Gratitude in the Time of Coronavirus

Gratitude in the Time of Coronavirus

A lot has changed in the past two weeks. Every day I check the RIVM (Dutch version of the CDC) for current information on the alarming rise in covid-19 cases. Although they make it clear the number is an extreme underestimate, since testing is limited to at-risk people with serious symptoms, and only one per household. No, who am I kidding. I check it multiple times per hour, even though I know they only update it once a day around 3pm.

On Thursday the Dutch government limited gatherings to under 100 and told everyone to work from home if possible, but–crucially–did not close schools (or restaurants, bars, etc.,… Read more

cute-mask

Pandemics and Hypochondriacs

To put it rather gently, I have tendencies towards anxiety. Of the health-related sort. I have never related to a fictional character more than when the 16-year-old protagonist of John Green’s novel Turtles All the Way Down is finally kissing the boy she likes but can’t stop being distracted by thinking about the resulting transfer of millions of bacteria between their mouths.

I have learned to manage this issue pretty well through a combination of good scheduling, deep breathing, positive self-talk, guided meditation, weighted blanket, CBD oil, acupuncture, baths, and numerous other forms of self-care. I know how to recognise unhealthy thought spirals, and have a strict rule of never, ever Googling my symptoms–a rule that I am fairly successful at keeping most of the time.… Read more

Thoughts on 40

Thoughts on 40

I have been thinking about this impending birthday for quite awhile. I’m not sure why 40 is the age that’s really making me take stock of my life. I looked back at a few blog posts around when I turned 30, and apparently that was just another birthday, and didn’t even merit a mention. Maybe it’s because I was in the thick of raising small children (and goats and chickens), and just generally recovering from the Great Recession and the mess it had made of our business and our move to Italy. I was dealing with too many external crises to manage an internal one too.… Read more

The 2010s in Review

The 2010s in Review

I am still trying to wrap my head around this being the beginning of a new decade, as well as a new year. My approach towards New Year’s resolutions is basically nonexistent, since I am apt to reinvent myself on the spot whenever I feel the need, which tends to be multiple times in a year. However, I do love telling stories. In fact, the only possible way for me to ever make sense of my life is by telling it back to myself. Not once, but a thousand times. Memory is a funny thing. Our brains are constantly arranging and rearranging the past to make meaning out of it; reinforcing the parts that fit our own internal narrative and discarding the other unhelpful bits.… Read more

bellabeat-leaf

My Bellabeat Leaf, One Year On

A year ago we were getting ready to make the long pilgrimage to visit family in California. And when you live abroad, one of the things you tend to do before heading “home” for a visit is make that list of things you can only get there. I am not one of those people who brings home suitcases full of mac & cheese, peanut butter and chocolate chips. We usually only travel with carry-ons anyway, or at most one check-in to share among us. So whatever we bring home has to be small. Last year for me it was my own set of Thinx (which I am still loving every month, but don’t feel like writing a post about my period at the moment) and a Bellabeat Leaf, which I am still loving every single day.… Read more

So You’ve Never Been to a (Naked) Dutch Spa?

So You’ve Never Been to a (Naked) Dutch Spa?

That’s understandable. After all, if you come from a culture where public nudity is not the norm, it can take some screwing of your courage to the sticking place to relinquish your clothing. To say nothing of relaxing to any meaningful degree while wearing only your birthday suit in a room full of similarly (un)attired strangers. But I mean this seriously and un-ironically: if you have never been to a Dutch spa, you are missing out.

There are, of course, the undeniable bragging rights that come out of such an encounter. You become one of the initiated. And forever after whenever you go back to that place where nudity is not the norm, you have a party story everyone wants to hear.… Read more

Choosing a High School in Amsterdam, Postscript

Choosing a High School in Amsterdam, Postscript

Yes, it’s that time of year again, or that time of life, I should probably say. Because I have two children, I get to enjoy the whole school shopping saga for a second time. There are two years between Axa and Raj, which is enough time that we have to visit all the schools again, but not enough time that I have forgotten all the stress and anxiety of the adventure. Ah, well.

Although it has been an intense month with many evenings gobbled up by school visits, I don’t feel like it has been quite as difficult as last time around.… Read more

Familia Christmas Letter 2018

Familia Christmas Letter 2018

Dear Loved Ones Far and Near,

This year was a milestone for the Family family: we have now lived in Amsterdam longer than anywhere else since we got married. We celebrated three years together with our adopted city in March. To inaugurate our happy state of being true Amsterdammers, we finally had a bike stolen! The advice generally given to newcomers here is to buy a cheap, old bike and a lock that costs more than the bike. Everyone uses two locks. In fact, after my bike was stolen, a helpful friend even told me about the “three lock rule”. I’m hoping my new bike sticks around for longer before becoming part of the thriving stolen bicycle black market in Amsterdam.… Read more

Christmas Letter 2017

Christmas Letter 2017

Dear Loved Ones Near and Far,

I confess that one of the main reasons I write this Christmas letter is not so much to let you know what we are doing as to find out what you are doing. Sometimes I fantasize about what it would be like to grow up and live my whole life in the same little village. And then I watch a moody European crime drama awash in small town secrets and decide I don’t so much mind my itinerant city life. But I do miss being able to see all the people who mean something to me and be a part of your in-person lives.… Read more

Graduating from Dutch Primary School

Graduating from Dutch Primary School

Dutch education is neatly divided into primary school (ages 4-12) and secondary school (ages 12-18). So there’s no in-between. The kids basically go to high school at age 12.

Now, I’m not usually one of those moms lamenting that they can’t just stay little.


But I admit that this whole school thing sort of threw me for a loop, hitting as it did (not uncoincidentally) squarely simultaneously with puberty. Yesterday she was a little girl. And today she’s a grown up young woman going off to high school in a couple of months.


It’s been just over two years since we moved to the Netherlands.… Read more