Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's Been a Long Time

**It has been a long while since I've written anything on here, so this post is mostly for me to document what we've been up to the last couple months.**

I arrived back in the states August 28. I spent the first few weeks resting and relaxing at my grandparents. It felt like a nice vacation. My days consisted of working out, running errands for my grandma, reading, and overdosing on Diet Dr. Pepper. It was lovely! The only thing missing was Jay was still across the pond! He was due back September 27, and I was going to just chill in Iowa until then. Unfortunately, Jay's sweet grandmother passed away in September, so I headed to Texas for her services. Jay was unable to make it, which was hard on everyone. I ended up staying in Texas until Jay's arrival.

Jay graduated on his birthday, September 23, and he arrived in Denver September 27 a little before midnight. It was so great to see him! He had been traveling for over 24 hours at this point, and he was exhausted. We drove back to the hotel, and by the time he showered, his jet lag kicked in, and he was up. We spent the next couple days in the hotel room trying to get over jet lag all the while catching him up on things he'd missed while in the Mexican food!

After a couple days of R&R we headed back to Iowa. We drove across country, and Jay and Junie were reunited. She was very nice at first, and then not so nice when he woke up in the middle of that first night to Junie hissing at him in his sleep. I think it was a power play on her part....they were friends again by morning. We spent the next two weeks doing a "little flowerbed work" for my grandma. Those are my grandma's words. The job was in no way little! She wanted new pavers around all her flowerbeds, and the job included removing old liner, digging trenches, packing sand into the trenches, placing brings, packing in more sand, and then rocks behind the pavers. It was hard work, but it actually felt good to be doing some physical labor!

This isn't our actual work, but ours looked just as awesome (and about 20 times as long!).

Last Friday we drove to Oklahoma City to see Jay's family. We've been hanging out here this week and are heading for a weekend getaway to Red River, New Mexico with his parents and his brother, Josh, and our sister-in-law, Amanda. We are looking forward to getting back to the cool, crisp mountain air. We are both a little homesick for the mountains! Of course, getting ready for the trip involved getting some warm clothes for the cooler weather.

Okay, mostly caught up for now. Hopefully I will get some pictures from this weekend!

Monday, September 5, 2011

These are a Few of My Favorite Blogs

Today I am linking up with Kelly to share with you some of my very favorite blogs. I have been reading blogs for years now and only ventured into bloggy world when we started on our big adventure to the Netherlands. I honestly read more blogs of people I've never met, than those I do know in real life.

I have found a lot of the blogs I enjoy reading just by "worm holing" (as Jay calls it). Keep on clicking and who knows where you'll end up! The ones I return to again and again are all written by women (not intentional, I just tend to prefer women authors), and none of them seem to be trying too hard to make their life or topic seem a particular way. Some of my favorites are linked on the right side of this page, but my very favorites are listed below. Go visit them!

1. Kelly's Korner Blog  This was the first blog I started reading regularly. I don't even remember how I came across it. Kelly is so real, and I feel like she's honest and open about where she is in her life right now. She is the mom to two precious girls, and she never misses a chance to glorify God. She's wildly popular, and I can totally understand why.

2. Baby Isaacson My dear friend Elise just had a baby, and this has been so fun to keep up with her pregnancy. Now, I'm excited to follow it and "get to know" Audrey.

3. Blue-Eyed Bride This is a blog I only recently found. Erin is the mom to two boys, and I love her straight forward, no nonsense approach to life. She is so real, and I would like to think we would be friends in real life if we met.

4. The Schmidt Family Stories This is my cousin Britany's blog. I use it to keep up with her two daughters, and I always end up laughing out loud at the stories she tells. She is funny and her blogs are too!

5. Jamie the Very Worst Missionary I am always super excited when Jamie has a new post. She and her family are missionaries in Costa Rica, and she is She is not in any way, shape, or form what you would expect when you hear the word missionary, and I think it's great. She is so real. So real about who she is, who she was, and who God is forming her to be. I love reading her posts and always leave the site laughing and thinking about what she's written about.

Those are my five favorites. Go visit them. What about you? Do you have favorite blogs you read?


Last Sunday morning I woke up in a hotel in Amsterdam and went to sleep at my grandma's house in Iowa. It felt really nice to land on American soil again, but it was bittersweet because Jay still isn't here. It was also bittersweet because neither one of my suitcases made it! (They did get here on Tuesday, though {all in one piece} so I'm thankful for that).

My day Sunday looked like this:

Up at hotel: 6 am (11 pm Central time in US on Saturday night)
To airport: 7:30 am
Flight to Dublin: 9:30 am (2:30 am Central time, Sunday morning)
Flight to Chicago: 12:50 (6:50 am Central time)
Flight to Cedar Rapids: 5:50 pm Central time (12:50 am in the Netherlands)
Arrive at Grandma's house: 8 pm Central time (3 am Monday in the Netherlands)

It was a long day.

As I was being herded onto and off of and onto more airplanes, I had the chance to notice some very interesting behaviors of my fellow fliers. Originally, I had planned a snarky post, but I waited too long and I've caught up on my rest and binged on Diet Dr. Pepper, and my feelings aren't quite as strong as they were a week ago. These two stuck, though.
Two pieces of advice/information that all travelers should follow:

1. If you need a cart to lug your CARRY ON luggage around the airport, perhaps you should check it. Seriously. If it's too heavy and cumbersome for you to manage between gates, save yourself (and everyone else around you) the trouble, and just pay the $25 to check it. This also applies to being able to lift your luggage. You shouldn't depend on other people to put your luggage in the overhead compartment for you. Nor should others be whacked in the head and/or shoulders because you can't get your bag down in a controlled manor.

2. Be prepared. It is NOT a new rule that you have to take laptops out of bags before being scanned. It is NOT a new rule that there are liquid/gel restrictions. You will NOT be allowed to board a flight from Chicago to Cedar Rapids with a boarding pass from your previous flight. You WILL have to take off your shoes in the US to get through security. Please don't act surprised or indignant about any of these things. They are not going to change the rules for you. You will end up looking foolish, and you are slowing things down for everyone else.

Whew. Getting that off my chest and getting fueled with my DDP, makes me feel so much better. Glad to be back in my homeland! Ready for Jay to be here too!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Little Difference #9

I think these pictures should probably speak for themselves. Never seen anything like the States.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Road Test

One of the biggest learning experiences we've had since we've been here was navigating the roads in our rental car. We have rented a car twice this summer, and we really enjoyed the freedom that goes with that.

Freedom, yes. Familiar? Not so much. It's amazing how different some road signs are, and how helpless not knowing what they mean makes you.

Some were pretty self explanatory, like this speed limit sign.

Others, though, had us a bit confused. This sign means it's no longer 50 kilometers per hour speed limit.

What do you think this means?

The above means no passing. 

And this one, means end of no passing zone. To me, the slash through it should mean no. 

This one means no cars allowed.

This one means no parking...not a helicopter landing pad. Sorry, John.

It definitely made Jay a very aware, alert, defensive driver. It also made me very glad I wasn't listed as a driver on the rental agreement! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Today I was caught unprepared. Very unprepared.

I went to meet Jay at his school for lunch. We had a quick bite to eat and then decided to go for a little walk before he went back. When we started our walk, we commented on how it was going to rain this afternoon because the sky on the horizon was that dark gray color. 

Within just a few minutes we decided we better head back. This storm was moving. By the time we got back to his school (I swear no more than 4 or 5 minutes) the entire sky was a DARK greenish dark that all the cars had their headlights on. We parted ways, and I picked up speed. It usually takes about 8 or 9 minutes to walk from his school to our apartment, and I was hoping I could make it.

I didn't make it.

Without warning (well, minus the whipping wind and the scary-movie dark sky) it started pouring. {Pouring really isn't even the correct word. What is pouring times 100 with hail thrown in? That's what it was doing.} Not a sprinkle. Not a gradual increase in second it wasn't raining and the next it was a deluge. Luckily I was near an overpass, so along with a few other unprepared souls, I jogged to find shelter under the bridge.

Here's how I was unprepared today:
          1. No umbrella...such a rookie mistake here in the Netherlands considering it has 
              rained 90% of the days I've been here.
          2. I was wearing flip flops. Have you ever tried to walk in flip flops when it's
              raining? (No wonder you don't see many Dutch wearing flip flops.) It's impossible!
          3. No jacket and wearing a whitish shirt. NO need for explanation really.

So, there I stood under the bridge pondering what to do next. 

I could:
           1. Wait it out. The only problem with this scenario is that it can rain for days and  
               days here. OR
           2. Take off my flip flops and run like crazy the rest of the way to the apartment. I 
               mean, how wet can you get in 4 or 5 minutes? (I'll answer that question with 
               another question, Have you ever taken a shower?)

So I did nothing. Just waited. And waited. For 25 minutes I stood under the bridge. I debated in my head when would be the best time to go. I tried to figure out the crosswalk light timing so if I decided to make a run for it, I wouldn't have to wait too long at the intersection.

Then, finally, I went for it. The rain had let up a little, but it was still raining. Really hard. I took off my flip flops, ducked my head, and just went. I was drenched by the time I got home. But you know what? It's still raining an hour later! I could still be standing under that bridge.

This has got me thinking about life. (Pretty deep for 25 minutes under a bridge, hu?) Sometimes there's no perfect solution to the situation you're in. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation that you're totally unprepared for. Perhaps you could have been better prepared, but you aren't. Sometimes you may really question the timing of what's going on...why couldn't it be a year later? a month earlier? 

Here's what I learned today. You can't stay under the bridge forever. Sometimes you just have to jump in and go for it. 

It may be messy (Um, I'm sure you can imagine how nasty and gross my feet were when I got back). It might not be pretty (As my mascara streaked face and curled up wet hair can attest to!). It might not even be what you had planned on doing. But, if you really think about least you're not standing under a bridge frozen with fear and indecision. 

Sometimes, you just have to duck your head and go for it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Change of Plans

Jay arrived in the Netherlands in January to work on a 9 month degree program. I stayed in Wyoming to finish my school year. The plan was for me to join him in June and stay with him until he completed his courses at the end of September.

We were fully aware that as a US citizen, I could stay in the Netherlands for 90 days before registering for a residence permit. We had been in contact with his school about it, and they told us to contact them when I'd been here about 60 days, and they would help us get the ball rolling. Should be no big deal....{you may see where this is going}...

So, at the beginning of August Jay sent an email to the appropriate person to set up this appointment. We were scheduled to meet with the lady the next week. Unfortunately, she needed some documentation we didn't have (Who travels with their marriage license anyway?), so there was some scrambling to the Randall County Courthouse (Thanks, Duane!), and scanning, and emailing, but we showed up to the appointment prepared. 

What we were not prepared for, though, was the news that the fee to register for a residency permit was now 1200 Euros! We were originally told it would be a couple hundred. Apparently the changes are fairly new because even the ladies at his school were just as shocked as we were. One of them even put her hands over her ears when she heard!

I arrived on June 12, so my 90 days is officially over on September 9. Jay's classes are finished September 23. It didn't take us long to decide that 1200 Euros to stay an extra couple weeks was definitely not worth it (especially since that would more than pay my airfare back to the states).

So, the big change of plans is that I'm not going to get to stay with Jay for the duration of his courses. I'm flying back to Iowa (to Junie and some Diet Dr. Pepper...a bright spot in this unexpected change of events) a week from today, next Sunday. 

He will fly home to the States when he's done at the end of September. I'm sad to be separated from him again, but it's only a few weeks this time. I guess we'll see where this journey takes us from there!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies? I always DREAD this question on applications or when someone asks me in conversation. 

Dread it. Here's why.

I am terrible at hobbies. Worse than awful. Seriously. The only hobby I really have is reading.  Now don't get me wrong, I have dabbled in countless hobbies over the years, but I just don't have the "stick with-it-ness" required to fully develop a hobby. For example...

Knitting Years and years ago I got into the knitting craze. I signed up and took a class at the cutest little knitting shop in Iowa City. I loved that store. It was cozy and colorful and so perfectly organized. I even convinced  my friend Liz to take a class with me the next semester. She dove in headfirst and became a knitting fool. She finished our mandatory scarf in the first couple weeks and was on to bigger and better projects! Me? I barely finished the first scarf and when I packed up our house in Wyoming, I threw away two started scarves and a dishtowel. Hobby finished.

Scrapbooking I had the marvelous idea the year we turned 21 to make my friend Elise a birthday book entitled "21 Reasons I'm So Glad We're Friends." I embarked on this project with full gusto and with about two months to complete it. I spent countless hours at Hobby Lobby, bought gobs and gobs of scrap paper and pens and stickers. I also happened to mention to a few people that I was "sooo into scrapboking." {Guess what I got for gifts for years following???} I made a few pages, and then I was fresh out of new ideas. I eventually finished and mailed the book to her in April (her birthday is in January). Never used those supplies again, but I traded my friend Val some great scrapbooking materials for hot sauce. I think I got the better end of that deal! Hobby finished.

Yoga I signed up for a yoga class at a cute little studio in Iowa City. One night a week....not too much of a commitment, right? Hmmm. Now, in all fairness, I did enjoy my yoga class, but I never practiced the poses at home. I also think I skipped the last few weeks of class...I think I could get into yoga again, maybe. Maybe not. Hobby finished.

Stamping/Cardmaking I met some great friends in Wyoming and one of them happens to be a Stampin' Up representative. Stampin' Up is a company that deals in, you guessed it, stamps, papers, and cardmaking...essentially. Once a month Deborah had these great parties. You go, pay $10, get to make four cute, cute cards and enjoy a nice sampling of foods and drinks. I was hooked after the first time. I loved the cards we made. I loved the idea of being crafty. I bought a couple sets of stamps, I bought the materials to make our Christmas cards that year, I even won several stamp sets at her parties. Guess what? After I moaned and groaned my way through our Christmas cards that first year, I never made another card outside of Stamp Camp. I donated all my goodies to another friend Jennifer who actually uses them and makes some very cute creations. Hobby finished.

Dutch Yes, I know I said I was going to learn some Dutch. I promised myself back in March when I got back from visiting Jay here. I ordered Rosetta Stone, and I was into it...for awhile. Then I got busy with school and said I would work on it when I got over here and didn't have so much to do. And I did...for awhile. Then, I decided that my time here was already halfway over, and unless we were back here in the Netherlands I wasn't going to really need to speak Dutch. I have learned some vocabulary words and can recognize words in print. I have no idea what people are saying or how to say anything, though. So, I feel a twinge of guilt when I get an email from someone asking how the Dutch is going. 

Let's face it, I'm TERRIBLE at hobbies. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fall is in the Air??

Could it be? Is it really that time of year? Yes, I know it's getting toward the end of August...that it's back to school time, but could it really be? Is it FALL?

See, it never really got all that hot here. It has been very mild since I arrived in June. We probably had three or four days that I would call hot. The rest of our days the weather has been in the 60s and 70s, and of course, it rains so much here compared to anywhere else we've ever lived.

The last week or so, though, there has been a certain "crispness" in the air. 

You know, the kind that goes with fall. 

When Jay's parents were here, we noticed some trees by the train station here in town had leaves turning yellow. We weren't sure if it was a sign of fall or if the trees were sick. I think these pictures from this weekend confirm it, though. 

And so do the other trees around town. The leaves are turning, and if they haven't turned yet, they are that weak color of green right before they turn. No denying it, I guess. It's almost favorite season of the year!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Go West

We were itching to go somewhere this weekend, so we decided to explore the western Netherlands. We boarded the train early Saturday morning, and only three hours later, we were on the other side of the country! {Of course that prompted the land surveyor to do some internet research and we discovered that Fremont County (where we lived in Wyoming) is about 3/4 the size of Holland.} The Netherlands may be small, but it is packed full of culture, architecture, and beautiful scenery.

We started off in The Hague. It is the seat of the Dutch government and is the third largest city in the Netherlands. It was chilly and rainy when we were there, and we were kind of wimpy, but we did see quite a bit of it. 

It is always fun to see something familiar in a whole new way! It was too chilly to try one, though.


We got back on the train and rode just a little ways to the town of Delft. Delft is most famous for its pottery, appropriately called Delftware.

We didn't go on a factory tour to see the pottery made, but it was everywhere to buy. Delft is a quaint little town. They were having a large market where we found American style cupcakes, and they have a HUGE city center area with a big open area. It was still very, very rainy, but we did walk around and enjoy the town. 

This was the beautiful train station.

Trying to capture just how far this church tower was leaning. It was definitely not where it once was!

It was a great daily outing, and we really, really enjoyed those cupcakes!

Friday, August 12, 2011


Two months ago today I landed in the Netherlands for an extended summer stay. I knew when I was packing up our house in Wyoming that the next few months of my life would be a totally new experience. Time has flown by and Jay and I have had some unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences in that short time! 

I think I've adjusted (somewhat, and probably as good as I'm going to) to life here. We are, as I've mentioned before, in a very unique situation. Jay is going to an international school, so we're living in student housing. That means the basic necessities for day to day living are provided with the housing. Therefore, other than our clothes, computers, and a few books, none of our own things are on the same continent as us. Because of this, I know that our "Dutch experience" Is not typical. If we were to move here for a longer duration, we would definitely have more of our belongings with us or would have acquired more along the way. As it is, though, we are living a pretty spartan life compared to how we've lived previously. But, our experience is just that...our experience. 

So, as I've been reflecting on our life for the last two months (his for the last seven), I've compiled a list of the items from my previous life that I'm missing and can't wait to have again when we return!

*These are really in no particular order, except number one and two.

1. My cat, Junie. She's at my grandma's and I know she's in the best hands and being well taken care of, but I miss her. I also feel guilty about abandoning her. I am aware this makes me sound like the crazy cat lady.  

2. Diet Dr. Pepper. I have dreams about walking into a store and finding it hidden behind some other drinks. That's how bad it is. I can't wait to get my hands on one or ten.

3. My car. I really have enjoyed all the extra walking that a Dutch lifestyle entails, and I hope to carry some of this over to my life back in the States upon return....but, I won't take for granted being able to hop into my car for whatever reason. Need to buy a whole trunk worth of groceries? No prob. 

4. A dishwasher. I guess we do have a dishwasher here...actually two and their names are Jay and Hilleary. Not a fan of washing dishes by hand, that's for sure. 

5. A microwave and oven. We only have a cooktop here, and I think we have done very well for ourselves in the food department. (Neither one of us is hurting for food that's for sure!) But, man it sure is a pain to have to heat up leftovers on a stove (not to mention the pot that the above-mentioned dishwashers now have to wash). I know people lived without microwaves for a long, long time, but what a great invention. And an oven...I had no idea how many of my recipes use an oven. 

6. Netflix. We love to watch movies, and we've gone to several here at the theaters. We also love to watch them at home and had gotten way into Netflix, especially streaming movies. They are awesome. So sad they don't work here.

7. A real couch. Seriously look at this thing. It's not even on the same page as comfortable. I guess even if we could stream movies, we wouldn't have anywhere to relax and watch it!

I don't know that two months ago I would have been able to guess the things that would wind up on this list, well except Junie and the Diet Dr. Pepper.

Tot ziens!