Going Home





Going Home


Five years ago a twist of fate was put right into our path of life, a company from The Netherlands was recruiting my husband and they were pushing pretty hard. We did all sorts of research, asked family and close friends how everyone felt about us leaving and moving overseas, and consulted with our three children. Really we left our fate up to our 15 year old daughter. We would be pulling her out of her high school and moving her around the world where the people speak a language she’d never been exposed to and to people she had never  met. Two of our girls were already in college and wanted to stay in the US to finish up their schooling. Our littlest one cried for about a half hour then said.... Let’s Go!
Amy's first class trip ~ Barcelona!
It was this courageous little girl who would march off to Europe with her eyes wide open, while her Mommy tried to hold onto her hand a little longer. Her bravery helped me to overcome my fear and jump on board this amazing opportunity in our lives.


So on a summer day, actually the 4th of July, our family left for a new life journey.  My family would spend the next 5 years being ever so grateful for the opportunity we had to live and really explore Europe. And as the song above makes you feel... it was a fabulous ride!  I jumped in with my eyes wide open and my heart ready to embrace all. Along the way I met some amazing people. Trying my best to be a part of my new community, I wiggled my way right into their lives and let them change mine forever.

Nico, who owned the dry cleaner I took my husband’s shirts to, was the funniest tough guy. He was gruff and didn’t want to speak to me in English. Well, a guy can only take so many smiles, pleases and thank you’s before he’s gonna crack. Yep... under that gruff exterior was a man who was kind, funny, giving and always willing to help me with my Dutch. I swear I could count change backwards before I could even count forwards. My favorite surprise was when I received a Christmas card from him in Texas.  And the funniest story was when I was in the States, my husband went to the dry cleaners to pick up his shirts. Well, speaking in English he tried to explain that he had forgotten the slip to be able to pick up his shirts. NO Nico told himl. Spreek Enges! Todd fumbled with his Dutch and Nico just gruffed at him. Then Todd told him, my wife Lisa usually picks up my shirts. Well..... said Nico that’s different!!!! You are Lisa’s Man! Big smiles all around. hahahahThank you Nico for being my first friend.

My friends at the market.... especially the manager who force fed Drop to me and my friend Trevor once he heard we had never had it.

(Totally Disgusting)  


My very favorite neighbors... ever! Rob and Evelyn, they not only share a love for each other and their family, they love traveling the world. They are truly living life! Thank you for being such a kind guide post in my life.









Kirby and Murphy from the flower shop that I visited each week.




And Corine and the girls from my favorite clothing store in town.

My favorite hair stylist ~ Joop

Evelyn from Sligro

My friends who took amazing care of our fur babies Dirk and Bear when Mommy and Daddy would travel. Their home was our boys second home <3 Kempisch Dierenpension. John and Ria thank you so very much!!


Daan and Didi who were our first landlords but more than that, our first friends. Welcoming us not only to their home but showing us around our new city. Where to shop, where to get whatever and our first call if we needed help. Your kindness and generosity will never be forgotten. Thank you.



So many I could go on and on but collectively they made my stay welcoming and helped me make The Netherlands a home.

People who when I would ride by on my bike would smile, wave and stop me for a conversation... in English of course.

I got so lucky with our two homes that we rented. Our first home in Eindhoven. We rented our landlords childhood home. So we tenderly did our best to watch over her. We loved that house. My favorite part was that Amy’s bedroom was on the 3rd floor.... we called it the Princess Tower. The house overlooked a beautiful park with many lakes. So many memories of walking my dogs around those lakes. Just stunning!!

Our second house I loved not only for the beautiful home but also because I was able to become a part of the small village of Leende. There were parades that would come marching down the street, people would honk their horns when we dressed our hippopotamuses for the different holidays. And when Amy graduated from the International school we had the typical American graduation party.

Amy


All of her sisters and brothers flew over along with her grandma and her grandpa for the big event. We hung both flags outside with Amy’s backpack hanging from the flag pole indicating that we had a graduate. People honked as they drove past. It was just so nice to feel part of the community.

When we moved to The Netherlands, I was a complete emotional wreck. Yes, it was an exciting time, but I was leaving two of my children in the States. Some people when they move to another country take just their clothes and rent furniture and stuff. Me.... I took almost everything. I was creating a home away from home.  I was going to need a few familiar things. When the kids all came over for a visit, they were not just coming to Europe for a vacation. They were coming to Mom and Dad’s. They were coming home. And waiting for them were the furniture they had grown up with, bedrooms they were used to and our dogs and their sister.
The Fam Bam

My favorite Kissing Dutch Couple (Grandma and Grandpa)

Kevin and Sarah heading into Eindhoven for a date.

Marie, Daniel and I in Berlin at the Christmas Markets

Ahhh Paris


A little photo bombing in Delft

Love in Paris

Pushed her way past all the tourist for a selfie with the Mona Lisa


Everyone truly loved having a home in The Netherlands and a home in the States. It kind of made us all feel better knowing the separation would not last forever. After Amy graduated from the ISE (International School of Eindhoven), she left with her sisters and brothers to go back to America. I think I cried for 6 months. But the separation became much easier as I knew she was in love with her University. I will forever have the memories of our time together with all of my children in The Netherlands


I cannot fully explain the amazing people we met that became our friends. Friends that were all thrown into this same kind of experience at the same time. Some friends leaving before me and some that are still there. The only word I have is, blessed. It’s like the stars all aligned at the right time.
Making chocolate
Sam, Ruxi and I doing Halloween the right way
Marja... the essence of kindness


Silka, my German born, American raised met in The Netherlands but now living back in Germany friend. Thank you for all your hard work on the Stolperstiens and for sharing your story with me.



Group hug! Maurice, Nancy and I.

My crew... we had just watched the Dutch airmen do their stunt tricks and we decided we were leaving the next day for Luxemburg to visit Patton's grave. Apparently  also in the middle of all those biers on the table I bought a wine barrel table It's stunning!!
Lori, Joe, Jonathon, Me and Todd



Carla, my most hysterical, loving loyal friend who could take Martha Stewart on in a hostess matchoff! *is that even a thing? hahaha
7 women, 7 hearts, 7 souls.... these women are my soul... laughter, love, lots and lots of wine and good food and a lifetime of memories. Never will I forget the bond we all hold and cherish. We may be all scattered around the world now but love holds us together. Angelica, Ruxi, Carla, Ana, Patrice and our beautiful Kim.


Robert turned 50 so of course he should be surrounded by beautiful women!
Ruxi, me, Robert, Ana and Angelica (where the heck was Carla?)
Spooky night with friends... Ruxi, Patrice, me, Jessica and Jane
Christina and I at Bierfest in Brussels... fabulous event and so much fun with friends!

Carla and I enjoying a little glass during another fab party.
My Cultural Club friends toasting to another amazing event.. the Mauritshuis in The Hague. From left.. Yvonne, Olivia, Linda, Colleen, Kim, Meredith and Jessica.


During my time in The Netherlands, I met the most amazing, intelligent women that really touched me and helped to shape the woman I am today. Friends that showed me how to be brave and explore the world. Women who were more than happy to have an impromptu trip to Belgium or Germany just to shop or have lunch.  
Ruxi and I on our way to see The Girl with the Pearl Earing  at the Mauritshuis in The Hague since 1902.


Linda and I attempting our first Carnival.. and discovering we were quite good at it!




Girls trip to Tuscany... Florence, Vienna and Pisa
Carrie, Linda, me and Megan

Girls gone wild otherwise known as Ana's Birthday party!




IWCE Coffee Morning group. Always a lot of fun!!



Linda and I in Florence


Me with Carla.. I think King's Day (I'm in Orange)

Sleep over with my girls. Girls really never grow up, we just find more fascinating things to talk about and have better make up and champagne. But the truth is women need each other. It's very empowering to have other women in your life. And these are the women I pick.


Carrie and I bussing to the wine vineyard in Tuscany for a little lunch and wine.

Ruxi and Alex's last night... the gathering of friends to say goodbye. Matthew, Arno, Carla, Linda me,Alex.


Me and Megan in Florence.


Let's make cheese!


4th of July celebration in The Netherlands with my American friends!
Christine, Linda, Jessica, Me, Sam


The most amazing trip with friends to Champagne,  France. Love, bonding, laughter and lots and lots of champagne. Jane, Christine, Kathy, Me, Amy, Monica, Jessica and Meredith.


A little glass of vino? Ruxi, Angelica and me.

Ruxi and I off to see the Witches Weigh Station



 me Becky and Megan in Postel, Belgium... just having lunch


 Saying goodbye to our Megan... Olivia, me, Carrie, Wendy, Megan and Linda
Fab shoes made by Carrie!



 Celebrating International Women's Day with fabulous women!
me, Ruxi, Linda, and Katja


 Saying goodbye to our good friends
me, Todd, Pete, Kelly



 Christmas marketing in Monschau, Germany
Kelly, Linda, Me, Jennifer, Hope, Megan


Maurice and I lunching in Leende


Ruxi and I celebrating friendship



Fabulous trips lovingly planned to go to Italy and France making memories to last a lifetime. Countless nights gathered with friends with a glass of wine and the most fabulous dinner. My American friends that already knew how important it was to be able to gather for Halloween, Thanksgiving and even the 4th of July. You can take the girl out of America but you can’t take the American out of the girl.


Having friends in a foreign land is an amazing experience but so is having your friends come over from America to visit. Our family was blessed to have several of our friends come over for a visit or just to say they were passing through and wanting to meet up.
Sarah biking around Eindhoven.


Cheryl and I in Postel, Belgium


Dawn, me and Beth in Amsterdam!


Dawn and I in Rome

Scott and Trevor in Normandy

Todd and Chris in London


me and Kathy in London



Amy and Peyton getting some puppy love.

C
Cheryl and I cursing around Amsterdam.

Mark and I meeting up before I got to go to the concert to see him play with Barbara Streisand.
The perfect night

Karen and I drinking Belgium beer in Postel, Belgium. My favorite place.

Selena and I enjoying a moment away from the puppy. The mommies were tired. Selena brought me Dirk, all the way from Texas. He is the best little boy! It's cause he has two mama's


Fam Bam just sitting around the table chatting. Peyton, Trevor, Kevin, Sarah, Amy



Sarah and I cruising in Amsterdam and somehow ended up being IN the Gay Pride Parade. That was kind of fun!!


Scott and Dawn in Rome at the Vatican



Not only did it make my stay in The Netherlands so incredible, I loved being able to show my friends the beauty of Europe. There really is such a difference of traveling through Europe staying at hotel after hotel and being able to take your friends to your favorite places you have discovered over time. And then at night bring them home to the comfort of your home. We are beyond blessed and thankful for those special times with family and dear friends.



But, our time in The Netherlands has come to a close. We are already Stateside, making our way slowly back into the American culture. And yes, there is culture shock on both sides. I remember when arriving in The Netherlands all the many differences and questions of why in the world people would be doing things so differently. But now I’m back here wondering the same questions. I wonder why more people aren’t biking or walking and really wish America would take the care to bring cities together to build more community togetherness. Instead of supersizing our shops and restaurants, build more closely and intimate environments, bringing us together, not pulling us apart. I wish our airlines and railway systems would be more people friendly and affordable so more of us to travel around this wonderful land we call America. I wish the US would stop spraying chemicals on our food and adding preservatives. I don’t mind going to the store to buy fresh food every other day and actually prefer eating healthy food. The convenience factor here in the US is actually fabulous and evil all wrapped into one. It’s so easy to drive through to pick up a sandwich for lunch but so much more healthy and cost effective to just make one at home. I will miss all the incredible traveling I did while living in Europe and so grateful most of the places were just a small car ride away or a very cheap to fly. I have some incredible memories that will last a lifetime.



But I will say, I am so ever grateful to be home.
Jammin to my favorite tune.... feeling Very  American
Yes, there is an actual part of coming home after being an expat that is depressing. This is one of the reasons I chose to wait 6 months to finish my blog. But I have been surrounded by my children and best friends. And when there is that much love and support around you there is little time to dwell on what life used to be like just a few short months ago. And what has this time away in Europe taught me? Well, not to take this time on earth for granted is one thing for sure. Embrace change with open arms and be open to new ideas. Travel, travel, travel!!! See the world and meet the people who are different from yourself. Respect, be kind and be humble. Oh and yes... try learning a new language. Even if you’re just trying... it’s a great way to meet others.





Here are a few places I’ve been to while on my journey to rediscover my home. God Bless the USA!!

Road Trippin thru Texas, Y'all!

Cadillac Ranch

Vegas with my sister Jannie and brother in law Larry but missing my Jennifer and Dennis



Texas Bluebonnets


Back home with my bestie, Dawn!
Crawfish Boil.... lots of friends, food, beer, music... all for a good cause.



Up to Iowa for Mom's Weekend for Amy's Sorority.. so much fun!


Hawaii with our Bestie's Scott and Dawn... No kids this time. Just the adults.







Visiting Pearl Harbor

Heading to the monument over the USS Arizona

Oil still leaking from the USS Arizona. Just devastating. Those poor boys.



Road trippin in Iowa to the beautiful Bridges of Madison County.
After boo hooing through the movie my daughter spent a summer day driving the back roads of Iowa to the famous covered bridges. If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, I recommend it for a good cry. Plus how can you go wrong with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep?







To all my friends in The Netherlands, thank you so kindly for being a part of my life and allowing me to be a part of yours. I am forever grateful for your kindness and blessed to call you my friends.



Love,

Lisa










American Girl out!


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Stolen Childhood Holocaust Survivor ~ Maurits Louis Witsema (de Wit)

A New Chapter in my Life ~ Blueberry Pancake Publishing

Fuck Me Running!