20 July 2009

Raising A Bilingual Baby

The trick to raising a bilingual baby is consistency. Or so I have been told. While I try very hard to be, consistent I am not. Partly because speaking with Lola in Dutch means excluding Ryan, or Carla, or whoever is with us at the time. And partly because it feels as if I am constantly correcting her when I repeat Lola's every English word in Dutch.

I really do try, though. I have a CD with Dutch nursery rhymes in the car that we play on the way to Carla's house. But there are a few songs that have both a Dutch and an English version. I'll be singing along in Dutch while Lola pipes in from the backseat in English. I read her Dutch stories and when we are alone I usually speak Dutch. I know she understands me. And there are a few words she always says in Dutch. Auto instead of car, Papa rather than Daddy, Nijntje instead of Miffy, to name a few.

The other day, however, she told me in a very stern voice that it was NOT an auto, it was a CAR. And then she gave me one of her looks. The 'Djeez Mom, don't you know this?' look.

Yes dear, I do. It's not easy as it seems, being bilingual.

18 July 2009

Get Out!

Since I have indulged in the joy of beading, I need a place to keep my beads. And not upstairs, with the rest of the craft and sewing stuff, because I can't get to it there. Instead I have created a nice tidy box for myself where I keep my goodies, tucked away under the 'stairs'. Unfortunately my daughter has discovered the red beading box. And she loves to play with both the beads and the box.

Lola uses the phrase "Get out!" in a very demanding way. "Get OUT!", she'll tell us many times a day. She usually means "Stop" and we are trying to enhance her vocabulary with the phrase "Please stop." Sounds much nicer, don't you think?

But in this case, the words are warranted. "Get out!", right back at you.

17 July 2009

The Tour - Part III

A few weeks ago, I left work early to come home to a completely reorganized and clean kitchen. It was THE most wonderful homecoming! My husband rocks. We now have room to properly prepare a meal, and are able to find everything we need. Well, almost.

It was inspiring. Throughout the winter we had been sharing our living room with the living room floor. Not unusual, really. The only thing was the floor wasn't laid out, it was stacked in a pile in the middle of the room. With a taste of the kitchen being 'redone', we wanted more.

The weather has been great in Olympia, so we opened up the doors, took all the wood out (leaving the mouse or chipmunk that had been living in the pile all winter - judging by the amounts of stolen cat food we found in the open spaces in the pile - homeless), replaned it, and stacked it in the trailer we are using for storage.

The next step was to sort through all our stuff, of which we have way too much by the way, toss what we don't need, and store the rest upstairs. We can now dance in our living room! And I even went so far as to sew curtains for Lola's room. Slowly but surely it is turning into a real home...

02 July 2009

New Parenting Technique

My daughter loves food but she is a grazer when it comes to eating. She eats little bits all day long. Every other sentence coming out of her mouth is: "I'm hungry." Even when she can't be because she just finished a meal. She'll proclaim she's hungry anyway.

The other day I was trying to get her to empty her plate in one go. The incentive of becoming a member of the Clean Plate Club did not do much. She kept saying she was all done. So I resorted to a new technique: old fashioned bribery.

"Lola, would you like some ice cream?"

"Yes! Ice cream. I love ice cream."

"You must finish your meal first. No clean plate, no ice cream."

Worked like a charm.

23 June 2009

Eagle Spotting

I know. I really need to update Olympic Adventures with my latest adventures in camp living and beading. And I will. When I am a little less busy. For now I give you the ultimate American symbol: the Bald Eagle.

Our friend John has a view of an eagle nest from his front porch. The eagle toddlers are venturing out of the nest while papa eagle keeps an eye out...

29 May 2009

Let There Be Light

We have all the windows we need for the downstairs but we cannot install them yet. First we need to frame in the walls and for that we need wood. And since we are focusing on no cost or low cost projects for now, the windows will have to wait a little bit longer.

However. We do have HUGE barn doors. We have just been waiting for the right time to open them. With temperatures in the high seventies and low eighties, that time has come.

Bert & Ernie

Most mornings when Lola wakes up, I take her into bed with us to snuggle for a little bit. I have this romantic notion in my mind of the two of us sleeping together in the big bed, spooning and cuddling. I love to look at her sleeping, with her rosy cheeks, snug in her bed surrounded by an increasing number of stuffed animals and dolls. She is such an angel when she sleeps.

A little while ago, Ryan was out with a friend and he was going to spend the night away from home. I was very tired that day and when I put Lola to bed, I decided to turn in as well. And since I had all this extra room in my bed, I took the opportunity to let her sleep with me and live out my fantasy.

It was a nightmare! She would not stop talking at first. At one point she had become quiet and I thought she had fallen asleep. I was almost gone myself when she grabbed my nose and started singing "I like to move it, move it..." from the Madagascar movie with the dancing hippo shaking her booty. It was as funny as it was annoying. I kept shushing her until at long last she was silent.

Unfortunately, that was not the end of it. She wouldn't lay still either. She tossed and turned, kicked me countless times, climbed over me to my other side (and again, and again), she even fell out of bed once. I tried putting her back in her own bed but it was too late for that. She wouldn't have it. It was hours later when she at last conked out. By that time I was wide awake, of course.

It reminded me of the Bert & Ernie skit where the two of them are in bed and Ernie keeps waking up a tired and sleepy Bert to tell him something trivial. "Bert, Bert, wake up Bert..." By the time Ernie finally falls asleep, Bert is wide awake. At least he had his own bed.

So much for romantic mother and daughter sleepovers. Live and learn. And sleep.

28 May 2009

Country Living

I came home from my yoga class last night to find Ryan and Lola hanging out in the backyard. Ryan had started a fire, the sun had not yet set, and it was still warm enough to sit outside. After we put Lola to bed, I relaxed in a chair by the fire with a glass of wine.

As it got darker, the frog choir piped up, interrupted by the occasional coyote howling. Ryan cooked a couple of steaks over his fire and I lit the candles in the lanterns along the path. I have always thought of myself as a city girl but I do not miss the city at all. Country living can be pure bliss.

Beading On

Last weekend Bello Modo organized its first annual Trunk Show. We had invited several lampwork and ceramic artists to join us at the Hotel deLuxe (wonderful venue with superb service and the best Gorgonzola Cheesecake EVER - we highly recommend both the hotel and the cheesecake) in downtown Portland OR. Like any trip without luggage or time restrictions, we loaded up a U Haul truck with far more products than we could possibly put on display and leisurely made our way south on Friday afternoon.

On a side note: there is a new television show called 'Leverage' that is set in Portland. When we arrived at the hotel they were filming next door. After we had set up, we headed to the bar for a cocktail and found most of the cast and crew there too. The show stars Timothy Hutton, my friend Susan's teenage crush. I was so hoping to run into him. Not because of him - while he was rather attractive back in the day, I can't in all honesty say he is aging very well - but just to able to tell Susan I ran into him. But I didn't, so I can't.

It was a great trip. We learned a few things like not to plan a show during Memorial Day Weekend, to book a larger room, and to bring an A-board to put up outside to attract walk-ins. I also think we should set up an area where our customers can play with their new treasures and we can show them a few tricks. In spite of these shortcomings, we did pretty good. On Saturday evening Shelly met up with a friend which left me with the evening all to myself. Finally I was able to give in to my need to bead.

Since my first necklace, I have developed a taste for more. But I hardly ever get the chance to be creative. There just isn't enough time. At work, we are busy filling orders, working on the website, organizing the store. At home, I have a husband and a daughter competing for my attention. Not to mention the endless list of projects and the bad lighting. But last Saturday evening, without any of these distractions, I played to my heart's content. And when I ran out of beads, I simply went downstairs to pick up some more. Heavenly!

Next week I am going on my first business trip ever. I suppose our Portland show was technically a business trip too, but there was no flying involved. This time there is. Pam and I are going to Milwaukee WI for five days to the biggest bead show in the nation. I am very much looking forward to it. Beads galore during the day and meeting up with family and friends at night. Who knew beading would be so much fun?!

27 May 2009


Frequently overheard in our house these days:

"It's mine!"

"Yes, it's yours."

"No, it's mine!"

"Yes, it's yours."

"No! It's mine!"

"Okay then, it's mine."

"NO! It's MINE!"

And then, of course, there are the many, many instances where the item in question is not Lola's. Learning to share and learning to talk at the same time is not as easy as it sounds...

14 May 2009

Bad Hair

Whilst enjoying some lovely Washington weather (read: it has been pouring rain here for days) I was reminded of an earlier post about the lack of umbrellas in Olympia. I blamed it on the beanie hat wearing hippies that make up a large part of the local population.

Turns out I was right. Olympia is the second worst hair city in the US. Only the citizens of Corpus Cristi TX have grubbier hair. There are twenty five listed hairstylists for a city of approximately 45.000. No wonder everyone covers up their hair.

13 May 2009

Raspberry Opera

My friend Shelly makes beautiful jewelry. She sells her designs in her Etsy store Positive Creations. Pam and I harass her frequently to promote her jewelry more. One of our suppliers, Vintaj, hosts a monthly designers challenge on their weblog. This month Shelly has entered one of her designs, a necklace with the intriguing name Raspberry Opera. She is contestant #4. Do me a favor and vote for her before midnight on May 18th. Thanks!

Update: unfortunately Shelly's design came in second. She lost at the last minute to a Dutch woman! I feel somewhat guilty. We'll try again next month. Thank you all for voting!

Puppy Love

Lola loves animals. She wants nothing more than to play with them. "Bird!", she exclaims whenever she sees a robin in the backyard, and charges after it, never quite catching up. She is always happy to see Sandman and is completely oblivious to the fact he does not reciprocate. "Hi Sandman!" when she walks in the door, "Bye Sandman!" when we leave.

Lola especially loves dogs. Not too many dogs want to play with her, though. Most dogs are afraid of small children. Perhaps because they are unpredictable, make too many sudden moves, are too rough, or because they instinctively feel they need to stay away to avoid the possible wrath of the mother. But this weekend when we were playing in the park, there was a puppy that did not run away.

He probably should have. You see, he was a boy puppy and boy puppies have parts you can pull on. Add sexual harassment to the list of reasons why dogs do not like small children. Poor puppy...

04 May 2009


Sending my concerns into the universe was liberating. By voicing my fears, I let them go. And again, the universe answered me. With a little help we are going with the flow once more. It is not an official flotation device, more like those little inflatable things that go around your arms. But they work. Bills are lower than expected, we are working a few extra hours, Ryan has diversified into lawn care. It gives us hope. Once again, we feel like we just might make it here.

Yesterday was not the anticipated cold and rainy day, but an unexpected warm and sunny one. A gift from Mother Nature. Walking around the grounds with a clipboard, we made a list of every yard project we started last year but did not finish. We divided them into projects that do and do not require cash. And then we busted butt!

It is so wonderful to see it all come together. The horseshoe-shaped flowerbed between the house and the barn is finally finished. Some plants have been patiently waiting to be planted for about a year and a half. They must be so happy to finally be able to stretch their roots. I could almost hear them sigh with pleasure. Ahhhhh...

Years ago I started a list of all the things that make me happy. I borrowed the idea from a talk show host whose name escapes me right now. Yesterday I thought of my Happiness List for the first time in a long time. The first entry is the smell of freshly cut grass.

Watching my husband and my daughter mow the lawn together at the end of the day while the scent of grass tickles my nose is the epitome of happiness.

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