Hup Holland!!

I am missing Holland.  I believe today was the last day of school at the ISA, and with the last day at an international school, comes some big goodbyes.  Several people are moving back to their original home countries and some are getting ready to take on new expat adventures.  I’ve been thinking of you Cami, Carolyn, Patti Beth, and Amy and Jen who recently left. And I’m thinking of all the friends who stay and continue on a little bit longer, adapting to the changes of good friends leaving and dealing with the loss and change and adapting. There are always new beginnings.  Wishing all my friends smooth transitions and comforts.  

I’m so thankful that we lived in Holland and that I felt such a connection to my Dutch roots. I got to celebrate with my Dutch friend, Pauline and her Dutch friends, watching Holland beat Australia 3-2 in the World Cup today. I was so happy to be dressed in orange clothes, orange boas and glasses and hats, watching the kids prance around with the Dutch flag, and eating off orange plates. When Holland scored a goal, Karen played Dutch music really loudly and began dancing, while I smiled from ear to ear.  The house felt so gezellig and I was happy to be with the Dutch ladies and kids, drinking coffee and listening to Dutch being spoken again. I felt at home and so happy.

Jen sent me pictures of the Dutch flag flying from her new house in Minnesota and seeing all the Dutch celebrations from Holland on Facebook brought me joy.  I miss Holland and my family and friends, but am glad that I’ll always have a piece of Holland with me.



International Night

Tonight was International Night at Charlie’s school. We chose to represent Holland and brought the bakfiets, served Hagel slag toast, and pretended it was Queen’s Day. We dressed up and shared stories and made friends.

I thought Charlie would be more into it than he was, but it was a bit overwhelming. The kids were swarming, the music was really uncomfortably loud, and the crowds were ginormous!

Charlie had made a prize grab box with toys for the kids like he saw on Queen’s Day. We didn’t charge the kids of course, so everyone wanted to play again and again. Charlie decided he didn’t want to be any part of it and went outside to play. I didn’t blame him. They started ripping the box apart! Savages!! Or just happy kids?

It’s amazing how many cultures and countries were represented tonight!



I ❤️Holland!

Trying New Things

I gave a presentation tonight about the journey of becoming an expatriate and a repatriate.  I had an outline and food and props and shared my story with women who are great friends, which made for a comfortable audience. Most of the women had followed along with me through my blog and knew the highlights and virtually joined me on our one year adventure abroad.

So I decided to share the feelings and stories behind the story, kind of a behind the scenes version of the tour.  I think they liked it, as they asked me to share another story, a version 2, another time. This made me very happy, as I am generally uncomfortable presenting to an audience and feel like I talk too much. 

I shared what it was like to make the decision to move to another country. I talked about all the gritty details of the transitions and getting us out the door and into a new home in the Netherlands and back again.  I shared the sad goodbyes, the anxious arrivals, the settling in, the exploration, and the return to our homeland.

I shared the lessons learned, both positive and negative.

What I learned, is that a year goes by very quickly, faster than you really think. It’s important to try new things and to not let our fears stop us from experiencing life. I think that we can do anything we set our minds to do, and that if we want something, really want something, and set a goal, we can do anything for a month, or maybe even a year or two or three. It’s not forever and we have so much to experience and try, if we trust our heart and not our fears.

And so I challenged the brave ones to come up and try some salty, Dutch licorice powder. This was a heavenly treat for me growing up, and one that I loved and used to prank my friends, just to see their reactions
They were good sports and I had a good laugh!!  I don’t think they liked it much, but I was sure proud of them for trying!!

Life is good, my friends! Live it up, love it out and enjoy your precious time on this great, big planet.  xo

Red, White, and Blue

I keep getting asked if I am happy to be home, or if I wish I was still living overseas. This is a complicated question and there isn’t an easy answer. Overall, I say yes, I am happy to be home again in the United States, and more especially California, but I miss several aspects of the European, expat lifestyle as well.

I miss the friendships the most and the slower pace of life. I miss our travel around the world, exploring new lands and cultures and living in Holland and exploring and adapting to the local way of life the best I could.

Being away also made me appreciate all that is good in America. Sometimes the media makes it sound like America is broken, but I don’t believe all of it. For some reason, it seems normal to talk about all the negativity and I don’t understand that. I would like to see and share more stories about why America is great and why so many immigrants want to become citizens of this great country and all that it offers.

This morning there was an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that made me appreciate living here and proud to be an American. I am also thankful and proud to have European roots. They are not mutually exclusive. I just think its time to change the conversation and focus on what’s good again in the USA, and celebrate our roots too.

The WSJ article, “Why I Chose the Red, White and Blue,” by Philip Delves Broughton, mentions receiving a certificate of naturalization from President Obama after being sworn in as a citizen. It says, “Since our founding, generations of immigrants have come to this country full of hope for a brighter future, and they have made sacrifices in order to pass that legacy on to their children and grandchildren. This is the price and promise of citizenship. You are now part of this precious history, and you serve as an inspiration to those who will come after you.”

I believe this is a good reminder for all of us living here. We are part of the experience and creating history. We have a duty to one another to continue to do great things and to continue to make our country amazing. That comes from being of service, helping one another and working hard, doing the right thing. It also comes from being able to vote and to have a say in what we believe. There are so many things we do well and enjoy on this great land, like watching football games and bonding with our like minded friends who dress in the same team colors and root for the same team.

These are a few things that create happiness. I am happy to be home (and still miss Holland.)

Life is good.


Day 347: Last Night in Holland

All my bags are packed and weighed.

Boarding passes are printed and passports are ready to go.

The car is coming bright and early to bring us and all our luggage to the airport.

My day was filled with anxiety and sadness as I prepared to let go and leave Holland behind. I felt so much stress in my body, even though I’m happy to be moving back home. It kind of feels like breaking up with a boyfriend that you still love, but you know it’s time to move on, but you still feel sad breaking up, even though its the right thing to do. Does that make any sense? All I know is that anxiety is real and not really any fun. And the quicker it leaves my body, the better. A few deep breathes helped, but it took awhile and isn’t fully gone yet.

It’s time to leave Holland, but I fell in love here. I liked my life here and my friends and all that Holland had to offer and I’m extremely sad moving on and leaving my friends, even though I’m happy for the next phase too. I think that’s what creates the anxiety. I have so much to love about California and my friends and family and life there too and I’m excited to see everyone again and be back in my home again.

I’m so thankful for having had the experience to live in Europe for a year with my family.

So as Jen and Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

So I took a shower and cleaned up and off we went to enjoy our last night in Holland. Live in the moment, right?

There were three things I wanted to do…take a boat ride, take a family picture on the milk meisje bridge and eat bitterballen one last time.

We took the 5 tram into Amsterdam and met up with Ton and Loes for a boat ride through the canals. It was a gorgeous and warm evening and they made my dream come true. I am happiest on the water and felt my anxiety melt away. Thank you Ton and Loes for sharing your boat with us and giving us such a great going away present!




Afterwards, Loes took our family photo on the bridge by their home on the Herengracht.


And finally, we went to discover Loetje in Amsterdam, for bitterballen.

My night is done.

My heart is content.

My journey in Holland is complete.

It’s been a wonderful year of exploring and discovering and loving life.

I Am. Thankful.

Thank you for sharing the journey with me.


Day 345: 3 Days Left in Holland


3 more days…
2 more sleeps…
1 more blog…

Well… 1 more for today, at least.

Today I worked in the kids room and my room, sorting and tossing and packing again. We also stopped at Clara Maria’s clog farm to buy a few more Dutch souvenirs.
We took a load of stuff to the dump and another load to the charity store. I made another stack of stuff to give away for Patti Beth and Jane, and even had time for a shower before our evening drive to Boxtel to visit with Franca and Henk, Rowe and Geeke, Rio and Helma, Irma and Janne, one last time before we move.

We had a great evening sitting outside with Chinese food for dinner and ice cream for dessert.


It was a great summer eve (finally) in Holland and I am thankful they invited us over for a visit and much needed break.


The thing I really love about my Dutch family is that the teenagers stay and sit together with the family and joke around and share in conversation at the table. I love this and want to bring this idea home with me.

Goodnight from Boxtel.

I hope you have a nice weekend, wherever you may be!! xx

Day 330: Last Day of School


Today was the last day of school for my kids in Holland. It’s significant to me for several reasons. It is a milestone that we’ve reached as a family and I’m hyper aware of the end of our journey in the Netherlands.

We had several goodbye celebrations to mark the end and transition and to maximize our time with friends.

The hardest part is letting go and hearing Charlie cry from the pain of realizing he won’t see his friends again for a very long time. He made some really great friends here and trying to help him accept and process the loss of such strong connections is difficult, especially when I feel the same way.

Goodbye to all my Holland friends until we meet again. Goodbye to all my expat soul mates who understand this journey and can relate because you’ve been there with me and get it!

And as Jen said to me this morning as the day started, don’t cry because its over, smile because it happened. Great advice that carried me through the day, despite the heavy sadness.

Safe travels my friends until we meet again.

Full house
Best friends

Day 323: What You Give, You Receive


I believe in positive thinking and focusing on what’s good, even though I’m not naive and know that not everything is really good. I feel that by thinking about and paying attention to what’s right and what’s good about others, I have the opportunity to celebrate these gifts every day and I find happiness this way. And by celebrating the goodness and the light in my little part of the world and more importantly those around me, I receive the gifts back. It’s an amazing process that I’m still learning and hopefully sharing and creating with you. And let me tell you, the journey of acceptance is amazing and rewarding.

I am blessed.


Tonight my friends had a party in my honor to celebrate our friendship together in this short year. All 20 people who were invited attended. We all wanted to be together and we’re all so busy but made time for dinner and dancing. Some of us had guests just fly in tonight. Some are flying out first thing in the morning. Others had recitals and swim diplomas and a 100 other things to do on a “work” night, but everyone came. I was so touched and honored and I kept wondering how that happened. I know that when typically you throw a party, usually at least 25% will not be able to show up for one reason or another. But tonight… 100%! Thank you, friends for your presence!!

Carolyn and Jen planned a wonderful dinner party at what felt like someone’s house. It was an intimate setting just for us, in the middle of Albert Cuypstraat at Saskia’s Huiskamer. You’ll definitely want to look this place up if you need a place for 25 or less. The table was set with beautiful floral bouquets, and gift bags for each guests. It was intimate and warm and the ambiance was perfect. Everyone was asked to wear something orange in honor of our new Dutch heritage.

We enjoyed several courses and after each course, we would get up and switch seats so that everyone got a chance to mingle and chat with one another. This was brilliant! Through out the night, my friends got up to share a story about how we met and how we became friends. I think I cried several times and was so touched by their meaningful words. I love our community of friends and what we’ve created in this short year together.


After dinner, Jane turned on the music and we danced the night away until the next day! We had some wild fun together with our orange boas, the white silly looking stuffed horse, the orange wig and the orange sunglasses.


Thank you all for being my forever friends. I will miss you all and will take you with me on our next journey and hope y’all come visit me in California. I love you!!


Day 322: I Declare

20130612-214456.jpgDid you know that when you leave the Netherlands that you have to go to the town hall and declare your intent to depart the country?  Luckily Jeff knew this and that our awesome Relocation Consultant knew this too.  Today we visited the Gemeente Amstelveen with our passports and filled out our Declaration of Departure Relocation Abroad Form (in case you want to know what to request when you ever have to leave your new country).


It didn’t take long, but we both had to be present to sign our intent on the form and choose the date we plan to no longer be residents. They printed out temporary official forms and put them in a plastic sleeve for us to carry until our official departure date arrives and they can officially deregister our family. I think we get to keep our Dutch Residence Cards as souvenirs.

I declare that it feels weird to sign out – kind of like we’re getting a receipt or a diploma for our experience here. Weird.

Afterwards, we walked over to the old part of downtown and had lunch at one of the restaurants we first visited when we arrived in Amstelveen – a delicious little Korean restaurant. Jeff and I both love ethnic food and this place reminds us of a place near our home in Sunnyvale, where there is a large Korean population right down the street.  Lunch was excellent!  It’s called Damso if you want to try it for yourself.  I couldn’t find a website for them, but here’s more information:



By the way, we also had a cleaning service company come visit the house who specializes in preparing houses for new tenants so that you don’t lose any of your rental deposit. The lady who came by today was very thorough and seems like she really knows her business and the expat community. I’ll let you know what the estimate is and if we like her, if this information would be valuable to you.  I didn’t think about having to clean the drapes and to dust out the attic.  Sounds pretty thorough to me.

On a more fun note and another sign that the year is wrapping up, I met with a team today to discuss Grade 8 celebrations. I’m the parent rep for Christian’s grade and am helping with planning the details for his “graduation” ceremony. I can’t believe he starts high school in the fall. And knowing that Katie graduated from high school this year, and feeling like it was just yesterday that I watched her walk to kindergarten for the first day of school, I know these next four years are going to speed by so quickly. I want to slow time down and savor every moment.  I declare that I’m happy that we’re moving back home when we are so that Christian can start high school with his friends in our local neighborhood. This makes me content and feels right, and helps me to accept and appreciate this transition and it’s timing.  Ahhh… that feels better!  I just had to talk it out. 😉


Natural beauty inviting us into Vondel Park

I have one last celebration to share before wrapping things up for the day. Tonight we were invited to a very special 2 year old’s birthday party in Vondel Park.  The kids and I took the bus into the city and walked to the park to meet up with Jen and Todd and friends. It was nice to be together outside and I loved watching how happy Miss J was, eating her ice cream cake, running with her friends, opening presents and flirting with the fitness group in the park.  When I asked her for a hug goodbye, she came running and gave me a big hug, saying “I love you” back to me. I am going to miss her little face and her playful personality, and her mama too!


Congratulations on the birth of your daughter, Jen! You look so happy.


Happy girl – a bit blurry having to crop out the leg that walked in front of this cute face!


Miss J joining the fitness fun bootcamp in the park.


Charlie playing in the park with his friend G.

I declare it was a good day, a fulfilling day, and I am content listening to the rain, even though it’s June 12th!

What do you declare?


Day 313: It’s Sinking In…

It’s sinking in that we’re moving back, and its starting to feel real and surreal. For example, when I went to school to pick up the kids, a mother of one of Juliana’s friends stopped me to say she heard we were leaving and she was sad to see her go. She said that the end of the school year is so hard, because so many people are leaving for good. I’ve heard from my friends that its a horrible day… Tears streaming everywhere that last day. I mentioned this to Ellie, and she said, yes, it’s true, but its part of the healing process and letting go. Yikes!

And then Charlie came home with his homework packet, and inside there were four pieces of paper for each child to write goodbye letters to the four children leaving the school at the end of the year, Charlie included. He had to write one for himself, and all the letters will be compiled into a little going away book. This made me happy and sad. He took a long time thinking of what to write and how to decorate the letter.


I’ve started a giveaway/sell list and a list of things to pack for the movers. I posted a few things for sale on Holland Homies and the bidding war has begun. Not really, but it does feel weird to be thinking of giving our stuff away. Just part of the process…

We booked tickets last night for one last trip to London to see Jeff’s brother and wife before we head back home.

It also hit me today, that even though I planned to pack up and leave in July, many of my friends are leaving for the summer starting this week. That really bummed me out. I called Patty to schedule one more dinner with her and her husband before they head out. It makes me sad to think I won’t see her at school every week and we won’t be meeting each other to practice Dutch, play tennis, hang out in the park, and share meals together. This is the hardest part of moving away.

I think there will be more layers each day and week until we go. It’s strange knowing that your going, but still having to wait to sort through all the details. Jeff described it like you’re waiting at the airport for your plane to take off, but you have to wait. We have about 30 more days to wait, and peel back the layers. Not an easy task. But I’m going to live up every day and have fun and play, just like I did before we moved to Holland. I’m not going to dwell on the sadness that I’m feeling, but I’m going to shine and love on my friends and family and soak them all in while I can. It’s all good…