Friday, December 31, 2010

Luggage Nazi

My heart did a little jump for joy when the scale said 50 lbs for each. One of them was even 51.5, and the airline personnel said it was fine. This was going to smooth. This was going to be easy. Until she looked over at our carry on baggage, and just started shaking her head. No, she said, those are too big! The carry on baggage was only allowed to be 26 lbs total, combined for carry and on personal item. And no, the kids can't each have a backpack full, but only a small pack that will fit in the little "sizer" box that practically fits my purse only. I aired my frustration with the fact that this information was not posted on their website, but she had no sympathy whatsoever. She courteously asked us to please move over to another scale, as our repacking would take quite a bit of time, and she needed to help the next people in line.

As obedient fliers we moved out of the way, and started shuffling our stuff. Apparently the checked bags were allowed to be 53 lbs, so we got some extra space there. Some clean cursing and reshuffling later, we came up with a new game plan. The suitcases were all 53 lbs, so that was allowed. The carry ons were 26 lbs, which was also allowed. But we had to find a way to smuggle the overstuffed backpacks into the plane. First item: select a different airline agent. That first lady was a nazi. Who asks to weight carry on luggage anyways? We instructed the kids to wear their backpacks, and pretend they were not heavy at all. They also were to stand behind the counter where their humongous backpacks wouldn't be an obvious violation of their lame 26 lbs combined maximum. To save even more on weight I also wore Joe's leather coat over top of my wool coat, Joe wore a sportscoat and his motorcycle jacket, and Winter even carried her scriptures in her hands. The only thing missing was the motorcycle helmets :)

Fortunately the next lady didn't even glance at our carry on bags, or "personal items" and let us straight through (even after the first lady warned her to check out bags). I'd like to think that Joe's Spanish skills once again saved us (he was charming lady #2 by chatting to her in Spanish) The next hurdle: security. It felt great to take off all the sweaters and jackets, but as anyone with kids can attest to, it's a stressful scenario. Someone needs to stay at the front of the 20 foot line of bins, while the other takes up the back. The kids float around in the middle, and attempts are made to keep them in line and behaving like perfect little soldiers.

After security we realized why they tell you to be at the airport 3 hours in advance! We had monkeyed around with our luggage for 1.5 hours, and the plane was already boarding (for international flight they board 1 hour before departure). So we had to skip lunch and the promised ice cream at McDonals for good behavior, and went straight to the gate. The same #1 lady was there! Again the kids were threatened with their lives if they didn't have the happiest faces carrying 30 lb backpacks. I think she might have given us a funny look, but at least she didn't stop us from getting on.

The last time we visited Holland, we had a direct flight with KLM. That experience has turned me into a flight snob. I will no longer fy with a layover if at all possible. It's worth that extra $50 per ticket, just to save a major hassle and possible delays. The thought of getting all of our carry on back out of this plane and to the help of my family is scary enough, without throwing in a layover as well. So here I sit in a darkened cabin, with only a few hours left on this flight. I've only had enough time to watch 1 movie, eat dinner, play a few games, and type this post. Before we know it, it will be time for breakfast, and I'll have to find some time to make up for a lost night's sleep.

current Greenland time Midnight.

Time at destination: 4am.

Remaining Flight time: 3.5 hours

Thursday, December 30, 2010


As I sit here eating my breakfast, anticipating today's big move, I can't help but contemplate all my accomplishments from the past 12.5 years. In August 1998, I got on an airplane with 2 suitcases and my mother. Today, I will get on a plane with 10 suitcases, a husband, and 3 kids. In the mean time, I earned a college degree, got married, gave birth to 3 children, attempted to raise 3 children, baptized one of those children, explored my hobbies such as dancing, harping, photographing and sewing, lived in 4 different states, honed my English skills, and hopefully became a better person.

What my future looks like, remains to be seen. Holland might be the first of many countries, or we might go right back to America in just a short year. I might find a job, or I might not. I will embrace my Dutch culture and tradition, and hold on to my American ones. I will love my husband and kids. I will get to know my extended family all over again. And most important: I will be happy wherever I am.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Helmets in Airplanes?

With our departure less than 48 hours away, it feels like there's a mountain on my shoulder. So many things to remember, last minute errands to run, tons of laundry to do, decisions to make on what to bring, packing carefully to maximize capacity, and worrying I'll forget something important.

The only nice thing about moving to another continent in suitcases, is that the decision process is relatively simple (as in not complex). Items either go in the suitcase, in the trash, in storage, or to Goodwill. One moment the mountain seems to shrink, until the very next moment when I remember we somehow have to fit 2 motorcycle helmets in the luggage. Maybe we can wear them in the airport, and tell any questioning stewardesses that we want to be prepared in case of a crash?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Redneck Christmas

We had Christmas celebrations a few days early at the beach. However, we still drove into town on Christmas day, and it just seemed wrong to not celebrate in any kind of way. We felt the love from the Morphis family who invited us over for lunch and gathering.

Since we had been out of town for over a week, and Christmas is the ONLY day of the year that wally world isn't open, we decided our best chances at a warm dinner was a restaurant. Most restaurants do the right thing, and let their employees enjoy the holidays with their families. However, there are a few "choice" select restaurants who cater to those seeking a full belly outside their home. We just happened to drive past a Waffle House on our way home from the Morphises, and their yellow neon sign beckoned to us.
The kids were so excited to go out to dinner for Christmas. And felt so special to get their own hot chocolate! I feel bad supporting restaurants who make their employees work on this special holiday, but since they had to work anyways, might as well give them something to do, right?

This outing to the Waffle house brought back memories of a holiday in our past. About 7 years ago, while living in Boise, we didn't have any dinner plans for Thanksgiving. No one had come to visit us, and we were not invited anywhere else either. So we rocked Thanksgiving dinner at the Chuck a rama. I'm not sure which restaurant is more redneck; Waffle House or Chuck a rama, but I do know they are competing for first place.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Ginger's comment when all of a sudden the car started smelling really bad. "Eewww, who farted? Then, looking over to the boy next to her who had just taken off his shoes and socks : "Eewwww, his feet just farted!"

Winter's birthday is always during Christmas break, so she misses out on having a party at school. Since we will be leaving her school, I thought it would be important for her to celebrate her birthday. Instead of sending processed sugars in the form of cupcakes to school though, I remember what the Dutch kids do. In Holland it's all about who brings the coolest treat for their birthday. And often these treats are healthy. After some research, Winter picked the flower garden
I hope the kids in her class will love them as much as I do!

A funny sight I spotted as I was heading up to bed
Winter is usually the one who sleeps in too late, is running around trying to find her stuff at the last minute, and not very prepared. Sterling is the one who is always prepared. She must be really excited about her party at school tomorrow.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


One of the American traditions I have come to love, is driving around and looking at Christmas lights. My first recollection of doing so, is from 1999. I spent my Christmas break with my best friend and roommate Jessica Teeples. We all piled up in the back of a pick up truck, snuggled under blankets, and just enjoyed decorated houses. After that first year, some years we go out, others we don't. But I love it! There's just something magical about lights. I'm sure that's what the professionals in Las Vegas would tell you too.

Frisco is the town next to ours, and has one of the 10 best synchronized lights in America (Google said so) Even though you couldn't be there to enjoy it live, you can still enjoy it:

The lights are amazing, and of course the traffic is crazy. I feel for those living next door to them though, as they would carefully have to plan when to come to and from their house. I don't know why the Dutch don't decorate their homes to the same extent and the American, besides the fact that they're a lot more energy conscious. In that regard perhaps I've become too American...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

2 more?

Since we first decided we were "done" after the miscarriage in 2007, I almost feel annoyed when yet another once of my friends or family members gets pregnant. Especially if they have also said they were done. Of course this feeling is completely irrational, nevertheless it is there.

I think part of the reason for these feelings, is that I don't feel like we're done either. But there are so many reasons NOT to have another baby.
-Babies are expensive
-We're moving to Holland, and our car won't fit a 6th person
-I'm finally at my goal weight now. Getting pregnant will mean yet another 2 years of "not being myself"
-Babies turn into kids, and kids are expensive
-I got rid of all the baby clothes and furniture, and will have to buy it all over again.

All of these reasons are selfish reasons. And despite these reasons, I truly feel that our family isn't complete, and longingly watch large families.

Another reason we haven't had more kids up to now; Joe is done. Or at least he was until a few days ago. When I told him AGAIN, in a sweet voice, that I thought we should make 2 more babies, he rolled his eyes and said: "just get them out at the same time". If having twins was a choice, I'd probably make that choice. But since fertility drugs have a lot of serious negative side effects, I'll have just take whatever I get.

The very next day after Joe gave me the reluctant "fine", I called the doctor and scheduled to get the IUD (birth control) taken out. I was surprised at my nerves as I was waiting on the doctor's table. Butterflies all up in my stomach. They weren't there for the procedure, because its very uneventful. I guess the butterflies were there, because I realized that I was making a life changing decision.

5 kids is a lot more than 3 kids. Why have 2 more instead of 1? My parents had 3 children close together (like me), and then waited a long 7 years to have their last one (Emma). I always swore I would never do this, since Emma essentially grew up as an only child. By the time our next baby can come, Ginger will be 6. I think once she was 3, I felt like the gap was too big, and we had to be done. However, my friend Tracey had 2 boys, a five year gap, and then another 2 boys, and it's just fine!

Now that the decision is made, the planning starts.

How long do we wait until my body is ready? The miscarriage is still very much on my mind. I contribute it to the fact that we got pregnant the first month after the IUD removal. One of the things the IUD does, is to make the lining of the uterus thinner. This, in combination with hormones is what prevents pregnancy. If you take the hormones away, you still have a thin lining. Pregnancy is possible, but the body isn't quite ready for a fetus.

When do we want to have this baby? Our Dutch health insurance will cover all the expenses of a birth. But we don't want to have a baby in the middle of Joe's school year either. So in a perfect world we'd have the baby in the middle of December. After finals, before we move out of Holland (if we can't find a job there). Of course we all know that we don't live in a perfect world...

Friday, December 3, 2010


Team sports were not my focus growing up. I did things like horseback riding, playing harp, latin dancing, and arts. However, I did develop a love for volleyball. In Holland the church puts together a massive volleyball tournament once a year, with all the stakes. We would rent a little gym, and practice for a few months ahead of time. Unfortunately I never got official/good training, and had to just learn as I went. Also, the infrequency of the playing didn't help for my overall skills. About 6 or 7 years ago, I started attending volleyball on a regular basis at the church. At first I just went to get out of the house, but soon enough I was going every week. I participated in church tournaments, and eventually started playing more competitively. We even entered a city league tournament.

When we moved to Texas, I was happy to find out that regular practice was available here too. Unfortunately moving out to the country made it practically impossible to keep attending practices. So after a 3 year dry spell, I got back into the habit of playing weekly, as soon as we moved back into town, and I even convinced Joe to join me. Most weeks we have 8-14 players. The skill level ranges from beginner to advanced, with me being stuck forever in the intermediate level. But the nice thing is: it doesn't matter. Most players have great sportsmanship, and will play with everyone. We keep score, but only for the fun of it.

Zoetermeer has the best volleyball team year after year. Hopefully they'll welcome me into their team, and I'll be able to keep practicing on a regular basis.

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