Five Years Is A Lot

by farrah on October 22, 2017 · 2 comments

In just a few days we will hit our five year anniversary of living in the Netherlands. It’s still difficult for us to comprehend that span of time considering it has gone so incredibly quickly! We’ve loved it- but have also known all along that we couldn’t stay here forever, something that at times I felt downright depressed about being true.

For the first couple of years I couldn’t even think about going back to the US. It was a tough conversation for my husband and I to have – one that most likely never ended well. He made the logical arguments about the boys deserving to live where they’re from, about how one day the contract WOULD run out, blah blah blah. But I lived in denial and truly resonated with the belief that what will be will be.

Last year I grew a little more accustomed to the idea that we would go back- someday. Saying ‘someday’ to people meant by the time the boys were in high school which kind of seemed like a very abstract thought. When November rolled around and I felt shock and disgust at what had happened to our presidential leadership- I once again firmly said ‘We’re never going back.’ [click to continue…]

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Thoughts are Things (and vice versa)

by farrah on July 25, 2017 · 0 comments

As long as I can remember, the three most influential women in my life (mother, grandmother and great-grandmother) would say to me ‘Thoughts are things…remember that Farrah.” And it made absolutely no sense at all to an irrational child. The strongest memory of this phrase is from when I was pregnant with Lincoln & Chase and ‘things’ were not going so well. I was reminded (quite frequently) that ‘Thoughts were indeed things” and if I thought negatively about that pregnancy, well…

So anyhow. Fast forward almost a decade or so and everyone’s fine. That phrase has grown with me and evolved as have our lives and living situations. Today I find that living this temporary and uncertain life means that my thoughts are the strongest things of all. What I think about my kids, my husband, my village. They’re the things that make me happiest and give life the most meaning.  [click to continue…]

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If you’re coming to visit the Netherlands, there’s so much more to see than the ‘big three’ (Amsterdam, Rotterdam & Den Hague). There’s a world of distinct provinces in this country- and I guess I’ll show my bias in saying that Brabant (specifically North Brabant) is my favorite. Finally there’s a B&B right in the center- comfy enough for family and friends at Heerlyck Oisterwijk.

Grandparents & guys at the B&B.

With a location that can’t be beat, Brabant is a springboard to the north and south- as well as Europe overall with the awesome Eindhoven airport. After almost five years of living here, I can honestly say we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the Netherlands. My husband can attest to the fact that when people ask him where we live and he says ‘Oisterwijk’- people always say ‘Ooh, mooi! Oisterwijk is known as ‘The Pearl of Brabant!”. We’ve got great shops, terraces and cafes, and the Efteling is in the town next door. [click to continue…]

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An IronMan for Father’s Day

by farrah on June 18, 2017 · 1 comment

It’s a quiet Father’s Day Sunday here. Our pops is in Luxembourg- participating in his first ever triathlon with Iron Man. He’s been training for at least the past six months, and I can only imagine how he’s feeling. We had our FaceTime message this morning and wished him well, so now all I can do is wait and constantly refresh the tracking app. I’m nervous for him I think.

It has been quite the road, this training schedule. As anyone who has trained for marathons and triathlons knows- it’s something that needs to be scheduled into an already busy life. Pencilled in to the crannies and cracks of open time or space. Sometimes that means training in the living room at 6am on the stationary bike set up. Sometimes that meant running during soccer practice- whatever the case, you do it and fit it in around life. One thing’s for sure though- I don’t think he’s ever been in such great shape. He is inspiring for the boys to see and be as well. Accompanying him on runs or rides has additionally been a moment for them to share.

Photos of his training quarter triathlon in the Netherlands earlier this spring. 

Thus I’m very proud of him and thankful that he’s now about to see the result of his hard work. Of course I know this isn’t it- not a one shot deal. He’s already signed up for his second triathlon in Croatia this fall, and I have a sneaky suspicion that there will be something on the horizon for next year when he turns 40. The boys are proud of him, as am I and we wish him well conquering this trial!

Fijne vaderdag! Looking forward to celebrating tomorrow when he comes home and a brief respite before his training resumes again very soon.

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My Corsican Obsession

by farrah on June 7, 2017 · 0 comments

Years ago I saw a travel show about Corsica. It was before I was married, but my boyfriend (now husband) indulged me in the fantasy that someday we’d go. We went to a Barnes & Noble and I bought a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide. I remember paging through it, looking a the beautiful pictures and thinking of that woman I saw in the travel show riding a horse up a rocky hill. I wanted to go there. I would go there. Not sure how or when, but it was going to happen.

Photo credit: Castellu Piattu website.

So since that was prior to our wedding in 2006, and we were engaged for two and a half years- that had to be about 2003 (at least that’s what the guide’s publishing date tells me). In the back of my mind Corsica has remained my ‘white whale‘ for over the last decade plus. When it began I was living in Michigan working in an office and going to school at night for my MA in teaching. In that office part of my duties included responsibility for shipping expat mail overseas.

Soon, I’ll be going here with my husband. While I like (love) going by myself to different places, it’s when we get to go away together that I enjoy the most. The monkey wrench though is that hardly ever happens because kids. They’ve been too little and we’ve not had relatives living nearby who could watch them- except for the once a year when my in-laws came to visit. Bless them. The in-laws I mean, of course. And this summer they’re coming and my husband finally said it’s time to go to Corsica. [click to continue…]

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Two Cents on Taking Free Walking Tours

by farrah on June 4, 2017 · 2 comments

My family and I (as well as on my solo trips) take these tours usually every chance we get. We like to take one as soon as possible so as to get the lay of the land so to speak, of the city center we’re visiting. They’re great for the most part- and I’d highly recommend taking one if you find yourself in a city where you’d like to learn more. Additionally- it’s the best way to get insider tips (who has the best food, how to pay less at a cafe, what not to buy, etc) as soon as you arrive.

I’ve had good luck and bad with free tours. The biggest surprise was a tour in Venice (guide Adam) and the most special one was a recent one in the Jewish Quarter of Krakow  that I took by accident. So sometimes you won’t know until you’re on it if it’s going to be a good one or not- sorry to say. Hopefully breaking it down for you (and offering my advice) will help prepare you for the best experience possible.

My Venice tour guide Adam
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Witness

by farrah on May 30, 2017 · 8 comments

This is not going to be a post how ‘Everyone should go to Auschwitz’. If you’re looking for something like that I imagine you can Google it and find tacky articles waxing poetic on this place and how it’s so moving and blah blah blah. Because not everyone SHOULD go there. I happened to see some people who clearly did not realize that.

You shouldn’t go there if you can’t behave properly, dress appropriately, follow the rules or refrain from taking smiling selfies in front of ghastly buildings standing starkly as a reminder. If you cannot understand why or fail to see that decorum is important do  not go here.

You just SHOULD NOT.

That all said, I did go. I tried to prepare myself as best I could for what I was going to see. I felt compelled to visit the site of horror and terror and all of the awful things one can possibly imagine- because that’s what it is, and worse. I kept trying to put into words why I felt it was necessary to go- and my friend Amy said it best on the one and only photo I shared on the Internet. On my IG post she said “…I think remembering, seeing, and even grieving is our gift to the souls lost there.” and that’s EXACTLY it. It’s all I could give, and I felt I gave it my best. [click to continue…]

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Where To and What Not

by farrah on May 10, 2017 · 4 comments

It’s May 2017 which a while ago seemed like some intangible date where we were going to begin our countdown. Specifically, the one-year-mark countdown to our contract ending here in the Netherlands and of something happening next.

Of course, that magical date of May 2018 has been created after not one but two extensions- and our initial assignment of ‘two to three years’ has meshed into our fifth. Five years. The best way I can try to put some kind of concrete idea of that amount of time passed is thinking back five years to the ages of the boys. L and C were two and B was three. Babies. I had babies five years ago. I was also five years from 40- which yeah I know means nothing really to anyone but myself.

So anyhow- here we are in this fifth year last hurrah. As people who know me- know I’ll say ‘nothing is ever concrete till that contract is signed’ but I’m pretty darn sure that there is no likelihood that we will be living in the NL much longer. There is no mobility with my husband’s company here, and the contract is almost up- which means it’s time to rotate. It’s time to start thinking about saying goodbye. [click to continue…]

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Six Months Later: A Bunch of Places

by farrah on March 3, 2017 · 0 comments

I am probably the worst travel blogger to ever blog. If I didn’t keep a list of where we’ve been and when in the ‘notes’ section of my phone I’d forget- guaranteed. For some reason I woke up this morning with a new determination to jot down the where we’ve been in the past six months and any highlights that might have ensued. Let me present to you a quick summary of  the ‘bunch of places’: Halkidiki, Mallorca, Gran Canaria, Venice & Winterberg.

I found this fun scratch off map at a drugstore for 4 bucks.  [click to continue…]

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Many expats from the US living around the globe are mortified at the new leadership of our home country. I am one of those people who is beyond words over the new person in the White House. Let me be straight- I don’t have a strong political identity. When election time rolled around I wasn’t crazy about any of them- but I was more fearful of one. The one that won. If you disagree with me already- I’ll advise you to click away now and let that be that.

What I want people to understand- is that we, as American expats living in your country, do not share the ideology of the new President. We do not believe it is only ‘America First’. We know from experience that there is a world out there filled with billions of people and places and life is about more than ourselves. We care about our environment and are humbled at the welcoming nature of those that have taken us in, become our friends, and shared our lives.

We do not echo the words of the inauguration speech from Friday.

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