Introducing the Expat Familial Unit

Since I’m going to be sharing tidbits and stories that occasionally involve our family, it only seems right that I introduce everyone upfront. You already know we’re Americans living in Den Haag. Here’s a little more to whet the appetite.

Yours Truly (that would be me) is a writer, wife, mother and jack of all trades. The latter definitely reflects the use of poetic license. Essentially meaning that because I work at home and have relatively flexible hours, I’m the one that ends up doing most of the errands and chauffering duties.  The rest of the family is really smart that way, knowing to leave the house on a daily basis… I used to privately rebel against those tasks but with time and maturity I came to accept them gracefully. Either that or I was beaten down over the years by one too many trips to the grocery store/gas station/soccer practice and the exorbitant mileage I have racked up doing so. I can’t remember which.

We moved here from a sunny East Coast state in 2009: Husband arrived in January and the children and I followed in July. That six-month period is what I refer to as ‘the time of which we shall not speak.’ And if you think I’m kidding, you’re wrong. I have a sort of self-induced amnesia about that time. Maybe I’ll tell you about it one day. If I decide that writing about it doesn’t qualify as speaking. Oh, and when I can bear to even think about it. 

We had lived in said sunny state for five happy years. Did I mention that it was often gloriously sunny and usually warm, when it wasn’t downright hot? Prior to that we lived a much longer amount of time in our nation’s capital (that would be our home nation, not our current nation of residence) doing Very Important Work. Well, most of the time anyway. Doing very important work, I mean.

Husband and I met and fell in love in Washington, DC. We married and became landowners. That’s what it’s called when you have more than a postage stamp-sized spit of grass in front of your house. We had our two children, and moved on to become estate owners. (That’s what they call it when you have a garage in Arlington.) We had a great group of friends and thought we’d live there forever. Then Husband was made an offer we couldn’t refuse, and we moved to the extraordinarily sunny state. Where we lived those five happy years, with good friends and lots of sunshine. Until Husband’s search for an overseas offer we couldn’t refuse finally resulted in said offer. Which we didn’t refuse. And which brought us here to the Netherlands.

Den Haag (The Hague) is the Dutch center of government, with Queen Beatrix, the Dutch Parliament and national ministries, and foreign embassies and international organizations. Husband works for one of those international organizations. We decided to try the urban life, so we live in a Dutch neighborhood and Husband is able to walk to work. While there are other expats in the general vicinity, we are the only American family on our street. Believe me, everyone knows where to zero in for candy on Halloween. We were the only house on the street who had trick-or-treaters, and I didn’t even recognize most of them, so you know everyone got together and mapped out the houses to hit up. 

Son is now in his last year of high school at a local international school just outside Den Haag. Daughter is in her first year of high school there. I call them ‘my high school bookends’ but they just look at me and roll their eyes. I get that a lot. Mainly because they are teenagers. But also because I sometimes say things they find terribly embarassing, I suppose.

Our family is rounded out by our dopey dog Oli and our cat Ava. Ava slinks around with a perpetually startled look on her face, as if she had forgotten that we also live here and share space with her. Unless of course it’s the middle of the night and she decides that she absolutely must have your full attention and affection. Even if you are fast asleep. Because she is Ava, and she will not be denied.


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