SELF IMPOSED WRITERS CHALLENGE

Just for the heck of it! For the next 22 days I will force myself to blast out daily tidbits, updates, comments, opinionated jibber jabber or whatever you want to call it from the top of our hill here in the Greater Vancouver area on the West Coast of Canada.

My coaching buddy Gail reminded me of the 21 day rule to establish a new routine: In order to create a new habit in our life we have to do this one thing for at least 21 days in a row. If you miss one day, you have to start all over again! For good measure I added one extra day – to make sure I really got it!

I love writing! Unfortunately, I am not regular enough – if you know what I mean. This personal challenge will force me to get the creative juices flowing day in and day out.  Nothing like a good challenge.to prove a scientific(?) point!

This challenge doesn’t serve anybody but myself and may turn into torture for my highly apprecited, much loved followers to find yet another extraordinary post in their inbox! Oh well, just ignore me if you want. I will be back the next day anyway, and the next and next…

What standard of entertainment can you expect during the next 22 days?

It can be anything,; anything from the sophisticated wit coming out of a kids’ mouth:

Pull your mouth apart and say "puck"    C. Waschko

Pull your mouth apart and say “puck” C. Waschko

to a classy game of chess! Let me surprise you!

The boys are on it!      C.Waschko

The boys are on it! C.Waschko

My only rules are: Anything goes, no repetition and I HAVE to post EVERY day!

For the good of my family I should have signed up for the “A different meal per day challenge. How to create nutritious, delicious meals for feed and fill up three growing teenagers, a half teen, a husband and his wife!”

This is way too scary! Chances are, I might skip a day cooking due to writing and have to start all over again- with all new recipes. Ghee, what a great provider I am – I never said I am a great cook!  By all means, if you feel sorry or are worried about the well being of my family, please share your quick and easy recipes with me!

So, that’s it for now! It is still a gorgeous day out here – I am about to start the BBQ to feed the hungry ones! See ya’ tomorrow!

 

 

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DATING ADVICE to our 10 YEAR OLD SON

Did you ever ask your mom for advice in the dating department?  I never did! When I was 12 I thought my mother was ancient and knew nothing! I wonder how our boys perceive us.

Surprise, surprise – I was flattered when our nearly 11-year old sunshine asked me in a roundabout way on how to date a girl!  At least that’s what I believe was the question…

Here is what I told him:”Most of us girls don’t want a guy who is constantly away, working to earn a lot of money. We don’t want to get expensive presents, we rather have random hugs, kisses, a flower here and there, a few sweeties and attention. Instead of a big, fat diamond ring we want to go dancing instead.”

He gave me this wonderful, confused look, head tilted to the side, eyebrows raised. Yes I know, I just gave our 10 year old son full blown marital advice!  It’s official, I am my mothers daughter, I didnt get it, missed the point completely.

Cruz is still at the beginning phase of the game. He hasn’t even talked to his girl yet and time is running out for him:two more months and the big summer break is upon us! All he wants to know is how to talk to the most popular girl in his class – alone!  (He surely knows how to make his young life more challenging!)

cruz ascartoon

If I wanted to save my credibility as advisor, I had to come up with something better, fast. My next practical advice was: “Why don’t you invite her to our house, you guys can hang out here and play some mindcraft.”

I was still missing the point and Cruz rendered me useless. He did the next best thing, he asked his dad for tips and tricks.

Here is what Dominic came up with: “Make a plan, be on it, be patient and remember, whatever happens, happens.”

What kind of advice is that? Our son needs a blueprint for success, not some kind of philosophical, universal, fits-all approach.

The sad truth is, we failed our son on his quest to touch base with Mrs. Popular. We should stay out of it and let the boy come up with his own plan of action. And he did: Cruz and his friend Conner googled How to get a girl-friend. Based on the youtube advice they decided the buddy – , or better, wing-man -system.would work best. The finer details of when or how still needs to be decided on,- but at least they have a plan. Good luck boys!

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DAVID BECKHAM COVER(S) UP

I know I promised you “Fright Night”, a haunted house filled with blood thirsty creatures roaming around during full moon, causing goose bumps, palpation and sweaty palms to every living soul. 

Unfortunately, this has to wait till the next time!  Something else came up and I need to get the following off my chest first. I am a woman- changing my mind / my script / or my intention is part of the gender description!

What or who spooked me? My de-railing comes in the form of Mr. Eye Candy, David Beckham.

Personally, I like his looks and I love the idea of him being a devoted (?), progressive father. Anyway, I spotted his latest picture in his undies for the H&M campaign (you’ve seen the one, taken by tourists in the tour bus?). This alone caused my housewife brain to go into overdrive.  Then I picked up a dated edition of “Hello’ magazine during my holy hour at the library! Here he is again, Mr. Handsome, besotted father with his daughter in his arms. I can’t remember the quote exactly, but it went something like this:

“Now that I have a daughter I can’t run around half dressed anymore”

Or did he actually say “naked”? Or was it “…in my boxer shorts anymore”?

Is he joking? Or does a prude lurk inside this well chiselled, well camouflaged body of his?

If this is the truth can I make the assumption that his three boys have never seen Victoria in her Eve costume? (This should read “Adams costume” actually. But you will only get this pun if you know her maiden name)!  

For Goodness sake David, get real! Your daughter has three brothers. Sooner or later, at one occasion or another, she will find out what that dangly thingy is you guys have and we girls don’t.

Of course, it is your own business how to bring up your children!  But wouldn’t you agree that it is much easier to let it all ‘hang out’ or simply grin and bear it – at least in your own home?  Confined to your own four walls? Let’s face it: If you can’t run around naked within your own four walls, where else can you?  And if you do, look what happened to the future Queen of England.

 If your children won’t see their own parents naked – how else will they learn about the small differences?  Where else should their see it or learn from? At their friends house (I hope not!), on TV (most likely), at a peep-show (Holy C.., better late than never?), on the beach (you have some explaining to do right there and then) or in some books and magazines (probably the safest bet).

As for me, I whole heartedly support the ‘no secret’ policy! –  That’s what we did (and still do?) in Germany.

My three boys know how I look like.  I never made a big deal about it. And the result?  They don’t really care about this whole subject on being nude!

 Do you agree? Is this part of being extra-ordinary? To me it is!

On this note, I wonder what is going on in Madonna’s house!

Happy to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HIGH FASHION

Most Popular Female Outfit

Forest Gump

First things first::

I decided to save my immigration fund and hit the road of pre-promotion for the book alone! With all the information at hand I figure, How hard can it be? Honestly, I don’t believe in short cuts: I have to put the hours in, make mistakes and figure out which way suits me best!

On the shrinking waistline? It is definitely not shrinking yet! Last week the bike was my best friend: Just going down to the grocery store equals a mini “Tour-de Maple Ridge!” It is all mountain terrain! The thighs are becoming more muscley but the love handles found their spot on my body they really like…..to be continued!

Our chosen country is a melting pot of different nationalities!  Immigrants from all over the world are calling Canada their new home! Which is cool, because it is all about globalization! We are all part of one big family, regardless of colour, accent or upbringing. One of the major differences between here and let’s say Germany (where I grew up) or The Netherlands (where we lived for 12 years) is the attitude towards being different!

Here ONE CELEBRATES DIFFERENCES, whereas  in the two European countries,

YOU NEED TO FIT in to be accepted!

Let me elaborate. Among the many acquaintances we met along the way and friends we made I am definitely not known as a fashionista! Far from it! I never know what is in fashion, I only know what feels comfy and what not to wear if you have short legs, a no bra size and.-now- wobbly upper arms.

Where we lived in our little village in Holland, the ladies look fabulous!!! They spent lots of money on the items displayed – and it showed! Name brands, the newest styles, well-groomed from tip to top!  Believe it or not, these ladies know how to cycle in their high heels,  how to balance their grocery bags and their kids on the front and rear seats of their bike AND still look good!   It was a pleasure to watch, but put on a lot of pressure to “fit in!”  Personally I believe as long as it is clean and not torn, put it on! Oh well, it is easier said than done! Especially there! Germany is the same. Even if people don’t mean to, you are being judged and looked up and down upon if you don’t display some sort of style! But this was then, this is now:

Imagine our relief when we heard on the radio that Vancouver still ranks among the top 5 places in the world to live, but is named “most unfashionable city in the world” by the people who should know!

One of the items Dominic (the “fashionable” husband) was stressed out upon arrival, was the added expense to buy a brand new wardrobe for our new life here in Vancouver!  Actually, we live in Maple Ridge,a still undiscovered gem in high fashion circles, ignored by any species slightly in tune with fashion!

Maple Ridge is a mecca for horse lovers, it is the rainforest of BC, the area of choice to bring up your children. Considering these facts one finds  residents displaying their flip-flops, rain boots or track suit bottoms more than anything else! Judging by the amount of sports wear seen in the street, one can come to the conclusion that the locals are  among the fittest, healthiest, most active  people anywhere (don’t know if this is true or not)!

Dominic is in heaven, he can finally live out his honest summer style, inspired by Forest Gump, and nobody gives him a second look! I am in heaven, because there is no need to buy any new clothes whatsoever!

Either way of living and attitude towards fashion is just fine. You have to decide how to deal with it on a personal level.! But here is the dilemma I am facing:

It is too easy to fall into the trap of “no-fashion”. It is too easy to put on the loose-fitting bottoms, crocs and hit the road. And the best thing is: Nobody cares! In order to keep some personal pride and get a sense of being ” extra-ordinary” I make sure to put on my European outfits every day (if they still fit over the expanding waist) and get fabulous compliments!

Impulsive Decisions, write a book and shrink my waist

One of my personal characteristics is being impulsive!

Our first month in our new home was spent completing tedious tasks about our old home. Skype was our medium of choice! Due to the nine hour time difference we had to be up, alert and  business-like in the  early hours of dawn – or sometimes drag out our days past midnight.

After most things were organized my brain went into “let’s do something crazy –over drive- mood”.  It was the first Sunday in February!  I woke up with the determination to write a book.  The blueprint was in my head!  Straight after our breakfast I planted myself behind this little PC.  It was neither tedious, strenuous nor a boring task.  The fingers were dancing over the keypad! It was fun and refreshing to put down the story of Strawberry Lounge.  It took two months to complete “Very Berry Extra-Ordinary “and another month to rewrite the first draft. In total I rewrote the book three times until I was happy and before it was sent off to the editor in Tenn. USA.

The editing is done, the waiting game has begun! The manuscript has been sent back via train, truck and automobile plus with the possibility to be held back at the border!

The saying goes: Patience is a virtue! This is one characteristic I have struggled with for the last 40 years. That’s why it is presented to me again and again, in various forms, shapes and situations.

We are not talking about major time pressure or deadlines-yet! What is being tested is my own impatience and a compromise of the promises I made to all individuals involved. My plan is / was to get “Very Berry Extra-Ordinary” published by the end of this summer!

If learning to be patient isn’t bad enough, I discovered another shortcoming. This one not related to my character but to physical appearance: Middle age- love handles on the mid-section and flabby upper arms have set in!  Since the age of 27 I always had a 6-pack and nicely shaped upper arms. Not anymore! What happened?

For the first time in over six years I have the time to sit down to eat in quiet and peace. No rushing around, nothing to organize, no last minute shopping trips for the coffee lounge, no need for taxiing our boys around to their various activities yet.   Years of ownership saw me running around like crazy, too busy to keep the pounds on. Now life is so much more relaxed – perhaps a bit too relaxed…

Anyway, to revive me from personal misery I decided on a plan of action: Activities to Lose my unwanted extras and to Gain publicity for the book.

Here is what I am doing:

No more crunches. For 30 years my abdominals performed the same old same old! Enough is enough- they are bored to death. Hand me weights, let’s do Pilates and yoga exercises for a reshape of this body part!

During the weekly swimming session I happily mingled with the ladies in the medium lane: It was for sheer enjoyment and to be happy to move the body!

Not anymore!  The next time you can find me in the fast lane again for some serious free styling. Still for enjoyment, but with the goal to shape and reshape!

Next on the list:

30 push-ups every second day!  And, no more late night ice-creams or cookie attacks while watching yet another useless romantic comedy!

To get in depth information on how to promote a book I follow the Jack of all trades, Jack Canfield. So far I watched his videos, watched a live broadcast and listened to a call-in show.  One of the best ideas I heard is to attach a charity to the book.

I am currently searching for a suitable group that I could support with my book on “mother-preneurialship”.

Furthermore, I am researching various magazines on the Dutch, US, English and Canadian market to find out about their target group. Which one is most suitable to promote my book?

Another plan is to do presentations at various locations at various venues, e.g. local churches, Universities, Lady Circles or Chamber of Commerce. After a few phone calls and personal conversations I received prices for various rooms and locations.

Further, I am on a mission to get in touch with the editor of our local newspaper. I’ve got some funny articles to offer him as filler for the summer period. Not much to report yet! A personal visit was unsuccessful, a follow-up phone call and e-mail hasn’t been answered yet!

The most important thing is: I know what to do! And I am doing it!

I just have to find out HOW TO DO IT! But that is the fun bit…

The alternative is to call Jack- or to enrol in one of his courses – but, this would obviously shrink my First-Year-Canada-Fund. Thinking about it more closely, he wouldn’t help me personally. His business partner would! In the form of a detailed course program which reveals tried and tested methods by authors who made it to the New York Times Bestsellers List.

Let me think about this…to be continued!

The Move

(Warning, this is a long one, but it is the introduction for everything that will follow…)

Our whole family recently moved from The Netherlands to Maple Ridge, BC, Canada.

Our family includes the American husband, our teenage son (15 years of age) our pre-teen (12 years) the youngest one (9) plus my German self. Reason for the change in scenery was our search for adventure, more space, wild nature and the language. And frankly speaking, after 12 years in the Flatlands of Europe, we just learned everything there is to know about the Dutch-Way-of-Life. Prior to our departure we both operated successful businesses- my husband as a self employed business coach and trainer, me as the proud owner of Strawberry Lounge.

What you are about to read is not an account of the vast differences in Dutch vs. Canadian attitudes or culture. Far from it- I am going to de-mystify the belief that

“You can only move countries, (or continents in this matter) prior to the arrival of your children or when your children are younger than elementary school age”.

We heard about this as well. Unconvinced about this wives tale we were more worried about the following two scenarios.  First, love would strike any of the boys and second, our own increased age would label us “unsuitable to be of any valid contribution to the country”. If we wanted to make the move, we had to move now.  We didn’t have any family, friends or business connections to rely on. It was up to us to make it happen!

On arrival to Canada we explained to our children they had one of two choices to make. To either live in the past or to give it an honest shot here in Maple Ridge. The Netherlands was the past, Canada is the present and will be our future.

Six months down the road we figured it out.

Our kids are happily settled in their Elementary or High School respectively. Each of them took their time to adjust to their new life. Unsurprisingly, our youngest son had the least trouble. Only two days after arrival he found his soul mate just two doors down the road. The middle son took his time and spent a couple of weeks on facebook, posting openly his mistrust and hate about his new home.  But let me tell you, after spending a birthday party with his new class mates it is all easy going with him. He happily mingles with his new mates on his way home, turned into an enthusiastic street hockey player and entertains the whole street in our den. And our teenager? God knows- he is a young man of few words.  But what we can gather from his tidbits, he thinks it is cool here. He also joined the neighbourhood street hockey team. To earn some money he scored himself a baby – sitting job, earned himself a cool mountain-trail bike doing chores for an elderly gentleman and made friends with other like minded souls.  He is good! When our boys talk about their previous life and their friends left behind, they sound fine. We can’t hear regret or sadness in their voices.

Let me share with you what helped make our transition so easy:

All of us speak English. Due to our back grounds we brought up the children tri-lingual. Daily life is easy with the same lingo. Watching TV, reading books or mingling doesn’t cause a problem. The school system is fabulous: The Canadians don’t believe in holding a child back. If any problems are encountered they get help along the way as much as possible. Both younger boys get extra help twice a week with their writing and grammar skills. Brando, the oldest, actually excels in every given subject! If you decide to move countries, make sure you are familiar with the new language.

Find a house and neighbourhood for the whole family.

Our original plan was to live in isolation, to live with as much space as possible. We lived like sardines in The Netherlands. Canada is the second biggest country in the world. Why should we cramp our style here? For some strange leap of faith we decided to buy a house along a totally different spectrum. We both fell in love with our new residency, situated in the heart of a neighbourhood.  Honestly, this is the best thing we have ever done!  Our new neighbourhood swarms with children and their parents are extremely nice and entertaining too. Thankfullywe have more boys than girls on top of our ridge and the ages range from seven to 14 years of age.  Each of our boys found the right match.

Our street is a cul-de-sac.  In the afternoon and early evening hockey nets are spread across the street to slow any traffic down. During hot afternoons our yards are transformed into battle grounds for water gun fights, they serve as backdrops for movie making, for hide and seek games or any other creative gimmick to pop into the heads of the boys. If the weather god plays tricks on us we have Plan B. All the houses have an entertainment system in their basements.

All parents have an unspoken agreement: We feed whomever we find in our house. Due to this arrangement our kids discovered KRAFT DINNERS and fell in love with MACCARONI & CHEESE. Because all our neighbours are so nice we often find ourselves sitting on someone else’s terrace having margaritas or drinking beer. Or, everybody else finds themselves on our deck outside. Quite often we throw our goods together for an impromptu BBQ. To make good things even better, one of the neighbours owns a swimming pool with the sign “open to all” attached to it!

Just a short, but very steep bike ride down the hill you can find the HOT ROCKS, three big rocks in the middle of a river.  This local swimming hole is ideal when it gets hot and for anybody brave enough to brace glacier water. Brrr, it is freezing, but refreshing.

Talk and talk some more! 

Find out where to find the deals!  Moving is expensive, especially when you make the plunge across the big ocean. All big electronic household items are rendered useless coming from Europe.  We could save cash by simply asking what item to buy from which shop. On a food related basis, I interviewed every female I came in contact with to share her secret shop for purchasing fresh produce and general survival items.  Everybody pointed me to the Superstore and the Farmers Market. Acting upon their recommendations I got a free savers card from each store to take advantage of their weekly specials.

 Watch what you are buying

North American food tastes different than Dutch and German food. God knows what they put in their bread, canned soups or drinks. Actually, I don’t want to know. All I know is that it takes time to adjust to the new cuisine. Bottom line is, adapt or start spending BIG for the flavours you are used to from Europe.

But, as I just mentioned, every EU import is very expensive. The Knorr and Maggi sachets have to wait for a special day, e.g. Canada Day.  A cheaper option would be to send a stress call to family or friends in the old country and ask for a care package.

Instead of spending big money on food one can opt to split the budget and shop big for clothes instead.  All the famous US labels like Ralph Lauren, T.Hilfiger, The Gap, Lands End or Banana Republic have Outlet stores – everything can be purchased for a fraction of the Euro. These shops also offer discount coupons on line when you purchase for the first time in their store.              Another good money saver is a Garage Sale. Dominic ( my husband) found us a “Broiler King” state of the art BBQ, a sturdy oak outdoor garden set, various chairs for our terraces, hockey equipment and a Nerf gun- all this for the tiny fraction of the retail price.

As a recap, these are our tried and tested recipes for establishing ourselves in the new country:

Talk and talk some more.  Let everybody know you have arrived. Open up your house for visitors. Canadians take their volunteer work seriously. I joined the ranks. So far I volunteered for school projects and for a two day community event. Both occasions are fabulous to meet and mingle with mothers, get to know the school and make new local acquaintances. Dominic and myself network at various events to get to know the movers and shakers of the business world and we visit lots of free social events to get to know as many individuals as possible.

We obviously have to put in the effort.  But we are more than happy and willing to do so.  You have to make the first step, the first commitment and the rest will follow automatically. The Canadians make it surely easy for everybody. They are welcoming, friendly, open minded, honest and easy going. Step by step we are building our new circle of friends and acquaintances here. It is effortless, fun and rewarding.

Somebody said: ‘”Home is where the heart is”.

Dominic and myself believe this. Accordingly, we pass the following message on to the boys:                      We are happy wherever we are, because we want to be!