Monthly Archives: January 2020
I saw this headline on Timemagazine.com and thought how appropriate it is for me since I’m finishing up a week at THIMUN, which is a 5-day Model United Nations conference at The Hague, also where the U.N’s International Court of Justice holds court (literally a 4 minute walk from where I sit right now).
According to THIMUN’s website more than 3,200 students from 200 schools around the world take part in this training ground for our future world leaders (and God help us may it hold true that some of these kids take the reigns because we need them). I posted what an amazing experience this was last year, and it still is because the kids truly do cut their teeth on resolutions, debates, collaboration, etc. — real-world skills that will serve them well with whatever they decide to do with their lives.
I tear up during the opening ceremony when the parade of nations takes place because for a few minutes I’m filled with hope and love for humanity’s potential — especially when guest speakers remind us we’re in a city that prides itself on peace. Peace, people. Unity. A reminder that we still have a chance to not royally fuck everything up. Our babies might just save us after all.
But, I’m also here at an unsettling time. There’s great divide not just within my country but too many to mention; there’s too much scorched or parched earth; and there’s too many forms of life dying at what seems an unnatural rate. The earth is also shaking and spewing lava and lethal microbes at us maybe because she’s pissed, or maybe because she’s just as fickle and petty as we are.
When I’m not going in and out of committees to see what my kids are doing, I sit and chat with other teachers from around the world (no longer a novelty for me, but still very cool). It’s dangerous when teachers have time to sip coffee while it’s warm and not have to rush for this or that. We reflect. We philosophize. We share the observations we don’t normally have time to think about yet alone articulate.
A common thread among our discussions this year is that we (mankind) are changing. It’s visible in us and our young. There’s more arrogance, more tuning out, more reactive versus proactive, more feed me now Seymour! Even here where open mindedness and compromise is at the root of all we do, too many times we ally to win our side for the sake of winning versus what might be in the best interest of most (although perhaps that’s always been the case).
This trip takes up a lot of my time, and it causes me a whole lot of stress. There are all the arrangements and meetings that need to be made before we go, and then while we’re here I, and the other adults with me, are responsible for the safety and well being of someone else’s teenagers while being in a bustling city with thousands of other teens — all excited to be a part of this, and all wanting to have a little parent-free fun. I’m on guard from the minute I wake until the minute I finally pass out, and I’m always fully aware that I am a role model, so I need to practice what I preach alllllllllll day long (it’s hard being a model citizen when you’re normally such a sinner after-hours).
There’s teen angst, bravado, drama, anxiety, etc. etc. etc. LOL there’s adult drama too. And, I cannot tell you how many times I ask myself why in the hell am I doing this? Especially when a kid decides to test things and make me feel small for doing my job (although most of the time that’s not the case). Shit happens while we’re here, and I have to help them (and me) deal with it. It’s exhausting and not rewarding in the sense of recognition or money. But, it does so feed and warm my soul when a kid gets it (maybe just for half a second) that holy shit my voice IS power. Of course that’s after hours of not getting called upon, but that too is valuable — most of the time we are not heard, or not given the chance, or perhaps on this particular thing it’s better off silent, but we have to keep trying, right?
I doubt I’ll do this again next year because a week away is taxing on the job front for me as well as personally. It’s just a lot, but I will make sure that this thing continues. It will be a success no matter who is managing it. And, it does have to keep going.
You see there’s this virus going around that we’re all terrified of catching. We adults are on alert. The Hague is on alert with medical staff on standby should we need them. I told my friends that if I ended up on lockdown at this conference with all of these kids my head would explode.
Then we got here and realized we were sharing our hotel hallway with a school from Shanghai. I thought “oh shit, are you kidding me?” I don’t know what my kids thought, but their actions were all positive — from inviting our neighbors to take part in our hallway games to socializing when we run into each other at dinner outings. They don’t care where anyone is from or what they might represent (at least for now; pray the world doesn’t taint them tomorrow).
And that is after all what this is all about. If we adults don’t keep ensuring that our kids are exposed to at least mock humanity (with real world actions on their part) then what good are we? So go all you little debaters out there, keep doing your thing, but remember this is your training to spread some good when you shed your childhood and take on your adulthood. Your species depends on it.
p.s. and don’t worry about my whine about my lost free time; my husband has a good bottle of red breathing for me when I get home Friday night. Humdullah my sinning will commence.
p.s.s. If you’re interested in seeing more about the actual conference you can read about it by clicking here.
It was so good having two of my kids here for the holidays. I sooooo miss living close to them. We had a wonderful Christmas, mostly through the eyes of Torin.
He’s one of us — already begging for beer.
I soooo miss that little wiggle worm! I have to wait at least 6 months before I can see him again.
Day after Christmas we packed up a rental van and drove to Normandy, where we stayed in a renovated farm house and Kelly got to pay homage to all (including his grandfather) who did not get to experience Normandy with the love and warmth we did.
Loved this swing (and playing with my little Mama) in the barn. This would be the perfect place to spend the summer.
They used airplane toggles for light switches. How clever!
This bathtub was perfect for Torin (sorry i didn’t get a good shot, but my daughter got a few). LOL I took a bath in it, and had to do yoga to get back out (I’ve never done yoga before — um a wet, naked me was not a good way to begin).
Joe’s and my bed in the attic room. I want the world to know that even under the influence of fermented French grapes, my fat ass and weak ankle can still climb the ladder to this comfy bed. Our first night I fell asleep to the wind howling because it could not budge those stone walls or the tightly fastened roof (Amen to that!).
Thanks to it being unseasonably warm, we ended up stripping down to tank tops just so we could enjoy our last night with a fire and Saving Private Ryan — a must see after visiting all the sites, just to remind us of how awful it all was. May we one day learn to resolve our conflicts without destroying our precious young and land.
Watching the sun rise from my bed in the attic room. How cool is that?!
Who doesn’t want to um, read in this room? Another perk: the floors are heated! OMG my tootsies love a warm bathroom floor.
And, here are some shots of the fam touring the shores and churches of Normandy.
We lit a candle for peace — oh may it shine brightly.
My little photographer taking all sorts of close ups. Torin is not amused.
My baby of the group — looks like he belongs here!
I love Torin’s facial expressions, especially in his carrier. He seems to love the mist on his face, but he’s always “so whatcha up to?”
Kelly with his mom.
Then we came back to Mons and brought in the New Year with fireworks on the Grand Place. This was the first year they threw a party on New Years, and it was fantastic. I do so love where I live. It just seems to get better and better, except for the fact that my kids aren’t here permanently.
It’s all good because my trick to not suffering Empty Nest Syndrome is travel, so on Jan 2 when my kids flew home, Joe and I boarded a plane to Venice, where we spent a lovely long weekend with his sister (since he’s retired, Joe got to spend a few days longer; I’m still jealous).
This is my favorite shot I took during that trip, and I took it from the balcony of Joe’s sister’s apartment.
These two shots are from the windows of our apartment.
It was so cool to sip coffee with that view (fingers crossed I didn’t blind any gondoliers with my no-bra jammies). We stayed in the San Paulo area, which is where Joe’s sister has been visiting for years (15 I think). It was so nice to have her as our guide because we got to feast and sip with the friends she’s made there over the years, and we now love it as much as she does. Thank you Linda for giving us another place to call home!
This shop was our guide to turn onto our street. And just in case you need more pics of Venice, here you go…
I could have sat and sipped here alllllllllllll day long.
Joe and Linda catching up our first night there. We now know the best time to visit St Marco square is at night, after Christmas. STILL magical!
But, can you ever get enough gondola shots?
These two dogs waited patiently outside while their owner bought bread. Going by the amount of people taking pics, I bet they’re international social media stars by now. Badger would love it here since dogs seem to be welcome and adored everywhere.
Gotta post a selfie of us standing on the dock right by our bedroom window.
We had such a wonderful time that we decided to join Linda for Christmas there next year. I’ll be sure to bring a big suitcase so that I can load up with more glasses and bowls and oh my the shopping! So many pretty things, but the best — besides the scenery — were the people (food and wine almost tie with them).
As for the new year: I no longer make resolutions. However, this year I made one, and that is to upload my photos to this blog as trips are happening. It takes a ridiculous amount of time to sort through them all and do it on a lazy Sunday (when I also have the pressure of having real work to do — ugh). It’s quicker uploading via my phone anyway. So, there you go: fingers crossed I’ll keep to it.
Before I say chow, here are a few links that might interest you (and no: I don’t get paid to share other people’s stuff. lol I don’t get paid for this blog at all).
First one is Badger’s take on my return (poor boy is getting old, which means less trips in 2020 without him): Badger Does Belgium
Second is a link to our cottage in Normandy. Know that it’s an hour from most sites, but it has a lovely beach nearby: Glatigny Farmhouse
Third is a Venetian walking food tour (by American guides) we haven’t taken yet, but we totally plan on bringing friends to Venice to do this (we’ve met the couple who do this and can’t imagine this being anything but fun): Venice Bites
And that’s it for now. I’m back in my real world and have a busy few weeks coming up. Are they ever anything but busy?