That's a loaded question…
Physically I have been here. Mentally, I was home… for a long time. I think after three years, I am at peace with being here in the Netherlands. It's not that I haven't liked it here. Besides the weather, I really do think we have created a wonderful life for ourselves here. The school is wonderful, the people more so. I miss my family.
Expat life is wonderful and hard and confusing all at once. Wonderful because we are getting to experience different cultures as we travel and right here in our own school and town. Hard because there is so much heartache and guilt being away from your family. What if something happens to one of them? I can't be there quickly. Confusing because at some point, after being away for so long, it is tough to answer that question "where are you from?".
There is a dark side to expat life that many don't speak of - being in limbo, neither here nor there, a nomad like life.
That being said - the peace that we all feel this year is a blessing. We feel as if we can call this "home".
Which probably means we will move back, right???
Lots of love :)
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
We took a whirlwind trip to London to see the city and visit with my brother and his lovely girlfriend.
I had never been to London - have always wanted to go. It certainly was 100 times larger than I ever imagined. I really had NO idea London was that large. We stayed in the city for the most part and didn't venture outside of it except for dinner one evening.
Wow - the buildings, history, culture... So much of the history of London centers around the world wars. And the fact that these building are still standing - and what was done during the wars to keep them from being demolished... Incredible history.
We had the best tour guide in R - having lived there all her life, she was invaluable in terms of navigating the city and giving background information. Brilliant woman. Both she and my brother were gracious hosts - it was lovely.
The boys had a wonderful time - although I think we wore them out a bit. We definitely could have used another 3 full days in order to get some down time and explore some more of the outlying areas.
Oh well - I guess it gives us an excuse to go back!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
When does it stop?
Okay, I know the answer to that one... Never.
My baby is about to embark on a trip with his schoolmates and his teachers. For FOUR days. I have gone over this time and time again in my head. Should I ask if I can come along? Should I tell him he can't go? I have lost sleep over this.
I KNOW in my heart I can't do that to him. He is SO excited about the trip, and in all honesty, he will only be about 2 1/2 hours away. It is time to let him be a big kid and worry about his own health for a few days.
He is smart. He knows what he can and can't eat. He knows if something is "off". He's normally the one to tell me. I wouldn't know by looking at him. I trust him - of course I do. But I have never had to relinquish control of his well-being to anyone else. Anyone else that has a child with health issues will understand.
B keeps telling me that he will be okay - I know he will be. But I still reserve the right to be a basket case while he is gone. So if you see me the week of September 5th, I am apologizing in advance.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
The kids ended school with a couple of fun events:
V and his class walked about a mile and a half to a local lake and had a half a day filled with sport and swimming (BRRRRR)... He has come such a long way. He really likes the school, as do we, and I hope is looking forward to starting again in the fall. He is our creature of habit and having moved SO many times, we worry that he hasn't"found" himself or his identity yet. He really is very secure within himself and could absolutely care less about what other people think or about trying to fit in. But, he hasn't found a friend that he totally identifies with yet. Maybe he just doesn't need one. He has started a workout routine at home which he loves and hates at the same time ;-)
S ended the school year with a great trip to Ayers Rock - an outdoor survival course here. The kids had an amazing lunch provided by the parents. I was a little nervous about S knowing how scared of heights he is. He started out fine for the first 2 minutes and then...
Tears and "I can't do this, how am I supposed to do this?".
To his credit and my amazement - he finished the whole thing. He freaked a little again when he hit the (freezing) cold water. But he did it and has proudly proclaimed:
"I NEVER want to come here again in my whole entire life!!!"
S also "stepped up" to the middle school. They had a wonderful step-up day where the 4th graders crossed the bridge over to the middle school. They received their certificates and a special lanyard to hold their new ID badges that they get at the beginning of the year. It was really special - I was more emotional than I thought. It was a tough 5 months since we had moved and I was so proud of this kid for coming into a new school (again) and jumping in head first.
Then the BIG one - we made a trip back to Houston. Wow - the kids had an AMAZING time. It was wonderful to see friends and family. I ran around like a crazy woman the whole time, but I was happy that the kids were happy. Totally enjoyed the heat - I am a southern girl. The time went by so quickly, I didn't get everything done that I had hoped.
We have some friends coming into town at the end of July and then we are off to London the first week of August. As soon as we get back - orientation starts for school!
If the weather would improve - it'd be close to a perfect summer!
Friday, July 22, 2011
June started out with the BFF coming out to visit :-)
It was AMAZING to have her here as I have missed her terribly!
We were able to tootle around The Hague. I took her to the open market and no surprise... She loved it as much as I do. We feasted on falafels, herring, sandwiches, Indonesian, fresh fruits and veggies and good ole homemade Indian.
We went to Kinderdijk and saw the windmills. The windmills are susceptible to the weather and fires, so very few of them are standing compared to before. We were able to go inside one to see how people actually lived in them. There are actually a few that people still live in. Pretty cool :-)
Next stop - Amsterdam. We took the train up and spent most of the day walking around the city. We visited the market there, stopped by the Anne Frank house, ate dim sum, poffertjes, pannenkoeken, the most amazing blackberries, and sampled some wonderful gouda. It rained for most of the time that we were there, but we made it!
Wish we could do it all over again - Miss you C!!!
Mid-May started like a shotgun - fast and furious...
It started the beginning of end of year school activities including a fun-filled day called "Medieval Day". The kids drew "jobs" out of a hat which included jobs such as king, barons, baronesses, knights and squires, and peasants. S drew the "Knight". I think he was pretty happy about that. The knights competed in a jousting competition where S made it into the semi-finals. The peasants were broken up into various jobs including merry makers, carpenters, cooks and woodworkers. At any time, one of the teachers could grab you and make you a leper. S's best little buddy got pulled out.
The kids were given money to "buy" their snacks - and quickly realized how unfair the system was back then. The peasants could barely afford the snacks that they actually wanted. The kings had too much to spend. S's friend made out like a bandit because S gave him most of his coins since he was allergic to half the food on the table.
During recess, if the peasants stepped out of line - the knights and squires could take them to be put in the stocks which the carpenters actually put together.
The cooks made a lovely homemade vegetable soup for lunch. The peasants were allowed to have this plus bread slices and cut vegetables. The knights and squires dined on that as well as fresh homemade bread. The kings, barons and baronesses were able to feast on pizza for lunch. You can imagine to "No fair"'s that were muttered throughout the meal ;-)
It was a really really long day for the kids and some said they never, ever wanted to do that again. Even S being a knight said that he didn't want to do it again. He felt really bad for his friends and hated that he couldn't eat his own lunch!
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Yesterday, B and I celebrated our 17th anniversary... 17 years, seems almost like yesterday that I was 24 and getting married.
In 17 years, we have done so much that a lot of it is blurry. Most amazingly - we have 2 boys. I think that's the best part to come out of our marriage - being parents. B is a good dad, gets down on the ground and in the dirt with them. It's my favorite part of the weekend, watching the 3 of them act like boys playing football, basketball or video games.
We have moved 8 times, lived in 3 different countries and 3 different states. We have gotten to travel more than I ever imagined. I have been able to be a witness to B's career skyrocket. I have a partner that I actually talk to... about anything. We laugh over silly things and still get a kick out of small things.
We have survived job changes, moves, health scares, family issues and our children ;-)
Happy Anniversary honey! I love you.