These are the hard times seasoned expats talk about. Missing out on simple gestures like gift swaps with siblings, shopping the lightening deals on Amazon, and signing up for who brings the bread rolls and who is on pie duty. The hustle and bustle of fitting in your own immediate family fun, while frantically and excitedly running off to the ‘rents and then to the in-laws.
Truth be told, I’m missing my family desperately. I totally wish I was there with them right this very second, but understand why we are apart and the value it holds. We are here in Belgium (only) three-ish years. Three big years to do big crazy things we could never do or see living in central Indiana. But yes, three big years away from so much family and friends that are as good as family.
So to compensate, I’m listing 10 things I’m thankful for right this very second. Random little bits, just off the top of my head, with as little thought involved per usual:
1. I have dedicated speakers in my kitchen (I got for my birthday) where I can plug in my computer, tune into NPR (English speaking!), and listen to American talk radio while I prep food. Since we’re somehow roundaboutly connected through a server computer thingy in Indy, my Pandora ads include Fox59 highlights, and I totally know Ray Cortopassi is still on my side.
2. Extra freezer and fridge space in the garage to supplement my bitty baby dorm-room sized European appliances in the kitchen. It’s a big deal, you guys.
3. Michael is always a willing participant to my weekend travel plans. Even though he works extremely hard all week and probably just wants to veg out on Saturday and Sunday, he’s still always (mostly) up for any adventures that get me out of the house. Last week I had him drive the family into France for a warehouse cookware sale, and this week I plan on him driving us into Germany for a Christmas market. Frohe Weihnachten!
4. My kids are not picky eater. Meaning, they’ll try anything once, and sometimes not like it at all. But they will always try it. And almost always like it. Also – food here is different, but in a mostly good way. But still, salsa and peanut butter be gone.
5. We have a working fireplace, something i haven’t had since a child and it’s a total dream to fire it up every chance we get.
6. I found the one store (gas station!) in town that sells Kraft mac n’ cheese. It’s only $4 a box (complete eyeroll). But at least we can obtain it in the event of an emergency or 5th birthday.
7. Our netflix is hooked up and in good working order (which is actually a really big deal here, it’s not common). We’re (I’m) currently binging on Gilmore Girls, House MD, Hotel Impossible and Sons of Anarchy. Whatcha else got for me, hobos? It might be a long winter and I need to be prepared….
8. Today I took Paul to the doctor. It was our first time for this sort of thing and I’m glad to finally have it under our belt. It went much more smoothly than expected, and ho-boy health care in Belgium is wildly and beautifully different compared to the approach and protocol in the US. Also, I’m not complaining. I could (and probably should) write a whole post dedicated to this experience.
9. I feel like I’ve crossed a very *small* social hurdle. Slowly but surely, I’m finding my way and getting involved in activities that don’t directly revolve around my children. Think book club, signing up for running races this Spring, Mums night out, ect. It’s nothing major, but it does add up.
10. I wake up every morning and don’t feel complete loneliness. This is not me being dramatic, this is me being real. Moving away and across the globe from everything I have ever known has been difficult. I am by no means completely assimilated, I’ve just started to feel a shift in the tide.
So I’m doing ok. Things are looking up, possibly borderline awesome.