Friday, November 18, 2016

We've made it through! Looking back a year....

Expat life is a roller coaster with loads of ups and downs, and coming from someone who has grown over the years less enthused with the idea of plummeting to my death, or getting stuck upside down on a rollercoaster, I do enjoy the rollercoaster of expat life (mostly).

Facebook reminded me today that one year ago we were house hunting in Belgium, literally days after the Paris attacks. Security was increased, we weren't sure we'd be able to cross the border from the Netherlands into Belgium, or if the company was even going to continue with our move at that moment. There was so much uncertainty about the world, about my little family, and about my feelings on moving, again.

Thinking back to one year ago, gets me very emotional. I was literally a wreck. Leaving one of the best communities we have EVER been a part of was hard to imagine and even harder when it became a reality. I didn't want to leave. I was grasping at straws, digging my feet in like a stubborn mule. I cried at night, and put on a brave face for the kids during the day. It was all going to be ok, and we were going to come out on the other side of this dark cloud eventually. I kept telling myself that until it I believed it, and it continued for 3 months after the move. Add into that the dismal weather, 7 hours of daylight, and kids who were clearly distraught, and you may have some clue as to my state of mind. I had the ability to deal with it and get along deep down inside, but while the kids were unhappy and adjusting, I was unhappy. Not even the lure of a new adventure was picking up my spirits. This was one ride, I was not happy to get on.
Grote Markt Antwerp

Fast forward a year, well 9 months since the fog of moving lifted, and we're well through to the other side. I was right. There is always a rainbow after the storm, even if you don't see it. In this case, I saw  it, right when I needed it most. The storm ended. The ride came to a stop, and although I had my eyes closed and screamed the whole way through. The ride stopped and I survived. 
 This photo below was taken from our hotel in Antwerp on our house hunting trip when I was,  to put it nicely, not quite on board with moving to Belgium. The sign of God's promise to His people that everything was going to be OK, was MY sign as well. I often think about this picture, this moment, and remember that no matter what seems so difficult, inconvenient, or heart wrenching, it will all be OK. It won't be the same, but it will be OK.

When the sun came out and the puddles dried up....  Wait, that doesn't happen in Belgium, so I am figuratively speaking here; I have new friends, my kids have new friends, I'm back at my hobby of acting with a new theater group, my international Herbalife business is thriving. We've built a support system that works for us. We have others that have been a blessing to us, and I can only hope we have been able to return the favor. 

We still have plenty of time here in Belgium to learn to love it more and more, and by the end, I'm sure my sentiments will be nearly the same. I won't want to go, change will be hard and uncertain, but eventually, it will all be OK.

Until Next Time, 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

5 years Today.....

5 years ago, today, we boarded a plane headed for Italy and the start of what was to become our European adventure. At that time, it was Josh, Mallory, and myself, 5 months pregnant. Mallory was all of 2 years old. Still happily munching on cheerios, and playing with the Elmo ABC's app.
Josh was 5 years younger, doting on his pregnant wife, and adorable two year old. I was pregnant, also 5 years younger and looking forward to all the pasta and gelato I could get my hands on.

We hit the ground running and having a baby didn't really slow us down. Mia had travelled nearly all of Italy by the time she was 5 months old. She has lived in Europe her entire life, besides a brief stint in Texas, where people spoke ENGLISH, well, most of them. Coming from Italy, and hearing everyone speaking English, was astonishing to the girls.

The time seems to move more quickly all the time. We've got another two years-ish left here in Belgium.  It will be the the place we have lived the longest, and although I didn't feel the love for Belgium right away, I'm sure when this leg finishes, I'll be very sad to leave. What's next for the Hunkings? If only we knew! We don't know what is in store for us, but we look forward to continuing our adventure as a family.

For those that haven't been to Europe, there is a charm and freedom here that is alluring, that you may not understand unless you've spent a bit of time here. It is hard to explain, but when you've got the crap storm of  US presidential candidates, anywhere seems more appealing. Can I get an AMEN!? It's years like this, that make living in Europe that much sweeter. No campaign adds, or 24/7 coverage of what is undoubtedly a complete mess. I don't do politics, so I'll stop right there. I mean I think we can all come to an agreement that indeed, it is a bonafide crap storm, and countless Europeans remind me of it, the moment they hear I am American. I wonder if I can call myself European at this point to avoid this. Slap on a British accent and call it a day? Maybe American-European? Meh.

Also to note: in Europe, men and women casually share bathroom space. You may have to pay to use that bathroom, but chances are it is clean, probably done so by someone of the opposite sex. I'm just going to leave all that right there.

In other news,
The school year is wrapping up, finally. 8 more days to wake up for school. 8 more days of packing lunches, 8 more days of a 1st grader and preschooler. Then a few days to prep and pack for our Summer in the states, which will undoubtedly be filled with friends, family and fun.

So Happy 5 Years of Living in Europe to us, and at least 2 more!

THEN: Off to Milan!

NOW: Living in Belgium, visiting Ghent.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Farewell Netherlands!

It seems as if, upon every move, I've written some final thoughts. Today is our last day in the Netherlands, and we are officially de registered, cars sold, and homeless. Ok, not really. We are at a Hilton, where we enjoyed a free breakfast, and Mia ate her weight in pineapple and melon.  But we are in limbo between countries. We still have our house here in the Netherlands, but of course it is all boxed up and being loaded into a big truck, for the move to Belgium. We will spend a few nights in a hotel in Belgium until our home there is set up and liveable.  We had a relaxing Christmas at home, and were even able to squeeze in a nice trip to London. 
Great great Aunt Joyce and Mallory outside of London! How cute are they?

So let me rewind a week or so, as it has been quite the whirlwind. 
Back up to the girls' last day at school.  I spent the morning in Mia's class, looking for train track Jack and with the help of the glorious imagination of Mia's preschool teacher, boarded the Polar express and searched for cheeky gingerbread kids that escaped from the oven.  Spoiler alert: we found the gingerbread kids, and ate them. 
We went from being trees in a frozen forest, to parts of the icy igloo, all so we could help train track Jack (Mia's teacher dressed in overalls with a southern accent) find the escaped gingerbread kids! Mia leaned over to me and filled me in that train track Jack, was really Her teacher, Mr. Matthew. Nothing gets past this girl!  After my imagination filled morning, I ran home to make popcorn and a fruit tray for the first grade exsnackaganza and crafty afternoon. I helped Mallory and all of her first grade friends assemble and create a large paper snowman. It was lovely being able to be in her classroom, and field questions about Mallory's move. Multiple parents asked me how I was doing, and really, I was about two seconds away from losing all of my marbles. My eyes filled with tears on multiple occasions. It was a mixture of happiness and sadness.  According to the movie "Inside out" the two go hand in hand.  I was so happy that my girls were so loved and an integral part of their class, and that they were going to be missed, but also sad, that we have to leave this loving and nurturing environment. 
I picked the girls up from school, every day that week, in hopes of seeing friends and saying goodbye, but Friday rolled around and the girls spent so much time saying goodbye to their teachers and friends in their class, that by the time we finished, everyone was gone, well into their Holiday break. And we were off onto our own little trip as well. 
Mallory looking through her goodbye book with friends on the last day of school. 

We jetted off to London, that evening. Spent Saturday in Notting Hill, decorating cookies at Biscuiteers, stumbling upon the Notting Hill Bookshop ( Where the famous movie featuring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts was filmed) strolling through Portobello Market and letting our senses be bombarded with heavenly smells of street food, sounds of street perfomers, and sights of some of the best people watching. We took the girls back to our perfectly located apartment we rented through Airbnb and let them nap, and then it was off to the Theater for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! An early Christmas  present for the girls. 
Sunday we visited Princess Diana memorial playground and then went to visit my English family in Broxbourne. What a blessing to be able to connect with them twice in one year. Considering it had been between 15 and 20 years since I saw some of them, pretty cool.  It was also nice for the girls and Josh to meet them. 
Check out these cookies!

Monday and Tuesday were filled with visits to Hyde Park's WinterWonderland, museums, and a bit of unproductive shopping for me. We had a great trip, but of course traveling with kids, it isn't all smiles and laughter. The girls were coming off a long week at school and I presume dealing with emotions they didn't know they had, so we had some serious meltdowns, and moments I'd rather not remember.  But it was definitely one of those moments where you look at your spouse and think, "what are we doing wrong?" 
We came back, had a nice Christmas, where the big hit was their dolls. They're obsessed with brushing their hair and fighting over each others outfits. We had to take down all of our Christmas decorations on Sunday, because the movers came and finished on Monday.
 I nearly couldn't keep myself composed at the song choices of the middle aged men packing my house up. The play list consisted of "let's talk about sex, baby" "push it" " girl you look good, won't you back that a$$ up" 
"girl your booty is so round, let me lick you up and down" amongst many other 90s rump shaker booty songs! But it wasn't just that the song was playing. These Dutch men were shamelessly singing every word. So glad, my kids were out of the house for this throwback in musical time! I would have been fielding lots of questions about booty, sex, and heaven knows what else! 
Santa came, and mommy and daddy, nana, pappy, Grammie charmaine, Grammie Rose and Papa!

We were blessed to catch up with a few families in the last few days, and the girls squeezed in a few play dates as well.  Thanks to Jessica and Jeni for keeping the girls and letting them squeeze in some last minute friend time and keeping them from boredom, just siting around a house full of boxes. 
After the boxes were removed! Empty :(

Tonight we are in Belgium, and on the way down I  read of two men being arrested outside of Brussels for terrorist activity. Now, don't let this be the only thing you grab onto from this post. I have no fear. Life must go on. I'm more afraid of our things not fitting into the house tomorrow! But really,  my two scents on the matter, be vigilant always, but don't let it stop life. When it's my time to go, I'll go, and I'll be ready for the good Lord to take me. So I won't live my life in fear that some cotton headed ninny muggins is out there lurking in the shadows or planning some unthinkable terror act. No, the show must go on. And it will. Load in tomorrow. 
Thanks for reading! 
Until next time,

Friday, December 4, 2015

Update and latest ramblings.

So here we are, over a year into our Netherlands adventure and 2 months from our Belgian adventure.
I am usually so wrapped up in the differences in culture and language that I can't help but write about it and inform ALL my readers, but it just hasn't happened. I've been terribly incredibly busy and just now, yes literally just now having some time to myself and I'm bored. Yes, I should be doing laundry or picking up the breakfast dishes, but I'm not. I've been going nonstop since June with traveling, and company and now, both kids are in school and here I sit ready to blab about my most fascinating life.

Recap of the Netherlands.
This is so that I can look back and remember what it was like to live here.
We live in a town called Wassenaar, which is situated between Amsterdam and The Hague. It is a quaint town with most everything you could need. A butcher, a baker, a fish guy, flower guys on every corner, my guilty pleasure store, HEMA, where I just like to see what new costume jewelry they have or look at their cheap, but nicely displayed makeup, and where I've bought brand new tights for Mia that she refuses to wear. We live a stones throw from the school, but my girls take the bus and  thank goodness, because I'd be showing up at school in my polar bear fleece pajama pants and think nothing of it as I dropped the girls off at school. Bikes are everywhere. Bike paths are immaculate and well marked and have their own stop lights! You have to watch out for steaming piles on the bike paths though.  Horses are often found on the bike paths. Accompanied by riders of course, or just being led. The trees have this whimsical look to them, something I can't capture without an appropriate camera lens, and on a foggy morning, it seems you've walked into the enchanted forest of Narnia. The animals are happy and quiet, aside from the black crows outside my window clucking a chatter of nonsense in the morning. Dogs are oddly all well behaved. Walking without leashes, sniffing, but not barking at each other. They are welcomed in almost ALL restaurants despite their smell or their size. One time I literally thought a large bear cub was at the next table, because the huge brown Tibetan mastiff was literally the size of a human.
The beach is a bike ride away, one I have traveled many times. A beautiful  wide beach that fills to max on a sunny and warm day, a combination that rarely happens  at the same time. The water is frigid, to my American bones, but children and the Dutch don't seem to mind it. I prefer my ocean water to be clear and slightly refreshing. I'm a bit spoiled. I did live in Sicily, after all. On a nice evening the beach restaurants are crowded for sunset watching, and with good company and a beverage of choice, it really doesn't get much better than that.

I realized it has been an entire year since I last blogged. Woops. But looking back at my Intention blog and getting some great feedback, I was reminded I should continue to write, so I pulled up this draft to continue. We are now 12 days away from the movers coming for their first round of packing. CRAP. 12 days. Even though I've done quite a bit of weeding and sorting to move into a slightly smaller home, it still feels like I haven't made any headway.
We did find a house in Belgium! Hooray! After looking at 17 homes, we picked the house that was closest to school. I think it will suit us just fine. The girls are excited, because it comes with a swing set and a yard. Not a huge yard, but one bigger than we have now, where they can actually run full speed.
The whole house hunting process was exhausting. After awhile the houses all look the same, and you really start to nit pick. There were deal breakers in some houses, like no tub, or only a combo microwave/oven. I'm claiming ignorance. I don't know much about them, but with the amount of cooking and baking I do, forget about it. I do have a laundry room, which is exciting, and a large kitchen, and an induction cooktop. This prompted us to buy new pots and pans after nearly 10 years with our current set. Even Josh had been talking about getting new ones, so you know it was really time. Mia will move into a big girl bed, out of the toddler bed, and she gets a whole new comforter set to mark the occasion. How is it my kids are in big girl beds? I know what you're thinking! Time for Libby to have another baby! Let's just put the brakes on that for now shall we?

Despite the excitement I feel in setting up a new home, (I'm nearly a pro) it is very much overshadowed by the fact that I actually have to leave the Netherlands. Not that Belgium is bad or I don't want to go to Belgium, I just really don't want to go anywhere. We have had such an easy transition here. The school is amazing, my friends and the girls friends are top notch, and life is good. It is hard to leave all that for the unknown of what is to come. But as with every move, I trust that God has it all under control, preparing some pretty cool people to be my new friends, and preparing a perfect place for the girls in their new school. Realizing Mia will be in her 3rd school in a year and a half time span, kind of makes my mouth drop and my heart hurt. But it will make her more adaptable, right? I'm praying so. Praying hard for this move from top to bottom. I'm putting on a brave face, when deep down inside, I'm dying to stay. I really am lucky to say that I've left pieces of my heart in so many wonderful places.

I've neglected to send out a Christmas card for the past two years I believe, and one year opted for an Easter card instead. But, by golly, I got it done this year! Finished it last night, updated everyone's address, because it had been so long. We rarely get Christmas cards in the mail anymore, and I don't blame people, our address changes so often, it is hard to keep up. But we do appreciate the birthday cards, and every other piece of mail, because we know it takes a bit of extra effort to get them to us.

I hope to write another blog this month...lots to write about, my upcoming show, Goodbyes, Trip to London, and Christmas.
Until next time,

Ps. Feel free to share this post or any previous posts. That would be neat.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


     A few months back, Josh and I set out to make the upcoming weekend intentional. After reading an article that numbered the Saturdays I had left with my children before they leave the house for college, my eyes were opened to the small amount of time I have to make an impact in their lives before they are on their own making adult decisions and trying to find their own place in the world. I'm so distracted by social media and cleaning my darn house...mostly social media, who am I kidding?!
     I was completely pms-ing and sat crying on the couch pouring my heart out to Josh about how we need to be more attentive, less distracted and more focused on what we were going to teach and pass on to these precious girls in the small amount of time they are on loan to us.
From the start of kindergarten when they ask what you want to be when you grow up, well, I wanted to be a mommy. Along with a rockstar and a nurse. God has charged ME..lowly ole me, but righteous and loved and completely made new in Him, ME to be their rockstar mommy and nurse when needed. I've put more bandages and seen more blood from the dog than the kids at this point, so maybe that was God's way of fufilling my veterinary aspirations which got squashed the minute I had to perform surgery on a rat in college. I digress.

     So I've been gifted this job of mommy and I'll be darn if I'm going to let it pass me by. Hopefully you won't find this completely morbid, but, I want my kids to say things at my funeral that mirror the accolades of the things said at Josh's grandmother's funeral. Man did that lady love Jesus, and she wasn't afraid to tell you that she did, and that He loved you too. Just like Paul the apostle, she wasn't going 
to let it be her fault for YOU not making it into glory, because she wasn't going to let you out of earshot without telling you about her Lord and Savior and she was going to tell you BOLDLY...just like Paul did. She also woke up every morning as her kids were growing up and going to school to make them eggs for breakfast. At first, you may think that may not be that big of a deal and Dang! That is alot of eggs...she had 5 kids. But to her meant something.  My guess is, she was thinking.."God is too great, to waste these precious moments and not show HIS love to these kids before they go off to school. Dont. waste. time. 

     How many times do I get stressed out in the morning, speaking unkindly, harshly, or irrationally, because the world will end if Mallory misses the bus, or her teeth aren't brushed before she goes out the door, or she didn't eat her breakfast quick enough, or didn't get out of bed when I told her too. Or I get frustrated that she forgot to bring her socks downstairs for the 100th time, and she complains again about having to go up to get them, or getting distracted with some toy, when I specifically told her to brush hair and teeth when she was done with breakfast. I'm sure the picture looks the same if not more hectic in your house. If you are calm, cool, and collected every morning getting your kids ready for school, I want to know what you are putting in your coffee, sister! I've been more aware of my attitude that is for sure. In the morning, I try, to the best of my ability to speak calmly, and not be stressed about being late, which we never have been late to school thus far. I hate being late and rushed, but of course, that is usually how it is. Typically, I usually leave enough time to walk her out to the bus, kiss her, tell her to have a great day, and when we have extra time, say a prayer over her before she hops on the bus. Mental note: need to make time for that every day! I don't want to throw those priceless minutes down the drain, because I'm not in control enough of my own emotions, and I resort to the hurry, hurry, and the raised voices. That isn't how I want my baby to head off to school. I want her washed in kindness and love, and jumping on that school bus, covered with the protection of the Almighty. 

So, I was convicted of not being present enough and intentional enough. This particular weekend I write about was all about intention.
Friday night, I had basically thanksgiving dinner on the table when Josh got home from work. This was in early October, mind you.  The girls gushed over how yummy it was and "OHhhhhhh the mashed potatoes!" 

"Mommy, next time..don't put so many potatoes in the mashed potatoes" 
There were a few chunks apparently that were not appreciated. I just appreciated they liked them at all (They were terribly gummy for some reason...probably because my milk went bad and so I didn't add any. OK. I lied...I did add some and then realized the milk was bad. MOTHER OF THE YEAR!. Nobody got sick, just so you know.
We then did a fire pit...the girls' favorite. We only had one piece of wood left over from last weekend's fire pit...but we lit that baby up like the Fourth of July,and roasted marshmallows and made s'mores. 
We have improvised the
S'more here. No graham crackers are available for a decent price,but I found these cinnamon cookies which are oval shaped and don't crumble like graham crackers. Way better if you ask me. Then we proceed to spread nutella on our cinnamon cookies. Best. Smore. Ever. Period. I was present, I was focused. The girls were glowing from the flickering of the fire, but their hearts were glowing too.
S'more Bite!

      Saturday Josh golfed in the morning. I got up with the girls and made family breakfast. Mallory loves family breakfast. Everyone sitting down together eating breakfast. Simple.  But she loves it and requests it. Even before she started kindergarten this year..we would do family breakfast on the weekends. This Saturday's  breakfast consisted of strawberries, cheesy scrambled eggs and fresh baked croissants. While I cleaned up breakfast Mia worked on a puzzle with Mallory, then I asked Mallory if she wanted to do some school work. She almost exploded with enthusiasm. Mallory sat and worked independently on math and science while I cleaned up. After I was done I found the girls working on the puzzle together. I sat to check Mallory's work and called her over to point out some things she missed.Then Mia started whining and complaining about how she wanted to do school work. I got the preschool workbook for Mia. Smarty pants Mallory rocked that 1st grade workbook and learned about liquids and solids and greater and less than. When Mallory finished the things she hadn't done before, I went over the concepts again just to make sure she got them and we practiced counting by 2s 5s and 10s and we covered place value too. I was calm, present and focused. I ran upstairs to shower and Mallory said she would help teach Mia and go through her workbook with her. Mia was doing things like which object is taller,  smaller, shorter...etc. I came down to an exasperated Mallory who said, "Mommy, Mia isn't very good. She keeps drawing lines instead of circling and she just isn't very good at this." Believe it or not...there was probably a time when Mallory wasn't good at it either. :) 

When Josh got home, we headed out to grab lunch on a rare beautiful day. We ate outside at an Italian restaurant where an accordion player serenaded us with his musical stylings and refused to take money. A nice change from those that don't leave until you pay up. We followed lunch with ice cream from their favorite ice cream place...and only ice cream place. :) Josh took Mia with him to get a haircut right where we were in town and Mallory and I went shopping for a birthday present for the party we were attending on Sunday.  I said no to a million requests to get this or that because she NEEDED it. Josh's grandma would have said..."no honey...what you really need is Jesus"

We went without naps this day. We didn't get home to nearly 4. We rested on the couch had a snack and watched a movie. Josh and Mia snuggled on one side, Mallory and I were on the other. There were a few two many requests for goldfish and copious amounts of snacks that were hindering my slumber...which never comes easy, and I may have spoken tersely. No more will be dinner time soon. Dinner was 
Dominoes pizza. We had a coupon :)
The girls gobbled it up...we got baths and did our bedtime which I obliged Mia in reading an extra book and rocking her for a few extra minutes. I was present. I was focused, on that sweet smelling, silky haired, footy pajama'd 3 year old.  I gladly welcomed those extra baby cuddles.

Funny side story. Mia and I were talking about my friends son and how he was going to be a big brother soon. She asked if he was still a baby and I said no..he is getring to be a big boy. "Does he go pee pee on the potty? " You know, because babies don't pee in potties, they pee in diapers. 

"Um I think he is starting to use a potty."
"Well, I use the potty. ..but I'm still a baby,  because I still have baby buns, right?"

Haha. Yes are still my baby...because you are my little baby buns. Nothing cuter than bare baby buns streaking through the house. Amiright?! 

All in all, now that it is December, and I've had this particular blog in the queue for over 2 months. I have to say I have been more aware of the fleetingness of time and the urgency of instilling Godly greatness in our girls (and my marriage) I can't do that with my head glued on Facebook, browsing the news, or plotting my next crafty adventure on Pinterest. 
Make an assessment, whether you have kids or not. Are you distracted from the good stuff in life, the people around you, your relationships, because you are too focused somewhere else? Find balance. Be present.  

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A few thoughts on this kindergarten thing...

Like many other parents, I am preparing to send my first child off to kindergarten in a matter of days. I have seen so many other mommies (mostly) posting on Facebook and other news related articles popping up regarding this subject. There are tons of tidbits on advice on how to prepare your child and how to keep from losing all your marbles and looking like a big cry baby on the first day. 

I am very bipolar on this major life event. One part of me is jumping for joy. I know I'll get to spend some one on one quality time with my almost 3 year old, who still naps. And you know what that means?! Mommy time! For things like working out, working on organizing my digital photos, writing my blog, running my home businesses, and maybe showering. I also know that my kindergartener is more than prepared for this big year. She can read, write, do some basic math, shares most of the know...kindergarten stuff. She can't tie shoes yet, but like all the articles I've read, I'm taking their advice. Ever hear of Velcro?
 On the other end of the spectrum...well, it isn't as pretty. It is actually kind of messy, drippy with tears, a little angry, disappointed even. I'm getting real here. 
The common feeling of 'boohoo, my baby is going to school' is there, sure. But I am also dreading getting her to bed at a decent hour every night, and getting two, very picky dressers ready to go out the door for our mere 10 minute walk to school, in probably what will be rain about 80 % of the time. We live in the Nethrrlands, you know? The younger one is especially picky. This kid changes her clothes at least 4 times a day! Now, after all my research, I have anticipated this dilemma and have a plan, for the older one at least. I may need to implement this for the younger one if necessary.
The plan: a hanging organizer with 6 slots. One for each day of the week and one extra. On Sunday evening, we will, together, pick out 5 outfits and place one in each slot. Now, to empower and still give the power of choice, I am going to tell her that she can choose any outfit from any one of the slots for the days outfit for school. Now if I could get away with taking the youngest one in footie pajamas every day, that would be awesome, but chances are she is going to want to wear something just like her sister, even if she isn't getting out of the little bike pod I have so cleverly purchased to cart them to and from school. Maybe I can make up time getting to school after wardrobe meltdowns, by pedaling really fast! I also know Mia, is going to miss her big sister and I am going to miss how they keep eachother occupied and entertained for hours on end. I'm not really going to miss tearing them apart when they've had enough of eachother. 
     I am also a bit angry about this whole school thing. I'm angry because, this kindergarten thing is going to take my baby and change her. She is going to grow up so quickly and learn at the speed of light, and that ain't right people! 
I'm disappointed. For quite sometime, I thought and prayed long and hard about homeschooling. I figured I couldn't screw kindergarten up for a kid who is already reading chapter books and spelling things out to me so her little sister doesn't understand. 
"Momma, can I have some B-u-b-b-l (pause) -e?" I nod
" I can?!" 
" No, I was just saying yes to the "e" not to the 'b-u-b-b-l-e g-u-m." 

I wanted to be able to travel and take advantage of our living situation here in Northern Europe, and not have to worry about pulling her out of school. I remember it being pretty strict when I was in school and my parents wanted to take us to Disney, or the Bahamas. I'll never forget the solemn, disapproving head hang my geometry teacher gave me for going on a vacation the week before finals. She was just jealous.
Now I know it is slightly different in elementary school, but I still hear horror stories about taking your kids out of school and it will be especially different at a private school in which you PAY to go to their school. I also wanted to just be able to be home with her another year or two. I'm pretty sure I'd screw up from 3rd grade on. My art skills haven't progressed since then, and I'm not sure much else has either. 
     With the small amount of research that we did do to look into making this happen this year, there were more closed doors  than open windows. And everything seemed to be saying it wasn't going to happen. So, needless to say I'm a little down about that, but excited for her as she is going to get access to lots of things I couldn't provide for her and if I did, it would take a lot of work and energy, and I do mean a lot, to giver her the same opportunities she is going to have at this great school. Even the opportunity to build up her immune system. I don't look forward to the runny noses, fevers, and doctor visits that I know come along with being around other germy little people all day. There is nothing worse than a sick child.

Speaking of germs, we had an appointment with the school counselor and the school nurse so we could all meet them and feel comfortable should the time come we needed assistance from either one of them. We took our seats in the elementary sized chairs at the kidney shaped table in the counselor's office, equipped with a laptop and a box of tissues. Germs! Those must be for the sneezy ones, I thought. Where is my hand sanitizer?
A weird feeling washed over me as we walked in. I've been to counselors before, mostly when my parents divorced, so I put on my best counsel-ee hat and let her ask the questions and let Mallory answer. 
Reading from our child inquiry form we had filled out, the counselor says in a sweet, motherly, smiley, voice, with her eyebrows raised really high,
"So Mallory, I hear you like to dance and sing and that you love to read! Is that right?" 

I stared at my baby girl, tears filling my eyes as she began to have a very adult conversation about singing and dancing to Frozen and her love of reading.
I did the whole eye widening thing, trying to give my tears more room to go, trying to buy some time before they eventually fell from my eyes to my cheeks. Then it occurred to me........DANG IT! Now I know why those tissues are there, and I WILL NOT grab one. Maybe I'm not the only one who has come in here a blubbering mess. The counselor asks me a question. What exactly, I don't remember. But I look up. Eyes all watery, can't see a thing and stumble through an answer. I also happened to look at Josh, and he too looked a little glassy eyed. 

I confirmed with Josh that he would be coming with me to take Mallory to school on her first day. He assured me that of course, he would be there. I know Mallory will appreciate him being there, but I'll certainly need him to hug me after she leaves. I'll also need dark sunglasses, and waterproof mascara. Maybe I should go see the counselor :)

In these weeks leading up to school, I've been more aware of the conversations and behavior going on around the house. Things that may seem funny and innocent at home, might be taken...ummmmmm, the wrong way. Here are a few examples. 

1. We teach proper body part names mostly. One Mallory loudly proclaims is Nipple. We talk about how I nursed both her and her sister and how that works, and we've talked about cow udders being nipples for baby cows and that is where milk comes from. She gladly points hers AND mine out, as casually as she would say," momma you have Ears! Ears, ears ears, ear, ear, ears!" in a sing song voice. Now replace ears with Nipples. Now you know why I am a bit nervous. Ha!

I can hear the conversations in kindergarten now....
Mallory might say or do....... And here is why.
1." Well, my mommy and daddy are naked ALL the time"
She might say this because, she sees us naked for one, and two, the one day we were both naked in the hallway outside of her room. "Why are you both naked?" She questioned with a grimace. 
"Uhhhh....well mommy was about to get in the shower and daddy hadn't got dressed yet, and the hot water wasn't working so daddy came up to show me where to go to push the button for the hot water to work, and we are That is why." True story. 
2. "Poop scoop!" "Crapuela!" "Crapballs"  "crapbuckets"
These things may or may not come out of her mouth. I don't usually say "bad words" and most certainly never in front of my children, but this is what I DO say instead. Im not sure what would be worse, MY curse words or the real four letter words.
3. Mallory will be hanging upside down off her chair with her feet on the table in the cafeteria at school. Every kid does this at the dinner table right? We don't condone it, and we most certainly tell her to sit up and keep her buns in her chair, but despite our best efforts, she ends up hanging upside down which then for some reason the force she exerts to sit back up straight in her chair, pushes out a toot or a string of toots, to which she then starts giggling uncontrollably, because the sound they make reverberating off the wooden chair, well you just can't help but laugh at those. And again, although we do not condone farting at the dinner table, it happens. I hide my face behind my hand and try not to laugh as well, but encourage her to excuse herself if she must pass wind and to at least say 'excuse me.'  We had the conversation, that although that might be funny at home, other kids may find that gross, so we should be respectful and try to keep our tooting to bathroom areas, or cough loudly to cover up the noise. Haha. Just kidding. 

Are any embarrassing things coming to mind that your child may blurt or do at school, I'd love to hear them! 
Best of luck to all of you moms and dads out there doing the back to school thing. Hang on it is going to be a wild ride!

Until next time, 
Ps. I promise the next blog will have pictures, and maybe even cute back to school pictures from a very creative photo shoot I have up my sleeve! Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The move!

July 28, 2014

I am preparing to move to the "Neverlands" as my girls once called it. I've got one suitcase maxed out and packed and 5 more to go! For those that wonder why in the heck am I moving...AGAIN.....? 
In short, we move for Josh's job. He is an engineer and is on a team working on a project being engineered in the Netherlands and built/constructed in Belgium. So, you know what that means? Ill tell you. It means another move! So don't be totally surprised in about a year, when I say we are house hunting and moving to Belgium.  :)

Back to the suitcase issue. If I were to take a picture of the contents of some of my would totally scream "EXPAT" 
Here are some necessities found in my suitcase, usually in large quantities.
Goldfish crackers: to keep the kids happy
Dry roasted edamame, protein bars, and a stock ton of Herbalife products and Tastefully Simple Seasonings : to keep me happy
Crafty stuff: because it is cheaper in the US and I'm planning a killer 6th birthday party for Mallory and Halloween costumes.
2 complete new children's wardrobes: because it is cheaper and Mallory starts Kindergarten.
Mia's birthday presents, all Frozen themed of course
Toothpaste, deodorant,face wash, mascara: Usually, I use these things daily, and I like what I like.
The scrub daddy. Get one and then you'll understand. 
Shout color catchers, because washing machines are super small and take forever and sometimes if you need those jeans washed, you throw them in with your whites.  Gasp...I would never do that. But whites and mediums, I might have to succumb to my mothers pressure, that mediums are whites. I have a bit of OCD about doing laundry.
Turkey gravy packets: because I know my kids will never starve because they'll always eat Turkey Stoup as we call it. 
Candles, candles, candles....I may have a problem.

Just a glimpse into my suitcase. 

What is an expat?
An expat is short for expatriate. Someone who leaves all that is familiar and goes to a place where you have no family, no friends. the food is different, the clothing styles different, the language different, schools are different, customs are different. Most everything is different.

As an expat, though not nearly as experienced and travelled as some, I've come to learn, that your new friends become your family, you learn the language, and learn to love the food, even picking up a few new recipes along the way and you adopt the customs and they become a prt of you forever. 


Ok, so I'm on a plane now headed for London with our final stop being Amsterdam.  We're all fancy in Business class with reclining seats and all the wine we can drink, champagne and caviar too....seriously. Now before you go all believing that we really are fancy...the company "makes" us fly business class when making our initial relocation. We don't have to pay for it, thankfully. For elective trips home for vacations and things, it is on us, and you better believe we are flying coach with the rest of the "coach folk". 
Hot towel?...why yes please. Are we arriving on sshhhhhhedual? Fantastic....time for tea? Fabulous. 
These girls of mine.  It isn't me spoiling them. But Mallory says . "Mommy where are the bags they give us on the airplane? She is of course referring to the spa bags complete with socks, Chapstick, lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, collagen firming lotion for all of her wrinkles, ear plugs and sleep mask. " Mommy on our next airplane can we lay down too?" 
"No, honey. We will have regular seats on the next airplane because it is a smaller plane. 
For dinner, my lavish menu says we have Filet of beef or seared flounder both with some sort of brandy Demi glaze I'm sure, or black truffle risotto.  I wasn't looking to closely....I b lined for the wine list. 

It seems we have come out of our jet lag fog. Up at the usual hour 7:45 am instead of the 11 am we have been averaging the past two days. The girls are entertained with all of their toys. Yesterday we went to the beach, and my sweet little Mia braved the sand. She put her hands in it and everything. She is getting used to it.  Previously, she woldnt let so much as a big toe touch the sand! The beach is very close to us, just a 10 minute drive maybe. We can even ride our bikes there. It is a nice big wide stretch of beach. The water isn't clear like my girls are accustomed to. Mia was born Italy, what do you expect?! She has seen so e of the most beautiful beaches. The water didn't bother them, just me. Luckily, I was cold rather than hot and didn't need to get in to cool off. I too, am a clear water snob. Next time we go back, we are doing it right and taking our sport-Brella to block the wind and a full days worth of food, so the girls can just play and play. Oh and the travel potty. The potette plus potty is the best. It has these absorbent litte trash bags you attach to it and them just toss. An adult could use it in a real pinch if need be! It can also be used on regular toilets. It folds flat and fits in a backpack, great for the car, or as we will also find the Beach!  Pretty cool to live so close to the beach. 

So I probably failed to mention any mind blowing moving stories. One reason being, I wasn't there for the actual move in day. My wonderful hubby orchestrated the whole thing! Well, lets not give him ALL the credit. Haha. I did send him with a floor plan and where I wanted things placed, and what room was what. Despite all of his awesomeness, there is still a ton to be done. Boxes of clothes that I had previously organized and put away for the girls because they were too small unpacked and just laid in piles. Not Josh's fault, the movers were doing their job and unpacking boxes. So now I have piles of clothes all over the place and now very disorganized because Mia went through every pile today and smelled each piece of clothing and then insisted I do the same. I let her continue, because I was trying to get Mallory's clothes put away and she was distracted....for a LONG time. There were a lot of clothes to sniff. 
We had quite a few things broken on this move, and one thing missing, then found. 
Lots of picture frames were busted, a wedding gift from a good friend was broken, Mia's dresser was in shambles, a very nice piece of original artwork and the glass was broken and the artwork scratched from the glass, oh and we had a missing queen sized mattress. 

Now this is peculiarly annoying for multiple reasons. 
1. How do you misplace a queen sized mattress?
2. European sized mattresses are different sizes than American now we have an American queen box spring and headboard/footboard, but no queen mattress. Anything that we get will be smaller than the queen box spring we have. 
3. The mattress was a NICE mattress, not ourTempurpedic, for which I am ever so thankful! But the mattress was 8 years old, but only used for 5 years, and was in perfect condition and was our comfy guest bed.

I keep thinking of how I am going to work this out in getting a new mattress, what we do with the box spring, do we store the box spring and just get a whole new European mind is in overdrive. Then we get word the mattress has been found and is en route for delivery. Yay...I don't have to think about those things anymore and thank goodness, Because I was getting nowhere fast with a solution.

Then...we get an email that the mattress is undeliverable because it isn't in useable condition. Are you serious?! Now I'm back to square one. 

We do get reimbursed for our material losses, but not for our loss of sleep or time spent de-conundruming these conundrums. 
Still don't know what we are going to do. My sister is coming to visit in a few short weeks and we do have other guest accommodations thankfully, but we will need to figure all this out soon. I foresee a trip to IKEA on the horizon. 

The house is awesome sauce. I already love and it doesn't even have air conditioning. This is very typical of the  Netherlands. It just doesn't quite get hot enough to warrant AC. The days are beautiful though, temperature wise. It rains quite a bit from what I hear, but over the past few days there hasn't been any rain, except for one evening while we were sleeping. That is the best time for it to rain if you ask me. 

We have plenty or room for guests (once we get the guest room bed thing figured out) or you may need to travel with your own aerobed.....we provide the box spring! 
We have quite a bit of space and really a peaceful back garden. The house is open and bright and it really is just perfect. It is the only place that our awkwardly shaped sectional would fit. I have a love hate relationship with my couch. It really has held up nicely over all these years and moves, two kids and a dog, so I can't complain. 

Here are a few pictures....

"Tot Ziens" for now! (Goodbye in Dutch)
Stay tuned for the summer prequel.....
Thanks for reading and sharing.