Monday, December 3, 2012

Surprise 2!





Countdown: 21 days until Christmas.

This is the second part of the blog from yesterday: Surprise!

Here it is, what came out of the joint effort of the family to assist K with her "surprise"!

P helped paste an old wine box yesterday, as well as assist middle daughter with the pasting of the coloured paper for the walls of the horse stall.  Today after school, K worked on further with details.  Littlest kept her company while she cut the trimmings.  I suggested that she add a cut out horse on top of the stall and Littlest, who got a booklet full of horses pattern, generously gave the book to K, that she could choose what she could cut out, colour and place on the roof of the horse stall.  J, oldest daughter wrote the poem that K composed on a pink paper, and gave a pink ribbon from her own collection.

I'll be delivering it to school in the afternoon half an hour before I pick the girls up tomorrow.

The family, that does arts and crafts together, have awesome time together!

What do you as a family do together while counting down the days until Christmas?



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Surprise!

Advent Calendar 2008/ I created this for the older girls in 2002, and it remained in Hamburg
Countdown: 22 days until Christmas.

Tonight, mijn liefste P helped the older girls prepare their a 'suprise' ; creating a "surprise"(pronounced soup-ree-se), is a Dutch tradition, that the girls were introduced to in the year they transferred from the introductory school (where they learned a year of Dutch) to their regular Catholic school.


creating the *surprises* for 2012
The first *surprise*, I created  for middle daughter K, when she was in Groep 4/2010 (for a long time she taught it came from Sinterklaas until her older sister revealed the secret!)
It was a lovely way to end the relaxing and rejuvenating Sunday.  After dinner, and before the girls and P started on the "surprises", we had tea, and cookies, from Germany, which Oma H, the girls German grandmother sent.

Did you get motivated to try out this Dutch tradition? What would you create to hide your "surprise"?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hello, December 2012!

A collage of images from our Advent 2008

Countdown: 23 days until Christmas.

I love counting down special celebrations with my family; I love December - the cold outside, the cozy inside and the smell of magic in the air; I love traditions with it's beautiful, nurturing predictability!

Combined together makes the best and special way to end the year.

Welcome to our family's virtual Advent Calendar 2012
! I used images from our Advent 2008, the last advent we observed in our home in Hamburg, Germany before moving here in the Netherlands. 


The theme I chose for this year is: nostalgic & celebratory; I felt it fitting because this is the mood we are all in, in this Advent season.  This is the first time I am consciously setting a theme, which I hope will be a part of our tradition.

In the next 24 days, I'll be sharing images and anecdotes from Advent's past, and present and plans of Advent future.

Hope you will enjoy counting down the days towards Christmas together.

Do you count down the days to Christmas in a special way? 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tot ziens, November!

November was a busy, eventful month for our family.  Although I originally planned to blog daily in November (to usher in my new attempt at a year long blogging), I had to postpone, reconsider and simplify.

Our youngest turned 5, mijn liefste P turned 55 and I finally ran the 15K race, which  I have been intimidated of (more than running the two full marathons I did this year!) ever since I come across it  last year, when I started planning to run a race in the Netherlands every month.

Littlest, 5 y.o. and still crazy over McQueen

It took me 5 and a half years, but I finally fulfilled my promise of baking mijn liefste P his favourite Black Forest Cake

Me before the 10K mark @ Zevenheuvelenloop

This month went by so fast like all the previous months of this year, and I have to simply record in this blog how very proud P and I of the girls, how well they are doing well not only at school but at home.

Eldest is now in her first year of what is equivalent of high school here in the Netherlands.  I still am getting myself acquainted with the school's system here, and will dedicate a blog about how I understand the system here in comparison to what I grew up with in the Philippines, and what I got to know in Germany.

P and I have always admired J's self-reliance, independance, and her generosity towards her younger sisters.   We know that a lot was asked of her when we moved here;  she had to take responsibilities to help out, and it was a much different life than in Germany at the beginning.

Eldest at Keukenhof, 2010
Seeing how she blossomed in her old school, and how well she has adjusted to her new school makes us feel very confident, that  she would overcome challenges in the future with strength of character. 

Eldest by her first horse-riding holiday - August, 2011
Middle daughter K on a special day, which I blogged last year in April: Kermis, Kerk and Kindness

K posing with her communion dress: First Holy Communion blogged, May, 2011
K and J - sisters having fun while I did a training run for the first time in Kinderdijk, blogged June,2012
Middle daughter  K has in a way taken the role of bigger sister to Littlest, now that J is in another school. Like J, K is very dependable.  We can count on her to help out at home and watch out after her little sister.  School for her, just like with both her sisters is a fun place to be - they truly enjoy being there and being a part of their school, which is like a second home for them.

With such an eventful month (heck, year!), almost sprinting towards the end of 2012, I had to eventually slow down my pace.. Specifically in the last week of November to have enough reserve energy for the month of December.

I thought I could completely do without the internet for an entire week, but it's hard when you still check your electronic mails for messages from family and friends - you do end up peeking here and there!

But nonetheless, I've reduced my time considerably online for at least a week.

image first published at The Lightness of Being on the Bike: Where I Cyled To, blogged June, 2012
It was a rejuvenating week, and I am now ready to say, "Hello, December!"

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Seeing Life From Different Perspectives

A blog a day, has always keep me focused when I am working on a personal project. It keeps my spirit warm in the  "cold'  season  - Winter blues does not stand a chance! This is the reason, I am back to daily blogging. :)

Photo: 9th of February 2011 7:45 am from the blog
Wednesday's Weee: ♡ Dutch Morning Sky

Woke up early today because mijn liefste P had to be at work before the sun was up!

New lay-out of Happy Feet in the Netherlands: 28th of October,2012,
featuring the new blog series "Friday Inspire"

Went to bed rather late though (working slowly, dilligently on back log of blogs for Happy Feet in the Netherlands - 14 months worth of running stories!), that I only offered "moral support" to the start of his day, and remained in bed before my own alarm went off at 6 am signalling the begin of my own day - first on the agenda: prepare the girls for school.


Photo : afternoon of the 25th of January 2011 from the blog  
Knotwilg - Getting to Know Something Familiar

My bike key remains in the Land of Lost Things! :( The key the insurance sent us did not fit and we did not receive a return call from the bike shop upon request of a follow up on that matter. Long story short: Omi B came to our rescue, once again!  She drove the girls to school, and will pick them up again, with her car.  Over 80 y.o and she remains the core strength of the family.

Photo:  10th of January, 2011 8:45 am
from the blog Biking Along An Ever-Changing Landscape

I've mentioned before how it has always been hard for me to ask for help. My independent nature forces me to try as much as possible to do a lot of things on my own before I would even think of entertaining a thought of asking someone for help  A lot of life experiences later...and I have finally learned that asking for help is not a sign of weakness but an opportunity to widen your perspective in life.  P's family has helped me a lot in seeing a different perspective regarding this matter.

Photo: 22nd of January, 2009
posted in the blog Double Chin ~ A Valentine's Poem (14. February,2011)

P like me has a stubborn streak of independence; we help each other with constant reminder that we not only enrich our lives with the people we ask for help but we teach our children that "no man is an island" and being a part of a "community" , wherever it is life may take you,  is not only beneficial for an individual but for each member of the society.

Self-portrai: 30th of October 2012 8:11 am
- ushering a new photo-project
 Back to daily blogging, and back to giving even more focus to the simple pleasures of life.  Affirming daily: simple is good.

Monday, October 29, 2012

As October Ends...NO(W)vember Positively Approaches

A Simple Life is a Beautiful Life ~ @PaperInEurope

Today, I edited my profile to simplify my "bio" for myself, and for those who would like to connect, at Twitter, one of the largest social network online.

Bio :
ℒive ℒife ℘assionately! ♋| ☮ | ☯ Blogs @ http://bit.ly/happyfeetintheNL 2012: finisher @berlinmarathon & @marathonadam 2013 Marathons: Hamburg|Bavaria|Berlin
Europe · http://on.fb.me/PaperInEurope



This is just one of the many seemingly "banal" things I would like to do this week.  Behind the banality though is my way of tricking my easily distracted mind!  I need to focus and discipline myself in the only way I know how.  My brain has a constant need for entertaining ways to be motivated to accomplish a lot of daily routine tasks.  Giving it something to look forward to - a goal to be achieved, a dream to be realised; planning and working on them is what keeps it going.

Tell me to run a marathon, and I'll do it without blinking an eye.

Doing daily house-work, well, I've closed my eyes often to them, and it has now gotten to a point that opening my eyes to them has become terrifying. Nope, not exaggerating because it's Halloween this week! Sadly, I am sharing the truth!

As the end of October approaches, I am taking on a personal challenge of being less online but maximizing the quality time, I do spend online.  Yes! This is possible...you only have to have a plan and the will to  stick to the plan.

The spirit of this coming November will BE NO(W)VEMBER. "No" does not always have to be negative - it can be positive to your well being. As you say, "No" you win more time for the "NOW".

Now  is beautiful, and in November, I plan to be more in the now with my family(in preparation for the Advent Season - the fifth season I love!).



To win more "now moments" I have to say more "nos" and do a lot of what I have been procrastinating on (tick-tock-tick!!!)...well "NOW!" :)



As I have successfully done in the past, I am using blogging to win this personal challenge.

Who is joining me in the ship that sails under the banner, "SIMPLIFY"!?!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday's Inspire @ Happy Feet in the Netherlands


Yesss! Finally broke through the blog silence and posted a new blog @Happy Feet in the Netherlands,  at the same time paving the path to realise a plan of sharing inspiring stories of fellow runners.

Thanks to Darren aka @RunnersKnees a runner who authors the blogs at The Runners Knees, I was able to bring to life Friday's Inspire tonight! I used Inspire instead of Inspiration because Inspire is a verb and I felt very apt for "running" which is what Happy Feet in the Netherlands is mainly about - for now (more additions next year!).

Without much further ado, here is the first in the series of  Friday's Inspire : @RunnersKnees's 10 featuring, the one who sparked the idea to begin with it!

#RunnersKnees10  is about exchanging 10 running related questions, and publishing the answers at each other's blog pagesYou could find my answers @ The Runners Knees blog ~ RunnersKnees10: PaperInEurope  

Hope you have an inspiring and relaxing weekend!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

YOGAness!

Doing my first "Tree" yoga pose  with Lilian Fit For Free instructor, at the end of my first yoga lesson at the gym in Hilversum


26 Days to Berlin: Short and sweet tonight because I am feeling the lids of my eyes are ready to shut down after the activities of the day!

29.68 kms distance covered with the bike at the end of a very warm late Summer day, which started beautifully after an excellent, rejuvenating and calming yoga session in the morning @ Fit For Free in Hilversum . #icangetaddictedtobeingtwisted :D

This is a simple sneak blog-series preview post of my adventures in the gym!

More stories about my training and Berlin Marathon countdown @ Happy Feet in the Netherlands.

Monday, September 3, 2012

First Day of School!


The image above shared today as my #FMSPhotoADay was one of many images I took to capture the essence of the first day of school for our family.  I love the spontaneity of it, and the story it tells.

Eldest on the bike with her friend, far away from the family all sitting in the car on the way home. This picture was taken after eldest first long day at her new school (equivalent of high school in the Netherlands).

The entire family went to the school (for a gathering of all the parents - brothers and sisters were present as well - of 250 kids!) to show support in this new stage in her life. We are all SO proud of J!

I've learned through the years that in letting go, you gain so much more. I have to admit it's hard, specially when it's about the girls. The girls have shown us through the years, that the rewards are great. :)

I love seeing J happy harvesting the fruits of her labor - 3 years in Holland, and she has come along away...

She was 10 y.o. as old, as middle daughter is now, as we moved here, so very far from the northern city in Germany, her birth country.

In a short period, she's mastered the Dutch language, gained good friends and has managed to mature quiet excellently but at the same time make the best of her childhood in her new home, a beautiful idyllic corner in the North of Holland

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Simplifying & Superfying September

While preparing for my long run today, my personal NaBloPoMo theme occured to me: Simplifying & Superfying September.

What still keeps me from blogging regulary is needing things to be "perfect".

Now, I would like to use once again this month long blogging to reinforce spontaneity in my postings.

Tonight, I share once again my  #FMSPhotoADay: Father: the little girl on the picture is me, sitting on the lap of my dad, while we all posed for a family picture on my first birthday. The girl beside my mom is my cousin.

I think this is the only birthday I had as a toddler with a complete set of images.

 

Today was a long day. But no time to go into details. What I would like to share though, is that I covered a distance of 18 kms. Details of this will be shared eventually @ Happy Feet in the Netherlands.


Well, that's it! Mission accomplished: simplified & superfied (highligh of the day, shared in short version) post. :)

What do you do to simplify and superfy your blogging?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Super Saturday in September!

Day 1|#FMSPhotoADay| You: in the car with the family (I ♡ photo op in our car) this afternoon: the begin to what was a beautiful Saturday!

Hello! It's moi again, and this time with a latest pic and not from the archives. :) Aaaand  I have @FatMuMSlim with her September's Edition of  #FMSPhotoADay challenge to thank for the motivation to finally share a new image of myself.

It was pretty handy with the last posts I shared here to simply use archive pics.  But I have to admit I am one of those bloggers,who would love to use the latest photos when sharing a new blog, as much as possible. 

Well, the next 30 days, I'll TRY to do just that with the #FMSPhotoADay challenge. Wish me luck that this is the month I finally ace it (I've tried more than a couple of times since I discovered this challenge last February!).

While I am at it, I thought why not do the September edition of NaBloPoMo.

The theme for September is EYE. I'll let myself be inspired by  Blogher's NaBloPoMo wring prompts for September but will also do freestyle writing when the mood, day's events calls for it. :)


I have been counting down the days to my first Berlin Marathon,.  My initial attempt at daily blogging about it, which begun months before was not quiet as consistent as I had hope it would be.  Thus the project: 42 FOR 42 was born: 42 days countdown to my first 42 kms run in photos.

Tonight it's 29 Days to Berlin: The family is together again in the Netherlands, after the girl's spent 4 weeks of their 6 week's holidays with their Oma H in Germany.

We went shoe shopping amongst other things for the new school year! Everyone got a pair (even P, except moi, whose been planning to get a new pair since beginning of August! :D But I got other goodies...more about them tomorrow...).  It was like Christmas in September.
The highlight of the day was eating at our favourite Greek restaurant: Grieks Restaurant Niki in Weesp.

The day was a belated birthday celebration of middle daughter K, a celebration of eldest beginning in a new school, and a "thanks-giving-for-a-beautiful-Summer-School-Break"!

It seems that whenever we are in Weesp, it has become an unspoken ritual to eat ice-cream at Nelis Ijssalon. I'm addicted to their warm apple cake with cream and a chosen scoop of ice-cream.  Tonight was not different, after our Greek dinner, the family had the dessert there (it's only around the corner!).  Pity, I did not get to finish everything even if I drank peppermint tea because I was still too full from the dinner.  P and the girls were no longer up to a long walk after our dinner and simply wanted to dive into eating dessert. :D


How was your first day of September? Was it sweet, savoury, or went super fast?!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Little Corner of Creativity

My Daily Mooosings in the Netherlands is more than a year and a half, and I can't count how often I've begun a post here, with these words: it seems it is  always a challenge to begin blogging and keep at it regularly, when "you've been away" for so long!

The first day of a new month mostly gives me that extra strong push to try once more, and give every little blogging project, I've committed to before, or have been itching to start & complete, another go.

Last year was a more productive year for me with completing blogging & blog related projects:


Just to name the blogging highlights of 2011.

2012 - 7 months in, has not been quiet successful yet in terms of completing blogging projects.  The reason for this, I can say is that I am still adjusting to the recent addition to my passion: running. Even my blogging about this passion is not as consistent as I would like to be @ Happy Feet in the Netherlands.

Plus the fact that a part of me still rebels at the thought that I might be sliding into the old pattern of doing things because I am expected to rather than for creating & sharing for the sheer joy of those acts.

Well, doing what you are expected to do won't be such a bad thing if this blogging corner is a professional job, but it's my personal corner of creativity!

from 21st of June, 2011: Sleeping Blogger
This brings me to the second extra strong push that spurred me to blog and share my thoughts for the first day of the month of August: I am the only one, who can liberate myself from the slumber spell, I time and time again, unwittingly put on my own spirit of creativity.

'
from 14th of March, 2011: Empowered

from 12th of April, 2011: Just Me

I came to this conclusion during random exchanges of PMs with FB friends, who belongs to my running group.

This blog is my little corner of creativity, my haven to simply be me, and work on simplifying life.  In this way enjoy more of what life has to offer.

With each blog I create, and share, I affirm a rich life.
What makes life rich? For me it is about having a loving & nurturing family, true & loyal friends, and having a small creative corner, where I could express who I am, share what I am passionate about and perhaps in a small way advocate for good causes I believe in.

Even if it's this creative corner is virtual, it's fulfilling having this medium to live embody my favourite quote:
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Life's High & Lows

When I can't settle down for the evening, I blog and release my thoughts to help me fall asleep...

After a series of highs, one (could) expect a low; it's how life simply balances itself, it seems.

Hilversum City Run 2012  22nd of April

Hamburg Marathon Relay 2012 29th of April
Marikenloop 2012  20th of May
Ladiesrun Rotterdam 2012 10th of June
Vechtloop 2012  24th of June
It's hard to remain neutral about certain situations. Even if you've been there before, and you know in the end, all will be alright.

You simply have to wait it out. There is - really! - no joy in being right for it's own sake, and be able to say it at the moment you want to state you are, and add stubbornly, "Just you wait and see!". *with shaking fists to prove your point*

It's never cool. It will not hasten the process of everything feeling all right. It will always, in the end, look awfully and painfully lame. Trust me on this.

There is much bliss though, in quietly acknowledging it to yourself, when the time has come. Not loudly to the person you wanted to prove yourself to (even if there is a huge temptation to say, "Nananananana!" and blow a raspberry!) . . .


Truly, situation where you find yourself frustrated to let yourself be heard but circumstances forces you to be quiet, can only make you a stronger person.

It's hard not to over-react, be overly emotional about certain situations. Specially, when it's something you are quiet sensitive about because you have to work extra hard on it.

You simply have to stay with your convictions because experience have shown how it's served you well.



Littlest while waiting for me to pass during the Ladiesrun Rotterdam 2012 5K

The pain I feel now, I have felt before. It makes being joyous, when the moments come, all the more sweet.


Ladiesrun Rotterdam 2012 5K, mijn liefste P happy with how the day went, as I!
Postscript after writing this blog:

I feel better now. :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Consoling the Mind & Heart at Kinderdijk

*Eldest capturing one of the many different perspectives of some of the 19 windmills that could be found @ Kinderdijk

We were suppose to spend a long weekend in Germany but due to a very sad breakdown on communication with the person we were suppose to visit, the family and I decided to stay home and spend the weekend, in Holland instead.

The hotel reservation we made, not even an hour before the  late Friday afternoon of our departure, was cancelled shortly after the last attempt to save the unfortunate situation (special mention & thanks to the personnel of Hotel Ibis Cologne Leverkusen for being very accomodating, courteous, and understanding with our plight) .

We were very grateful for their assistance and friendliness, which helped alleviate the shock we felt on what we thought would be a start of a special weekend, with someone we have not seen for three years.

I also missed running a 10K, which would have been early this morning, but I decided in the end not to run it because it hast lost it's meaning; I chose it with the purpose of dedicating it to the person we were visiting.


Yesterday, I ran almost an hour along the Molenkade @ Kinderdijk to replace the 10K, I was suppose to run this Sunday morning; mijn liefste P captured this momentn - the last meters of a fulfilling run:)
In the end, thanks to my wonderful family we did end up with a very special weekend:

Self-portrait of sisters  enjoying the athmosphere @Kinderdijk, captured by eldest.  It's alway nice to know through pictures, what they do while I am out for a run.  This time they were out along with me @ the Molenkade - well we were separated by a couple of kilometers, as they took this picture.
Eldest and youngest together. :) Both loving the outdoors.

For today's blog, I fervently wanted to share the picture* (see the first image above of the row of windmills), which eldest daughter took from our yesterday's spontaneous outing to Kinderdijk. And some other images capturing the essence of the day.

I love how the family came together, and turn around a terrible episode into a warm bonding experience.

Eldest took this picture; she is very thoughtful, and "directs" us a bit because she wants us to "look good". :)

In the process, the first weekend of June will always be remembered as the weekend we all finally get to visit Kinderdijk!

And oh! Remember, our blue tit fledglings? Saturday morning we were able to watch each of them as they flew out of the nest one by one! If I am not mistaken (since I have not had the chance to look through all our pictures and videos from the last couple of days) we were able to record at least one if not two of them flying out of the bird house.

Below is the clip of the second to the last of the three fledglings, who all flew out  one after another from the nest yesterday. Mijn liefste P was referring by the way to the other fledgling perched already on the tree in front of our balcony, when he excitedly shouted, "There he is, there he is!"

video

One (we think!) still remains in the nest, it's the smallest, and we think the one who got the least feeding through the past weeks.

As you can hear from the clip, we were all very excited to witness the fledgelings flight, which we would have missed had we gone away for the weekend.  We were aware of this, as we decided last minute to go all together to Germany - originally, the family would have stayed home but since I needed a bit of moral support, they were coming along.

Most of the time, we try to console ourselves (or be consoled by others) that things happen for a reason, specially when it's a painful experience. It's not always very clear right away what the reason is nor do you get the chance to go, "A-ha! That's why!" until much later, when you have almost forgotten about it. Some are luckier than others, and do get to say, "We were lucky it happened the way it did..."

Ladybug, eldest discovered on P's Summer pants, while walking along the Kinderdijk

I guess this is the reason I am sharing some of the details of what started as an upsetting weekend, but ended up being very soulful one.

Although, I want to forget as fast as I can the ugly incident of Friday by no longer dwelling on it, I strongly felt the need to preserve the sweet cherished moments shared with the family, which slowly unfolded right after that tearful hour.

I might not be able to make rhyme and reason why things turned out the way they did, with everyone having good intentions, but at least I am lucky to have my family to help me through, and help me out of the pain of such an experience.

My old behaviour pattern would be to metaphorically "flee", "run away", as far as I could, when faced with deep-seated fear, of being misunderstood, rejected, abandoned.

Since I discovered blogging, I knew I don't have to "run away" because beside many people, who cares deeply for me, I have blogging, the therapeutic writing as my "refuge".

Littlest loves feathered friends...


This blog will serve as something to come back to when  that, "A-ha!  That's why!" moment, comes.  

Most importantly it's a clear reminder that if you put just a little more extra effort (and let the love in from people, who counts most fills you, than be engulfed by harsh, thoughtless, and perhaps simply reckless words spoken out of turn because of this person's own hurt and confusion), something wonderful can come out from something bad, painful and ugly.


It's all about changing one's focus and perspective.