Saturday, June 26, 2010

In Nederland

I am in the Netherlands! The next phase of our step-by-step move to China. Paul is still in Washington till next week, working with the painters and other people to make our house ready for the future renters. (Oh, and also work...someone still has a job.) And I flew with the boys to Holland yesterday for some quality time with family AND of course being in Holland during the World Cup. Yeah! Thomas was walking through Beek & Donk (where my mom lives) today with his orange shirt on, and the boys got a real big blue Dutch KNVB (Dutch soccer association) soccer ball from grandma. Life is good.

I had hoped to have more time to download pictures, but in the chaos of moving we can't find the cable to download pictures off our camera. Sorry! I would have shown a picture of Simon and Thomas flying in business class. They both had shrimp, soup, chicken ("spicy chicken" Thomas said) for dinner. And after dinner Thomas put on a big act putting on the purple socks handed out by Austrian Airlines ("Soccer socks" Thomas insisted) and the purple mask for your eyes. Unfortunately the mask didn't actually put him to sleep, but encouraged him to goof around till he was about the last business class traveler to fall asleep. Simon, meanwhile, was across the aisle from me and had a more adventurous evening because he got sick from the heavy turbulance. In the end though, we all arrived in Vienna, safe but red-eyed. We spent some hours in the Vienna VIP lounge, eating snacks and playing computer games and Uno, till it was time to board our flight to Amsterdam. From there, it was just an easy (though not short) taxi ride to Beek & Donk, where we arrived just in time to see the Dutch soccer team beat Cameroon. Every house is colored orange or covered in flags here... and I have to say that after 10 years living abroad, this is a lovely sight :-) I never new I could be such a soccer fan or so patriotic!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Goodbye goodbye parties

The seemingly endless flow of goodbye parties is slowly coming to a halt. Yesterday evening was our own "We're not leaving (we are just in denial" Party, and today we got a special farewell at our Capitol Hill United Methodist Church. And after a trip to the swimming pool -- it is excellent summer weather here -- we had dinner at a friends' house for another round of memories and goodbyes.

It's weird. I am not really feeling that I am saying goodbye -- more like I am going on vacation-- though it is quite likely that I won't see my friends and their children for two or three years (if not more). When we're in China, we'll be traveling home to Holland, we also have family in Brasil, and we'll also want to travel in the region, which makes it hard to know when I would have time to come back to the US. Today I said goodbye to a couple children who have been among Thomas' and Simon's best friends for a long time. Simon has had one great friend since he was two months old. Her mom and I would hang out together, and as the babies started crawling they were playing together. I think I can stay in touch with my friends and bridge the gap till when we will live in the same place again, but their kids will be growing up without knowing much about us. I know this is simply what's life is all about: If you move around and see more of the world, it also means that you leave some special people and places behind. (After all, I've done this before when I left Holland). But during my last move there weren's so many kids involved, and I am finding that that makes it a bit different.

On a more positive note: Today at the Church, the congregation wished us well. And -- by their own admission -- embarrassed us by singing a song. You can sing along on the tune of "Leaving on a Jet Plane":

Orient Success

Their bags are packed
They're ready to go
The kids have got
their things in tow
Soon they're gonna walk right out that door.

But they'll have to wait until we sing
"Remember us when you're in Beijing"
Anna, Paul, we'll miss you to our core.

So write us and let us know
Where you live and where you go
When you can't unpack another box.

You're heaving every suitcase
To fill your oriental place
With books and bikes and blocks.

Simon's birth in 2003
Added much to the nursery
He and Thomas lived here all their days.

Now they'll learn a lot in a whole new land
The World Bank job is sure to expand
The boys' ability to be amazed.

So good luck and bon voyage
The Procees are living large
We accept it's hard for us to part.

But Anna, Paul and Simon
And Thomas - Keep on climbing!
We cheer your brand new start.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Today was MOVING DAY. There is no other way to write this than with capital letters. The movers came around 10am this morning, and like a pack of blue ants they worked their way through the house, carefully wrapping and packing everything in their way.

We're not moving everything to Beijing. Some of it is going into storage, and some will still be sold or given away. It's so nice though, to "start over" and only ship the things you really want and need. (Or at least I hope that is what we shipped.)

The container -- a twenty-foot container-- was huge though. When it showed up on the back of a truck this morning Paul and I realized how much more we could have taken. So in the moment we decided to bring our bed and mattrass after all, as well as closet in the office, which I really like.

The day actually unfolded pretty uneventful. I got up early to finish cleaning off some muffin trays (oven trays for making muffins)and then continued folding the last bit of laundry that had to go, make breakfast for the boys, make lunch for Simon, and then take both to their respective schools. When the movers showed up, I finished a few final things that had to be sorted out, and took some pictures of the whole event. The only moment of stress then came of course when all of the sudden I couldn't find my camera anymore. I was so worried it had been shipped off! But luckiliy, I had put it in a super secure spot. I only had forgotten about it... (nice.)

By the way, with all this crazyness, I forgot to tell you we now have a new car. The two SAABs are gone (one was picked up today, the other we keep till we leave, but it is already sold). Last week, after much looking, we bought a Volvo CX70. We looked at Japanese cars for a long time -- thinking we could get the parts in China -- and then ended up with a Volvo. Oh well.

Around 3pm today -- with the movers still in the house -- I went to pick up Simon and then on to Thomas' party. He had an end-of-year party in his classroom, which was also a goodbye party for him and a few other frients leaving the school. When we came back around 6pm, the truck was still here! It was good though I thought for the boys to see their toys all gone and the guys putting all their things (with "Simon room" and "Thomas room" written on the boxes) into the truck. (And did I mention how huge that container was? Our stuff seemed to be floating).

Yawn... now I am actually falling asleep. I guess it was a pretty long day.

Next up: Goodbye party.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Prohibited items

The movers are coming tomorrow to pack up our things for China. (They will come back next week to pack up the things that go into storage.) We're shipping mostly clothes, toys, household goods, and small items of furniture. What we're not shipping? See below for a list of prohibited items for shipping to Beijing. Most items are not really a surprise of course, but do take a close look.

Prohibited items
With immediate effect, the following prohibited items are NOT ALLOWED at all in the sea or air shipment for Beijing:

• Arms, Weapons & Explosives
• Poisons or illegal drugs
• Wine / Alcohol
• All kinds of Food
• Printed/recorded material deemed detrimental to the political, economic, cultural, or moral atmosphere in China (including all pornographic materials)
• Overlarge office items, such as large photocopier machine, those are not considered for
a family use.
• Maps (where the Chinese border is not in accordance with Chinese law)
• All kinds of equipment/tool associated with gambling (such as poker cards, chips, etc)
• Endangered and rare animals and their products, such as ivory
• Counterfeit currencies
• Motorcycles
• Any other items that are determined by the Beijing Customs to be of non-personal or nonfamily usage.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

You're Invited to a "We're not leaving! (We are just in denial)" party

It's time to say goodbye! Here is our party invite for this Saturday...

Hosts: Paul, Anna, Simon & Thomas
Location: Home on Nebraska
When: Saturday, June 19, 5:00PM


Time goes fast when you are having fun. After a decade (!) in the U.S., the time has come to pack up. We're happy about our new adventure and adding a new vacation destination to your itinerary, but we're sad to not be able to see you (at least not in person, or not as much) in the years ahead. Anna, Simon and Thomas leave for Holland on Wednesday June 23, and Paul flies out on June 28. (We leave for Beijing from Holland later in the summer).

If you can, please stop by this Saturday June 19 anytime after 5pm, to say goodbye. You can help clean out the fridge and liquor cabinets, connect with friends you met at previous parties, or just continue the denial and have a good beer. Please bring a small dish or drinks to share - that would be a big help during our busy last few days. (If you can't come in the evening, let us know and maybe we can see you earlier that day).

See you on Saturday or "see" you online,
Paul, Anna, Simon & Thomas

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Yard Sale

We did a yard sale today! It was actually really nice. First I thought no one would show up, but then people came in their little cars and vans and just walked into our garden and house to buy our stuff. By 10:30am I had to tell people that the furniture (the few items we were selling) was all gone and that there was no need to come into the house anymore.

Friends also came over and some bought a piece of memorabilia :-). It's great to see your things get a second life.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Farewell - in more ways than one

Yesterday Simon and I and a friend went to bring George to his new home. We drove across the Chesapeake Bay bridge to bring George to the house of my friend's boss. These people had actually years ago already taken in my friend's other cat, at the same time that George (who was also my friend's cat) came to live with us. Luckily George did not seem as scared as he was years ago when he joined our household - I hope he perhaps learned to trust people a bit more, but most likely he is just a tad more old. Simon checked on George a couple of times, because he (George, not Simon) had retreated under a bed in the guest bed room. I suppose he was a guest of sorts.

On the way back home, my friend learned that one of her siblings had passed away that evening after a long illness. I don't even know how to addres both these topics - George, and this death -- in the same blog post. Suffice to say that this was a trip that will not be easily forgotten.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Back in 15 minutes

This morning we left a note for the guy who was coming to repair the chimney - one of many home improvements we are doing for our future renters. Simon wrote: "We are going to Simon school. We will be bake in 15 minits." Luckily, we didn't need the note (nor did we get baked) and the chimney man, dressed appropriately in black, showed up just on time, before we left for school. And while he was working upstairs on the inside of the chimney, another team was working downstairs to build a new bathroom in the basement. It's amazing, just a day ago that was some ugly space and an ugly old toilet, and now you can see the outline of a fresh new bathroom. We won't be enjoying it much ourselves, but it is good to have! (We think.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Number of goodbye parties (so far): 4
Parties with swimming pool: 1
Furniture sold: 2 pieces
Sofa (first rejected): Gone to happy new owner
Futon: Gone
College books: Gone
Percentage packed: 5 percent
Construction: Building a basement bathroom
Mental state: Excellent