Monday, March 25, 2013

Perfect Moment Monday: on the bike

Spring is cautiously starting here and I 'm taking advantage of the milder temperatures to bring the kids to school/sitter by bike again (to see what that looks like, go here - and then add a few centimeters and kilos for both kids).

One day during the recent school holidays I had to work, so M. Sensible was at day camp and M. Gourmand at the sitter. It was around 5 pm and I had just picked up M. Gourmand and we were on our way to pick up M. Sensible. I had made a bit of a judgement error with regard to the route to take, so instead of being on one of the quiet streets, we were biking on the main road through the area, which at that time of day is very busy with traffic.

disclaimer: I did not take this picture while cycling on the busy road,
but took it a few days later when he repeated the gesture on our way to the sitter
(and yes, I had come to a full stop when taking the shot).

Suddenly M. Gourmand's left hand shifted a bit towards my hand on the handlebar and he wrapped his fingers around one of mine. "Just like when he was a newborn" I thought and this feeling of utter happiness came over me. I gave him a kiss on his helmet as we cycled on, safe in our own little cocoon on the busy street. Our Perfect Moment.


Perfect Moment Monday is hosted by Lori at It is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Today would have been my mother's 67th birthday. As I couldn't visit her grave - 900 km from where we live - I went on a little pilgrimage with hubby and kids in tow.

It was Valery, who asked in a comment one this post if there wasn't a special place nearby to remember her. I couldn't immediately think of anything, but I kept the comment in the back of my mind. Then a while ago I knew exactly what I wanted to do once my mom's birthday would come around: when I was pregnant with M. Sensible, my parents came over to visit and my mom asked me if I wanted to join her on a walk to the basilica, because she wanted to light a candle, to give thanks and ask for a blessing for this pregnancy. I happily obliged and we made a beautiful little pilgrimage together, first crossing the river to the old part of town, then climbing the hundreds of steps, up to the top of the hill where the basilica lies, overlooking the city.

Today, M. Sensible, our dapper 3.5 year old, walked those steps all by himself, holding his daddy's hand. M. Gourmand was on my back in the baby carrier, and my mother was there too, her spirit accompanying me to the top.

After the first long set of steps, we came across this writing on a wall. I thought it was quite fitting on a day like this.

English translation:
Don't ask anyone your way,
especially not those who know it.
You wouldn't be able to get lost anymore.

When we arrived at the basilica, mass was still in progress and it being Palm Sunday, the church was packed. We quietly stood in the back for a few minutes and then I lit a candle for my mum, before heading out again.

On the way back home (this time via public transport) we stopped by the bakery to buy a cake, which we'll eat later today.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Winter Shed: The Final Week

Winter is almost over, can you feel it...? We had lovely warm Spring-like weather at the beginning of the week, only to revert back to icy cold wind and the occasional snow flurries as of Wednesday. I can't wait for Spring (and warmer weather) to arrive!

The full back story of this blog hop hosted by Kathy at Bereaved and Blessed can be found here. She's planning to continue the series with a Spring Shed and I intend to follow along and, as Kathy suggest, I'll take a look at my goals for this Winter/New Year and adjust them as I want or feel the need to, in an effort to better represent where I want my focus to be during this next season.

But I'm getting ahead of myself... On to report on how I did during week ten:

1. Read more novels.
I didn't even open a book this week (except for a dictionary)! I don't really know why, I just didn't feel like reading much...

2. Follow the news more.
This is one of the topics I need to think hard about when continuing on in the Spring. Of course the news that a new pope was elected did reach me, but I think only people living under a rock would have missed that...

3. Pick up regular blogging again and start a series/hop on Cultural Differences.
The first installment of the Cultural Differences series went live on Monday! I might have hoped for a few more comments, but overall I think it was a good start. I also participated for the first time in Time Warp Tuesday (also hosted by Kathy), which was fun. 

4. Get my professional website up and running.
Again, no update this week, but I've been having some new ideas for it again, so once my translation job is done I will start working on it and hopefully will be able to turn those ideas into something concrete.

5. Find more clients / pursue more paid projects.
The third document is almost completely translated. The deadline is next Friday, but I should be able to finish it by Monday (I actually could have finished it today, but somehow knowing that I will easily be able to finish before the deadline makes me less productive), double check it and send it out on Tuesday.

The 007 assignment (web intelligence) is still as boring as last week. It's supposed to last until the end of the month, but there will be a meeting next week between the agency and the final client to see if it is really necessary to continue. So I'll await further orders. ;)

Other than that I've of course been too busy with the translation job to pursue anything else, so I have no paid projects lined up, but at least I can focus on getting my website online (and also finally get some more professional-looking business cards).

6. Start playing the cello again.
The instrument still rests in its case (which is gathering dusts). You probably won't see this one on my Spring list...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sunday Child lucky charm

I remember when Kathy introduced the Time Warp Tuesday blog hop for the first time, I commented on her post saying that I would definitely participate. I just checked on her blog, that was September 2011… Well, better late than never, so here's my first Time Warp Tuesday post! This month's topic is luck.

I wrote about luck in January 2009 when I was pregnant with M. Sensible, it's a pretty dark post, talking about the lost charm of being a "Sunday Child" and my frustration about not being able to find work here in France.

What I wrote about there can on occasion still frustrate me, but I've come a lot further. I stopped moaning about my lost career and have accepted that I'm just in a different place now, where I try to juggle being a mom and doing freelance work (there is a post about that brewing in my head too). Above all, that post is only talking about my professional life. Granted, even though I was pregnant when I wrote it I didn't have kids yet, so there didn't seem to be much else as important in life as a career. I now know that I'm happiest when I've found a good balance between taking care of my kids and doing work I like. This is not at all easy, but I've come to realize that I'm a lot more relaxed when I savor what I have than when I constantly strive for things that might stay out of my reach (wow, that Positive Psychology workshop I followed last year did help!).

Coming back to the other part of that post, of whether I've found my lucky charm again… Yes I have. That pregnancy resulted in a healthy baby and a now thriving preschooler, who also has a little brother who starts sharing (read: stealing) his toys. My professional life is still a bit "stay-at-home-mom doing some projects on the side" (as hubby labeled my activity recently) but that's okay. I've also had some luck with finding lost items again, the best story is this: my iPhone fell out of my pocket on a high way rest area last summer when we were on our way back from Holland - I noticed it about 40 km later… It was a toll road so we took the next exit and the people at the toll booth contacted the people near the rest area (which was at the entrance of the toll road) while hubby kept calling my number… After about 20 minutes the toll booth person picked up - a high schooler had found it, wanted to keep it but a trucker had told him/her to hand it in (so we turned around, paid a lot of toll that day and came home very late, but at least I didn't have to buy a new phone!).

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cultural Differences - La Bise

Welcome to the first installment of my Cultural Differences series!

Today's topic is La Bise - or how to greet someone.

In Holland, where I grew up, when you meet someone for the first time, you shake hands. If you know someone well (on a personal level) you give three kisses on the cheeks. If you go to school/college or work and you meet people you see on a daily basis, you just say 'good morning' or 'hello' and you join the group, or continue on.

When we moved to the US, it was quite similar, only the kisses were replaced by hugs (I like hugs, and I think they are friendlier for people wearing glasses than kisses).

But then we moved to France. The handshaking part was still the same. The kisses on the cheek at first seemed to be similar to those in Holland, but there were two instead of three - which then sometimes created awkward situations when we, used to giving three kisses, were aiming for the other person's right cheek again when he/she was already turning away - so not such a big deal. But then one day, shortly after we moved here, we were at the bank, it was around 9 am, so many employees were coming in (this was the head office). Each and every one of them stopped at the reception desk to give the receptionist two kisses. We thought this was a bit over the top, the poor woman was getting up from her desk to greet her colleagues about every 10 minutes! Couldn't they just say good morning and move on?

No, apparently not. When I got to work in an office, the ritual was the same. I know my husband doesn't do the rounds like that when he comes in, and I think some colleagues hold it against him (he, however, couldn't care less and prefers to have a few colds and stomach bugs less by just saying hello and going to his desk).

So it seemed clear: kisses are for friends and colleagues (male of female, it doesn't matter), if you meet someone for the first time, you shake hands.

No, no, that was all too easy! If you meet someone for the first time, but that person is family/friend/colleague of someone you know well and who is there with you (and you therefore greet with two kisses), you greet that person with two kisses as well!!

I met a client for the first time last week, but we'd had lots of contact by phone and email in the weeks prior to the meeting, so we greeted each other with... "la bise". And immediately after that I got to greet all her colleagues (OK, there were only three, and two of them I already knew) with two kisses as well.

Sometimes there is a little uncertainty on both ends - maybe with someone you have only met once when you were together with a mutual friend - and then one of you might say "on fait la bise, non ?", which you can then obviously only answer with a positive response!

So it seems I'm getting the hang of it, although there was a bit of an awkward moment a while ago when I opened the door to our babysitter. I just greeted her with a 'bonsoir' and let her in. But now that I think of it, she probably expected to 'faire la bise'.

We're probably seen by some people around us as the foreigners who just say hello, but I prefer it that way than making the faux-pas of kissing someone when it's not at all appropriate.

And of course, as there are exceptions in France to everything, there are exceptions to these greeting rules as well: this weekend we went away and stayed in a friend's apartment in a ski-resort. She was there too, in an another apartment in the same building, together with her parents. They invited us for a drink one day and - according to the things I just wrote - after greeting my friend with two kisses, I assumed we'd be greeted with 'la bise' from her parents too, but no, it was a handshake... (so now I'm confused again)!

How do you greet people in your part of the world? Is there a difference between men and women? Between personal and work contacts? Are you a reserved kisser/hugger too?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Winter Shed: Week Nine

Wow, already week nine, before we know it winter will be over! The full back story of this blog hop hosted by Kathy at Bereaved and Blessed can be found here.

This week I recuperated from all the work done on the translation job in the previous weeks. I had planned to start on the third document to translate, but since there is no fixed deadline yet for that one I'm procrastinating. Instead I filed admin stuff, did our finances (too many bank accounts in three different countries! I closed one of them this week), and went on a major grocery shopping trip (long live the French hypermarkets).

Now to report on how I did during week nine:

1. Read more novels.
Well I might have been a bit too optimistic about finishing that novel. I actually haven't read that much this week - we're now away for a long weekend in the mountains (where it's rainy and warm, but still some snow fun to be had of course) and I hope to finish it before we're back home.

2. Follow the news more.
Right… Well, I did get the news that Chavez died, that must count for something?

3. Pick up regular blogging again and start a series/hop on Cultural Differences.
My intro post on the Cultural Differences series is up and the first topic is written and scheduled for coming Monday! I've submitted it to the LFCA too so I hope I will get some response. I'm excited!

4. Get my professional website up and running.
No update this week.

5. Find more clients / pursue more paid projects.
I sent in the quote for the Dutch to French translation on Monday morning, got a response back the same evening saying that they needed it urgently (which they hadn't mentioned in their first email), so they had already found someone else. Oh well... even if I had given them a quote right away I couldn't have started before finishing the other translation, so this one was just not for me.

The 007 assignment continues, but there is nothing to report just yet (to the client I mean, as a real spy I'm not allowed to tell you people anything!), so it's a bit boring. I'm not complaining though because I still earn money, even if there is no news!

I did do something for the third document that still needs translating and that is organizing it and putting it into a word document (they provided me with a PDF, which isn't the handiest format to work with for translations). So I'm good to go on Monday morning. I've more or less agreed with the client that it will be finished by the end of the week of March 18, so I can't procrastinate much longer (but yes, it is true, I work better when there is a real deadline).

6. Start playing the cello again.
No updates.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cultural differences – the start of a new blog series

This blog was started to document my IVF journey and after the birth of our second child last year, I wanted to find a way forward with it without giving up its original identity. I love the small community I’ve found through my blog and didn’t want to lose that. I also want to thank Mel, Lori and Kathy for making me think this through.

I was born and raised in the Netherlands, where I lived until I was 27. I then followed hubby (also Dutch) to the US, where we lived the (unintentional) DINK life for almost five years, before moving to France, where we’ve now been for over seven years already, which included a professional depression turned into reinvention, getting on the ART rollercoaster, being pregnant twice and now parenting two beautiful IVF boys.

One of the great things about reading (ALI) blogs from women around the world is that not only do we get to share similar experiences, but I also notice how things are done differently than I am used to here. It keeps my mind open for other options and sometimes also helps to keep things in perspective (especially when it comes to parenting, where everyone seems to have an opinion). Besides, there are of course the general cultural differences between France, Holland and the US that I’m experiencing on an almost daily basis.

With my name lostintranslation and my blog title also hinting to these differences (even if it is very focused on IVF), starting a blog series on Cultural Differences seemed almost a natural thing to do. Yes, after all, my blog still fits me!

I would love to make this a regular series (I still have to decide on the interval though) – I will try to vary the topics but, especially in the beginning, they will mainly include things that I experienced / am experiencing myself and noticed cultural discrepancies with - so infertility treatments, pregnancy and parenting (which still form the core of this blog) will be often featured.

I hope you will like it and will share how things work in your corner of the world by leaving comments on my posts. If you have ideas for certain topics, I would love to hear about them too! 

Check back for the first post in this new series on Monday, March 11 – the topic will be “La Bise” (yes, I’m referring to kissing, but as a greeting, not to the so-called French kiss!)
Update: you can find it here!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Winter Shed: Week Eight

Another week has passed and I'm finally able to post my Winter Shed update on Friday again! The full back story of this blog hop hosted by Kathy at Bereaved and Blessed can be found here

This week was a mixed week in terms of workload. Until Tuesday I was still busy with the translation job, as the laid-out text needed to be proofread one more time before it went to the printer. It's amazing how many small errors we still found! I hope they were all incorporated because I didn't see the final corrected version before it was sent to the printer. Then on Wednesday I had some lovely quality time with M. Sensible (good for a Perfect Moment Monday post!), Thursday I had lunch with a friend and on the way back stopped by the communication agency's office (i.e. my client for the translation job) to finally meet my contact in person and talk a bit about the third document and the financial compensation. Today was a lazy day spent at home with my two boys. We all took very long naps!

Now to report on how I did during week eight:

1. Read more novels.
I started reading the new French novel and made it to page 26, so there is some progress there. I think with next week being more relaxed I should be able to finish it (it's only 103 pages thick and a pretty easy read).

2. Follow the news more.
Hmmm.... this is still not going well. Hopefully by next week I will have found a way to incorporate this into my daily routine again.

3. Pick up regular blogging again and start a series/hop on Cultural Differences.
After visiting the client yesterday I got another idea for a topic for the Cultural Differences series, so now I really want to start it! I think I will try to get the first post up next week, even if I won't be able to submit it to LFCA until the following Monday. I just have to jump!

4. Get my professional website up and running.
I didn't do anything yet with the ideas I had last week. However I found a few more funny automatic translations online that I like to use on my website as a reason for using professional translation services (one was at a Spanish website where I got this as a confirmation message after having ordered concert tickets: "Congratulations! Youtube hav made the parchase of imput correctly, Youtube wil shortly recibe email with tour ticket"), so at least the ideas keep coming. 

5. Find more clients / pursue more paid projects.
I completed last week's translation by proofreading it in it's final layout and went to see the client yesterday. I now have the text for the translation of the third document, which doesn't have a fixed deadline yet (my client's client is too busy preparing for the trade show in mid-March for which they needed the other brochure) but we're aiming for the third week of March. Is half the size of the previous document, so should be doable. She thanked me for not throwing in the towel halfway (hey, I would never do that!). We also talked a bit about finances. They're OK with the initial price I quoted (I didn't even have to try to convince them) and I can also bill them for the extra hours spent on proofreading and getting the two translations streamlined into one final document. So I'm really happy that they've seen the value of my work and didn't try to cut costs.

I had planned to send in the quote for the Dutch to French translation request, but haven't done so yet, which I'm not very happy about because I think it's not very professional to keep a potential client waiting too long. I did calculate how much time I think I would need for it, so all the basic information is ready, I just need to formulate it into a decent quote (but after all the stress of the last two weeks I couldn't put my mind to it when the other project was finally done).

Today was the first day of my '007' assignment. It was a good thing I had set a reminder on my phone (even if there is no news I have to send the client an email at 5 pm) because otherwise I would have completely forgotten it! I must admit that I didn't do an active search, but relied on my Google Alerts and there were none. I'll get more serious about it starting Monday! ;-)

6. Start playing the cello again.
I'm strongly contemplating removing this from my list, even though I'd like to start playing again, but I have no idea how to add it to my weekly schedule at the moment.