3 Months Ago…

Three months ago today we moved back home. I’m feeling much happier today about our decision. Almost every day the sky is blue and the sun is shining and warm. If for no other reason, this makes me smile. I feel content just because of the weather. Every morning I ride my bakfiets to take Charlie to school and I smile. I love this new ritual and truly appreciate the daily experience.

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We have reconnected with friends, established new routines and have “normal” schedules now. Even though I don’t like the busyness of Silicon Valley and the daily obligations and time commitments, I am at the same time also thankful for this community and the opportunities my family has here.

I still miss what we left behind but I am happy here. My takeaway is that you have to create your happiness wherever you go and keep redefining yourself as circumstances change. This is exciting too because it keeps things new and refreshing. For now, I’m happy rebuilding, reconnecting, resettling and enjoying the journey back home.

Our Shipment Arrived!

Today was a big day. Our belongings from Holland traveled over the ocean and to the Port of Oakland, where a truck unloaded our container and brought our belongings back to us. It felt like a chaotic Christmas day, with boxes filled with gifts and wrapping paper everywhere, and everyone excited and a little off schedule.

The movers assembled our couches and bicycles and placed the boxes in the appropriate rooms, even helping to hang up some clothes. They broke down the boxes and took all the trash with them. They also helped us to remove our old couches that we’ve had since we lived in San Francisco and gave them to a new home.

If you have to do an international relocation, I highly recommend hiring Crown Relocation Services to help you with the transition. They are very professional, efficient, have a great, professional staff, and take care of you every step of the way. I was very impressed with their services and highly recommend them.

So now that Christmas is over, I have to try and assimilate all the gifts into their new places. Our house is very small and we don’t have a lot of extra room. This is no easy task! Every room is filled with boxes and stuff now. I think I need a professional organizer to come and help me sort and purge and organize. Luckily, one’s arriving tomorrow. My parents are coming to town and I’m sure they’ll want to help me. Lucky me. My mom is really good at making space and keeping a tidy house. I’m sure she’ll have some best practices to share.

So not only did we have the movers here all morning and my house is now a disaster, and company arriving tomorrow, my washing machine decided to leak. I was getting ready to go to some school and church meetings (still in my grungy clothes from this morning and not glamorous at all) and went in the garage to find a puddle, or should I say a stream of water covering part of the floor. Of course, a stack of our boxes was in the direct way of the river and was wet on the bottom. So in the course of 20 minutes before my meeting, I emptied out the wet box, moved the other boxes, contacted Sears Repair guys who were just out earlier this month, chatted on the phone with a friend and started serving dinner to the little ones who were waiting. We had a house full of friends tonight. I guess we’re just not ready to let go of summer. It didn’t help that it was 80 degrees out and felt like summer, so we just went with it. I kept looking around like I was on a crazy farm, and just kissed Jeff goodbye, telling him to just flow with it all, and walked out to leave for the two separate meetings at different locations while not tripping on any of the bicycles that were covering my yard. Can you visualize it?

I think I love days like this, chaos and all, although a little less clutter may have eased things up a bit. Oh, and I also made a trip to the orthodontist with Juliana and picked her up from practice. I actually had an hour between dropping her back off at school and picking her up again, and was able to assemble dinner during that time with limited counter space due to all the loot from Christmas covering it! Phew… I’m re-tired just writing it all down! What a day.

My day was full and I’m so thankful and exhausted. I’m happy to have my stuff. I’m glad my kids are involved in sports and are happily settling into their new routines. I’m glad that the neighborhood kids want to hang out at my house as this was always my dream. I’m glad that Jeff was home with me today to handle all of the moving and unpacking and kid patrol, and clean up, as well as that he took time to squeeze in a lunch date at one of our favorite Thai restaurants with the hour we had before early kid pickup. I’m thankful that my kids have the opportunities to be part of this wonderful community we call home. I am happy and tired and ready for bed.

Namaste.

(P.S…this post never posted last month as I found it in my drafts, so I’m posting now!)

I Am Home

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I Am Home.

It still hasn’t sunk in yet, but today I just got a receipt! This shirt arrived in the mail as a surprise from Marcia today. It’s proof that I really am home. I cried when I opened it and loved seeing it, thankful to be home and also feeling a bit of sadness that we don’t have our house in Holland anymore. The transition is happening and I’m in the midst of it.

I’ve been enjoying everyday, visiting with and catching up with our friends, shopping and preparing for Charlie’s birthday party next week, enjoying our beautiful weather and the beach, and waiting for Jeff to move back home.

I’ve been car shopping and having repairs scheduled for various household parts and loving on the kids and their friends. It’s nice to be back in the same time zone as my family and friends in California and to be able to pick up the phone and not think what time it is where they are before calling. I’ve been emailing my Holland friends and keeping in touch there too. Transitioning. This is what it looks like for me.

I Am Home.

Thank you, Marcia for my awesome shirt and the welcome home. xo

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!

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

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

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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.

Namaste

Day 334: 2 Weeks To Go!


We leave Holland in 2 weeks! I have extreme anxiety today. It’s feeling so real. I know in my mind that by the end of the month, the transition will be done and I can breathe more easily again. I know that it will take some time to repatriate and feel at home again and that a lot will have changed while we’ve been away and a lot will still be the same. I have anxiety about the move and transitioning back to where I came from, although I feel different and the same. Does that make any sense?

I wish I had a tribe of expats who have already been there, done that, who could tell me what to expect. I’m reading a book called The Art of Coming Home that tells me a bit about what to expect, but I’m sure it’s just like having a baby… you can read about it and hear stories, but until you go through it, you won’t know what the experience is really like, and it’s different for everyone. I’m sure it’ll all be good (well, mostly all good) but I do have anxiety in anticipation of what’s to come and what it will be like and all that.

But for now, I’m just busy doing the work and enjoying the moment, despite the anxious feeling. This too, shall pass, and in five years, it won’t matter any more. 😉

Here are some of the tasks I did today to prepare for our move:

1. Went to the Honda dealer to pick up the death certificate for our minivan. So sad… but at least we have a receipt and can stop paying taxes and insurance on the car.

2. Did several loads of laundry (and still going) and not done! Did I tell you the laundry machines in the Netherlands are teeny tiny, inefficient and do 1/4 the load size in 3 times the time it takes to do a load in the States? Yes, this is a problem for me!

3. Met with a house cleaner to do a walk through and to get an estimate for the final cleaning.

4. Went to the mobile phone store to figure out how to cancel my contract.

5. Went grocery shopping – we still have to eat!! 😉

6. Bought birthday presents for my birthday boys.

7. Decided on a birthday plan for our littlest one. Just gotta book the venue and send out invitations.

8. Mailed a package to the US. Do you know it costs like $40 to mail some cookies and candy in a shoe box? So expensive, don’t you think?

9. Set up phone and internet service appointment back in the States, so I can stay wired once I returned.

10. Talked to my family in California for over an hour – it’s important to stay in touch.

11. Picked up Charlie from a play date in Amsterdam… trying to get those last goodbyes in before we go! We’re not done playing and exploring yet!!

12. Made baked pasta dishes and sprayed tomato puree all over my curtains when the can exploded in my hands and sprayed 5 feet away! Gotta love messy surprises and cleaning and scrubbing tomato sauce off white curtains. One more thing to fix before we leave!

13. Began packing for our girls’ trip tomorrow!! Juliana and I are off on a girls’ adventure, just the two of us! So excited… stay tuned tomorrow to find out where in the world we went. 😉

The list goes on and on.. but just wanted to share some of the more mundane details of the weeks leading up to lift off. LIfe is good! Hope you’re enjoying the first few days of summer… still raining here and California too, I hear… xoxo

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Keep Calm and Carry On

Day 333: Our Last European Road trip…(at least for awhile)

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We’re in the process of preparing to move back to the United States. Part of this process included one last family road trip this weekend. I’m thankful that Jeff had a few ideas of places to see today outside Bruges, as the weather was still bad today.

We drove to Ieper, where some of the important battles of World War One happened.

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At one point 500,000 men died within 100 days. We explored the In Flanders Field museum, which was one of the best hands on, interactive and multi-media museums we’ve visited.

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The red poppy symbol comes from this region.

We next drove to find the biggest British Commonwealth cemetery in the world.

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Tyne Cot Cemetery.

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Standing on top of an old bunker in the cemetery.

From Ieper, we drove to Oostende, a beach town in Belgium. I was so happy to see the water and feel the ocean spray, but it was so windy and rainy too!

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Windy and cold at the seaside.

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Artistic tree at the beach.

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Sitting on an art sculpture.

We wandered around anyway, sampling chocolates, Belgian beer, waffles, and some kibbling (fried fish) that was snatched right out of my hand by an aggressive seagull! I shrieked and let him have it!! Wow – that was freaky!!

And finally we drove home… Only 3 hours more in the car!! So glad we went and so glad to be “house,” as Juliana would say.

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Rainbows in the sky near Breda.

Life is good.

Day 316: Purchased Tickets and More Goodbyes

Today I bought tickets for the kids and I to move back home next month. It is really happening and I have mixed feelings about it. I guess this is part of the repatriation process and today was another step closer to my comfy bed back home! I purchased the tickets and then posted the announcement on Facebook. I then privately messaged my closest friends and family back home, sharing with them our good news. And then I went through another anxiety loop and felt sad, and private messaged my closest friends here in Amsterdam. I am going to miss them so much and don’t look forward to the hard goodbyes. I guess the good thing is that people care about me and I care about them, and its normal and natural to feel saddened when you won’t be with each other as often as usual. It’s all good, like I always say… I am lucky.

In the spirit of living it up every day, we celebrated with Patty and Brian one last time before they leave for the summer on Saturday. We met at the Conservatorium for dinner in the Brasserie. I really liked the ambiance, high vaulted glass ceiling, great food, excellent service and wonderful company. We had an enjoyable evening together and I’m not going to even think about missing them. We’ll just see each other again soon in California or Las Vegas, Amsterdam or Minneapolis.

Namaste.

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