Day 300: House Sweet House

It’s nice to have a place to come back to, after a whirlwind vacation, but we still don’t feel like we’re home. I am thinking it’s the Ikea bed. I don’t look forward to falling into my bed because its not very comfortable and is very hot. I am happy to be out of the car and off the road. So as Juliana said, “it’s nice to be house'”

I think since we’re moving home to Sunnyvale soon, this feels more like an intermediary place and less like home than it might have if we had decided to stay longer than a year. Since we know we are moving, we already feel a bit more detached,and we don’t feel as rooted here anymore…we are kind of in Limboland.

For example, at the dinner table tonight, we talked about where we want to go first when when we get back home. The kids thought in terms of restaurants and I thought of people and places I wanted to see. The kids want to go to The Habit, Jocko’s, and Taqueria Latina. I want to go to April’s house and sit at her counter, and to my mom’s house and to the beach. Those places feel like home to me besides our own home. Our home feels like home because that’s where the kids did so many firsts. There are so many memories there that make me long for this place, even though home should be wherever we are. We’ve created so many memories together here, but home is still there… For all of us. I wonder where home is for kids who do this expat living thing for longer than 3 years. I bet it becomes confusing in a sense, and liberating in another.

Today we are back in the Netherlands – 300 days after moving away from home. That’s a long time to me!

We explored Reims, France today and drove through France, Belgium and Holland to get back here. It rained the entire day again. I’m looking forward to relaxing and catching up with everything tomorrow. Hope you had a good day!

Namaste.

Here are a few pictures from Reims, France.

Day 297: Normandy, France

20130518-230002.jpgWe made it to Normandy this afternoon. The sun was finally shining again, which helped to improve my mood. I’ve been grouchy for several reasons. I am homesick and sick and a bit tired. Kimmy’s graduation is today and I want to be there and not where I am. My volleyball girls had a weekend getaway and I missed it! I feel torn today and down, and it’s taken me longer than usual to snap out of it.

I have to really practice being present today and its been a struggle. Just keeping it real. I helped myself by thinking of Jeff’s granddad and the other soldiers who were probably so uncomfortable day after day, fighting the Germans, and all the sacrifices they had to make. Seriously, I have nothing to complain about and my discomfort is kinda stupid. I’m over myself… Just like that. Thanks for listening. 🙂

We started our day at Omaha beach, after a long drive from Lisse. We landed and walked on the beach, imagining the hell that others experienced there and not quite comprehending it all.
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After Omaha Beach, we drove to see the American Cemetery on the bluffs above Omaha Beach. That takes your breath away. Seeing all the headstones makes the numbers of casualties pop out at you and you can feel the sheer magnitude of loss and the human sacrifices that were made to fight evil.

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We walked through the entire field of headstones, noticing when people died, what state they were from and what their names where. We noticed how many more Christians than Jews were buried there.

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And we imagined PopPop fighting with the allies through Europe and are so thankful he survived the battle. We looked at the wall maps and Jeff pointed out the areas where PopPop landed and traveled with the 3rd army through France and Germany. Thank you PopPop for your years of service and thank you MamMam for keeping the family strong and together.

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While there, we ran into our friends and enjoyed sharing stories and our experiences so far. I was so happy to see them and can’t believe we were at the same place at the same time. We made plans to meet up for dinner afterwards in Bayeux.
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But before we got to Bayeux, we checked into our hotel and went to see Pointe Du Hoc.

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This is where the US Army rangers scaled the cliffs and seized the German gun emplacements. The kids loved this area because it was on the edge of the ocean and was filled with craters and bunkers that they could run around in and on top of.

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It’s crazy to think that the craters were created by bombs and naval gunfire.
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I finally snapped out of my funk at PDH. The kids were happy to be running around and exploring the craters and bunkers and I enjoyed watching them play. I think being near the ocean helps too! The views were gorgeous and calming.

We drove 30 minutes to Bayeux and met up with Bob and Greg for a late dinner. Bayeux is a magical town, and we arrived in time to catch some love entertainment both before and after dinner. I’ll leave you with a few pictures from the end to a great, long day.

Happy graduation day, Kimmy!

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Goodnight, from France.

Day 296: Traveling the Hard Way

We are learning the hard way today.

We are tired and have been traveling quite a bit, and we aren’t quite done yet. In Holland, they have these four day weekends twice during the month of May and we want to take advantage of the extra days off to explore Europe while we can.

But the trouble is we’ve been playing hard since April and the kids are burned out and I’ve been sick. So what would you do? I know the logical thing to do would be to stop traveling but that doesn’t feel right either.

So we pushed through all the complaints and reasons not to go and decided to go anyway. But then once we got on the highway, our engine light and TCS light turned on before we even got to Abcoude. Luckily the Honda Dealer was just around the corner and I called to tell them we were on our way and could they please see us right away!! The good news is that it was 4:30 pm and they were still open. The bad news is we have a problem with our transmission and our minivan has to stay overnight for several days!!

The Honda dealer doesn’t sell or rent minivans or anything close to as big, and ours was loaded down with five suitcases, snacks, DVDs, pillows, blankets and personal backpacks for everyone. How were we going to get out of there? Luckily they were able to get the biggest possible car from an outside agency and we were able to cram everything in, kids too.

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Right before this all happened, I learned that the four or five hour drive I was expecting tonight was really a 7+ hour drive. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy already. Now we were hugely delayed! What to do?

We drove back home, ate the sandwiches we had packed and reloaded the car dropping off extra stuff so we’d be more comfy in our now cozier vehicle packed side by side! We worked hard through a family struggle to decide whether to go or not go and when to go, tonight or tomorrow. It wasn’t easy, but we decided to cancel our reservation for tonight and made a new reservation half way closer.

We decided we couldn’t give up the fight to get there to see and experience Normandy, despite the struggles.

Normandy, here we come.

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Day 207: Paris, France

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We traveled by train this morning from Amsterdam to Paris, with April and Steve and the kiddos.

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We decided to rent a place through airbnb and picked a houseboat/barge right on the Seine, overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

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It is magical to see and kind of peaceful being on the water. I’m hoping for a fun experience for our families to share together.

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After getting settled into our new house for the next few days, we wandered around along the Seine, and up and around the Eiffel Tower, stopping for croissants and crepes and to take a ton of pictures.

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From the Eiffel Tower, we walked over towards the Champs Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe.

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We decided to climb all the way to the top and enjoyed views of the city from every angle. It was freezing outside, but we survived!

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Everyone was hungry by then and we wandered around trying to find a restaurant. The one we were looking for was closed when we arrived, but we were lucky enough to find the Yuppies Cafe that was perfect for all 9 of us. They had a big booth, cool decorations, spoke English and served us delicious food quickly! We were satisfied!!

The boys found a grocery store and picked up a few thing for breakfast tomorrow. We hopped on a metro that dropped us off right by our house, and made it home in time to enjoy the sparkly lights from the tower.

Life is beautiful!!

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Day 109: Happy Veterans Day!

We celebrated Veterans Day by visiting Metz, France and Bastogne, Belgium. Here are some pictures from our visits. Jeff’s granddad was in the Metz area during WWII when he received word that Jeff’s mom was born in the United States.
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Bastogne is where the Battle of the Bulge occurred and we visited this memorial site today.

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Thank you Granddad, Jeff, Nate, Steve, Maurice, Sam, Joe, Jim, George, and all the other men and women and families that have served our country.

Namaste.