Category Archives: 365 Days of Joy

W, X, Y, and Z

My nephew Joseph asked me to teach him a little Dutch by making him a Dutch Alfabet. The easiest way for me to do this for him is through my blog. These are written for him, but hopefully anyone else reading this can learn a little Dutch! 

W is for Wagon.

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Wagon in Dutch means car.

In the Netherlands, the people try very hard to protect our environment, and one way they do this is by limiting the amount of time in a car. Instead, the Dutch tend to take public transportation, or more commonly, bikes.

When they do drive cars, however, they almost always drive a manual transmission car because these cars use gasoline that is not as harmful to the environment they are trying to preserve.

 

X is for nothing.

X is probably the most uncommon letter in the Dutch language and the only words that would start with X are words taken from other languages, such as x-ray or xylophone.

Y is also for practically nothing.

Y is another very uncommon letter and is usually, if not always, replaced with “ij”. One common and delicious word that starts with these two letters is “ijs” meaning ice. And by ice, they usually always mean ice cream 🙂

 

Z is for Zomer.

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My last Dutch word to give you is zomer, which means summer. I moved to the Netherlands in the summer and it is a beautiful season to be there. It rains a lot but when it’s not, everything is green and alive. The country is full of animals and there are endless activities are festivals to go to because the Dutch love to have a good time!

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365 Days of Joy: July

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. 😉

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Ok, so July was a mess of a month and I didn’t do any blogging whatsoever. While it was annoying that I didn’t have enough time to blog, it was also nice that I was busy enough to not have time to blog. Instead of doing a daily account of my joy, I will just write a summary and then get back to the weekly thing on Wednesday.

July started off with two of my best friends arriving in Europe. Kate and Marissa started their 8-week European backpacking adventure by visiting me in the Netherlands. Their visit brought so much joy into my heart. Not only was it great to get bear hugs instead of the European kisses on the cheek, but it was also great to be with people who I could be 100% myself around.

I spent a little over 2 weeks with Marissa and Kate. We went to Germany first to visit Linda, who was Marissa’s foreign exchange student in high school. And then we went to Spain.

I’m not going to go into detail about Spain because I want to save it for my travel blog, and I will let you all know when that get’s posted.

I left Spain and went back to the Netherlands for my last five days in Europe. Those days were consumed mostly with tying up loose ends and packing. The family did have a celebration for my feast day (July 22nd) and they had a wonderful going away dinner for me. Not only that, but they got me a sweatshirt that says “I was an Au Pair at Kasteel Amstenrade, and I survived” followed by the names of the kids. It is so cool.

Leaving the Netherlands was hard. I was shocked that I made it through the day without crying, but I think I was just too overwhelmed and jittery to have any real emotion. It was like I was shell shocked the entire trip.

The airline lost one of my bags, which was annoying at first, but all that didn’t seem to matter when I stepped out of the customs area and was greeted immediately by Grace jumping into my arms! Then I saw the rest of my welcoming crew and I was in a state of overwhelming bliss. My grandparents, my brother Joe, my brother-in-law Bryan, and two of my nephews, Matthew and Dominic, were there waiting for me with a sign that read “Welkom Thuis Madeline.”

The next few days were just as joyful as I reunited with my family and my best friend, Katlin. My mom had a party for me on Sunday and it was the first time our whole family was together in over 15 months.  It was loud and full of laughter, just how it’s always been.

The last week of July was spent getting my room together at Kilty’s and starting my new part-time job as a nanny for three kids in Des Moines. Yes, I’m still a nanny, but hey, when you are good at something and love it, why quit?  It’s weird being back in Des Moines and having it be a permanent stay. I have never actually lived here for more than 3 months, and I’m excited to call this city my home. I still need to find a weekend job and a car, but so far I think I’m adjusting nicely to the new arrangement.

I loved my year in the Netherlands, even with the tough language and cultural barriers. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I will always have fond memories of it. But now, I’m so happy to be back in the good ol’ USA.

Now, as I always try to do when I start somewhere new, I have a list of goals for my new life back in America.

  • Get a second job
  • Buy a car (yikes)
  • Get started on a book program
  • Volunteer for a presidential campaign in Des Moines
  • Get involved with the Church, hopefully by helping with a pro-life or youth group
  • Write book reviews for my blog
  • Start a work-out routine
  • Save my pennies for traveling

This list is pretty vague right now, but it’s a start!

365 Days of Joy: Week 24

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 24!

1b711321c20e2400aabe6e403b3485a4This week I took that quiz that has been going around Facebook, the “Which Bible verse describes you” one. I was so happy when it gave me this one from Psalm 91. I have always loved Psalm 91 because it is about total faith in God and in yourself. It’s about trusting that God will help you through everything, the good times and the bad, and with him you can do all you need to do. I have used this Psalm to get through the times I have felt the hand of fear or when I have felt alone.  This Psalm is often known as the “Soldiers Prayer” and while I’m not a soldier in the military, I have always felt like a soldier for Christ. Right now our morals, our beliefs, our rights and our faith are under constant attack and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. In this time I think we all need to remember Psalm 91 and remember that God has our backs and we just need to trust in Him and keep fighting the good fight.

06.18.15

Had a fun time playing with the kids in the trees and teaching them how to make little houses in the roots like I used to do when I was little. We never actually got one made, apparently the destruction of any progress is a lot more fun than seeing it completed…despite this it was still a lot of fun!

06.19.15

First day of the season picking Raspberries!

I also put up my blog post about my weekend in Prague. You can read it here!

06.20.15

I had the kids for the night and so I used up some time by calling Kilty and my nephews and introducing them to the kids here. It was really cute seeing Lambert-Joseph talk to Pepe, and Elisabeth was so excited to finally see baby Maria! The rest of the night the topic of conversation was Pepe’s hair and the question “why is it yellow?”

06.21.15

Spent some time reading Pope Francis’ new Encyclical “Laudato Si” –I didn’t make much of a dent but what I have read so far is good and I’m looking forward to finishing it.

06.22.15

I’m starting this horrible mess called packing…somehow I have to fit all my stuff into two bags–it may be impossible. But my joy of the day came from Clemens-August walking by himself for more than 10 steps! Whooo!

06.23.15

More Raspberry picking and the continuation my mission of getting these kids accustomed to the Oldies…mainly The Eagles and James Taylor.

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06.24.15

It is officially my last month in Europe. This is a very bittersweet day and it has been spent mostly packing since I’m leaving for Spain in a week and I should have most of my things packed before that…yikes. But I did spend the day reminiscing with the Top Hits of 2001…that year gave us some great songs.

And that’s my week! I don’t know how the next few weeks will go for my blog because I will be in Spain. I’ll try to post, but no promises 🙂

Peace!

365 Days of Joy: Week 24

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 23!

achildwhosingsI’m starting to realize how much I’m going to miss my little family in the Netherlands. They have made such a beautiful impact on my life, and saying goodbye will be so hard. These three little kids will forever have a place in my heart, their infectious joy will be hard to go without, and of course, I will miss hearing “MADELINE” screamed in a cute Dutch accent.

06.11.15

Playing in the dirt and grass, and not having to wear our coats! 🙂

the gang

06.12.15

I posted my Austria blog! Which just made me want to go back and watch Sound of Music! Check it out here!

Salzburg
Salzburg

06.13.15

Saturday was the first night in a long time I got to sit around with my host parents and one of the aunts, and have a nice evening of good conversation (and yummy gin and tonics!) 🙂

06.14.15

Sunday was a perfect day! The family had to go to Antwerp, so I stayed home with the dog, drank Piña Coladas, and read in the sun. It was glorious!

06.15.15

One of the cool things about castles is that they have long hallways, and this is perfect for testing out new wind-up cars…which is what Lambert-Joseph and I did for hours on Monday.

06.16.15

The Twins game was the MLB Free Game of the Day, and since it was a 12:45 p.m. CT game, it was at a reasonable time here, so I could actually watch it! Even though they lost, it was so nice watching baseball again!

06.17.15

Taught the kids how to play broom ball…kind of. It’s fun to see them started to have a little interest in playing sports.

 

And that’s my week! hope you all had a good one and thank you for reading!

365 Days of Joy: Week 23

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 23!

ExplorerI love this. Too many times I forget to really take in what is around me, but I have to remember this passage. I am an explorer, and it’s my job.

06.04.15

Tennis. Not playing, obviously, but watching. I love watching tennis!

06.05.15

USA vs. Holland! This game was awesome! It’s one thing to see the Dutch in their natural soccer (not football) habitat, and it’s another to beat them on home turf at “their” game. It was a great game, and out boys definitely put on a good show for our small, yet loud, American section.

USA vs. NL

06.06.15

Happy Birthday Grace! I spent the day in Amsterdam with another Au Pair. It’s a cool city, and I’m glad I had a tour guide to show me around! Thanks, Katrina!

Amsterdam boat

06.07.15

Happy Birthday Bryan! He really is the greatest brother-in-law a girl could ask for!

06.08.15

Went on a 15 mile hike to break in some hiking shoes and get ready for the Camino de Santiago in July.

06.09.15

Lambert-Joseph keeps telling me he is going to visit me in America, but he refuses to take a plane or a boat. He said he is going to find a way to drive over the ocean…so I will see him in 2054 when cars can drive on water.

I also started some new boards on Pinterist about my USA travel bucket lists. So, if you have any suggestions, let me know!

06.10.15

Went on a 10 mile hike for the same reasons as the hike on Monday. I actually have found I like hiking, and I really want this to become a “thing” I do.

And that’s my week! Hope you all had a good one too!

365 Days of Joy: Week 20, 21 and 22

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. 😉 Now the consistency thing failed due to my week long trip and my procrastination problem, so here we go, week 20, 21 and 22!

*This is my fourth time trying to write this stupid post and every time it hasn’t saved, therefore, I’m going to do a big “END OF MAY” post and then call it good. Next week I will get back to doing the dates and go day by day. 

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The end of May brought so many joyful memories. I got to travel from Munich to Salzburg, Salzburg to Vienna, and Vienna to Prague. It was a long trip, but it was so amazing. It was my longest trip I have ever taken alone, but it really didn’t feel like I was by myself. I met amazing people, including a cousin of mine in Munich and his family, and a lady in Vienna who is about to be elected into the Austrian Parliament. Everyone I met and stayed with were so friendly and they made my trip a great experience. It’s hard to say which city was my favorite. Munich was full of life and history. Salzburg is full of natural beauty and a “small-town” atmosphere. Vienna is classy and grand. And Prague is Bohemian and magical. Sometimes when you travel all the cities mesh together, but the nice thing about this trip was that each city was so different that they remain separate trips in my memory.

Munich!
Munich!
Prague!
Prague!

Even though my trip was so amazing, coming back to the Netherlands was so refreshing. I realized how much I’m going to miss these kids when I have to leave them for more than just a week. It will be such a hard goodbye when I have to leave this family in July. But for now, I am going to enjoy this last month and pull as much joy out of it as I can!

Pax ex,

Maddie

Also, you can check out my Bavarian blog here: https://goingdutchtravels.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/bavaria-baby/

The others are on their way!

365 Days of Joy: Week 19

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 19!

IMG_7971.PNGSince February I have been apart of a Bible study over the book of Esther. This study’s main theme is the idea  of a reversal of destiny–of taking the life you think you are meant to live and turning it into the life God has planned for you to live, and having the courage to follow his path when the moment comes along.
This quote is from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and I think it fits perfectly to what my Bible study has been talking about in our Esther study. We are not meant to be spectators in the world, but players. We cannot wait for the world to give us what we want, but we need to give to the world what we have–our gifts.
Spring is a wonderful time to set goals and start projects. One of my goals this spring is to work on enhancing the gifts God gave me in order to spread His glory to everyone I can.

05.07.15

The kids had bath time with NO FREAK OUTS! I guess there is a first for everything!

05.08.15

Night to myself! I had gnocchi and white wine for dinner and binge watched House of Cards–that show is a whole bunch of messed up.

05.09.15

KINDERDIJK! Finally got to see some windmills (19, in fact) and it was glorious! Definitely a good bucket list moment.

Almost all 19 windmills at Kinderdijk. Panorama beauty.
Almost all 19 windmills at Kinderdijk. Panorama beauty.

05.10.15

Had a Skype movie date night with Marissa and Kate, and we watched Anne of Green Gables! It took us a while to get the movies in sync, and I don’t think we ever really got them perfect, but it was so much fun–it was just like hanging out!

Talked to my mom and family for Mother’s Day!

05.11.15
Spent all afternoon outside because the weather was like middle of summer weather! At night I took a rosary walk. We used to do this all the time as a family, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I did it tonight. It’s so relaxing and refreshing to walk at sunset and pray the rosary at the same time–it’s a habit I want to bring back to my life.

05.12.15

The dandelions are in seed right now and the kids are having more fun than I’ve ever seen anyone have with dandelions–even if it’s the 50th one they’ve seen that day, they still scream out of joy when they see one. It’s hilarious.

Also, I finalized all my tickets and reservations for my Germany–Austria–Czech Republic trip!! Just a couple more days!!!

05.13.15

Today was the last day of my Esther Bible study–it was a great study and I’m sad to see it end. Esther is a great book to see the power God has in our lives and how he uses each and every one of us to complete a wonderful mission on Earth!

I also spent some time today writing fiction. It’s been a little while since I’ve done this and it was nice to have some creative time in my day again.

 

 

And that’s my week! I don’t know if I will have the chance to put up my blog next week because of my trip, but you can see updates if you follow me on Instagram (maddiemmaher) or if you are friends with me on Facebook!

I am going to try to put up a travel blog either today or tomorrow about my recent dutch travels, so keep an eye on goingdutchtravels.wordpress.com for that!

Please keep my trip in your prayers and I look forward to telling you all about it!!

Pax Ex!

365 Days of Joy: Week 18

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 18!

8b39af641637a3c04ab962d6a45f7a4fUgh. I’ve started that awful process of searching for and applying to jobs for when I get back to Iowa at the end of July. If you are ever feeling too good about yourself, just job search for a little while and you will find soon find out how many things you are not qualified to do…trust me, you will be humbled very quickly. It’s hard staying positive in this process, and it’s hard sticking with it–I feel under qualified for every job I see, and it makes me feel like I will never find my true calling (if I even have one).  But, even if I feel under qualified and inexperienced, I still have to do it, because money is a real thing that I need, so I am giving it to God and trusting that He will help me find the courage and strength to continue this job search, and help me remember that I do have some nice things about me and so someone out there will hire me … hopefully!

4.30.15
Welcome to the world Bernadette Marguerite Kautzky! My dear dear friends Aaron and Alex Kautzky added a beautiful new member to their family! I can’t wait to get back to Iowa and meet the little princess!!

5.01.15
My sister Grace’s senior pictures went up online and they are beautiful! It’s so cool seeing her all grown up, but her pictures show how she still has all the joy she had as a child! You can see her pictures here!

5.02.15
My teenage past came back to me when I found Moulin Rouge playing on TV…I happily sang along to every song and teared up just like I did when I was 16.

5.03.15
Happy 5th birthday to my nephew Pepe!! This boy is so hilarious and sweet and we had a very entertaining Skype birthday call!

I made chicken wings for the kids and they we taken completely by surprised when I told them it was ok to eat with their fingers! They were cracking up the entire meal and it was so fun!
5.04.15
Went to a nearby thrift store for a little therapy on my half day off. The parents had been in Lourdes for the past five days, so it was nice to have a little time away after working double time.

5.05.15
I brought the celebration of Cinco de Mayo to the family here by making Tacos and drinking Corona! It was Muy Bueno!

Also, my host parents had gone to Lourdes with the Order of Malta and they brought me back an honorary pin from the Order because they while I am not apart of the Order, I helped them achieve the mission of the Order to serve those who are sick. It was a very special gift from them.

5.06.15
Put up my second Dutch Alfabet blog post! My nephew asked me to make him a Dutch Alfabet to teach him about the Netherlands, and so I’m using my blog as the median for that! You can check it out in the Dutch ABC’s category on my menu bar!

And that’s my week–I can’t believe I don’t have pictures to post…this has got to be a first!! Hope you all had a good week too and I’ll write again soon!

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.

4.23.15

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!

4.24.15

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!

4.25.15

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!

4.26.15

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!

4.27.15

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.

4.28.15

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.

4.29.15

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!

 

4.16.15

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

4.17.15

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!

4.18.15

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 goingdutchtravels.wordpress.com, so stay tuned for that!

4.19.15

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.

4.20.15

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!

4.21.15

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!

enchiladas

4.22.15

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!

hollandshoes

 

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!