Can't believe another month has come and gone. This past month, Dutch made so many advancements in his development. I'm amazed at how much more he comprehends and how his motor skills have improved. It's been so much fun to see him learning and growing. (And his improved sleep habits have been a welcome change!). Here are some of his five month pics:
This is one of my most favorite pictures that has been taken of me and Dutch. I went up to his daycare on Thursday because they were doing a special activity where they learned about sea life, wore leis, did some artwork, played with bubbles, etc. I got to take a break from my busy day and spend a few fun minutes with my son. I think you can see the joy he brings me, just by looking at my face.
I love that he goes to daycare a few days a week and gets to spend time with other caregivers and kids. The socialization is great for him, and I think it will be good preparation for when the time comes that he goes to school full-time. He's too young to really "play" with the other kids yet, but he loves standing in the exersaucer and watching them. You can tell he's intrigued by them, and wants to join in!
The part of my day that I always look forward to the most is putting Dutch to bed. I put him into an adorable pair of footed pajamas and then read him a book. Sometimes it's the recordable storybook that his Oma and Opa in Amarillo recorded for him, which means I just turn the pages and he listens to their voices. Other times it's a silly Dr. Seuss book or a book with lots of pictures of animals. If he starts fidgeting or twisting around to look at me, I know it's rocking time! I put him on my shoulder and we rock back and forth in the chair until he falls asleep. It's so peaceful and comforting...for both of us!
I have to admit, sometimes I continue to rock him long after he's already fallen asleep. There's just something about having your kiddo on your shoulder, preciously sleeping.
It's been a while since I've talked about my fitness, but the arrival of my custom Nikes seemed like a good time to give an update!
Yeah, one of them says 'Dutch' and the other says 'Vanweezy.' I'm a proud mama, so I figured it was apropos! I love that Nike lets you design your shoes from top to bottom. I, of course, chose orange for the base color since it's the national color of Holland and one of my favorite colors. I kept it simple with most of the rest of the customizable areas and just went with dark gray. They're a little pricey, and take 3-4 weeks to arrive, but I totally love them! Meezy agreed and designed himself a pair as well.
Okay, back to the fitness. While I was pregnant, I gained 45 pounds. That was definitely not my plan, and I didn't go out of control with the eating, but it just happened. I felt pretty overwhelmed when I came home from the hospital after giving birth and had only lost 10 of those pounds. I freaking had a 10 pound baby, so how was that little amount of weight loss possible?!? Things got much better after a couple more days, and I was down about 25 pounds. That was all just due to the birth, since I wasn't allowed to do any kind of exercising. I told myself I'd be gung-ho about working out once I got cleared at the 6-week mark. Pfffft. I was still exhausted and had very little free time at that point. It took a couple more weeks before I really started doing anything.
So, where am I today? It's been 4.5 months since I gave birth, and I am officially back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Those extra 45 pounds are gone, and I hope to never see them again (well, maybe 35 of them with my next pregnancy). I'm thrilled I've shed the pounds, but in no way does that mean I'm in shape! I still get pretty winded when running even short distances, and I'm fluffy around the edges. My ideal weight would be about 20 pounds lighter than this, but I would settle for just tightening up my stomach and thighs. This past week, I went to boot camp two days, ran with my sister one day, and ran on the treadmill one day. Not bad. My flag football season starts next week, so there's one guaranteed day of exercise. I hope to at least get two boot camps in each week as well. I'm sure if I changed my diet I'd have an easier time dropping a few more pounds, but I'm just not quite ready to take that plunge yet. This mama enjoys her chips and queso!
My family has had a rough couple of weeks, so I thought I'd make a post about some happier times. Recently my in-laws came into town for a visit, and we had a great time! We went to the Dallas World Aquarium and had some pool time at my aunt's house. Here are some pics from that week:
My brother-in-law Cary with his two kiddos, checking out the waterfall
Dutch playing with his Oma
He's not so great at sitting up yet!
Uncle Seth, Aunt Michal-ann, and cousin KC with Dutch
Michal-ann and Cary enjoying the pool with their kiddos
And here are some other random pictures from the past couple of weeks:
Dutch's daycare sends me pictures throughout the day and I love it!
My family is still in the grieving process over the loss of my Oma last week, and we were hit with a heart-wrenching tragedy on Friday. Without going into too much detail, my dad's brother, Lou, very suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. He had just turned 69 two weeks ago. Losing two family members in a week's time is just ridiculous and cruel, and for my dad, it meant saying goodbye to his mother and brother. Of the 5 family members that made the journey from Holland to America in 1955, my dad is the only one that remains.
My heart aches for my sweet Aunt Jos, who was married to Lou for 40 years. The hurt she is feeling right now is incomprehensible.
There is a lot I could say about the past dozen years leading up to this one, but I'll leave it at this. Relationships can be ruined because of misunderstandings, grudges, and hurt feelings between family members. People can miss out on important events in each others' lives. You can't get those years or missed memories back. I'm pissed that my uncle won't get to see my son grow up, but that outcome is out of my control. On the other hand, I am so grateful that my aunt will be in my son's life, because it's not too late for that to happen. We're all moving forward, and whatever happened in the past, is the past. Life is too short.
My Oma routinely made waffle cookies for family gatherings, and I thought I'd share the recipe with you, since they were always a big hit. Here are the ingredients:
4 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
1.5 tsp of vanilla extract
3/4 pound of unsalted butter, softened (NOT melted); don't get a light version
Sounds healthy, right? Haha, it's not supposed to be. It's just supposed to taste delicious! I don't know how common it is for people to have waffle makers, but they're pretty inexpensive and you can get one at lots of places, including Target.
Combine all ingredients into a large bowl. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. After it's chilled, roll up the mixture into small balls. Place a ball on each quadrant of the waffle maker and depress. The cookies are done when they are mostly medium brown in color, with light edges. Remove them from the waffle maker and let them cool. Continue the process until you've used up all of the mixture. Here is what the finished product will look like:
Today we had the burial for my Oma. It was an intimate occasion with just close family at the gravesite. We'll hold a memorial ceremony for her at a later date, when more friends and family will be able to attend. A close family friend, who is also a pastor, said a few words and we all laid a tulip on her casket. She was buried next to her son's grave (he passed in 1980 to leukemia).
A few years ago, my sister sat down with my Oma to record her on video talking about how she and my Opa met, and their life since then. She was 90 years old at the time, but was recounting with such clarity events that happened 60 to 70 years prior. I am so thankful my sister decided to do that, because there are so many things I learned about my Oma and Opa, and how we all ended up where we are today. What follows is a summary of that conversation. It's a long read, but it's worth it.
Oma and Opa met at a dance held by the church for young people. Oma was 18 and Opa was almost 19. They dated for 3 years and then got married. They had a family wedding in 1940.
WWII was going on at the time. Holland was under German occupation, so they had a curfew of 11pm. After their wedding, they had to "crawl home" to avoid detection. Holland had been attacked by Germany on May 10. Oma said she remembered it well because Hitler had said he wouldn't attack Holland, but then later did. Holland was neutral during WWI and intended to be during this struggle as well. Hitler promised nonaggression toward Holland, but then violently attacked the country, killing thousands of soldiers and civilians. Holland fought, but they were unprepared for the attack and ultimately surrendered after just a few days.
Oma and others in a bomb shelter
Holland was under German occupation for 4 years. During that time, food was rationed. Oma and Opa got a certain number of stamps to use for food, and that was all they could get. They were allotted one little piece of meat per week, and evidently coffee was scarce. During this time, Dutch farmers were supposed to give all their food to the Germans, who were in charge of the rationing. Some Dutch farmers would keep back some of their crops to trade to Dutch non-farmers on the black market. In return for food, people would give up linens, dishes, etc. Oma had a cedar chest filled with things, and she ended up giving away most of her nice stuff so she could get some eggs or meat. Her family lamented she was giving everything away, but she said that once the war ended, they could always get more dishes. Food right then was a necessity!
The Germans took residents of Holland to work in their factories. Oma said she thought they were selecting anyone who wasn't performing an essential function in Holland to go to Germany. Opa's family was friends with the family of the President of the company where he worked, and since Opa had two young children at the time (Pete born in 1941 and Lou in 1943), the President put Opa into a "vital" role at the factory to help ensure he wouldn't be selected. He worked as a fire captain in the factory, working night shifts to watch out for accidents.
Oma and Opa with Pete and Lou, and another relative, 1944
The Germans confiscated bikes from residents, and cars if they had them, though at that time very few people had cars. The ceramics factory where Opa worked had large molds, so Opa and another man hid the President's car behind and under a bunch of molds so it wouldn't be discovered and confiscated. He was able to keep his car through the whole occupation because of their smart thinking! Radios also weren't allowed, so Opa hid a transistor radio in a large cigar box. He kept it hidden in the chimney and pulled it out at night to listen to British radio. The Germans didn't want the Dutch citizens knowing what was going on with the war, or where the Americans were, but Opa received updates through his illegal radio. He only shared the news with people who could keep it private, because he knew his life was in jeopardy if anyone found out. Even as the Americans were first coming in to liberate parts of Holland, the Dutch people weren't sure they were being liberated, so they were fearful. Opa wanted to see if the Americans were really there, so he ventured out a few blocks and saw the American tanks driving through the streets. He said the soldiers were waving at him, and one beckoned for him to come near. When he went over, the American soldier handed Opa two packages of instant coffee and a couple of cigarettes. Opa went home elated, and told his family that the Americans were there, and he had proof!
Tanks rolling into town
Maastricht (my dad's hometown) was liberated by Americans in September 1944, but the rest of Holland wasn't free until 1945 when the war ended. This is how our family got to be friends with American soldiers, because during this time they were stationed alongside them. Opa spoke English, so he could converse with them. He befriended two in particular, Henry Krueger and Frank Rosen. When the two soldiers returned to America, Opa continued to correspond with them.
After the war, Opa played semi-pro soccer for MVV. He didn't get paid for it, so he continued to work as well. An employment opportunity arose in Israel, so Opa quit playing for MVV and moved there for 5 months while Oma and the boys stayed home (3 boys now, as my Dad was born in 1951). When the company in Israel needed a 2 year commitment, Opa packed up Oma and the boys and they all moved there from 1953-1955. One notable story from this time was when Oma looked out the window to see my Dad playing with three other kids. None of them spoke the same language, yet they found a way to communicate and play with each other.
While in Israel, Opa received a phone call from America. They didn't have a phone in their house, so they were given a message telling them about the call, and then they had to go to the post office to take it. The call was from one of the American soldiers he had befriended, Krueger. He said that he knew Opa had always wanted to come to America, so why not now? He told Opa that he knew a Senator in Kansas who would help with everything. Opa went to the Embassy in Tel Aviv to start making the plans.
The family came to America in the fall of 1955. They traveled by boat for 11 days and arrived in New York with hardly any possessions. To be allowed entry into America, my Opa had to have a job, so Krueger set him up with one at a pottery place. Over the next few years, work took him to Kansas, Ohio, and eventually Texas.
What's amazing to me is that this is only about half their life story! They were married for more than 60 years before my Opa passed away in 2001. I'm so grateful that I know these details about their life before I met them, and I'm also very grateful that I had them in my life for so many years. It's sad to close this chapter on my family's history, though. The two people directly responsible for my family name existing in America are no longer here. I think I'll consider myself lucky if my life story is even half as amazing as theirs is.
This is not an easy post to write. The woman who I affectionately call Oma (grandmother in Dutch), passed away on Friday. She was 93 years old. I wish every single one of you reading this could've met her, because she was amazing. Here are some of the things I will miss about her, but will never forget:
Her meals made my mouth water. Meatloaf, cauliflower, Zuurvlees (sour meat), rabbit, homemade french fries, jimmy cake, strawberry cake, pies, waffle cookies, etc. I always looked forward to eating at her house because she was an awesome cook.
Her bluntness made me laugh. Dutch people have a reputation for saying what's on their mind, sometimes without tact, and she was no exception. "You have a big pimple on your forehead." Thanks, Oma!
Her generosity led to me being able to buy my first car. She had been saving money to give to me as a high school graduation present, but let me have it early so I could buy a car at 16.
Her accent made me smile. There was no question that she wasn't born here originally. I loved the way she said certain words, and I loved hearing her speak in Dutch.
Her go-to phrase when someone mentioned Germans was "Those damn Germans!" You couldn't help but chuckle when she found a reason to throw that out there. When a guy in her retirement community heard her accent and asked her if she was German, she got so offended! There's a bit of a history between the two neighboring countries, so you can kinda see where she's coming from.
Having grown up in a time where women went to homemaking school instead of pursuing professions outside the home, she had a conservative view on lots of things, including "alternative" lifestyles. When speaking of a homosexual person, she would take her right hand and slap her left arm and say they were from "the other side." I honestly don't know where that tradition of hers started, but it was harmless, and made us laugh.
She loved playing "Seven cards." It was a variation of Rummy, and her and Opa would fill up notepad after notepad with a running score between the two of them. She taught my sisters and I how to play it, and there was rarely a visit with her where we didn't play a few rounds.
She always wanted to pay for my (and my sisters') lunch when we went out to eat. She would also always let me pick out a candy from by the register after lunch, and I usually chose mixed fruit mentos. I can't look at a package of those without thinking of her.
She regularly got her hair done. It was very important to her to look nice and keep a groomed appearance. Even as she neared the end, and couldn't remember things as well, or get around as easily, she kept her regular appointments at the hair salon at her nursing home. Two days before she died, when my mom, sisters, and I were visiting her in the hospital, she seemed very lethargic and unresponsive. When she did talk, it was just mumbling, and we couldn't understand her. She would only open her eyes occasionally, and didn't seem to realize we were talking to her. We all took turns speaking to her anyway, just in case anything was getting through. At one point my mom brushed Oma's hair back from her face and said, "Mom, I think we need to get you a shampoo and a perm." Out of nowhere, my Oma clearly said, "I just got a perm!" We couldn't help but laugh out loud. Even in the seemingly hopeless state she was in, she had a lucid moment and her personality shone through.
She liked sweets but swore to everyone that she didn't eat them. She'd always refuse a piece of whatever dessert she made for the rest of the family, but you'd catch her eating a bite later and then saying, "But I never eat sweets." You weren't fooling anyone, Oma!
She had a very old refrigerator in her garage, like surely from the 70s or 80s, where she would keep the drinks. I'd always go out there to grab a soda, and I remember having to pull the heavy handle that bent outward, and feeling like the door to the fridge weighed a hundred pounds.
She loved her three sons and husband like crazy. She spoiled them like crazy too! She'd make the three boys a separate meal at dinnertime, just so they were all happy. Kinda sad to say, but my Opa didn't know how to make himself a sandwich and cup of coffee until he was like 70, because my Oma had always done it for him! (Only reason he learned was because Oma was out shopping or playing bridge later than usual one day, and she came home to find Opa fuming. I believe his words were, "I could've starved!" Having been in America for quite some time by then, Oma finally put her foot down and taught him how to make his own lunch. Old people can be so cute).
I think I could go on forever, but I'll finish by saying this. I'm sad that my son never met his Great Opa (he died 11 years ago). I'm sad that my son won't remember meeting his Great Oma. But, there's a reason I gave him the name I did. I am so incredibly proud of my heritage, and it all came to be because a Dutch couple left behind everything and brought their three sons over to America in search of a better life. I can't believe that wonderful couple is no longer with us, but their legacy will live on through their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. And my son, Dutch, will be a constant reminder of where I came from. Rest in peace, Oma. Thank you for everything.