Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Things I am looking forward to in America..in no particular order.

Give or take 6 weeks until my return to North Carolina after over a year away. And although I know I will miss living in Europe tremendously (don't worry, I'll have a list of things I will miss here..) I wanted to kick off my return with my top ten list of things I'm looking forward do for this year.

1. Returning to the land of Target. Oh you know, only the best place in the world- where you go can go for make-up, shoes, clothes, the present you forgot to buy your friend who is having a baby, dog treats, home goods, stationary galore, and Targets very own flavored water for the way out the door. It is a mecca. Which I have missed beyond belief.


2. Of course, my family, friends and Porter. That should go without saying that I am so excited for our multiple "girls reunion". A year away is a long time in the scheme of things, and I am ready to make more memories with the people I love. Thank you for being there for me this past year, and supporting me through all of my decisions.

3. Mistletoe Half Marathon in Winston Salem December 3rd. Running with my cousin, and best friends. Can't wait to see what ridiculous outfits we will pull out for this. There has been talk about reindeer ears, Santa costumes, and dressing as elves. Regardless, the run is for an amazing cause- Childhood Obesity Awareness and it's with some of my favorite people! I'll be the drunk elf in the parking lot after the run, FYI.

4. Spending both Thanksgiving and Christmas at home this year. I love the holidays and although it was nice last year, there's nothing like spending it with the people you love the most at home. I'm already in the festive spirit and it's not even October yet. Watched Love Actually once already- check, planning out a elf running outfit- check, thinking about all of my Mom's amazing Thanksgiving day food (and the Macy's day parade)- check. My Mom has even mentioned renting a cabin for her birthday/Thanksgiving in the Mountains this year. I know one large Weimaraner that would love to run in the woods for Turkey day.

5. Football. No, I'm serious. The American kind. That involves beer. College, NFL. I just want to watch it. And happily participate in tailgating with my friends who have season tickets (cough, cough Katie Joyce.)

Two of my favorite people in the world! :)

6. Realizing that I still haven't seen a lot of my own country after living in someone elses. So many places in America that I'd like to further explore. California is on the top of the list, NYC (can't get enough), Chicago, Texas, Las Vegas, Colorado. East coast vs. West coast... looking forward to the ride.

7. Southern cooking. I mean- who doesn't crave a Bojangles chicken biscuit while hungover on a Sunday? Or if I know those Smith girls, it'll be $25 worth of Taco Bell.

8. Returning to school. New year, new direction, new game plan.

9. Horseback riding. For those of you that don't know, I used to ride and own horses in my teens. A simple fall, and a trainer who didn't make me get right back on, resulted in 10 years since I've ridden. Thankfully, I know a great place to get back my courage to ride again. Brandi is an extremely talented rider, trainer and friend and I am really looking forward to being part of Heart to Heart Stables.

10. NYE 2012 in America. Last year we celebrated in Dublin. Can we beat that Stateside? I'm always up for a challenge :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in. -Robert Orben

The month of August. Four weeks of Holiday. I know people think "Wow, I'd love to have four weeks off from work.." Yes, granted it was an extended version of what Americans typically experience, but that being said- I had a lot of down time. The family was off to South Africa, and I was splitting my time between Holland and London. Rather than bore you with an overly long summary of each and everything thing I did, I figured I'd review my holiday in photographs.

Enjoy.. I know I did.

Mauritshuis in Den Haag, Holland www.curatedmag.com

Rembrandt's"Anatomy Lesson"- Mauritshuis www.psyc.queensu.ca

Veemer "Girl with a Pearl Earring"- Mauritshuis www.picasaweb.google.com

Wassenaar beach, Holland www.redbubble.net

Brouwerij't IJ Brewery- Amsterdam www.panoramio.com

London- day drinking with Cat Ninja and Lindsey

Favorite place in the World.

Lindsey and I on the way to Borough Market and Pimm's Saturday

Dinner in Camden with Lindsey&Chris

Typical. Meow.

Not Pictured: 
*Gay Pride 2011 Concert in Amsterdam

* Friday evening in London, dinner at Pacifico.. followed by dancing and drinking at Roadhouse till late.

*Outstanding dinner at Kait & Ash's flat in London.. amazing food cooked by Chef Ash, and even better company.. Kait, Ash, Kait's beautiful Mom Amy, and Ash's little brother- Aaron. Thank you again "friieeennnddsss!"

Although I had an incredible holiday, I was ready for the kids to return. Talk about a big and empty house, it definitely at times reminded me of  "The Shining.." and we all know how that turned out.. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

PSA: "The greatest risk in life is not taking one..."

As many of you might have read a few months ago, I was planning on extending my European holiday for another year for school. I applied, and then began an International Business and Management Studies course. I was so excited at the prospects of what this might have in a forward motion towards a career. A week after my program began, I received notification from my school in the Hague that they were not going to be able to officially accept me into the school. As an American, I was baffled. What do you mean not accept me, I have already started classes in an advanced course I had to interview for- and I was accepted into the program? To sum it up, one of my Math requirements did not translate into Dutch standards and therefore it appeared as though I didn't meet the requirements. The day I was pulled from class to hear this news was frantic- dealing with my Mom, with Jack, with the Enrollment office, and International office. I came back to the house- distraught... what would I do now? For a while I was planning on staying on the shady end of illegal- well, yes, illegally staying without a residence permit which is actually common practice. But then I realized that if I screwed over the Dutch, then would I ever be able to live in another country legally again? Ultimately one of my long term goals is to live in London- therefore, with the British being one of the most difficult countries I've heard of to gain a visa, the last thing I want to do is give them a reason not to accept me eventually. Fooling one country into staying an extra year illegally didn't seem like the smartest move. So, I began planning "Plan B". What if I couldn't get my schooling worked out, what if I had to go back to North Carolina in three months since that's when I truly became illegal? Where would I pick up after a year abroad?

The next morning the school emailed me, they had made a mistake with my transcripts and I could begin classes again the following morning. Surprisingly, I wasn't as happy as I should have been to hear the news. And that worried me. Maybe three years away (yes, I know I said it would be an extra year, but the program was for three) from my family, friends and Porter was too much. From last Monday on, I've been in perpetual doubt of my decision to stay. Am I making the right choices financially (school here is mighty expensive for three years), am I doing the right thing by staying an Au Pair (Do I really want to do this any longer- as much as I love ironing 5 days a week? Sike.) would I be able to stay the entire three years away from my family besides a visit once a year? And so this week I decided that it's in my best interest to return back to North Carolina. Yesterday, I announced to Jack and Eva who have been tremendously supportive and encouraging in my decision to stay in Holland, and then my decision to return home that I would be leaving.. I've told my good friends and family my decision to return to America, and now the eldest child Christiaan knows. The general consensus tends to be sad and disappointed on this side of the pond, and extremely excited on the other. I am somewhere in the middle still. Although I feel like a weight is lifted off of me now that I've made a decision to return, multiple times a day I remind myself just what I'm leaving behind.. amazing friends, a family that has truly made me feel welcome and valued, a beautiful country and an experience I will never, ever forget. Friendships I hope that will last the rest of my life, a relationship with the three Dutch children who have taught me a new found patience and determination I didn't even realize existed in such a short time, and new personal strengths that I never knew I possessed when I left North Carolina just over a year ago.

Between now and November 1st I will return to Winston Salem where I haven't lived since I was 18. I have no idea how I will feel when I return- but my goal is to stay busy. To move forward with the same direction, drive and purpose I felt here when I began school. To start academically again in the Spring, to be active with friends (already planning those 1/2 marathons and hopefully another marathon next year) multiple reunions, beginning horseback riding again at Heart to Heart Stables in Randleman (you should check it out, I happen to know the owner and she's amazing) and spending lots of time with my family and my favorite Weimaraner.

I will miss the ones I leave behind tremendously. My heart is full thinking of the good times we've had, and the memories I will always hold close. Thank you for being my family while I was away from my own, for being my best friends, my confidants, and majority of the time, my sanity. I have learned so much from each one of you and I am so fortunate to have you in my life. I know that no matter what path we take, we'll always be a plane ride, an email, or a phone call away- You're stuck with me Betches.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gay Pride Parade Amsterdam 2011

This past weekend, I had the chance to experience Amsterdam for one thing its known for. Gay Pride. I met up with Lindsey and we went to the canal, Prisengracht where her friend Jelle owns a boat to watch the parade. Lucky for us, we had front row seats to THE gay event of the year. And it was FABULOUS.


It is estimated that one million Dutch people are gay. Luckily, I have had the privilege to know many gay people from all over the world, and am so thankful for the rights that are becoming bestowed upon them such as legalized marriages. Life is too short to do anything other than exactly what you want to do. Love one another, and accept each other for exactly who you are. In the end, does anything matter other than love? 



Saturday at the parade in Amsterdam, all I saw was love, laughter and fun. Here's the thing.. no one knows the recipe for a happy marriage or union, whether it be one man, and one woman or two men and two women. No matter the orientation- I hope there is an abundance of happiness and love. Party on Gay folk, continue to stand up for your rights.. Be happy. Love and be loved. I applaud you.

Weekend trip to London..

Not long following my trip to Paris with the host family, I was responsible for traveling with my two youngest to London to meet up with Jack and Christiaan who were already there. It was the first time I had traveled with Emma and Jacob alone and I was slightly stressed; okay, I'll be honest, I was freaking out a little bit. Not because I thought they were going to misbehave, but because its scary to be responsible for two children who aren't yours, going through passport control, and boarding a plane with the weight of knowing you are their temporary guardian. You are solely responsible for getting them back into their parents care safely.. I adore these children and would be heartbroken if anything happened to them on my time. That being said, we arrived with absolutely no problems- they were wonderful, like usual, and we were all reunited at the flat in London in no time. We were off to dinner at an extremely good Chinese restaurant near Baker Street where we indulged in amazing duck (I'm starting to see a duck pattern) and foie gras scallops (which should be translated as heaven in your mouth) Following dinner, I went to meet my good friend Alex who just recently moved to London with her host family, and Ash. Now, Ash is one denim and jort wearing fool who we met in Madrid and thankfully have kept in contact with because he is SO much fun.. A wonderful surprise to see them both in my favorite city.  Not too long after, Ash had a few friends of his meet up with us and off we went to Shakespeare Pub to indulge in the finer things that London has to offer- Pints.

The next morning, I was awoken by an amazing Starbucks coffee run by an eager 11 year old who just recently bought five lattes for us all. God bless Starbucks across the street, and the fact that she is so happy to fuel my caffeine addiction. Thank you Emma. I went to meet my very good American friend Kait for lunch, and drinks- which turned into Pimm's, her boyfriend Ash, who I adore, and them meeting my friend Alex for more drinks. Thankfully, Kait and Alex share two things. They are both Americans, and they both love, love, love Taco Bell. (Road trip in the works) and discussing all things American. I went home after an amazing day filled of my new favorite drinks - Pimm's, and Pizza Hut (which lord knows we can't get in Holland).

On Sunday, Jack, the kids and I went for brunch, then to a museum for an art exhibition- followed by a day at the London Zoo. It was so incredibly hot outside that most of the animals, if they could be, were inside. It was still a lovely afternoon, with a walk through Regent's Park and Primrose Hill with Christiaan as our tour guide (we're working with the children on their geography skills).  Following our afternoon, it was time for the eldest, Christiaan and I to return to Holland. Heathrow Express train, and a nice dinner at the airport- hangman on the plane and we were back in Holland safe and sound.



Have I ever mentioned that I love London?

J'adore Paris..

Lines at the Musee D'Orsay -thankfuly we didn't have to wait!
A few weeks ago, I embarked on a day trip with my host family to Paris for the Manet Exhibition at the Musee D'Orsay. I had traveled to Paris once before with my Mom when I was 20 but it had been six years since I was in the city, and I missed the Parisian way of life- Hands down, the culture, the museums, and the unforgettable Eiffel Tower, I love Paris. We woke early, 4:45am to catch our train at Schiphol at 6:30am.. the public transportation in Europe is a love/hate relationship might I add. Although we had booked tickets, you can never know what your day holds for you if you're at the mercy of public transportation. There was a problem with our high speed Thalys train, therefore, we had to take a train to Rotterdam via Schiphol to, fingers crossed, make our connection into Paris.. We also had tickets booked for the exhibition.. miss one, miss them all type of thing. Did I mention the exhibition was our sole purpose of traveling to Paris for the day- therefore not being admitted to Manet would have been a detrimental downer of the trip. Thankfully, the transportation Gods were on our side because we made it to Paris in just over three hours from Holland. Arriving at Paris Gare du Nord we were off to the museum, which lead us to a four hour stroll around the beautiful museum.

Interior of Musee D'Orsay

Illegal Photograph of Manet work- compliments of Emma

Inside the Musee

My Dutch boys in Paris

After the museum, we went for a walk to go catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. The children have never seen it before and were extremely excited, I too shared their enthusiasm. Even though I have been fortunate enough to experience it before, it still is beautiful. How ironic that it was built as a tower for practical use and over the years has become a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. It's a staple of Europe, a trademark of the Parisians, and one of my most favorite sights in Paris.

Does this need a caption? 

Following our photo shoot at the Eiffel Tower, we walked to have an early dinner of amazing duck breast, rosemary potatoes and french wine. After dinner, we were back on the high speed train and home before midnight. One day- traveling through Holland, Belgium and to France. Dutch breakfast, French dinner. This could become a dangerous habit. 

View of the River Seine

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Dear Friends, Family, and Facebook Stalkers:

This is an official blog to announce my decision to stay in Europe for at least another year. After much deliberation with my current host family and frequent arguments  discussions with my always encouraging and supportive Mother, I have decided to stay in Holland both as an Au Pair and to continue my education. Starting in September I will be studying International Business and Management Studies which I am extremely excited about. I'm quite positive it will be a difficult program, with classes such as Accounting and Statistics but I am looking forward to multiple aspects of it especially learning a new language fluently, studying abroad (from Holland, which is strange)  and an internship at an International Corporation. There are so many things I will miss about the States, so many people, both friends and family, my handsome puppy Porter, beautiful places in America and as always delicious cuisine like Bojangles (half way kidding). As always, I hope that anyone traveling to Amsterdam or any other part of Europe will shoot me an email or message to let me know, I love visitors. And to any of my close friends and family, save up your money and get your butts out here, I miss you...