Thursday, August 23, 2007


It's never easy to predict what kind of summer we'll be having. This year, we've had more rain and more gloomy days than we would have liked, but I'm not complaining as the days of sun and dry weather are such treasures, and we've been out even on gray days arming ourselves against the wind and the rain with flimsy umbrellas and praying that God will just keep Samuel dry.

This week, Joel's cousin came over and we had to dig out the tent from its hiding place in the attic and put it up as the cousins had decided they wouldn't sleep unless it was in the tent in our backyard. Thank goodness it isn't a huge thing, and Jan was able to put it up before dark. They slept in the tent on Monday night, but Tuesday was just too wet and too cold so the cousins migrated to the floor of our living room.

We have decluttered and minimalized the living room. Deciding that the area is called a living room for a purpose, we've unplugged the television(a drastic measure) and exiled it to the master's bedroom to await a more permanent fate. If I were to decide, I would just get rid of the thing. It's huge and it's black and while I've tried to reconcile myself to the television, I still think it's a noisy monster that doesn't really contribute much except noise pollution.

Maybe this is because television entered our lives pretty late. By the time we had tv in the mountains, I'd already read through my parents collection of fairytales, Bible Stories, Shakespeare, and C.S. Lewis along with a bunch of other true to life stories and Reader's Digest treasury books. Since Joel's birth, I've been trying to advocate a banishment of television and now that it's finally done, it's like being able to breath. Amazing!

Beautiful mornings waking up to the sound of Joel Jan reading from his Donald Duck comic collection...or afternoons when he reaches for a game (like the pocket money game, triominoes and chess). Yes, it's busier and much more intensive than turning on the television and sending your kid to some spaced out zone for a number of hours, but I think in the long run it allows for more creative and amazing interaction. As far as I'm concerned, the television can remain in exile until the kid reaches eighteen.

Thinking about this, I realize how easy it is to just let childhood slip away from us. I love how Jan comes home and finds himself engaged in conversation with his eldest or in some droolly brabble with his youngest son. I watch Joel with his brother and I think how precious it is to see how much Joel has grown beyond his initial jealousy and the struggle at having to share the attention. It's beautiful to watch him with his brother, and I thank God for giving us Samuel and for giving Samuel such a great older brother who doesn't hesitate to show his love and his affection.

Watching Joel Jan grow, I think of how true it is that our children absorb our values. Point of example:

A typical Dutch person who wants to get from Point A to Point B will time excursions so that in an X number of minutes whatever point of arrival or departure is achieved.

Joel, with his mix of Dutch and Filipino characteristics wants to get from Point A to Point B on time, but he will make allowances and if we are late for the bus or the train, it isn't such a huge problem because we can always wait for the next one. That means another 30 minutes to be sure, but it means we have more time to observe things around us.

Having absorbed some of this Dutch obsession with time, I've decided to leave the house at least 25 minutes ahead of whatever station we're headed for. This way, we can walk at a slower pace and chat while we walk.

I think of how the Dutch perception of holidays and vacations is so influenced by the idea of "getting away" that our staying at home doesn't seem like a real vacation to them at all. I have to smile thinking of the countless times I've had to explain that for a Filipino, just staying at home and having the luxury of not having to wake up at 6 in the morning is already a vacation. And isn't it a vacation when you aren't chasing after time but really just pacing and enjoying each moment that comes?

I honestly don't feel deprived by staying at home this entire summer vacation. Goodness knows, it's been busy enough with trips that have taken us to places in The Netherlands.

I so wish vacations could last forever...but I do know they have to end so we can appreciate them more next time they come around.

Remember the feeling you used to get when summer was coming to an end and you knew you had only a couple of days left to enjoy the freedom? I'm getting that feeling now... I so wish vacations could last as long as we wanted them to last.

Photos coming next time.



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