Tuesday, July 28, 2009

everything must go!

a question we often asked ourselves when trying to plan our big move back to the states was, "what are we going to do with all our stuff?"

when we moved to the netherlands in 2006, we were fortunate to be able to put most of our things in storage, and to leave our car at bob and rae's. we kept our american bank account open, and we asked adam's folks to forward our mail to us. easy.

but when we moved back from europe, we weren't sure how to handle it. i mean, we can't really put our things in storage -- we're almost certainly never moving back there, so why keep our stuff there? and what do we do about our mail? and can we keep our bank account? how do we do this?

well, we knew we didn't want to bring all of our ikea furniture with us -- what would be the point of shipping cheap stuff? and with all the garage sales taking place right when we move back, we might be able to get something nice for way cheaper than the cost of shipping things back anyway. so a few weeks before we moved, we sent out a big ol' email letting everyone we knew that we were selling our crap, and that if they wanted to come to our going away party they were going to have to bring an empty box, and leave with it full of our stuff.

and they really took us seriously! by the time the party was over, we had sold ALL of our furniture, our fridge, our washing machine, and all of our kitchen stuff -- dishes, spoons, trays, everything! at the end of the day, the only things left in our house were the boxes we were shipping, our bed, gracie's bed, and some random things in drawers. most things were able to be carried down the steps, but not the couch -- our stairs are so narrow and windy that in order to get our couch down (and the same way we got it up in the first place), we had to remove part of our back fence, walk onto the neighbor's property, and lower the couch down over the side of the wall. good thing we had a lot of tall dutch men to help us, because we were able to do it without a rope this time -- those long arms and legs must be an evolutionary advantage out there where many places require furniture to be lifted in and out through windows when moving :-)

after the party (and sale!) we went out to dinner and ice cream with a couple of our neighbors, and came home to a sadly empty house. we finished our packing (about 40 boxes in all) and sat out on our bedroom balcony, gazing one last time at the spires of the church and city hall, sitting on towels, and reflecting on the last three years. it was very bittersweet.

the next day, we woke up very early in order to be ready for the moving companies that were coming. one moving company was going to take our boxes and bed, and ship them back to the usa. (in fact, i think they're somewhere on the ocean as i type this.) the other moving company was coming to take anything that we weren't shipping -- they took all the leftover toys, books, clothes, and even the wads of tinfoil stuck in drawers. they took it all!

gracie and i stayed out of the chaos -- she actually had her last consultatieburo appointment that day, so we took the bus, went to the pediatrician, and came home to a completely empty house. adam stuck around to supervise the movers, which i was glad for because watching our memories disappear in boxes and trucks would have been too painful for me to watch.

we had lunch across the street from our house, checked into a hotel, and went back for a well-needed nap.

later that evening, i met up with some friends in order to clean up the house. they were soooo generous with their time! adam and gracie picked up some pizzas and aimee and josine brought some beer, and all of us sat around on the bare floor having some grub before we got to work. then we broke out the tunes and brooms and got busy!

federica and gracie did the floors.

paul scrubbed my toilet WITHOUT A TOILET BRUSH! (the movers took it! what a good friend he is!)

aimee vacuumed. (and i think she scrubbed a toilet without a brush too! don't i have the greatest friends ever?!)

marije cleaned my bathroom

josine did the bedrooms

and i had the saddest job of all: wiping gracie's sticky fingerprints off of the windows. it was SOOOO SAD! it was like wiping away our memory from our house. our house, with SO MANY good memories there... every corner of that house held a memory for us: i looked at the pillar in the kitchen, and remembered all the family dinners that ended with adam jumping behind it and back out again, playing a really rowdy game of peekaboo with a giggling gracie. or the front step, where gracie would sit to excitedly put on her shoes before going to the park or the market or to church. the bathtub, when adam and i sat on the edge, reading the positive results from a pregnancy test, wondering what the future would hold, simultaneously terrified and thrilled. gracie's yellow room, which adam painted himself in preparation for our baby, where we rocked gracie to sleep during countless sleepless nights, where the sun came pouring in the windows during those first two weeks of her life. the windows in the living room, where gracie would stand for hours, slapping on the glass, waving to passers-by, squealing with delight whenever the streetsweeper or the garbage truck would drive past. the radiator, right next to the window, where she first learned to pull herself up in order to look out of said windows. the stairs, where she learned to climb them at only 9 months old, and where she would say "baps!" (that means "step") whenever she was about to begin her ascent. our bedroom, where gracie took her first breath, when we first held her in our arms, with my mom, the midwives, and adam there to support me as i pushed our child into the world. so. many. GOOD. memories.

and that was the hardest thing, really: saying goodbye to our house. because i know we'll see hengelo again. and i'm certain i will see my friends again too. but we will never see the inside of our house, ever ever ever again. our house with the market outside. our house that never needed a clock because the church bells kept time for us. our house above the little jewelry store, in our little dutch village, during our three enchanted years abroad. i miss it terribly. i cry when i think about our house, and how we will never be able to share another laugh or another family meal within its drafty, cozy walls. oh.

i know we are on the right path, going to texas to begin a new chapter in our lives. i know this is the right decision, and i have faith that we will succeed in our new hometown. i know we will make friends and that we will find a lovely little home to create new memories in. but still, i'm sad to leave hengelo. i'm homesick already...

Friday, July 17, 2009

saying goodbye to the girls

about 9 months ago, i started kicking it with the cool girls. it's difficult to find ONE good girlfriend, but to suddenly be bff's with a whole GROUP of girls -- well, that's downright miraculous!

i don't even know how it all started. i think we just kind of all knew of each other through various connections, and one night decided that we better all formally meet (since we had heard so much about each other already), get dressed up and go out to dinner somewhere fancy. and ever since then, we've been inseparable. (well, up until now when i moved, that is... waaah!)

birthday parties, moving parties, random drinking extravanganzas... any excuse we can make up to go out and get awesome!

there are far too many pictures from our past events to publish in one blog entry, but suffice it to say that the girls have kept me BUSY and surrounded me with love this past year. it has been TERRIBLY difficult to say goodbye to them, especially since they're all so hott. ;-) what keeps me going is knowing that they're all in academia, and fortunately academia creates MANY opportunities for one to travel to other universities for networking, conferences, etc. i pray fervently that these girls will have a chance to come to texas to work with adam and to play with me. i visualize me and gracie coming back to holland with adam for various work meetings, so that i can reconnect with the girls again. i miss them all so much!

to properly say farewell, we organized one final girls-night-out at a surprisingly expensive italian restaurant near my house. (oops! maybe i should have looked at the menu beforehand...) mostly i wanted to go there for the ice cream, which CONSISTENTLY wins awards every year for the BEST ice cream in the netherlands. all the girls were there, and we sat in the back terrace under grape vines and the open sky. the service was TERRIBLE, but at least it meant that we got to hang out for hours at a time just drinking wine and eating ice cream! nothing wrong with that!!!

after dinner we headed to our favorite girls-night-out pub, de appel, and drank wine and duvel beer and were WAY too rowdy and obnoxious. we've been to de appel a couple of times before, and the last time we had been there we actually closed the place down -- in the middle of the week! seriously! the bartender finally came out and gave us our bill, and we looked around and EVERYONE was gone, and aimee REALLY had to use the toilet before she biked all the way home, but the bartender had locked all the doors and wouldn't let her in cuz he was TIRED and wanted to go home! haha!

(note to future employers/lenders who might be reading this blog to get more background information on me: this is WAY out of the ordinary for me. now that i have a child i am almost always asleep by 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., and i never have more than a couple of drinks in a night. i don't know what got into me that evening -- i guess it was just a great girls-night-out!)

anyway, i am SAAAAD to say goodbye to everyone. they have really made my last year in hengelo amazing. they have supported me in so many ways and have made me feel at HOME in hengelo (something i didn't feel until only this past year). i pray that i find another group of homegirls to connect with when we move to denton in a few weeks. i know no one will be able to replace the love and friendship i have shared with my holland girls, but i do hope i can find a group like this one to befriend. but really, don't we all? a bunch of hott girlz who are funny, intelligent, and know how to rock it? seriously -- i think we're all looking for a group like that!

going away party

the following is an email that adam wrote to his parents after his department at UT threw us all a going-away party.


The bowling party was really a lot of fun. We arrived just 5 mins late, but the whole department was there already having a great time with some warm-up bowling. There are just 4 lanes at this place - we rented two of them, but no one else was there so we had the whole space to ourselves. There was a very nice man in charge and he kept bringing us drinks from the bar. Gracie was over-joyed and overwhelmed by the experience - lots of noise from the crashing pins and everybody screaming and cheering. She mostly stood by the ball-return machine and pointed at the balls as they came back up the chute. And she clapped along and danced when people cheered for a good performance. But she did bowl a few times with Amber...she even got a spare! She was a very good girl and did not get in anybody's way. She also liked that it involved putting shoes on and taking shoes off!

There were so many of us that we only got about 5 or 6 full frames in before we had to go to dinner - but at that point our team (the world) was ahead of the other team (the Netherlands) so we got to stand at this cheezy podium that the worker guy brought out of the back somewhere to have our picture taken. I also won first place in the individual competition with a whopping 53 points after 5 frames. Not the best bowling bunch, but still it was an honor and fitting that I should come out on top.

Dinner was also fantastic - very slow traditional Dutch dinner that started at about 6 and finished with coffee at about 10. It was upstairs at a special outdoor seating area at the Twee Wezen, which is really quite the classy place. We had drinks and salads or soups to start (I had the french onion - excellent), then Philip made some nice remarkes about me...even read an old e-mail I sent him when I first learned about the job and contacted him to express my interst in it (so over three years ago). I also made a few comments as did Amber. They presented us with some touching gifts - especially nice was a traditional Twents wooden sculpture that hangs on the sides of farm houses to ward off evil spirits. Hans and Tiny were there from Utrecht and it was so nice to see them - Tiny gave us beautiful Delft blue tile with the image of a man sitting on a barrel eating hering...echt Nederlands! It was actually her grandmother's...so a family heirloom..how thoughtful and kind of them. So cool.

Amber and MG actually had to head home before the main course as it was 8 already! But MG had already had her meal come early thanks to Amber's foresight and she had some french fries and a bit of her hamburger - she also got some toys from the department - a nice little box with a clasp and some farm animals and a little book about the netherlands. I had the spare ribs, which were delectible...could compete with TX I am sure...and a huge TX-style portion too. Then we finished with some sparkling wine and three dessert trays filled with a variety of little ice cream thingies, each tray had a flaming, sparking roman-candle-like thing on it for the initial presentation. Whoa. At the end of the night, I picked up Amber's salmon, which they boxed-up for me to take home to her. The whole thing was free for us - paid for by the department.

It was a fantastic night...sure is going to be hard to leave this place. So many wonderful memories, so many friendships, such a charming, enchanted piece of the earth. We are off to the South of Europe tommorrow...poor us!
love you -

we moved!

as i type this, i am sitting on a recliner in the living room of my parents-in-law. in colorado springs.

we're back!

so much has happened, i don't even know where to begin...

um. let's start here: we're moving to denton, TX. right now we're in colorado. we just left hengelo yesterday. i'm tired.

this is my third attempt at this blog entry, trying to explain how everything went down and what happens next. but there's honestly TOO MUCH to tell all at once. so i'm going to break it down for you and feed it to you in smaller bites. maybe that will be easier for ME to process.

long story short: adam had a three-year post doc at the university of twente. that's what brought us out here. er... there. out there. to holland. his contract is expiring in september, and we really wanted to move back home to the usa to be closer to our families. he interviewed for a job back in november, and was offered a position at the university of north texas in denton, TX (just north of dallas), and that begins august 15. so we decided to hit the road early so as to have a little bit of time to relax and readjust to life in america before we took off again to start househunting in our new town.

now we're here in colorado springs, and it wasn't easy to get to this point... lots of cleaning, packing, moving, shipping, flying, crying... but we're here, we're excited for the new road ahead of us, and we feel optimistic for our future in texas. read on to hear about each event that brought us to this point over the last month or so...