Day 172: Nieuwjaarsduik or New Year’s Dip / Dive

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Vinkeveen Lake – A sunny day for a freezing dip.

People say to me that it seems like I’ve settled quickly in Holland and that it feels like I’ve been here forever.

I’ll tell you my secret.

It’s family and friends that helped me to feel like I belong here and that Holland is also my home.

Home is where the heart is and having friends and family that love you and support you and want to drink coffee and wine (or margaritas) together, and to share meals and to play and explore together makes all the difference.

I AM home.

I’ve been so very lucky and fortunate to have family that helped us to adapt and helped us get our house furnished. They helped to make us feel welcome and came to visit us multiple times, and have invited us to their homes for dinners and birthday celebrations and this made us feel a part of this country, right away and at home.

My friends from the States connected me with their friends living close by, and their friends reached out and brought us gifts and invited us to their homes for coffee and dinner conversations. Thank you Simone, Ruth, Birgitta, and Pauline.

I’ve also been able to make friends through our school, our neighborhood and through tennis, and I swear, that makes all the difference in the world. My new friends are not only expats either, for which I’m also thankful.  I love that we’ve been accepted and welcomed and have been able to experience Dutch culture and language and friendship.

Today I’m thankful for Joseine and Barbara. They are both Netherland Natives and are friends, whose kids are friends and who have made friends with Charlie. See how that works?  Joseine introduced me to Barbara and Barbara invited me to her home today to enjoy a Dutch tradition of welcoming the New Year by jumping in the lake for a New Year’s Refreshing Dip – for all who are brave enough to endure!  Thank you Barbara for inviting me to be a part of this fun and exciting day. I only wish Jeff could have been in town to be a part of it too.

I think you’ll enjoy the pictures of the adventurous spirits who celebrated this tradition and those who chose the saner path, bundled up on the side with warm glasses of gluhwein and warme chocolademelk, with cameras in hand.  Be well, my friends, and Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

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This is Charlie – thinking about going in, although he touched the water with his foot and chose to warm up in the hot tub first. Smart boy!

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These are the cute, beautiful and smart girls who took pictures from the side!

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I love this picture!!! Look at the lighting. This is a father and son duo – and I think there is just something pretty cool about this bonding experience!

Charlie’s Jump!

OMG – It’s so cold!

tree swing

Yippeee! Look at the lighting! It was 30 degrees outside and who knows how cold the water was. Juliana took this picture.

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This guy was “warm” inside the kitchen. What a great place for a fish tank.

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Barbara is so creative and made these for all the brave participants! I love it!

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Check out my big, brave, Dutch boys!

Day 31: What Defines Home

It’s been a month ago today that we arrived in Holland.  The best part of being here is the friends we’ve already made and the family with whom we’ve reconnected.  I think that is what makes us feel at home. Of course, we miss our friends and family back at our first home, but we’re creating new bonds and making new friendships that make the days fun and memorable. Before we left, a couple friends that moved to our neighborhood had wished for me that I would meet someone in our new home town to make us feel welcome and a part of the community, as they had when they moved from France and Michigan to Sunnyvale. When you have someone that welcomes you, and shares tips and best practices,  and invites you to coffee or dinner or a beer, you no longer feel like a stranger in a strange land.  Well, those wishes came true. Thank you, Anouk and Megan for your well wishes. And thank you, Pauline for introducing me to Birgitta.

We were invited to Birgitta and Frank’s house for a BBQ tonight. They are local residents here where we live and invited my entire family over for dinner. Their kids are in college and so I felt even more honored that they included all of us, and made the little ones feel welcome too.  The kids brought their bathing suits and went in the hot tub, in the rain.  The dinner was fabulous and tasty and everyone enjoyed every bite. We all had such a good time, enjoying conversation, dessert, wine and coffee, that we didn’t leave until after 11 pm!  I was so happy that the kids were good and behaved and that we could enjoy some adult time with new friends.  Thank you Birgitta and Frank for your hospitality and making us feel so welcome, not only to your home but also to Holland.

Today I also joined Holland Homies – a Facebook Group for local Amstelveen/Amsterdam friends that are there to share ideas and resources. Inga told me about the group while we were at lunch on Friday. I posted a question about how to see American TV and heard back from several people. I have some places to look now without having to reinvent the wheel. Thanks, girlfriends! And I found a couple friends there that I had seen at school, but didn’t have their contact information. Now I do, and we’re going to get together next week. I love these type of connections.

For me, what defines home is my family and friends. That’s what I miss about home in Sunnyvale, home in Thousand Oaks, and that’s what I love about Holland. Here’s to home! 

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Rainy day today

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Rainy day art made out of packing materials at home today!  

 

Day 13: Happy

Today was a perfect day filled with visits from friends and I Am Content!

I love having people around me and being together.

Pauline introduced me to her friend Birgitta who lives in our new home town. She came over for coffee today and brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I could get used to this!

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It was so nice to find out the best grocery store in town, a referral for a doctor and dentist, as well as the local urgent care number and non-emergency police number. She also told me where to go to get a hair cut and the best gym in town. Plus, she’s super sweet and friendly and I just loved hanging out with her all morning.
Thanks Pauline for sharing your friend with me! She’s wonderful!

After Birgitta left, we had a late lunch and Alycia came over with her kids. She’s my friend from Palo Alto who shared the same Dutch tutor as me. We met in Mountain View before she moved to our new home town in April and we now live a couple blocks from each other. How cool is that? The kids had so much fun playing together and didn’t want to leave each other. It will be so nice for them to have familiar faces at their new school when they start in a couple weeks.

After Alycia left, Margalith wanted to take the kids to adventure island in the Bos. She said we should just go for 15 minutes and have the kids run around. I was resistant since the Peterson’s were on their way over for dinner and it was 4:30 already and they were going to be here by 6 at the latest! How was I going to make everything work? Well, I’m in this mode of stepping out of my comfort zone and living in the moment and so we did. We enjoyed running around like Tom Sawyer through the forest and we can’t wait to go back again.

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As we were driving home and getting ready to park, the Peterson’s drove up at the same time! Perfect timing!! The Peterson’s are traveling around the world for a year and will be in Holland for 10 days. We were so happy that they chose to come and hang out with us for dinner and a instant sleepover. How cool is that? Life is good.

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