Day 22: Our Shipment Arrived!

Today was much better, thanks for asking!  I don’t mind bad days because they are part of life and I don’t expect everything to always be a-ok. It’s normal, I get it. And I just have to wait it out (like I did) and wait for the sun to shine again (which it did!)

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Early this morning, the truck arrived with our stuff. Now we didn’t ship all our stuff and the truck that brought our stuff was really big and understuffed, which is a good thing! You see there isn’t that much storage space in this big house. And I kind of was enjoying living with little, but I know our stuff will bring comfort. Like our rug and rocking chair and bean bag chair. Ahh… soft and cozy, and gezellig! I like comfy places and it’s getting there.

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We had 63 boxes total – including 1 big orange bike, 2 chairs, a stool, a rug and other miscellaneous stuff that makes us feel comfy. That’s not that much for 5 people and an international move, right? We left our furniture at our old house as a guest house and hope our friends and family enjoy staying there from time to time.  Now we just have to wait for our table and couch to be delivered – hopefully tomorrow and then we’ll be ready for you to come and visit!!  😉

Actually, while I was unpacking, Ruth came to visit. She is Simone’s sister-in-law, and lives in the area. 3 minutes away, in fact… how crazy is that? Simone, is Debbie’s Dutch friend, who I met before moving here. And today she asked Ruth to stop by to bring us flowers as a welcome. How cool is that??  I am so touched. I am all about relationships and can really give a crap about stuff. And seeing Ruth at my door, carrying a beautiful flower basket just touched my heart. And that she went out of her way to greet us… wow. Thank you. I love them and love that you both reached out to make us feel welcome. Thank you Ruth and Simone!!

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Oh, and there’s a story about the wooden shoes too. You see Jeff and I came to Holland 14 years ago and these wooden shoes were made especially for me by Helma’s brother who runs a wooden shoe factory. We toured the factory and he shaped these to fit my feet. How cool is that? They have been sitting on my porch at home in Sunnyvale for the past 12 years so everyone would know I’m Dutch! And because I love them. So now they’re back on Dutch soil to great our guests at our front door. Doesn’t that make you want to come over for a cup of coffee. Just show up and I’ll make you a cup.  😉

We worked all day to unpack and to make our house feel more like a home until it was time to go meet the Petersons again. The kids really wanted to see each other to celebrate Ben’s birthday and to do a sleepover. We joined them for cake and ice cream and then brought their boys over here for one last sleepover before they leave Holland tomorrow. Happy Birthday Ben!!  Image

Day 19: Vondelpark * Rijksmuseum * Houseboat * Tram

We’re getting better at preparing for the day. Each kid carries a backpack and today I gave them each a checklist:

1. Backpack

2. Water Bottle

3. Light Rain Coat

4. Umbrella

5. Something to Read

All of these things are to help them take care of themselves. They can carry their own pack and their own jacket and always have something to drink. If they want to add more, they can, but they still have to carry it all day. Teaching them to take care of themselves while also being responsible for their own stuff!

We were happy to venture out to meet the Petersons again today. We met in the Museumplein and walked over to Vondelpark together. We got a later start than usual, and everyone was already hungry soon after we gathered. I had read about a cooking cafe for kids and both my youngest, and Kris’ youngest like to cook so I thought this would give us a destination to seek out in Vondelpark. I’m good at coming up with ideas, but not always so good with following up with the details! For example, I knew the name of the restaurant in VP (generally), but didn’t jot down the address, hoping to explore the park and venture upon it by chance. Not such a good idea when you have 8 hungry people! Eventually we found it after stopping to ask at least 3 strangers. But I think the kids had a good time making their own pizzas and ham and cheese croissants. It was a fun experience at the Kinderkookkafe.

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After the kids refueled, they wandered over to a playground and enjoyed running around together in a new park. They found some fun swings where 3 people could swing at once. I loved seeing their smiles. The boys then disappeared for a while and we could see their shadowy figures through the trees. They found some tall pieces of wood and were building a teepee. I think they could have stayed for hours.

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Weather reports showed that afternoon thunderstorms were quite possible so we had planned to check out the Rijksmuseum. The good news was that the rain never came. We still were able to walk around and enjoy the art at the museum. Luckily, only a part of the museum was open as the rest is under renovation. This proved well for the kids as their attention span for art is not that high. I actually enjoyed hearing their perspective about what they saw and what stood out. J and I kept trying to determine from what angle the light source was used to paint the layers of light and shadow. We never did agree, but I think that will help us to discover some new art research. Our family favorite exhibit was one from 2008, which was a rather unique and unusual Grandfather Clock, that was in the shape of a tall, grandfather clock, with a frosted glass face with dry erase numbers written on the face from the inside. Behind the glass, it appeared a man was inside the clock and counting the minutes passing by erasing the arms of the clock and re-writing them again. It was to show the passing of time and we all got a kick out of it. Of course we all loved Rembrandt’s Night Watch painting and discussed how the sword looked three-D, how we liked the shadow of the hand on the other man’s jacket, and the element of surprise with people’s faces hiding and peeking through the crowd.

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After our brief tour of the museum, we played in the Museumplein again as the kids love the big, flat swing and wanted to share it with the Peterson kids.

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If the kids are happy, I’m happy and so we stayed for awhile. We then walked to the tram and took it to visit the P’s houseboat, which was very cozy and nicely decorated in a Dutch theme with blue and white and red colors. I think it would be fun to stay on a vacation houseboat. However, I felt a bit sad for them, as the owner’s houseboat was parked directly in front of their vacation boat which completely obstructed the view of the water. They did have a small window portal from the bedroom to look off and see a bit of water, but if they wanted to see more, they had to wander over to the owner’s floating backyard or walk to the top and sit on top of the houseboat. They of course, were gracious and the owner was very kind to them, so no worries… The kids all had fun exploring and being in a new environment with their California friends.

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I had fun sitting with Kris and just relaxing as I felt tired by the end of the day… staying up until 1 am watching the Olympic Closing Ceremonies was probably not such a good idea! Did you watch them too?

The kids and I soon said goodbye and found our way to a new tram stop and journeyed home on the Metro. On the tram, J asked me if I missed California yet. She said she did a little bit but knew that we weren’t going back any time soon, so she really didn’t think about it much. I told her we would feel home sick at times but that we’ll adapt and that we have to live in the moment, which she is doing. She is very smart and realizes that she must manage her expectations, even though she doesn’t know that is what she is doing. I believe that happiness comes from when your expectations are in alignment with your reality. She expects to live here and doesn’t expect to move back home, so she’s happy. Pretty simple. I shared with her the expression that the grass isn’t always greener, and she started to sing a Justin Bieber song about the same topic. It’s amazing, but I think she gets it. We are here now and our job is to enjoy BEING just where we are. As a family, we chose to come on this journey and so we are enjoying our green grass, so to speak, right here, right now. And we’re enjoying keeping in touch with our family and friends back home too. Little C especially loved talking to one of his BFFs this afternoon, as you can see by his smile.Image

All is well and today was another good day. I hope you had a good day right where you are too. xoxo

Day 14: What I Am… Is What I Am

Are you what you are – or what?

(Thank you Edie Brickell… I used to sing this song on top of my lungs – did you too?)

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I found this pillow today on our all day furniture shopping palooza with Anita and Kelsi. We bought everything we needed to finish furnishing our house today!  All the beds and couches, tables and chairs, desks and dressers were ordered today. Can I hear a big shout out?!?!  This is a HUGE accomplishment if you can only imagine trying to furnish a home in a day or two or three!  Anita gave us another full day of Dutch translation and driving and organizing the details for our shopping trip while Kelsi tried to teach me a few dutch words here and there. We are so happy that our furniture will be delivered this weekend already, with the couch coming next week. When we ordered our couch in the states it took 6-8 weeks for delivery time. I was so excited when they said it would only take 9 days.  I AM so happy and exhausted!

Kris and Scott decided to spend the night with us last night and our kids all still wanted to play together after breakfast. We were so lucky that they decided to keep our kids with them while we were on our never-ending shopping trip.  They all went to the forest and explored Adventure Island again. I think they probably had more fun and were definitely less bored than they would have been shlepping around with us from shop to shop!  Thank you Scott and Kris for entertaining our family and I’m sorry we were gone longer than expected. We loved seeing you and can’t wait to see you all again this week.

Hope you all are enjoying the last few weeks of summer. xo

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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