All week I’ve been freezing. And sneezing. Such a bore, being sick. So I decided to revisit our trip to Netherlands in early July. So much to love!–but I settled on five things.

One. Canals. And boats. And girls on boats.


Millay and Tess on boat_8705

Two. Bikes. Thousands and thousands, all over Amsterdam, to carry people to Important Things and Small Things.


Sometimes to the accompaniment of especially fine street music.

Musicians by canals_8335

Three. Thrifting in the Canal Streets. Episode was a favorite store.

Episode window_8667

Episode sweaters_8639

Episode dresses_8636

Four. Windmills.

Silas and Clave by windmills_8738



Five. Scrunching together in a place never meant for scrunching.

Eating apples in car_8632

In the car2_8631

Which tuckers some folks right out.

What thrifting does to Goose_8682

Sometimes summer looks lazily good from December, doesn’t it?

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Sometimes you can’t see the beach for the shells, you know what I mean? This is a function of what I like to call RTS (Racing Thoughts Syndrome), where your mind races out of control, your thoughts jauntily boomerang-ing (I just made that word up!) at the speed of light while the rest of you moves in ultra-slow-mo, like you’re wading through wet sand.  (Picture me raising my hand to admit that yes, this describes me, perfectly.)

I most certainly have RTS.  In fact, I think that if folks could actually see the lightning storm of chaotic electrical activity going on inside my head, they’d politely say, “Um, I’ve got somewhere I’ve got to be right now,” then run away, as fast as their legs could carry them.  According to one group of researchers, we have around 70,000 thoughts a day!  Mindblowing, no?  I figure that, given how much time I spend thinking about my kids, roughtly 69,950 (give or take) of those thoughts have to do with how to mother them.  (I am rather manic, however, so a thought that gets stuck in my head and starts looping probably makes the rounds 30,000 or-so times before I manage to reset with a second one.)

Examples of thoughts that fall into the “30,000 plus” category.  How will Miss Z. move forward with her vocal music in Spain, without her teacher and without a piano??  (Multiply that single, potent thought by 30,000.  There–you get the idea.)  Or, How how how how how (times this by 6,000, since I already lined up five iterations of the thought at the beginning of the sentence) is Miss Lavender going to finish her online physics class given how passionately she hates the subject and how impossible it is to connect with the tutors back in the states?  Or HOW (times this one by 30,000, plus a migraine, indicated by all CAPS) am I going to send a proper Christmas package to our young Mr. Beethoven back in the states, without filling it with nonsense he won’t need and without spending  hundreds of dollars to get it there??

See what I mean?

If you, too, are a victim of racing, looping thoughts that seem to be a function, ironically, of your love for your children, I suggest a brief moment of meditation.  I’ve tried meditating before, by the way.  I am not good at it, for the aforementioned reasons.  BUT when I see a beautiful image, I can sometimes manage to lock on and go to that place, which frees me momentarily from the scary math going on inside my head.  Likewise, when I hear a cool piece of music, I can lock onto that, too.  I plan to step up my meditating in the weeks and months to come, eventually (and hopefully) segue-ing to the proper–i.e., more quiet–kind.  I know this will require significant discipline, especially because those darn times tables are constantly sabotaging my efforts to slow down and smooth out my thoughts.  (I also know this may require a full brain transplant, so I’ll keep you posted.)


I invite you to let your thoughts return for a moment to a place you found restful. For me, that would be Zandvoort, on the Dutch Coast, where, back on July 3rd, three of the Eleven O’Clock kids looked as meditative as I’ve ever seen them.  Must be something in the air in the Netherlands.

I also invite you to check out some music that helps me chill.  What would I do without Yo-Yo Ma’s immortal Obrigado Brazil album?  (Not everyone’s thing, but the combination of classical and jazz totally works for me.)

Finally, I invite you to share your thoughts . . . about racing thoughts!  And about your meditative practices.  I’d love to know what you do to increase the productivity of your mothering efforts and to decrease the chances that such efforts will be undercut by old habits of thinking, let’s say, or just those rogue thoughts that run away with us!  And if you have ideas for music, by all means, share!

May your morning be peaceful.  May your thoughts be yours to direct, especially as you embrace another day of mothering!


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You know those moments that, when they happen, feel both totally spontaneous and perfectly planned?–like they were always meant to happen but just needed the right kind of chaos to seed them?  Well, the chaos, we definitely had:  two adults and four kids in a small, European car in Amsterdam, where we almost killed several people who, blithely pedaling along on their bikes, had no idea they had just missed a date with death.  And did I say four kids?–three teens and one eight-year-old?  And did I mention that the teens, all arms and legs, simply could not manage to fold themselves comfortably into those darned seats?  Moreover, did I add that the eight-year-old (now nine, and with a new permanent tooth coming in on top!), the smallest person in the car, was certain he was being breathed on, squished, smashed, and generally disrespected by his (mostly patient) older siblings?

So, on the road to Zaanse Schans, when several cows grazing in a roadside pasture ignited an idea in the mind of one of our daughters, we seemed meant to stop and capture the moment on film.  And now that the oldest, gone for two years, is away from us, this little video gives us all the perfect opportunity not only to see him and hear his voice again but also to contemplate what happens when kids and cows and cameras are thrown into collision.

The cure for road trip madness:  a video camera, several imaginative kids, and as many laid back Dutch cows.


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