert in Amsterdam! We left in the afternoon, had a quick dinner nearby the Amsterdam Arena stadium and then found our seats.

The concert really was great! It is so cool to see how one man with a guitar can take up a stage like that and manages to engage a crowd of 70.000 people so very well! His voice is great, his energy is great, the music was great and the visuals were so beautiful! He seemed to really love being in Amsterdam and seemed to really enjoy himself too, which also made the crowd enthusiastic. We really had such a good time. At the end he even changed into an orange shirt (orange of course being our national colour).

We made some videos at the concert but too tired now to upload them all and won’t have time in the near future as tomorrow we prepare and pack for our holiday and on Sunday we’ll be off. I did want to share these three videos, though.

The first one is of a newer song called The Joker and the Queen. Such a touching song, it brought tears to my eyes…

The second song I’m sharing is Thinking Out Loud and shows you how well Ed also engages the audience…

The third and final video I’m sharing was filmed while Ed was singing Photograph. There was a sign language interpreter below, signing every song. It was such a fascinating and beautiful thing to observe.

As an added bonus that really made us very happy, Mr E and I really loved watching our kids enjoy themselves so very much as well. It was a perfect family outing.

If you even remotely enjoy some of Sheeran’s music, I can only highy recommend going to a concert of his. As pop concerts go, these tickets really weren’t that expensive and they really are worth every penny.

Right, bed time! Not sure when I’ll be back online as Mr E and I head off on our first summer holiday alone together in 21 years on Sunday… 🙂

International Day of Families

Apparently, every May 15th it’s the International Day of Families. It’s as good a reason as any to pay tribute to my family.

I come from a bit of an unusual family and I still think it’s a cool one. My parents were married in September 1960 and nine months later my oldest brother was born. The family soon expanded and by the end of 1966 my parents had four children. In 1967 they moved to Israel and in 1968 my family looked like this…

My oldest brother died after an accident in early 1969 and the family then came to look like this (yes, we had an old olive press in the middle of the living room)…

I was born in the spring of 1970, in 1973 my parents adopted two babies of Palestinian origin (seven months apart in age) and in 1976, this was our family…

At the end of the 1970s an Ethiopian girl aged 16 came to our family, followed by an Ethiopian boy aged 11 and just before we moved away from Israel in 1980, our family looked like this (eight kids and two dogs in total):

In 1980, when I was 10 years old, we packed up our VW van and with a caravan in tow we moved to Germany where my father had accepted a new job.

Six years later my family looked like this, with a new second family dog after our old little black dog had passed away (the dog was called Dunya, and we always used to impatiently urge her to ‘mach was’ (‘do something’) when she would dawdle about doing her business)…

Another four years later, this was our family, with yet another second dog after Dunya had died. By then several siblings and I who were in school and university lived in a house in The Netherlans while my parents still lived in Germany. My oldest Ethiopian sister was drawing away from us (and we very sadly have no contact with her anymore now) and the first sister-in-law joined the family. From here on in I’m blurring the pictures as we get older and look more like we do now…

The family has slowly grown as we got married and had children and for my parents 50th wedding anniversary in 2010, this was us…

Our family is still changing. There have been separations and divorces and we all deeply miss my father. There will be additions now as well, as the grandkids start getting life partners. Last November, for my mother’s 86th birthday, this was our whole group (minus only a niece and nephew living in South Korea and Israel)…

I now have a little family of my own that I am also extremely proud of and my children too are really growing up.

Junior has just returned from travels on his own to Istanbul and Barcelona and has been cuddling our very old cat and catching up on sleep. He has also decided on a university course that he will start in the fall (Sport Management) and I think he is gearing up to spread his wings and fly out of the nest (also symbolized by the tattoo he got a few months ago)…

Mini-me has been studying very hard for her final exams while we were away. She relished the time alone and the quiet to do so and our black cat decided to ‘help’ her…

Our dining table has become a study station and she is relieved that at least the math part of the exams is over (and that it went alright). Back at it for another week and a half and then she will be done with secondary school. In the fall she will move on to university for her nursing studies.

Families can be complicated things. There’s always something going on, positive and negative, but despite all problems that we too have encountered along the way, I am deeply grateful for my family and deeply impressed with my parents who have built all this and given us, their children, such a good foundation to build our own families.

Families are never static, they always develop and evolve, they diminish or expand, there’s always an ebb and a flow. Sometimes we are lucky and are born into good families, other times we have to build them ourselves, whether with partners and/or children or friends or even pets. We all need a place to call home, whether alone or with others, where we feel safe and secure, with loved ones to fall back on. On this International Day of Families I wish that for everyone…