This Was No Small Feat

Everyone has their own way of navigating the labyrinth of moving abroad but the first step is probably paperwork.

Someone somewhere said we’d have three months to live there before our paperwork was due.  That we didn’t need to do it ahead of time.  It was probably a blogger.  Probably a carefree, single, childless blogger. Anyway, I did not listen to this mysterious idiot. Thank goodness.

I began requesting and submitting the following in December:

  • Birth Certificates x 4

  • Adoption Certificate

  • Name Change Judgement

  • Marriage License

Each of these 7 document needed to be ordered, notarized, certified, and/or exemplified by the state where they were created.  Each state had different hoops to jump through and often staff with DMV-style people skills.

Once I’d received the crisp new notarized, certified, and/or exemplified certificates, they had to be sent to their Secretary of State’s office for an Apostille stamp.

Today I feel like a champion. Today I sent the 7th certificate away for its Apostille stamp.

I won’t celebrate until the stamped certificate arrives at my doorstep but …. this feels like a win and I’ll take it!

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SCBWI is The Bomb

I took a day away from the office and my pre-move to-do list to attend SCBWI’s Springmingle Writer’s Intensive yesterday and I cannot express how incredibly supportive and informative this organization is for writers of kidlit.  Every now and then I’m asked for advice from people – okay…women. It’s always white women. 🙂 – who hope to publish children’s books. The first thing out of my mouth is JOIN SCBWI! And the second is GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND GO TO A CONFERENCE! The third thing I say is something like AND TELL ME WHAT YOU LEARN BECAUSE THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING TO LEARN AND I REALLY DON’T KNOW ALL THAT MUCH IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS!

After slogging through the rain and spending the day in a tiny room in the back of the Decatur Library, here’s what I learned:

  • Ellen Hopkins’ conversation about the author’s platform forced me to suck it up and attempt to figure out frigging Instagram.

  • Shanda McCoskey shared ideas about successful class visits and doing the robot with an auditorium of elementary school kids – which sounds AMAZING!

  • Sucheta Rawal encourage me to email Rose Scott and ask to be on NPR. It could actually happen. For reals.

  • Jen Swanson assured me that a crappy Kirkus review is nbd. Many brilliant and successful authors have been Kirkused. Wear it as a badge of honor. Nameless, not necessarily qualified reviewers who may be related to The Soup Nazi can suck it.

  • Alexandra Penfold reminded us that stories are all around us just waiting to be told. Also our kids are goofy, loveable book characters waiting to be put on the page. We are also Food Truck Book sisters. ❤

  • Aubrey Poole’s enthusiasm and joy reinforced what I already knew: Kidlit authors, agents, and editors rock.

  • Heather Montgomery, Cathy Hall & TK Read are just a few examples of SCBWI friends I am thankful to call on for help, encouragement, and support when I am wondering why I think I can do this writing thing anyway.

It was a great day.  Now… back to my to-do list.

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April is Coming!

In four short weeks, (April 2nd!) Little Taco Truck will be in stores! Target, even! Now when I go there to hide from my family and drink a Starbucks, I can linger in the book section and swoon.

In five short weeks, (April 7th!) the book launch/story time happens at Little Shop of Stories. This is HUGE, people! Not only is the store amazing and incredibly supportive of local authors but I will be signing books at my FIRST launch. And, we will have a “taco bar” which means I will spend April 6th up to my eyeballs in sugar cookies and green-dyed coconut. Not so bad really.

AND, as my husband had to point out because my head is elsewhere, it is our 18th wedding anniversary the day of the launch. I wonder if he’ll take me out for tacos?

In six short weeks, the hubs heads to Holland to chat with realtors and our immigration attorney, explore neighborhoods, visit schools, schmooze business folks, and catch up with friends. I’d hoped to have our documents apostilled by then but … that’s a rant for another post.

And in seven short weeks we need to have the house close to ready for market.

April will be an exhausting, amazing, crazy month. Please send coffee (or wine).

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Please wait…

As I struggle to get our birth certificates, names changes, marriage certificate, and adoption records apostilled (the secretary of state has to say the signatures on our documents are legit. Soooo many hoops to jump through for each state. Also, don’t ask me how to pronounce it. Apparently the obvious way is incorrect. Anyway …), and we slowly Marie Kondo-on-steroids every inch of the house, I have discovered a new (and embarrassing and ugly) thing to stress about. I want to get to the Netherlands before anyone else gets our spot.

It’s a tiny country, y’all! And I belong to many awesome Expat FaceBook groups. But each time someone posts that they are moving there I am insanely jealous and worried that there is only so much room and by the time we get there, we will find a Closed sign on the door. This is not pretty or kind, I know. But if everyone else planning to hightail it to Holland could please just wait a few months, I’d really appreciate because this stress does not spark joy.

An (overly analyzed, well researched, cautiously approached) Adventure!

What I didn’t expect when we made the decision to move to The Netherlands was the sense of dismay and worry that washed over our family’s faces.  Our friends thought it was an amazing idea they wished they’d had the nerve to do. Which doesn’t make it sound like the best plan (needing a lot of nerve and all) but at least their brows didn’t wrinkle when we talked about packing up.

After much thought, I wrote our family a letter of explanation to help ease their worries. It went a little something like this:

As we wrap our minds around our upcoming move, I wanted to share some information to help you understand why we’ve decided to take this leap. We spent months investigating opportunities and life in Holland before visiting 5 different cities there. 

Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • Although Dutch is the first language, English is widely spoken.

  • Expat kids can attend Dutch Language Immersion schools (for free) to prepare them for public school.

  • Because of DAFT (Dutch American Friendship Treaty), it is very easy and relatively inexpensive to move MightyPants there.

  • It is also possible to work as freelancers for a Dutch company.

  • Universities in The Netherlands offer degrees in English. European undergrad degrees are only 3 years long and will cost us (for public schools) substantially less than US universities. 

  • Although housing is more expensive, we will save THOUSANDS of dollars a year on health insurance/medical costs each year and will not have to worry about going bankrupt if we get sick.

  • No car payments/car insurance.  Everyone bikes/walks/takes public transportation. The country is very small and it takes very little time to get from one end to the other.

  • For “hippy/liberals” like us, The Netherlands will be a place with very little-to-no racism/sexism/religion-based laws (with the exception of Zwarte Piet, of course).

  • All of Europe is at our doorstep.

  • The main crime in the Netherlands is theft (watch this!

  • It’s easier and cheaper to qualify and apply for Visas, less cold, and closer to Italy than Canada. 

Being away from family will, of course, be difficult. But giving the kids (and ourselves) this adventure means the world to us. 

P.S. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll come home… and bring stroopwafels!

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365 Days …. But Who’s Counting?

My current situation is much like trying write a publishable book. It’s a daunting,  terrifying, one-in-a-million, unlikely sort of thing until…  you walk into a bookstore and see shelf after shelf lined with gazillions of books by people just like you who were brave enough to take the leap.

This is how I feel about my next adventure. It’s an insane, overwhelming, what-the-hell-are-we-doing sort of thing. But then I see how many have succeeded in making it work and how happy they are with their choices and I think Why can’t we?

So here we go. We are doing the thing.

365 days from now my husband, two kids, the cat, and I will be living in the Netherlands.