Time for school

Tomorrow marks a new chapter in Zoe’s life. She’ll start elementary school. I can’t believe time has gone by so quickly. Here I am on the doorstep to one of the most exciting and equally frightening beginning of an important chapter in my daughter’s life.

I wonder what it’ll be like for her. I remember vaguely I couldn’t wait to start school. I picked up writing when I was four. My grandparents used to have a huge blackboard put up by the kitchen. I remember grandpa writing down all sorts of orders for his food business and grandma would make sticky rice buns while reading the board. Whenever there was a little space on that board, I would quickly drop my toys, grab a piece of chalk and try to mimic grandpa’s handwriting. Of course, to this day, my penmanship does not compare to his but then again, he’s several decades ahead of me. When my aunts noticed this, I was quickly put next to them as they did their homework and I tried to mimic them. That fire was never extinguished and once I got to start elementary school, I was thrilled. I finally had access to unlimited knowledge. My upbringing taught me many things and one thing that keeps recurring in my head is that knowledge is power and you can never have enough of it. I was like a sponge, even in subjects that I struggled with. By third grade, I was terrible at English and I swore I would be the best of my class before 6th grade. An achievement I reached and by 7th grade, I was put in Mr Miller’s English class, the best one in my school. My competitive nature had me finishing cursive handwriting the same week it was introduced to my class.

I don’t know what drove me. I just know that a fire was lit and I was in the middle of it. It burned fiercely and it still does to this day. I don’t even know how I retained it. I never was encouraged at home to do well in school, at least not in the way you’d expect it to be. I could come home with 100% on any test and I would be met with you only got 100%? Acing tests and finishing top of my class was never enough, maybe that combined with my competitive nature made me want to learn more and do better, or whatever is the equivalent to being the best of your class. I also remember being ashamed for coming home with a 96% result. The first time it happened, I was seriously thinking of ways to erase it from existence. I don’t want this for Zoe. I don’t want her to feel fear of showing me any results that aren’t 100%. I don’t know how to enforce her curiosity without throwing her off of it. I want to lit the same fire in her that I had. I know she has it because I see it every day. I just don’t know how to do it without triggering the lazy nerve that she has as well. I know she’s competitive but I also don’t want to be the type that goes When I was your age… That’s not at all inspiring.

I am thankful, though, that she will have something I never had. She has parents that are capable of helping her with her homework. I mean, she’ll have the full support she’ll ever need. Or at least until she is in high school and needs help with logarithms, that’ll be my exit cue.

I know I want to be the one she looks up to and says Mom, because of you, I didn’t give up. She’s the one. I just don’t know how.

//Cae; I know, I know, worrying about it makes me a better person 

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Arnhem adventures; reflections

In my adult life, I’ve always valued the time I get to spend alone. Even more so after I became a mom. Doing things alone became essential for my well-being. Having lunch on my own, sitting alone at a coffee shop, shopping alone, and even working alone worked just fine. The only thing I had not done alone was to travel long distances. Long enough distance to fly, I should specify. My trip to Arnhem became my first.

Before this trip, I had only gone to Asia with family. I had traveled alone for work purposes but never for pleasure. Of course I was nervous, not because I was meeting with friends for the first time, but because I had never done such a trip alone. Adding to it, I had to travel to Amsterdam alone, using a transport system that was unfamiliar to me. I was very reluctant to do so, even if it meant to pick up sensei. I was looking forward to meeting him again but going that extra bit alone scared me a little. I first thought it would have been assuring had Jacky accompanied me but plans changed. While at Schiphol, I disliked the fact that I had to do it alone but I thought to myself if I was here all alone, with no one to visit, I would have had to do this anyway so I might as well let this be the first time. I sucked it up and went and this reluctant feeling went away the second I got to hug sensei. I still remember the warmth and I consider overcoming the reluctance a good lesson for my personal growth.

I knew that the friends I was meeting are amazing people, so there was no doubt I would have a good time. There was also no room for nervousness, we’d been talking almost every day for two years, what’s a physical meeting gonna change? Before I left, I thought it would change nothing but in hindsight, I was wrong. Our friendship flourishes despite the distances. It’s as if the physical meeting somehow lead to a confirmation, adding more value to it. I even did the math, if we’re smart, we can meet once every 3 months. To be honest, I do not know last I felt this strong for a bunch of friends. For that, I am eternally grateful. Despite not having a proper full-time job yet, I find tremendous comfort knowing how lucky I really am. I have friends I can rely on. Friends, who, despite our differences manage to see our similarities. Friends who manage to bring out the best of each other. Can you tell I really love these people? If not, I really do. Friends are the family you choose, and these people are family. Although the goodbyes were tough and missing them feels overwhelming, every day that passes is a day closer to our next encounter, as David so eloquently put it.

I still don’t think I can grasp the whole situation. How a seemingly random encounter on the internet can lead to such friendship. Or how any of this can even happen more than once (looking at you blog parents and Frank). All I know for sure is that I am very lucky. I’m lucky to be appreciated by such amazing people and I’m lucky to be able to learn so much about myself from all of you. I’m definitely enjoying my journey, are you enjoying yours?

bonus doggo pic in lack of pics of my pretty friends.My bike arrived in a few cardboard boxes. Due to lack of space, we put one in the hallway and someone found his way to a good hiding spot.

//Cae; I meant for this post to be more introspective but it is what it is and I’m fine with it :)

Arnhem adventures part III

After a good night’s sleep, sensei decided not to join me for breakfast and so I left on my own to enjoy the first meal of the day. Unlike the previous morning, the dining room was packed. There were so many people, I saw how stressed the staff was.  If stress had a face, they surely represented it well. I grabbed what I wanted and partially dreaded to drink the coffee, although I knew it was the best I could find for the moment. The hotel we stayed at was brilliant. Lovely rooms and decent staff. It had but one flaw and that was their coffee. Their coffee is best described as colored water. It was so poorly brewed that I personally think I had more caffeine in my earl grey tea. Once I had added a splash of milk, it resembled milk more than it did coffee. Regardless, I enjoyed my breakfast much thanks to my ability to enjoy personal time.

I returned to our room and packed whatever needed to be packed. Our light packing made it easy. It was done in a few minutes and we awaited Jacky’s arrival before checking out. None of us could believe this weekend flew by so quickly and I think we grew very accustomed to the phrase See you tomorrow! It felt amazing to say and I could feel the slight uneasiness as our goodbyes came closer by the minute. A last stroll around Arnhem, ramen for lunch and we took our leave to Amsterdam. Many idiots in traffic, as usual but we made it there unscathed. Finding a parking spot proved to be difficult but we found one after some vigorous searching.

We were gonna see sensei off first, as his bus was departing several hours before my flight. For every minute that passed, my heart grew heavier. I know goodbyes are temporary and we’d meet soon. Nonetheless, it was difficult. It is rare to find one person you can entirely be yourself around and here I was with two. The line for sensei’s bus grew and eventually we had to hug it out and let him board. We were going to take a group photo but even with the three of us, our brains couldn’t remember that and it wasn’t until sensei’s bus was long gone that we realized we had forgotten.

After sensei boarded, us girls decided to leave for Amsterdam. For once, my debit card worked and I got my train ticket. 2 stops later and we were at Schiphol again. This time I wasn’t nervous and I was thankful to be able to spend some precious hours alone with Jacky. I don’t know why, but we have a special connection. No, not that kind of connection. We are similar but we’re different. We’re the type of friends that only need to hint of something and the other will understand completely. Sensei and I are similar like that, too. I’m convinced sensei and I are capable of communicating through humming alone. Anyway, some girl time was much needed. I don’t usually get along with that many girls and since Jacky is one of them, I really wanted to treasure it. A quick lookaround at Schiphol and we decided to find a café and just hang out over coffee. Or as we call it in Sweden – fika (best thing ever, btw). We shared a chocolate muffin because those were huge and why not, haha. I loved how we talked without really talking but still 100% understood each other.

Time is flies when you’re having fun and before we knew it, Jacky had to leave. I reluctantly pushed her to catch an earlier train because I knew she also had a 1h drive back home to Arnhem and I didn’t want Mitch to worry too much. Off she went and I felt how heavy my heart grew. I felt stumped but went on to check in. I figured I could spend the remaining 2.5h before boarding in the tax free area. It was a disappointment though since I couldn’t find any souvenirs or any of my favorite perfumes to bring home. A bit bummed out, I ventured to my gate. Despite getting several reminders from my dear friends, I still forgot to buy water to bring on the plane. As I sat by my gate, I spaced out and suddenly I had to board. Plane was full but if anything, I admired how the crew prioritized families flying with toddlers and first class passengers first. That way, it would be less of a hassle when the rest of the passengers were going to board.

Finally on the plane, I thought we would make it in time. As soon as I had finished processing that thought, the crew announced that the flight might be delayed due to the plane being so full. We were supposed to take off at 2105 but we didn’t leave ground until 2135. Interesting, I thought to myself and figured that it’s better to arrive late than not at all. I thought I might get home around 1am or so and that’d be alright still. Somehow, the pilot managed to touch Danish ground precisely on time. I don’t know how he did it but we landed 2235 (the initial ETA) and as soon as we touched ground, we heard Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Copenhagen, followed by a giggle. It was heartfelt and shortly thereafter, we could get off and I hurried through it all to catch my train back to Malmö.

The rest of the trip home went on smoothly and somehow my short trip had already rewired my brain enough to find it weird hearing and reading Swedish everywhere. The only thing that threw me off was the bus ride home. I met an old acquaintance and we chatted the whole ride. Catching up and I remembered why we lost contact. He did something, I can’t recall exactly what, and refused to apologize. We stopped talking after that but I remember I could read him like an open book and I knew he had feelings for me. That night, he told me and I said I knew all along. Luckily, my stop was the next one after he told me and I promptly took my leave.

Once I got home, a four-legged doofus almost started barking, then he realized who got home and he looked euphoric. As tired as I was, I greeted him before taking a shower and went to bed. What a day. What a weekend.

Hi, new friend!
They had deer strolling around in a park. Very neat :D
For lunch before departure to Amsterdam, we had ramen at the local ramen shop. It was a bit greasy for my taste but it was good nonetheless. 10/10 would recommend. Would be nicer if they had some Ramune too :3
Everyone’s on the roller-band thingy and I walked faster than they moved.

//Cae; totally didn’t hold back tears on the flight home

Arnhem adventures part II

For our second, and only whole, day in Arnhem we didn’t plan much. We decided to meet up early, around 11pm to continue strolling around in town and maybe look for souvenirs. I really wanted to buy a small Princess Peach or a little Yoshi figurine for Zoe but couldn’t find any for a reasonable price. I had also noticed a vinyl store on our first day there and we went in to check it out. It was awesome because I really wanted to find a Hotel California vinyl. I have been for a while but they’re hard to come by here. Sadly, it was way too expensive so I had to skip it this time. We went on to an Asian store to buy some ramen we had planned to cook for dinner that day.

At first we were wandering around aimlessly until Jacky said she needed to go to this store by the central station. Overwhelmed by the different smells in said store, we looked around, talked about family and how awesome our friendships are. A little while after entering the store, it felt like we all forgot what we were doing there and we left. From no where, Jacky is all Hey, wonder where he is? 
Where who is, I thought and then we flipping saw David pop up. We were gonna meet up in Arnhem all of us, including David, but due to some circumstances, those plans were changed and we thought David wouldn’t make it. But we were fooled and it turns out he and Jacky had already plotted to surprise us by having David come by for the day! I was thrilled David came along, and I’m pretty sure many people at the station stared at me as I raised my arms in the air and basically jump-hugged David, haha.

The first thing we talk about was of course food. It was past lunch time and we had no clue what to eat but since we were all simple people, we decided to just sit down at the Burger King that was located in the station. During our meal, a stranger sat himself down by the piano and started playing a song from the game Detroit Become Human. Now the song is even better because we created a fond memory while hearing it outside of game play. It was magical.

Shortly after we finished our meal, we decided to play some Pokemon Go. Yes, nerdy we know. We hurried across the street to catch an ongoing raid and we all nerded it out. When we were done kicking ass, we hopped into the car to head for the supermarket. We needed some more groceries for dinner and by being efficient, we did all the shopping fairly quick and got back to the car to head to Jacky’s apartment. Once we got there, we finally met Mitch! Again, lots of hugs and we talked like never before. Many more questions though, and I felt so much closer to these people than ever before. Most the time, we were complaining about the weather as we chilled out on the balcony. The best part? We could sit in silence without it ever being awkward. That is what true friendship is like.

Unfortunately, David had to leave us after a couple of hours and it was pretty heartbreaking to see him leave. After dropping him off at the station, we headed home and made that ramen bowl. I love cooking and I love cooking for friends even though the ramen didn’t turn out anything like I really wanted it to. I have to admit, though, I simplified it because it was convenient. I’ll have to make up for it next time. Nonetheless, the dinner turned out great and we still had a great time.

Since Jacky was gonna drive us back to the hotel, we decided not to overstay our welcome and left shortly after dinner. It got pretty late but we had to tuck in as the next day would be our last and we’d have to make the trip to Amsterdam.

-sobs- It was expensive :(
The roof of Arnhem station,
Our dinner.
Cool wall AND THE BEST FRIENDS EVER

//Cae; and that was one of the top5 best days of my life so far. It was simple and full of love. 

Arnhem adventures part I

A few months back, I booked hotel and flight tickets to the Netherlands in order to visit some friends I’ve met on Twitch. We’d been talking of meeting for a while now and we didn’t know what exactly to expect.

My flight left around 11am on last Friday and the trip over to Copenhagen was smooth. I was beyond excited. For one, I had never flown alone before  and I was kind of nervous because I didn’t really know how to airport! Luckily, things are pretty straight forward. Check in, get boarding pass, go through security, find gate and get on plane. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Flight there was neat, I was feeling social but was crammed between two very silent people. A little bit of a shame but luckily, I had a few episodes of Elementary downloaded on Netflix to watch. Once I arrived to Schiphol, it wasn’t as confusing as I was led to believe. The cabin crew had kindly provided every passenger a map over the airport to make it easier to navigate through it. It was simple really, as long as you don’t overthink it. The airport itself is shaped like a tree so navigating through it can be very confusing. Luckily, I had remembered the map the cabin crew provided before I stepped off the plane so getting to the train station was fairly easy.

Originally, my friends and I planned to meet up at the airport as it’s on route to Arnhem but due to delays, our plans had to change. New plans made and I had to get my butt to Amsterdam Centraal to pick up sensei. While I waited for sensei’s bus to arrive, I was promptly greeted by Dutch mosquitoes. Gosh, there are no words how much I dislike those pesky little shits. Anyway, once sensei arrived we hugged it out and went on our way to Arnhem to see Jacky and Mitch!

Of course, we caught up a bit and we both agreed how awesome it was to be able to see each other again after only a few months since our last encounter. We also played with the idea of going to Japan together. It’d be great if we can pull that off soon. After a boring and seemingly very long train ride, we finally rolled into Arnhem Centraal and tada, there she was! Jacky met us on the platform, hugs and giggles ensued.

The heat was unbearable but luckily, our hotel wasn’t that far away from the train station. Once we checked in and had left our luggage in our room, we ventured out to the city. Arnhem is a little town situated in the southern parts of the Netherlands. It felt very intimate to stroll down its streets and much of it reminded me of Lund, my alma mater city. Jacky toured us briefly around it and we ended up seeing awesome architecture before we sat down at an Asian restaurant for dinner. Much like the city of Arnhem, the restaurant was intimate and very cozy. It even had several sakura trees as decor. Needless to say, it served many Japanese specialties for a reasonable price. What struck me most was that many things there were cheaper in comparison to home. I found a 1.5l Arizona ice tea for €2. Back home, that price would bring me half a liter only.

We didn’t do much more that first day, other than be mindblown over how amazing it was to finally meet. The best part? We behave exactly the same way face to face as we do online.

This church is under construction but I think they somehow ran out of money and to raise more, they throw techno parties in there. Imagine the acoustics…
Old post office turned bar/cafe.
Old post office building. It was stunning in the evening sun.
At the restaurant. These pots and trees were everywhere.
Maguro (tuna) and unagi (eel). Omnomnom.
Duck, beef and sushi.
Yes, I love these friends enough to share food with them <3

//Cae; back home writing this and I miss my friends even more. 

Bike ordered!

I decided on a bike! It took me a few days to browse around and look at my options but I finally found a bike that’s fitting for my upcoming lifestyle. I decided against the cargo bike because they’re ridiculously overpriced, pretty difficult to store and did I mention they’re stupidly pricey? The bike I ended up getting was of a model that I first seen just a few hours before my post about the decision-making. I didn’t want it at first because it felt too expensive but then I found a neat site with neat bikes and biking equipment that were actually cheaper. They even had home delivery. The only downside was that if I had ordered it the day I discovered it, it would’ve arrived this Friday. And I have plans this Friday. They’ll remain secret until then but I can’t be here when it arrives so I had to wait until today.

I added a children’s seat to the back of it so I can have Zoe there. Now I need to pick up my helmet that currently resides at my mum’s, get new lights and locks for it and then we’re all set for Zoe to start elementary school. Oh, I forgot we also have to get her a pencil box and some neat pencils. Wonder if I can get her used to mechanical pens right off the bat?

//Cae; hm…..