And Then It Was Easter…

by farrah on March 28, 2016 · 0 comments

So clearly my plan of writing more often has gone by the wayside. I don’t really know how this happened, but I can’t say I’m surprised. As I’ve felt so many times in the past- sometimes the chatter out there just makes me want to hunker down into myself and not add to the cacophony.

easter [click to continue…]

photo by:

{ 0 comments }

Six Months In A Really Quick Review

by farrah on February 29, 2016 · 0 comments

I look guiltily at my laptop on the table and remind myself every day that ‘I really should write that down…‘ because someday I know I’ll wish I had. So, I’ll do my best to wrap up what’s been going on and where we’re going. Basically I think I get overwhelmed with how behind I am, and it’s too much. Thus, behold. The past six months, er, well, five.

postPretty much [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

My New Best Friend: Sleeps5.com

by farrah on February 2, 2016 · 0 comments

Holy cow people- am I in love. A few weeks ago I saw my friend Amanda share a link to the site called Sleeps5.com. It’s a family travel website that specializes in finding hotels for – yep- families with more than two kids! Those of us with those pesky twins + 1 or (you go mom) 3 singletons (or more) know that searching for a hotel (on a budget) is a tricky thing. Many places don’t allow 5 people in a room. Family rooms can be hard to find. Thus—- (sound the trumpet): Sleeps5.com which is apparently the answer to our prayers.

sl5 [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Expat On The Cheap: Where To Shop In The NL

by farrah on February 1, 2016 · 0 comments

So we expats are an interesting bunch. Sure there’s this stereotype that they’re (we’re?) all rich and have drivers and nannies and  private schools (where does this come from anyhow?), but your average day-to-day expat is nothing of the sort. If you’re like us- meaning my family and my friends, you’re here temporarily. That most likely means you don’t know when you’re leaving or maybe you do- but you have the idea that MORE CRAP is not something that you want to obtain because YOU HAVE TO PACK IT ALL BACK UP.

decaThe sports store. Yeah, that sign back there says €5. [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

My 40-Year Old White Lady Gym Playlist

by farrah on January 28, 2016 · 1 comment

There aren’t many things I possess that I consider this ridiculous. This thing being my gym go-to playlist that is so absurd it must be shared somewhere for (if anything) my own posterity and desire for my children to someday laugh at me.

PS the following song (King Kunta) is NSFW or around the small fries.

[click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

That As*hole With The Starbucks Cup

by farrah on January 27, 2016 · 11 comments

Last night my husband and I had the same old tiresome subject come up again about what we’re going to do next. I hate it and I call it a tiresome conversation because it seems to suck the soul out of me whenever we have it. There’s never any solution. There’s not an easy fix, easy answer or perfect compromise. I don’t want to go back to the U.S. At least not the way it is now.

ttu–Erica Cook

Let me put it to you straight- whether right or wrong I get the bulk of my information as to what’s going on in the world via Facebook. Yep. I see what ‘articles’ are being passed around like a virus, what status updates are status-ing, and the sound bite blurbs. This has become my America. Basically I feel ‘back there’ people are all carrying/stockpiling/defending their handguns (including members of my own family), Donald Trump is a real thing that isn’t going away, and that internal competition for affirmation from others has become a sickness amongst the masses.

Look at me!

Look at what I bought!

Look what I did/am doing/am gonna do!

All I can do is sit here and wonder why this is necessary. Is everyone like this? I don’t want to know.

Furthermore, it brings me down.

It brings me down big time.

I hate questioning myself as if my own photo or that quip wasn’t pretentious. I don’t want to be that person. That person I’ve heard about who won’t shut up about their super-ultimate-busy-creative-I-Am-SuperPerson life. I cannot handle people like that- which is why they don’t exist in my real life or Facebook world. BUT… they’re out there because I keep hearing about these people. Whether it’s yet another mommyblog post moment cherishing or bringing the sass against traditional parenthood— ENOUGH. How can you not be sick of you own sanctimonious self????

Ironic right, that I’m putting this in my blog? Well these days it’s more like a diary.. so there.

And the funny thing is- that I wish upon all the wishes that this was just social media and not, in fact reality.

I don’t want to move back and live with these people. I don’t want to hear why we need guns, partake in political shenanigans, or chug the kool-aid. Here, I don’t always know what the people around me are saying (since its in Dutch) so maybe that’s part of my oblivion. But also, I doubt it. The Dutch are just more sensible I think. Happier. Not trying so damn hard. Then today a funny thing happened that brought this whole post on in the first place.

I popped into the gas station because I was running on fumes (literally and figuratively) . I thought what the hell I’ll get a coffee. A Starbucks coffee since they put in a new self-serve touch screen thingy recently. I haven’t had Starbucks in years- mostly because there isn’t one in the vicinity of where I live and because I didn’t like their bitter coffee. But anyhow.

So I get in my car with my coffee (tall because that was the biggest size. Take-out coffee is sort of sacrilegious here) and head to school to pick up the kids. I have ten minutes and I’m not quite done with my coffee but I realize I would rather be caught dead than bring my ‘togo’ coffee cup with me (Starbucks no less) up to the school to stand around with the rest of the parents and have them see it.

Because I would feel like an asshat if I did.

Yep. Can you imagine the very idea that having a togo Starbucks coffee cup could possibly make you feel stupid? Because it did. I was embarrassed. I didn’t finish it and left it in the car hoping no one would see it when they walked by my window.

That’s the kind of life I live right now. And I like it. We all do our thing/have our stuff/go our places and it’s cool. Normal. Not in your face. I don’t feel pressure to keep up or show off. I was never really very good at those things anyhow so I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m so content.

But back to my worries

At one point in my life I felt I had found a sort of utopia within a group of moms. I lasted about five years thinking we were the only sane people on the planet and discovered that I was wrong.  When I realized that the only sanctuary I thought I had was in fact, not perfection, I became disillusioned.  Which in turn also makes me feel like there is no hope. No hope back there.

I don’t want to raise my kids with competitive assholes mimicking their parents. They don’t have the ‘bigger, better, more’ philosophy and I don’t want them to either. They’re happy. They’re homework-free kids who laugh a lot and enjoy a simple life. No one is judging us (I assume?) and no one makes us feel like we’re making bad choices or wrong decisions. I don’t doubt myself. I am happy and complete. I don’t have a perfect life, but isn’t that what it’s all about?

I know it’s not the same everywhere. There have to be some pockets of reason and contentment out there. Because that’s what I feel is lacking most- people happy with what they have. Not working more to make more to get more and ultimately (?) be more. People with that mindset drain me of energy, happiness and optimism for a better tomorrow. I don’t like feeling like a deflated balloon.

I know for a fact there are people who go out of their way to instill insecurity, jealousy and pain in others.  It hasn’t been difficult for me to remove these people from my life- but I don’t think everyone can do that. I have the luxury of distance on my side which makes it easier. But still I worry that I’ll be sucked back into it when we return, when I don’t have that distance and can’t tell myself it’s not real. It’s all just on social media.

Why would anyone want to mess up a good thing? And when will I ever stop worrying about worrying?

{ 11 comments }

That’s Garbage: Struggling With Change

by farrah on January 10, 2016 · 4 comments

Very, very, very rarely do I complain about something in Oisterwijk. Additionally- the complaint I’m airing today is such a first world problem, I should be ashamed of myself- but alas, here it is. I want to preface my gripe by saying that I do care about the environment and I do believe recycling is important. In this same vein, I’d like to point out that I’m pretty much Average Mom and not that girl who fit two years’ worth of garbage in a jar (who has since made us all feel inadequate when it comes to recycling.)

garbage blues

[click to continue…]

photo by:

{ 4 comments }

January Means Planning For Summer

by farrah on January 7, 2016 · 2 comments

We’ve learned that we have to figure out (and book) our summer holidays as soon as possible. What’s nice about this is that it gives us time for summer dreaming during these dark days of January. Another thing I really like about it is that it gives me time to think back on our previous summer vacations, and reflect on the good, bad and otherwise. This reminded me of course, that I never went back and wrote about our fantastic lodging in the Lake Como region of Italy. I’ll do that soon!

A new page

I ended up getting distracted (surprise!) and created a page that links many of the Ritter family approved places to stay, in case you’re heading to any of these locations this summer. Some I have reviewed in stand-alone blog posts- and you can find them in the ‘Where We’ve Been‘ page. This new page merely has direct links to the places we stayed. If it’s not listed- that means I don’t recommend it :) Also I noticed that the cottage we stayed at in France (Normandy) is no longer listed as a rental so it must have sold.

I’m also taking suggestions. If you have stayed somewhere with YOUR family (not hearsay) give me the link and tell me where/how many people it sleeps. You don’t have to give me a review- just the links, please. People can always go over to Trip Advisor or whatever and read up on their own time if they’re serious about something. I know I do!

So how’s that for two whole blog posts in a week?! Wow!

 

{ 2 comments }

On Being Relevant. Or Not.

by farrah on January 5, 2016 · 6 comments

I know. It’s been forever since I’ve written anything. I’ve gone round and round with myself and what I wanted to do with The Three Under- and I finally came down to it- I don’t care to try to be relevant anymore. Not like I really ever was, mind you. I know there are a ton of voices in the expat/travel blogging world. But I tried to be. Ok, well correction- I *sorta* tried to be. I joined writing link ups, contributed to a post here and there, and even dilly dallied with contributing to other websites. Truth be told- my heart wasn’t in it. It was never in it- and I ended up making myself stressed out and guilty over not writing or worse- not writing well.

That was dumb.

Additionally- over the past year or so it really started to sink in over who the people are in my life that I need to be relevant FOR. Blogging- specifically my blogging, was not something that supported my family financially. It was never intentioned to do so- and by making half ass attempts at monetization or ‘partnering’ with brands etc. was kind of lame on my part. I never got on board with on-site advertising, I didn’t feel legit writing up smarmy posts singing praises, and overall, I didn’t like it much.

I don’t like deadlines and perfection since I am a person who doesn’t thrive with either. I’m ok with that and it’s about time that I let my blog be ok with that too. So, in breaking with the numerous blogging FB groups that I have been avoiding anyhow- I also decided that if I want to blog I can do it however the hell I want- but I’m not going to a) expect anything out of it and b) do it to be relevant to people who already find it as such.

I removed my sharing icons. My Pinterest participation was already laughable since I was too lazy to make my photos ‘pinnable’ and my Twitter presence has been reduced to a couple of check ins on the Dutch lady who really enjoys telling me what and how I should be doing things. I’m not going to be sharing my blog posts on my blog’s FB page any longer. What’s the point? If you care enough to read this blog you probably subscribe by email. Who am I to shove it down your throat on all other forms of social media? I just told you that I don’t really feel I’m relevant- so why in hells bells would I be standing on a soapbox shouting it to anyone who might listen? It’s not in me, and I don’t fault others who do put in an effort- it’s just.not.me.

So I decided I’ll keep the FB page open, share what I want to when I want and if people read it and keep it around, cool. I really DO want to keep documenting the travels that we do- but I’m no longer going to receive or seek out pitches on comps/discounts/stuff/etc. I actually had two flirtations at the end of the year with brands- one gave me the runaround and I dumped them- and the other I decided I didn’t want to make the trip anything but a treat since that’s what it was supposed to be in the first place (thanks to Robin for pointing that fact out- you kind of rocked my world with that perspective!).

Thus going forward- any place, item, website, whatever I talk about is ALWAYS straight from a non sponsored point of view. I don’t entertain any advertising inquiries and have updated my ‘advertising’ blurb as such. I’m not blogging for any reason other that I have to get stuff out of my head now and then or I will explode.  I’m also not a new expat any more so it seems king of disingenuous to put together full posts on stuff I can simply share in quick blurbs on FB. My kids aren’t babies and like you really need another mom blog to tell you all about how I’m parenting or not parenting and how I’m ‘living in the present’. Or how I do live in the…uh, past? Or whatever.

So anyhow. That’s that. If you peek in now and then awesome! If not- believe me I get it and I’ll miss you. I’ll be pontificating on the random observations of Dutch life and adventures here and there- so all in all not much will change except maybe my frequency will be upped a bit. Hopefully!

Here’s to great things in 2016 for all of us, whether we blog, work, stay home and eat bon bons (haha) or what have you. I’ll be enjoying my lazy blogging (i.e. not tagging/linking/sharing, no seo-ing, maybe a photo in a post, etc. I do promise to keep using a spell check.)

 

{ 6 comments }

My Favorite Family Travel Experience of 2015

by farrah on December 2, 2015 · 0 comments

We had another great run this year. By the end of  2015 we will have had 14 visitors from three different countries. On the other side, as a family we saw a bunch of new places and had several memorable experiences. One family travel experience in particular sticks out though, as it was the most unexpected and the least photographed. Basically, I don’t have a single picture of it- and with good reason. So, in order to keep that memory alive I’ll just have to try my best to detail it here.

spaThe hotel advertisement for the spa package. Yes, we did this. [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }