Thursday, December 27, 2018

Hailey's First Christmas, 2018


It so happens that our Christmas meal with family here in the Netherlands goes back-n-forth each year between our house and their's.  Last year we were with Eva and Jeroen when we got the surprise news that they were "in a family way."

Talk about a Christmas gift!

This year it was our turn, which means Hailey's first Christmas was at OUR house! And that, TOO, was a Christmas gift!  And did I mention that Jaap, Astrid's ex-husband, joins us each year!

Family.

Papa and Child.

I'm lucky if I can ever get Hailey in focus when Jeroen is holding her.  HA!
(I keep forgetting to set the camera on shutter priority!)

Mama and Child.

The lights.  The wonder...even at 15 weeks!

Oma and Child.

Hailey in her Christmas outfit!

Oma and Child.

Half an outfit is better than no outfit at all.

I didn't mention that Oma Astrid had two surgeries on the 18th and wasn't allowed to hold Hailey...so no photos with her or with Opa either.  And did you notice that I took no photos at all of the Christmas meal!  

So it is, that this was all that was important to me this year...the wonder.  It will be a different kind of wonder next year, I'm sure!

And now we all wait in the dash between the bling-bling:  
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


Thursday, December 20, 2018

ROKR Wooden Mechanical Pendulum Clock: Merry Christmas to Me


Blame it on whatever you want (old age???)...but I don't ever recall doing something so spontaneously and crazily as what I did a couple months ago when I, on the spur of the moment, saw this on Facebook and bought it on the spot.

Not only the clock but a locomotive and tractor, too.  All three!  For Christmas, I said, for both of us.  Astrid immediately said I should do the clock...and she'd do the locomotive and tractor.  Deal.

While she was finishing up a fisherman's sweater for me (a later post), I started the clock a couple weeks ago and finally finished it this past weekend.

It's actually a 3D puzzle of 170 pieces.
And if it does what it's supposed to, it actually tick-tocks like a...clock...when it's put together!
[Google image]

There were 5 wood laser panels with the pieces to punch out in a certain order,
following the instruction manual.  [Google image]

Oh, and it says age 14+. (Maybe it helped that I'm 73, or not?)
And that it takes 5-8 hours to make.  (Probably double that?)

You have no idea how totally up my alley this was!
If you understand how time stands still during such a project for me, you "get" it.

I organized myself on our back-of-the-couch work table on 6 December (the day after Sinterklaas!).
The instructions start with the 9 gears and once I got the hang of the first one,
it all started making sense, followed by the frame and then gear insertion.

I ended up working on the assembly off-and-on 5 different days...

finishing the project on 16 December.

OK, it only runs 5 seconds at a time right now but at least it works!
I'm not sure if tweaking it will help, but for this moment in time (!)...
Merry Christmas to me!

And till we meet again next week,
MERRY CHRISTMAS 
to you as well.


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hailey at 3 Months


Yesterday, 12 December, Hailey reached the 3-month mark...at 13 weeks.  Did I ever count weeks or months like this before???  It still feels like so much longer than 3 months....

Actually, I want to start with 2 weeks ago when she was 11 weeks and we needed a fix.

We walked in the door at the end of Mama and Papa's dinner.
There was Hailey, sitting at the table with them, all prettied up.

Mama then changed her diaper...

after which Papa cuddled with her.
He had recently come home from work.

Hailey still takes lots of cat naps while being loved so dearly.

She must have awakened for my turn...

and then took her second cat nap.  
Having visitors is so tiring!

Then it was Mama's turn.

Hailey knows her mama..and stayed awake!

But Oma Astrid promptly put her back to sleep again.

Actually, it took a few whimpers...but she finally relaxed again.
One cat nap after the other.

It was while Oma Astrid held her that I noticed all her hand gestures.
If these hands could talk!

Before we left that evening, Papa showed us how he's teaching his daughter to dance:


How can you not fall in love with them both!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

That was a fix.  Two weeks later, just 2 days ago, we babysat Hailey for the first afternoon of Mama's back-to-work venture, after being off for about 4 months.  

First order of business was the bottle...

followed by fun and games in the crib, with Oma Astrid eliciting the smiles.
(She makes me smile, too.  HA!)

The crib is where Llama, her BFF since Day 1, keeps her company...

as does the mobile overhead.


Do you get the feeling that she wants to hold Llama in her arms?  I wonder.
(Llama is wedged between the crib slats to keep her steady.)

It was on-and-off-again rain that afternoon but during an "off," we went for it.
Nothing like getting our exercise while babysitting, right!

We even stopped by to see Opa Jaap...just long enough to smile and say HI.
(And, yes, we decided to take Llama with us.)

As we came back to the house, Papa arrived home from work at the same time.

Talk about good timing!
HE changed her diaper and did the broeken dans (pants dance) with her,
before we left for our own home.

How's that for one fix after another!
Going forward, starting the new year, we'll be babysitting
every other Tuesday afternoon, while Mama works.
It'll be perfect for maintaining the fix, and we're delighted.

All this is for the record, of course.  We don't ever want to forget:
HAILEY:  You Make My Day!


Thursday, December 06, 2018

Sinterklaas in the Windmill


By now you may remember that yesterday, December 5, was Sinterklaas here in the Netherlands.  It's the traditional day of giving and receiving gifts...not on Christmas.

It also happens to be the day I celebrated my arrival here in this country, 9 years ago (2009), to start my new life with Astrid, who became my wife 2 months after arriving, on February 5!

But I digress.

What I rarely show, however, is the importance of Sinterklaas himself in this culture.  Yes, you can say he's similar to America's Santa Claus, but he's different in that he arrives in the Netherlands 3 weeks before December 5 to make sure all the kids know he's here.  That's NOVEMBER!

It's a fun story...about how he arrives on a boat from Spain with his horse, Amerigo, and his Zwarte Piet helpers (Black Peters, who are Moors).  You can read all about it here.  He actually does arrive here in Gorinchem on a special boat, with kids watching him arrive in our inner harbor from the Merwede river outside the locks.

And yes, he's a legendary figure based on Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children.

This is the Nooit Volmaakt windmill just a block down the street from our back door.
It's a grain mill, originally built in 1718, from which we buy the flours for our homemade bread.
Nooit Volmaakt means "Never Forget."

When Astrid told me Sinterklaas was visiting this mill last Saturday at 2 p.m.,
I knew I would try to make it, if it wasn't too crowded.

Lucky for me, it was NOT too crowded, which actually surprised me!
The action was on the first floor up, where kids were invited to make speculaas cookies
while waiting for Sinterklaas to arrive.


I zeroed in on a couple of the kids who were fully involved.

Future chefs in the making, for sure!

Coloring was also an option....
which, of course, made me think of wee granddaughter Hailey.

Then we got the news that Sinterklaas had finally arrived down below!

He brought with him a Zwarte Piet (yes, they can also be women), as black as night.
A child standing nearby, as a Zwarte Piet wannabe, was allowed to hold the staff.

This is serious stuff.
Not anything like Santa Claus Ho-Ho-Ho-ing.

Some kids were afraid (sound familiar?), 
but parents played their part to calm the nerves.

This girl in particular was a total believer.

And then Sinterklaas climbed up to the cookie makers above.

No, I didn't follow him...
but I pictured in my mind's eye what it must have looked like.

It was raining when I left the mill but I didn't care.
I came.  I saw.  I dreamed about the years to come with Hailey!

And I repeated what I say every year at this time:
"Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus!"