Spotify Wrapped 2021: A deep dive into your most memorable listening moments of the year!

It’s that time of year where all of us Spotify listeners get a deep dive into their most memorable listening moments of the year. I know some people don’t care about other people’s Spotify Wrapped, but I love seeing stats from the people I follow. And here I’m subjecting you guys to mine! 🙂

Time listening & Genres

First, let’s talk about the amount of time I’ve spent listening to music. The fact I’ve spent 96,620 minutes (which can be translated into 67 days) isn’t super surprising to me since I listen to music ALL the time in my house – when I shower, clean the house, walk the lake, etc. What does surprise me is that I listen more than 98% of other listeners here in the Netherlands! 🙂

As for genres, the top two are not a surprise. But what the heck is with #3 – SLAPHOUSE? What even is that? Had to spend some time googling that. Now I see it’s future house music = Afrojack and Dynoro – so that explains it. I am sure I got some of their songs on my playlists.

Top Artists & Top Songs

Meghan Trainor coming in first is a bit shocking to me, but because a few of her songs are on my most-listened-to playlist, I guess it would make sense she is in the rotation a lot. Tom Grennan and Guus Meeuwis would have been my suspected most played artists so that is cool. I think Justin Bieber should be here somewhere! He has really improved over the years!!

As for the top songs, well no clue! I have a REALLY large 2021 playlist which I listen to often which has a lot of duplication from other playlists so guess if those are on there and played often they come up. I don’t recall ever listening to one of these 5 songs any more than other songs which come on very often.

Podcast

While I have listened to a fair share of podcasts over the past couple of years, I do prefer music in the background. I tend to have phases of listening to podcasts that don’t last long. That being said, I did listen to more this year than last and I’ve written about my favorite ones My Top 11 Podcasts, so can check that out to learn more. But I swear, this snapshot is a bit cheeky – OC Swingers and Sex Stories – yes, while I did listen, those two are NOT the ones I most listened too. I mean I listened to over 36 episodes of Ear Hustle surely that should be present on this list, no?!

Fun Extras!

As for the fun extras that wrapped gave us this year, here are mine! My audio aura moods are is confident and nostalgic, 135 genres and 2,384 different artists other than MEGHAN TRAINOR – that’s cool! Whale sounds, interesting!

Wrap up the Wrapped!

So, this is what my music tastes have been like for the last year – still shaking my head Meghan Trainor #1 out of 2,384 other artists!! I am going to really make an effort to clean up my playlists and not just listen to 2021 which has the most songs, but categorize them more in the hopes that some newcomers find their way as well. Well, I say I’ll do this now, not sure I’ll ever make time to do it. Then again, now we’re back in Covid Lockdown 3.0 for the next week weeks, maybe I will.

Can’t wait to see what 2022 will be like.

While there’s no way to find the actual Wrapped feature from previous years with all the specific stats, Spotify users can still go back and find their Top 100 Songs playlists from the past few years. (If they’re not still saved in your playlist library, that is.). All you have to do to go back in time and see what songs you made it to on your Most Played lists is click on one of these links below.

Each link will open Spotify in your web browser and show you a playlist full of all the top songs you listened to in that year.

Do you use Spotify? Did you check out your Spotify Wrapped? Did anything surprise you?

First day of school photos!

Monday M began her last year of primary school – Groep 8 which is essential grade 6 in the US. And Tuesday, S started what they call Middelbare school which is grade 7 in the US. But here it’s one school for the next 6 years. Technically he is supposed to be in grade 8, but we kept him back a year when we first came from Ireland to The Netherlands. This was to give him more time to learn the Dutch language as the level of middelbare school you attend is largely based on school exams and the fact the groep at the primary school was full – and this combination worked out perfectly! Thinking about it, he was kept back two times. When we left the UK, he had to repeat first class in Ireland, as they start earlier in the UK so his British peers are two years ahead of him in school already.

Anyway, this is a big year for both of them. They’ll both grow tremendously this year intellectually, independently and physically. My seatbelt is buckled as the “pre & puberty years” have arrived :). This post won’t be super long but will add a few things to always remember as you both enter these important and confusing years.

It is OKAY to be Different!

You don’t have to be the same as everyone else in order to be important.  It’s okay to be different. In fact, it is good to be different.  Stand up for what you believe, even if at times you have to stand alone.  Don’t give into the pressure to do things that you are not okay with. So if M wants to have some purple in her hair – go for it. If S wants to wear his DRI t-shirt some days, that is fine. But the grandpa sneakers, I still need to think about 🙂

Friends Come & Go – That is Normal!

First off read this article – “FRIENDSHIP LESSONS FROM A FISHBOWL. It has SO MANY IMPORTANT TAKEAWAYS FOR BOTH KIDS AND ADULTS! I LOVED IT SO MUCH I SHARED ON MY FACEBOOK WALL TOO!

People change.  I promise you will find lasting friendships in the most unexpected ways and with the most unexpected people. Your best friends from primary school may be there in your life forever or they may not. You will find your crew. Be yourself! Your true friends will like YOU for who YOU are. You will be more confident when you are living an authentic life rather than if you are trying to change to impress people who will not matter in the long run.

Good Grades are Important but Not Everything

Never base your worth on your grades.  Good grades don’t make someone a better person, bad grades don’t make them a bad person.  But you must ALWAYS try your best and work hard! Never quit!

Always Feel Free To Talk to Us

Me and Papa might be the last people you want to talk to when you are going through difficult things at school, but we are ALWAYS here for you. And if you don’t want to talk to us, please talk to a family member that you trust.  We will always have your back. And yes, this includes talking to us about girls or sex or random things.  I know you might not want to but you are both entering some of the most confusing years of your life. Even though it’s hard to believe, we have been there before.

Seems like it was only yesterday, back in 2012, when S was starting his first day of Reception in the UK complete with his tiny flat book bag, school uniform and cool sunglasses.

And a year later Maebh started Nursery School – which she LOVED!

Seeing Abraham or Sarah! A fun Dutch Tradition When You Turn 50!

In the Netherlands turning 50 is considered an extremely special occasion and one that’s typically marked with the installation of a large life-size doll (of an elderly man or woman) in your front garden for the day (or a few hours), often with a corresponding sign that reads “Abraham 50 jaar” (Abraham 50 years old) or “Sarah 50 jaar” (Sarah 50 years old). It is a tradition that honours a person gaining wisdom through experience.

How timely this post is – our Queen, “Koningin Máxima” turns 50 tomorrow! 🙂

Of course with COVID, parties are not able to happen but doesn’t stop this fantastic tradition. Your house, office or even both will be decorated by your friends and family with posters, banners, balloons and, mannequins and as mentioned above, a life-sized doll of YOU. I absolutely love it and while I’m not looking forward to becoming 50 (a few short years) my kids are both well-aware that I EXPECT a Sarah outside 🙂

Depending on what the person looks like or interests are, there are various companies here which you can hire the inflatables.

Here is photo of my neighbour’s Sarah. As she has red hair, it’s very appropriate.

And on Friday, this was put up for my other neighbour – he’s bald so also fitting!

THE ORIGIN

The phrase “Abraham gezien hebben” is actually rather appropriate, as it’s based on a passage in the Bible, John 8: 56-58. In this particular passage, Jesus is engaged in discussion with the Jews, who ask him: “You are not yet fifty but you have seen Abraham?” Jesus replies “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am”. The Jews are clearly surprised at this answer, because Abraham had in fact died before Jesus was born. Back in those days, it was very rare for people to turn 50, therefore, it was a very special occasion! People would look up to you and you would be seen as wise. As Sarah was Abraham’s wife, hence that is used for females turning 50. It is also common to bake a cake, bread or cookies in the shape of a male or female figure.

BEYOND 50?

You can also carry on the tradition for each decade of a person’s life after 50, although these are not as nearly as popular is Abraham and Sarah. Also sometimes when couples are married for 50 years, they also get a big overly decorated house too!

  • 60th Birthday – “Isaac” or “Elisabeth” birthday
  • 70th Birthday – “Jacob” or “Anna or Lea” birthday
  • 80th Birthday – “Joseph” or “Deborah” birthday
  • 90th Birthday – “Anthony” or “Ruth” birthday
  • 100th Birthday – “Methuselah” or “Judith” birthday

What do you think of this tradition? Would you love it or hate it if you had a big doll outside your home? I know some cultures wouldn’t like this but I LOVE it. I often stop and take a photo of the houses I see decorated. The one above is around the corner from my house – so brilliant stopped my bike just to take the photo and congratulate the person decorating outside. You must always congratulate! 🙂

Happy 11th Birthday My Girl!

My Dear Maebh,

Like I always say at the start of every birthday “it’s so hard to believe that x number of years ago I held you in my arms for the first time and looked deeply into your big, beautiful eyes.”  Well, this year it’s #11 baby!   You have officially become a “tween” on this birthday, in between childhood & teenage years.  Not a day goes by that I don’t look into those same huge eyes with a love that has only grown since the day I first saw you.  “My girl” as I said at Mass General Hospital when they handed me to you.  Totally in shock as I was CONVINCED you were a boy!   

What does  “TWEEN” actually mean for you? In these ways you struggling in between as a “TWEEN”

In between women and girl clothes.

Still finding your style – and looking forward to fitting my clothes – especially all my SHOES!

In between kids meals & adult entrees.

In between cuddling stuffed animals and texting on your phone.

Liking a boy one day & not the next.

Wanted to stay up late but exhausted!

Some days you are struggling in between, I see the changes. I see how your little face still lights up and I see the way you feel when I don’t understand you or when you are annoyed with me. I was once here too my girl… a tween wondering why don’t they get me. In fact, today at 46 I sometimes think the same thing – why don’t they get me! 🙂

I’m not going to write a huge letter this year highlighting what is going on in your/our lives.   You can also read last year’s letter here. There has been, no doubt, challenges but what also has been is GROWTH.  You have developed more this year and will continue to grow.  Both physically my little peanut but emotionally, intellectually and socially!   Continue taking those “small steps” is all I ask that you take and you’ll see how far you can overcome any obstacles blocking your way. 

There is not a day that goes my which we do not have music & dancing, laughter & creativity in our home. And you know why?  It’s because YOU are so creative and warm that you bring that out in all of us.  Whether you are teaching me a new Tik Tok dance or making a fidget toy in your room and proudly showing us, your creative brain is always buzzing. Look at these plain white garden shoes you decorated on a whim! I’d never think to add little daisies to them – but that is your creativeness. I know you’ll never lose that sparkle and shine! 

I’ve not often said this to you because we have not yet really hit the “puber” hole which we are about to dive into together [along with your 13 year old brother – help me 🙂 ] but know that I’m your mother first and your friend second. My job is to guide you through the tough waters ahead, keep you safe and help you grow into the woman you’re destined to become. My decisions won’t always be popular with you, I’m sure you’re realising that by now when I say no to some things.  But, no matter what, I love you unconditionally and nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever change that my girl.

With Covid still keeping kids birthday parties from happening, I know as an 11 year old you are disappointed in the fact that now two years in a row you have missed out on a party. You were, however, able to celebrate nicely surrounded by family and loved ones and that is what matters most. A decorated house, a Christoffel tart, presents and well-wishes from so many near & abroad – and a new Oodle – you were one happy girl this birthday.

We are all so proud of the person you are Maebh! Continue to be yourself – don’t conform stay true to you. One way is we’re putting in that pink or purple hair dye this weekend because that is what you want, not mama 🙂

Love Mom! xxx

Happy 13th Birthday My Boy! I love you to The Moon & Back!

My Dearest Soren!

First off, I won’t write an essay as I’ll tell you a lot of this to your face, but I’ll write something here, so you can look back in the future like you do at my “old lady Facebook posts” which I love to show you – like your first day of preschool back in Boston or your first goal in soccer or your first missing tooth.

It is hard to believe at times that you are now 13 – a real teenager. It seems like yesterday, you were this tiny baby boy everyone was so excited to meet.  Wait, it’s hard to believe you were in my belly and your father was ordering a frigging “Pupu Platter” while I was in labor for two days. Oh wait, I’ve got another story – got ahead, roll those beautiful green eyes, I know I’ve told you this many times but when you are a dad one day you’ll appreciate it. When you were crowning and the Dr. came in the room and asked me if I wanted to feel your head and I replied (very seriously “don’t I have to wash my hands first?”  To think that wasn’t even CORONA time. 

Fast forward many years and here we are about to embark on your THIRTEENTH birthday! While I wish you nothing but an awesome birthday for you and an awesome year, too, I know this year continues to be a hard one for us all. We live in the time of a looonnnggggng lockdown here in the Netherlands, no fun birthday parties like last year’s Karting party, no Oeteldonk carnival, no special events, the country is full of unrest due to “some people” who have made bade decisions to cause havoc. Your Oma Cora just passed last week which was sad for all of us. Over the years, you were tasked with a lot – having to grow up in many countries, changing schools despite not wanting to yet again, starting over with new friends, learning a new language, new houses and new people. I also realize this means you’ve had people you care about enter and exit your life – some at your choice and some not. You’ve had to leave sports teams you really loved, One day, you’ll look back at these experiences and know that you’ll make it through this and like all the other challenges you’ve overcome – stronger. My boy, over the last thirteen years, you have experienced far more than any child your age should have experienced, and yet in the words of someone far wiser than I.  On far too many occasions you dried MY tears, snuggled up beside ME, held MY hand and gave ME the strength that I was lacking. Even now, you still do and I am grateful for that! Right now at 13 we look eye to eye – I know this is the year which you’ll over take there, so now I’ll look up to you both literally and physically.

You’re not perfect, you and I both know that, and there are times when you drive me crazy, and I know vice versa!  🙂 When you fight with your sister, or when I see the state of your homework minutes before it’s due or when you refuse to back down in an argument or insist you know best, but I would NOT change it for the WORLD.

Academically you are doing well despite this independent home schooling in DUTCH (as mum doesn’t speak Dutch)  yet you still have no idea just how clever you are or how far you can go in this life if you apply yourself correctly. I cannot wait to see what the future brings you as you embark in middelbare school. I challenge you to Surround Yourself by People who Make You Better – Seek friends and acquaintances who are as smart or smarter than you and kinder than you, wiser than you, stronger than you. You will learn from them and you will rise to their level, if you are not already there. Don’t get dragged down! I tell you this a lot and I’ll tell you this again – don’t pretend to have confidence and look cool, and then sit at home alone wishing you were so confident. Be strong, put yourself out there – make friends and be a great friend.

Again, I won’t make this a novel, though I could, I talk enough to you daily – probably so much you keep those wireless headphones in to tune me out 🙂 I type that jokingly but I know partly true – I’m always here for you to talk – just say the word and I’m all ears. But I’m also going to keep asking, about your day, life, friends, school, troubles or worries just in the event you want to talk – mom is all ears!!

PS Notice I didn’t mention or tease you about girls 🙂 I’m trying!

Love your biggest fan,

Your Mom!

Book Review: “Guy Stuff the Body Book for Boys”

Over the past couple days, I binge listened on the Libby App to an entire audio book – Decoding Boys.   Written by Dr. Cara Natterson, a board-certified pediatrician and the NY Times bestselling author of American Girl’s Care & Keeping Of™ series for girls. I first came across her when I was searching about puberty and what to do for my son.  It was in her Ted talk and all her books, the one thing she keeps reiterating is that the world talks to girls about puberty and that as parents we need to keep talking to our boys!   Because they shut down and get quiet and retreat does not mean they don’t need us to talk to them!

So as a mom of a soon-to-be 13 year old, whom I think has begun puberty, I needed all the facts and NOW! I don’t ever recall having conversations with adults about body changes, periods, etc. and when I asked couple friends, they too had very limited talks (some not at all) – so I figured, I’d get out in front of it now. Also being that we live in the Netherlands and Europe for the past 9+ years, they see/hear and are given information a lot differently than they would had they been growing up in Boston.

Puberty doesn’t have to be scary. so I bought her book “Guy Stuff the Body Book for Boys– to help guide him (AND ME) through this awkward rite of passage. When I saw she wrote a boy edition, I thought I’d buy it asap. The paperback book is nicely illustrated and divided into 7 chapters:

Chapter 1 – BODY BASICS
This is a general overview – how important it is for you develop healthy habits now which will set you up for healthy habits in your life!  It stresses the importance of asking questions and talking to various trusted adults in your life not a computer. Breaks down basic facts about boys’ bodies and explains the common changes of puberty – you will: grow taller, sprout hair, sweat more, develop muscles, see changes in skin and hair texture, get a deeper voice, see changes to private parts, and experience new emotions. 

Chapter 2 – HEADS UP
Literally covers everything boys need to know to care for their head & neck.  Including hair care, eyes, oral hygiene (like braces), skin care – acne and importance of using sunscreen.

Chapter 3 – REACH
How to care for arms & chest – hands, nails, how to wash and use deodorant, underarm hair that develops.  Managing Stink – controlling body oder, and possible temporary breast enlargement.

Chapter 4 – BELLY ZONE
All about the abdomen – the fact that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Shares detailed info on healthy hydration, food, nutrition, and essential vitamins and minerals. Especially the importance of drinking water and other drinks – both positive & negative and a lot about pee – how to use urine color as an indicator. 

Chapter 5 – BIG CHANGES
Starts out that some changes are clear and some are super private.  Talk about hormones start to circulate in the body and that causes – changes in pubic area and even talks about circumcised penises, different types of underwear – pros & cons.  Erections and nocturnal omission – a wet dream. It even covers shaving – changes in voice and mood.

Chapter 6 – GET GOING
Talks about legs and height.  Growth spurts, pains and importance of exercise and enough sleep, bed-wetting & rest.  Foot care – like athletes foot, blisters and foot odor.  Sports safety and the importance of physical activity.

Chapter – 7th YOUR INNER YOU
This section delves into new feelings and emotions boys may be experiencing during puberty, including topics on peer pressure and bullying, plus letting guys know that it’s not only okay, but healthy, to express their emotions – not bottling up feelings.   

So in may ways the book is very inclusive. The illustrations show a good representation of difference races. Talks well about different rates of development.  Body sizes, explains that all people have hormones – and reviews testosterone and a bit of others. But… it does leave out some things which are essential and need to be discussed in the future. Perhaps because it was written by an American doctor it takes a more medical fact-based approach, but it doesn’t cover gender identity of sexual orientation, masturbation and does not explanation reproduction, consent, pornography, sexual desires – the emotional and/or physical attraction you’ll have with another person. As said above, it does talk about an errection and nocturnal omission – the wet dream, however!

Overall I do think it’s a good first book for boys to get to know about the body and emotional changes – perfect for the younger age range (10-13). I think it’s a good book to have in his room where he can refer back to what is happening to him.  When my 10 year old daughter saw it, she asked if she could also read it. I’ll certainly allow it but want to her also be informed, so I’ll look at getting her the Care & Keeping Of™ series or a different type book which overs things relating to her.

Some takeaways I took from Decoding Boys and Dr. Natterson’s TedX talk include: ask them questions but let them talk.  A tip she gave was don’t make eye contact (makes them more comfortable and be sure no screens are in their hands – they will be 100% distracted!  A little prodding, they’ll open.  In fact, I think my first “talk” went quite well… he was very curious.  I know this is not going to be the norm – but I know I should NOT GO AWAY!   I’ll give him privacy, knock before entering (have to work at that one).  I understand he’ll be moody and needs his own space, lots of food and we all need patience!   

Do you have any books (or sites) which you recommend for helping guide boys (and me) through puberty?

Update: I was taking with a Dutch friend here about getting a book for my 11 year old daughter and she recommended to me Het Puberbook – written by Sanderijn Van de Doef. I’ve attached a few photos for you see – how it is VERY detailed and also very factual. It touches on a lot of the things the above book doesn’t. One catch, it is only in Dutch, so wouldn’t work well for those who cannot read it.