Monthly Archives: April 2015

365 Days of Joy: Week 17

I’ve decided to do 365 days of joy this year (inspired by the wonderful Raquel Kato, author of the Story of a Rose blog).  Some posts my be long, some may be only a sentence, but the important thing is finding joy in your everyday life, because there are so many things to be joyful about, and I tend to forget that. I’ll be posting one every week, and hopefully, along with joy, I can gain a little consistency in my life. 😉  So here we go, week 17!

benrectorbeautifulThere are some days when a song just hits you hard in the guy…but in a good way. This happened to me with Ben Rector’s song “Beautiful”. This song is all about loving life again and living with a childlike innocence. It’s a nice reminder of how we can fall into the serious routine of everyday life that we forget to celebrate life with joy and enthusiasm, like we did when we were kids.


Mary left today 😦 Had such a great time with her, but unfortunately she had to go back and work, or some nonsense like that. The kids and I went to the park for the first time this spring and we had so much fun running barefoot in the sand and picking flowers…Spring is just the best!


Skyped with Kilty and the Gonzo boys and in the middle my grandparents come to her house so I got to say hi to them too!


We went to Saturday Night Mass in a Church in a little village close by. It was so lovely. There was a georgian choir and and a beautiful back chapel for Our Lady!


WILD WIN, WILD WIN, WILD WIN!!!!! WHOOOOO! The Minnesota Wild beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1 to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second year in a row. Next they travel to Chicago on Friday to take on the Blackhawks. Oh and my dear friend Katie Desme attempted to watch the game in my honor, and apparently it was so difficult for her… 😉

Also, my lil’ sibs got their London hats and showed them off to me!


Kings day! It’s a National Holiday here in the Netherlands, and everyone wears Orange, because it is the most attractive color on everybody….right? In the morning we went to mass in the village and in the afternoon we went to The White Village of Thorn, which sounds super awesome, and it actually is. It has kept the tradition of painting the buildings white and it is just a perfect little village.


The kids and I went on a really long walk, and in the middle Elisabeth got really cranky so Lambert-Joseph and I had to distract her by asking her what color every car was and she would get really excited when she got the question right.


Finally wrote my London blog (yes, I know I said it would be done during the weekend, but I’m a liar, ok!) and it’s up on my travel blog! You can click HERE to check it out and look at the copious amount of pictures that Mary and I took. 🙂  Also, Clemens-August is almost walking! He can now walk behind a stroller by himself!

That’s my week! If you want to hear the full song that my quote is from, here is the video. Ben is awesome and everyone should love him.


365 Days of Joy: Week 16

I’ve decided to do 365 days of joy this year (inspired by the wonderful Raquel Kato, author of the Story of a Rose blog).  Some posts my be long, some may be only a sentence, but the important thing is finding joy in your everyday life, because there are so many things to be joyful about, and I tend to forget that. I’ll be posting one every week, and hopefully, along with joy, I can gain a little consistency in my life. 😉  So here we go, week 16!

the best things...There is nothing better than traveling with someone who you love. That’s what I got to do this week when my sister Mary Kate came to visit me in the Netherlands! While we have our sisterly quarrels and attitudes, there is always something reassuring about the love of sisters. No matter what I know she will always be there for me, and I hope she know’s I’m always there for her.  I’m so glad I got to help her experience something she has wanted to do since she was little: go to London! Seeing her here was so much fun and being with her was just perfect! Thank you Mary so much for coming to visit me, it truly meant the world to me!



First day with Mary! The kids and I showed her all around the Kasteel. It’s so nice to have my sister here!


Arrived in London! First win of the day was finding Kombucha at the train station, our second win was finding our way to our hostel, and our third win was Mary having her first legal beer of her life!


First full day of London was so exciting and fun! We did everything Sherlock related and saw most of the city! I only put up a few pictures, but this weekend I will have a blog post on, so stay tuned for that!


After Mass at Westminister Cathedral, we made our way to Wimbledon…home of the only sport Mary actually likes. It was so fun to see her extremely excited about stepping foot in this iconic tennis club. After that we went back and explored London more and finally we finished the day eating at Jamie’s Italian–the restaurant of Mary’s favorite cook, Jamie Oliver.


Our last day was a half day, but we still fit in so much! Mainly, seeing The Globe Theatre and Platform 9 3/4.  Again, check my travel blog this weekend for a more detailed account of our trip!


Surprisingly, we didn’t take many pictures today. We spent the day playing with the kids and trying to figure out how much of my stuff could fit in Mary’s suitcase.  Oh…and Mary made BOMB Enchiladas and they were amazing!



For Mary’s last day we went to Utrecht, a city in the Netherlands. However, we didn’t do/see much because it was very cold when we got there and we didn’t want to pay for museums, so we walked around for a little while, did some touristy shopping, and then went back home. Nothing too crazy happened after that because we had to be off in the morning at 4:30 to catch Mary’s flight back home. Oh, also, I finished the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed –I’ll post a review of it next week!



And that’s my wonderful week for you! Spending it with Mary was so much fun, not only because I finally had a travel buddy, but because she is just a blast to be around!

Talk to you all next week, and again, look for my London post on my travel blog this weekend!

365 Days of Joy: Week 15

I’ve decided to do 365 days of joy this year (inspired by the wonderful Raquel Kato, author of the Story of a Rose blog).  Some posts my be long, some may be only a sentence, but the important thing is finding joy in your everyday life, because there are so many things to be joyful about, and I tend to forget that. I’ll be posting one every week, and hopefully, along with joy, I can gain a little consistency in my life. 😉  So here we go, week 15!

true secret


Started the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. My friend Bailey Barry recommend it to me, and I’m excited to see if the book lives up to all the hype.


70 degree weather…yep, I’ll take it! Picking flowers, playing ring-around-the-rosey, and taking long walks in the village, makes for a perfect time with the kids.


I got the greatest birthday gift in the mail today from Marissa Lueger! She sent me three bags of popcorn, dental floss, and all three Anne of Green Gables movies! Now this may seem like a random gift but it is really just perfect. Marissa and I have known each other since 2009 and we became friends right away, but we didn’t really become GREAT friends until we shared a room my sophomore year of college, her junior year. Since then, I have grown to admire her more and more every day–she is truly a spectacular friend and person. Well, we recently discovered our mutual love for Anne of Green Gables, however, I love the movie and she loves the book, but nevertheless, we are Kindred Spirits at heart and she is Anne and I’m Diana 🙂



The Schutterij in town had an event to determine the new King for the season. The event consisted of all the members shooting at a wooden “bird” and the last one to shoot it down is named the king. There is also an honorary King from the village who is not apart of the Schutterij. It’s just another fun tradition I’ve been able to experience while living over here!


Mary comes so soon! Monday I cleaned and read up on London preparing for her visit!


I finally wrote my first book review on my blog! I’ve been wanting to start this for a while, but I never got around to it. I didn’t do it like a regular review, but I picked my top favorite quotes and talked about how I thought they impacted the book and why they stuck out to me. If you want to check it out, you can find it by clicking here!


MARY IS HERE!!!!! I’M SO EXCITED!!! Funny story, I thought she was arriving at 9:40 a.m. but really she got in at 9:40 p.m. ….thankfully, I figured it out before I had to spend 12 hours in the Brussels airport.


annnd, that’s my week! Next week will be full of London and Mary!! Get excited!

All for one and one for all: My favorites from the Musketeers

After what felt like a lifetime, I finally finished The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas. Yes, yes, I know, I should have read this book years ago; it’s a classic after all. Growing up I had heard the story of the Musketeers so many times, and while I now know the version I knew then was an extremely abridged version, I did not think I needed to read the book. Furthermore, in order to excuse myself from tackling this monster of a book, I believe I convinced myself that I MUST have read the book at one point in high school, because the story was so familiar to me. But eventually, as ashamed as I was to admit it, especially when I have claimed to love the work of Dumas, I had to face it that I had never read the French classic.

One of my goals for 2015 is to complete a reading list that consists of 50 different book challenges. One of the challenges is a book with more than 500 pages. When I saw this, I knew it was a perfect time for me to finally read The Three Musketeers. Plus, thanks to my handy, dandy kindle, I didn’t have the excuse of not wanting to lug around a five pound book with me everywhere I go. So, I sucked it up and plunged in to the tragic romances, heartbreaking betrayals, and thrilling adventures that make up this multi-plotted, constantly moving novel.

I do admit, it took me a long time to finish this book. I went in waves, going through periods of being completely hooked for days, using every spare moment to read another paragraph, page, or chapter, only to then slump into a dry spell of not wanting to pick up the book and having no interest at all of what happens to our four bold protagonists. When this happens to me, it’s usually because the author goes off the plot and gives long explanations of history and background of the area and I loose my motivation to continue, but here it was different because Dumas does not do that often, and when he doesn’t it’s not for an extended amount of time–for the most part, he stays on plot. The only logical reason I can think of for my on-again, off-again, relationship with this book, is that since it is such a long book, and it has a very complex plot with many different crucial players, it takes a long time to read it right, and after going a couple of weeks with the same story, and then realizing I had only made a small dent in the book, I needed to give my brain different type of entertainment for a couple days before getting sucked into the book again.

Now I can proudly say I have conquered this book, and I am so happy that I can honestly say that I love the story of The Three Musketeers. 

I will not go through and bore you with a critic over the whole book, and frankly, I don’t think I could give it a proper critic after only reading it once, especially since I read it leisurely and not educationally. There is so much going on that it would take a couple reads to analyze all the different moving parts and how Dumas weaves them perfectly together. However, what I will do it take a few of my favorites quotes from the book and tell you briefly why they stood out to me.


“Oh, I see you prefer peregrination. That’s well madame; and there is an old proverb that says, ‘Traveling trains youth.’ My faith! you are not wrong after all, and life is sweet. That’s the reason why I take such care you shall not deprive me of mine.”

This quote is said by Lord de Winters to the infamous lady known throughout the story as Milady. She is truly evil. Lord de Winters says this as he is holding Milady captive in England and giving her the choice of exile or a trial. Now, she has quite a past, so a trial would mean the worst for her, so if she has the choice, she would choose exile, even if the thought of that is as bad as death to her.

I like this quote because it could have been said by a number of characters in the book and still be relevant. All the characters either grow tremendously in the storyline or we learn of their past growth that led them to where they are when we meet them, and they all hold true to the proverb Lord de Winters speaks of, “traveling trains youth.” Furthermore, this book is all about self-preservation in the most direr of situations, so the second part of the quote rings true to most of the characters, “That’s the reason why I take such care you should not deprive me of mine.”

Putting the plot of the book aside, I felt personally attached to this quote the moment I read it, because I saw it as a justification of the life I’m living now. “‘Traveling trains youth.” I’m constantly asked why I’m in Europe and what I’m planning on doing with my life, and why I made the “unorthodox” decision not to get a career right out of college, and more often than not my answer is rewarded with a sigh or an eye role. Even here in Europe I find many people who think my year as an Au Pair as a waste of time. What I wish people would understand is that I’m still young–I look young, I think young, I act young…I’m young. I didn’t take a year in Europe to run away from a career, I came here to take advantage of my youth, to do things that I can’t do when my youth leaves me, and as Dumas puts it, I came here to train. Train for the rest of my life, give me experiences that I could never have unless I put myself out there, on a limb, in a place I had only dreamed of going before.


“Within six months, if I am not dead, I shall have seen you again, madam–even if I have to overturn the world.”

This is said by the Duke of Buckingham to Anne of Austria, the Queen of France. This love affair was one of the saddest because it was doomed from the start, yet the Duke, truly infatuated with the Queen, never abandoned his love for her, nor did he ever do anything intentional to harm her, politically or emotionally. Yet, this quote is like my first one–it could be said by many different characters in the book and no one would doubt it’s sincerity. This book continues to go back to the theme of doing anything and everything for the one you love. If nothing else remains true in this novel, the truth of undying love remains solid through the entire thing.

When I started reading this, I didn’t think it would be as focused on love as it was. I mean, I knew it had romantic sub-plots, but I did not think the plot would focus primarily on the love affairs of the Musketeers and their close companions. I think it can be argued that love is as great of a theme as friendship, even though I believe most would categorize this book in the “power of friends” category quicker than the “power of love” section, especially with the whole “all for one and one for all” thing the musketeers have going on.

While many of the relationships in this novel revolved around an affair of some sort, the love remained beautiful to the reader because of the way the characters truly still believed in love, and the purity of love. It was clearly a different time and culture when this story was placed, and in the novel marriage was definitely more of a political and social relationship then a romantic one, but the the idea of love was still strong and Dumas did a beautiful job of portraying the power that stands behind it.


“You are young,” replied Athos; “and your bitter recollections have time to change themselves into sweet remembrances.”

This is the last line in the book, before the epilogue, and I found it to be a beautiful ending to this tragic story. I don’t want to ruin any of the details, but this book doesn’t have the happiest of endings–it’s not completely sad, but it’s also not a Disney ending. But this quote, spoken by the always wise Athos, pushes away the sadness and allows room for the reader to see the potential of a happy future–what a beautiful thing to do for your readers.

I guess I can add this to my reasons for holding onto my youth: giving myself time to change bitter moments into happy memories. As Athos says this, the reader understands how much he desires to have this time back–time to change all the hurt he suffered into, at least, a memory less painful. But we, as readers, also understand that Athos is unable to do this, and even though the cause of his unhappiness is gone, he will never fully recover from the hurt and pain put upon him. He is unmendable. His friend, however, one he views as a brother and life-long companion, still has time to put all that has happened behind him and forgive, and Athos, being the eldest of the group, wants to make sure his brother does not fall onto the same bitter path that he chose many years prior to the story.

The theme of forgiveness is not as visible as the theme of vengeance in the book, but the final advice from Athos seems to lean more towards it than towards anything else. He is a man who held onto his hatred and his pain as tightly as he held onto his bottles of Spanish wine. He was unable to let go of the events in his past and they tore him apart emotionally, spiritually, and physically. He understands this pain eats him alive, but unwilling to forgive, he allows it to consume him. While, on the outside, he is the strongest (mentally) of the musketeers and their unofficial leader, he knows he is too weak to fight his own pain.  Nevertheless, his final advice, his final warning, gives the reader a shed of hope that his younger, fresher companion will not follow in his footsteps of living in the past, but step forward, forgiving and refreshing his past, so it becomes a power to push him forward, instead of a weight keeping him in behind.

All of us, young and old, can benefit from this final quote from Athos, remembering that life keeps moving and we can either stay bitter and angry or we can move forward with “sweet remembrances.”

The Three Musketeers is timeless. While not as fast paced as most modern day novels, it packs a punch that is full of every theme a reader could ask for. Dumas adds humor to a drama, and romance to a sword fight, and while there are many new adventurers to admire in literature, there aren’t many who compare to the classic characters of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan

365 Days of Joy: Week 14

I’ve decided to do 365 days of joy this year (inspired by the wonderful Raquel Kato, author of the Story of a Rose blog).  Some posts my be long, some may be only a sentence, but the important thing is finding joy in your everyday life, because there are so many things to be joyful about, and I tend to forget that. I’ll be posting one every week, and hopefully, along with joy, I can gain a little consistency in my life. 😉  So here we go, week 14!

no matter how long the winter


Lambert-Joseph has the idea that everything yellow in nature is used to make honey, and today he explained to me how mixing salty things with a dandelion makes honey…he was also very surprised I didn’t know how to already.

I made Chili for the family, and while they said it didn’t smell American, it tasted American 🙂

Elisabeth is really into tickling right now and Lambert-Joseph yells “Picante! Picante!” whenever she tickles him….I have no idea why.


Good Friday–the day the greatest sacrifice known to mankind was made. The joy however, comes from us knowing the end result!


The village had an easter egg hunt at the castle for the kids, and a lot of people came to participate, so that was exciting.

I saw this quote on Facebook, and it gave me chills:

“There is a Great Silence on Earth today, a great silence and stillness. Silence because the King is asleep. God has died in the flesh and Hell trembles with fear.”

Watched LOTR “The Return of the King” because it’s probably one of the most Holy Saturday appropriate movie that I have…I mean, it’s called The Return of the King…that’s straight up Biblical.


Happy Easter! He is Risen!

Today, I was actually a little homesick, as it usually is on Holidays, but that was cured by a nice long convo with the family back home, lots of chocolate, and delicious Georgian wine. Fun fact, Georgia (the Country, not State) is actually where wine originated from.


Lazy Easter Monday= reading a lot, watching copious amounts of Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart videos, and a short, but very sweet, Facetime with the big bro, Jack 🙂 Also, this isn’t the first time I have had this, but I want to tell you guys of the greatness of Speculoos butter…OMG it’s a cookie in peanut butter form…it’s AMAZING!


We played outside all day! The weather is beautiful and warm, putting all of us in a good mood! Also, the Minnesota Wild clinched playoff spot–What Up!


Tulip garden trip! Went to the Keurkenhof gardens! You can read more about it on my travel blog by clicking HERE!

Well, that’s my week! This upcoming week I’m getting ready for Mary to come on Wednesday and enjoying the wonderful weather! Hope all is well with everyone back home, or wherever you are!

Pax Ex!

365 Days of Joy: Week 13

I’ve decided to do 365 days of joy this year (inspired by the wonderful Raquel Kato, author of the Story of a Rose blog).  Some posts my be long, some may be only a sentence, but the important thing is finding joy in your everyday life, because there are so many things to be joyful about, and I tend to forget that. I’ll be posting one every week, and hopefully, along with joy, I can gain a little consistency in my life. 😉  So here we go, week 13!


I don’t know about any of you, but I am constantly looking for fulfillment, yet I can never seem to find it. It doesn’t matter how many places I go, people I meet, compliments I get, likes on Instagram, whatever, they are never enough–I’m never fulfilled. C.S. Lewis wrote,
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
That’s it! That must be it–my fulfillment won’t come because it’s not possible obtain it through worldly goods. Well, now I’m set, right? I know my fulfillment will come from something greater than me, greater than all humanity, greater than the universe, so now I just have to sit back and let the fulfilling take place, right? Well, so far, it hasn’t exactly happened that way for me.  Just like any relationship, one with the Lord takes work. You can’t just walk in, day one, and expect to have a perfect, open, stress free relationship. While he is ready and willing to begin with us, it’s harder for us to begin with him than we think it will be–building a lasting relationship does not come in 3 simple steps. I have focussed this lent on building that relationship with Christ, and what I have learned is that our relationship is like a constant wave, and it’s all my fault.  Some weeks I keep it up so well, I’m constantly praying, I’m going to adoration, I’m focused and attentive during mass, and I physically feel the connection with Christ. And then there are other weeks where I am the worst friend in the world, I don’t start conversations, I don’t reply, when He’s right in front of me, I look away and pay no attention to Him. During those weeks, I feel very alone, but for some strange reason, I know it’s not because He left me, but it’s because I left him.
Now, many of you may know this about me, but my friendships usually start off slow and then escalade really really quickly. Usually I meet a person, barely talk to them for two months or so, and then a breakthrough happens and boom, we are best friends in a couple of hours. Well, with God, that is a difficult approach for me because that “breakthrough” happened over 2,000 years ago when he died for me, so I feel like I’m constantly playing catch up in our friendship. This knowledge causes me to feel guilty for not being good enough, so then I avoid Him even more, because I don’t know how to apologize for not being a perfect friend.  This is where I have been so wrong. First of all, God doesn’t just want to be my friend. No, He wants me to be IN LOVE with Him, because He is Love. Secondly, God doesn’t need me to be perfect, he knows I can’t be. He knows it’s physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally impossible for me to be perfect on this earth. He doesn’t care. He made me not so I would be perfect for him, but so that He would be perfect for me. He is my perfect companion. I’m not made to be perfect, I’m made to know, love and serve Him. He is enough for me.
The quote I chose above is from the band, Tenth Avenue North. Not only do they know how to sing and rock like any Top 40 artist, but they also have countless songs about God’s unfailing, never ceasing love for us. They focus on taking our fears, doubts, failures, etc., and giving them all to God. They really are a wonderful, inspirational band. I’m pretty sure their new CD “Cathedrals” was written about me. This quote has been my unofficial motivator this lent, my constant reminder of what I am striving for. In addition to that, the band has also given me a prayer to end lent with and bring in Easter (and it will be especially relevant come Pentecost). So, before I begin my week of joy, I would like to share this small prayer, found at the end of their song “We Won’t Numb the Pain” (It sounds much better in song form than just read out, so you should just go listen to it).
“Let me get a taste of Your sweetness
Give me one glimpse of Your lovely light
Lord, be my joy, treasure, my delight
Let me have a sense of Your presence
May I trust Your mercy all my life
I just want to be a fire burning in the night

Fire in my heart
Fire in my soul
May the fire of Your love
Burn away control
Satisfy my heart
‘Cause I don’t want to steal
Or give in to my lust just to feel”


The kids were all sick today, but that just means all they want to do is snuggle and read books–which is an ideal day for me! I also got to talk to the cute Gonzalez family, and Maria waved to me!


A bunch of Seminarians arrived at the castle from the North American College in Rome. They were mostly from the mid-west and it turned out we knew a lot of mutual people, which was really random, but very cool. It was kind of a culture shock to be around American guys again after being away for so long. I have a feeling coming back to the States will take a little getting used to.


Skype date with Katlin that was full of wonderful laughter.


Talked to my Mema and Opa today for Mema’s 91st birthday. They both sounded so lively and happy on the phone, it was such a joy to talk to them! Then later I got to catch my Aunt Bridget at Kilty’s at quite a few family members were there too!


Also, with it being Palm Sunday, I got to experience yet another dutch tradition. Instead of the traditional palms, they have these hedge looking branches and they also give you a sweet bread in the form of a roster, symbolizing the cock that crowed when Peter denied Jesus.

palm sunday


I received proof that my nephew takes after me 😉



We had a hot chocolate and yogurt party and it was adorable.



My joy came from Mary, Grace, and Joe meeting Tenth Avenue North and getting to hear them play acoustic for an hour after the show. They were all so excited, I couldn’t help but be excited with them, even if I was extremely jealous. Oh also, Elisabeth almost has the entire song of “Itsy, Bitsy Spider” memorized…and she is so cute when she sings it!

As I was writing this post, I realized how horrible I am about writing down cute things the kids do every day! They have been so adorable the past few weeks, and I always mean to write down funny things they say, but then I forget–I’ll try to be better in the future.

Ok, well that is my final lenten post! I wish you all a holy Holy Week and a wonderful Easter. I will for sure post lots of pictures of our Easter activities, so stay tuned!