Moving… AGAIN

After 7 years and 7 moves, I’m about done with moving.  This time is made more complicated by the fact that we aren’t just moving into a new house and unpacking, but instead are renovating the house that we bought and moving during the process.  So we are surrounded by boxes in both places right now, as well as construction, once again in this limbo space that I despise. Continue reading

Buying a House in the Netherlands – Part 2

You read about how we are buying a house in the Netherlands in my last entry, in fact we’ve already closed on the property as of December 30th.  I’m still in shock that we’ve gone ahead and made this leap!!  But as far as you, the reader, goes, I’m still talking about the process of what it took to get to this point.

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Buying a House in the Netherlands – Part 1

Sorry that I’ve been a bit out of sight, out of mind lately.  Between getting ready for the move, the puppy’s arrival and the holidays, it’s been a bit crazy here.  And after NaNoWriMo, I just haven’t been in writing mode.  Thankfully I’d started a few posts prior to my November writing contest and just needed to add a few finishing touches. This being one of them:

So now you know that we’ve made the decision to buy a house here in the Netherlands (a little late on this since we actually closed on the house yesterday!). It wasn’t planned but like so many things we’ve done in the last 6 1/2 years, rather spontaneous.  But it felt right.  However, it also felt scary – as it should! Continue reading

On the Move… Again

Do you ever go online and look at houses?  Or do a drive by through a neighborhood that you really like?  Maybe we’re just strange that way but it’s something we totally do. Especially when we are on vacation.  On our trip to Portugal this spring, we actually got as far as googling international schools in the area.  It’s all about fantasizing about a different life. Not necessarily better, just different. Continue reading

One is the Loneliest Number

As I sit here on a bench at Aidan’s baseball practice, I can’t help but think how one is the loneliest number.  The bench seats four of us, all mothers of players.  I sit in the middle. Around me, everyone chats, but I can’t participate.  Because they are speaking in Dutch. I just stare straight ahead at the practice and try to pretend it doesn’t bother me.  But the reality is… it does.   Continue reading

First Month of School

So this post (like many others lately) is a month overdue so instead of writing about the first day of school, I’ll write about the first month.  The kids actually started school back in mid August (I still have trouble wrapping my arms around finishing school in July and going back in August).  But with Aidan starting secondary school this year, there have been a lot of changes here! Continue reading

Aidan’s Graduation

If we had stayed in Attleboro, Aidan would already be in secondary school.  With schools in every state and even every town doing things differently as far as the definition of elementary, middle, junior high, high school – its often hard to keep track.  It’s not a lot different I think in Europe.  It all depends on where you are.  In Spain, Aidan would still have had this year, 5th grade, to finish up elementary.  But instead, he’s finished it up here in the Netherlands with a new group of kids.

Here in the Netherlands, 5th grade is called Group 7.  And next year he will go on to MYP1 (middle years program 1) at a secondary school down the road.  At least that is the plan – subject to change as always and a big subject of controversy in our house these days (unbeknownst to the kids).

Monday was Aidan’s graduation ceremony at school, despite the fact that he still has almost 2 weeks left before summer vacation.  Yes, school here goes until July.  My American mind (and even my Spanish one) has trouble wrapping itself around this idea.  Supposedly next year they are on the “late” schedule which means school until MIDDLE of July.  Even worse if you ask me!  But anyways, off the subject there.

The graduation ceremony isn’t an official graduation but a high tea where the students receive certificates for passing their Anglia exam.  This is an exam that states you are proficient in English and therefore can continue to secondary school in English.  As Aidan is a native English speaker, this was really never much of a cause of concern for us with him not passing or anything. But many in his class are not native English speakers and the presentation of the diplomas is also for the Dutch side of our school.  To back up, our school consists of two sides – the Dutch side and the International side.  However, this diploma is important for international school kids in that when they go to transfer schools, it proves their proficiency in English.

The ceremony itself was nice with a stage set up in the gymnasium.  The international kids (there are only about 14 of them) went first and Aidan, like his mother and father, is not one to like being the center of attention.  He walked up, grabbed his certificate and didn’t even look up – just walked to the side of the stage to wait for everyone else.  His class took about 5 minutes.  The Dutch side, with about 60 kids, took slightly longer.  But impressive that these 11 year olds are already proficient enough to take this exam in English.  Many start learning the language by 5 years old.

Waiting to go on stage

Waiting to go on stage

Doesn't even look up - just grab the certificate and walk away....

Doesn’t even look up – just grab the certificate and walk away….

A few of the boys in Aidan's class

A few of the boys in Aidan’s class

Yup, this is basically the ENTIRE 5th grade.  We're not talking one section of 5th grade.  This is the ENTIRE 5th grade class.

Yup, this is basically the ENTIRE 5th grade. We’re not talking one section of 5th grade. This is the ENTIRE 5th grade class.

Proud recipient of his Anglia certificate and happy to be moving on to secondary school.

Proud recipient of his Anglia certificate and happy to be moving on to secondary school.

After the ceremony was a high tea.  We didn’t hang out long at the tea as both kids were anxious to hit the road and mingling and small talk has never really been their thing.  But diploma in hand, we are excited for this new chapter to begin in Aidan’s life.

I’m excited for lies ahead for Aidan.  Secondary school, as it was for most of us I imagine, is a whole other ball of wax.  From changing classes throughout the day to significantly more homework to becoming a more independent student from that of his elementary years.  So much changes in secondary school.  I know he’s ready for this change but am I?  My little boy is growing up too fast!

Knuffels en kussen,

Julie

Where to Live???

So right now our plan is to focus on an area called Almere which is about 20 minutes east of Amsterdam.  It’s not 100% sure yet since we haven’t seen any properties in person there yet, but this is where we are leaning.  While we have truly enjoyed city living, a first for all 4 of us, the time has come to move back towards the burbs.  Primarily because the kids’ school is in this town and as there is no bus system, they will be taken to school by yours truly…hence living in the same town as school.

When the name of Almere has come up around locals, Josh has said he kind of gets the impression that it’s just not all that.  But it’s not because it’s not a good area.  It’s just new.  Like literally didn’t exist before the 1970s.  You see, the Dutch are famous for their ability to reclaim land from the sea.  They have been doing it for centuries.  And Almere is a prime example.  It did not exist until they reclaimed it.  And so nothing in the town is more than 40 years old.

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