Thursday, May 15, 2014

And Our Next Move Will Be To....

First off, let me premise this by saying this has been the LONGEST seven months known to man.  Ok, known to me.  And Josh.  Let's not forget Josh.  He's been traveling back and forth to Amsterdam literally every week since the start of November.  It has been a lot of wear and tear on our family and at times I will admit I had doubts about us coming out of it whole.

But we have.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel and we are sooooo close to it.  Things are finally starting to fall into place.  As I mentioned in one of my last posts, we've been waiting for the last several months for a contract to move forward with a potential move to Amsterdam so that Josh could go from interim CTO to just CTO - permanently.  If for some reason that didn't work, we were slated to go back home to Boston.  But we didn't know which one of these was actually going to happen as there were a lot of logistics to work out.  If I had to give odds, I seriously couldn't.  One moment I would think Amsterdam was going to happen and within the next moment, I would think, nope, it's going to be Boston.  I truly couldn't figure out which way the scales were tipping.

It's been a long 4 months of waiting since they asked Josh to stay on full time.  But about 2 weeks ago we finally received the contract and OMG what relief it was to finally have some direction for our lives. It was right around the time we were feeling pressured by the kids' current school to pay up for the matriculation for the fall.  The timing could not have been better.

And as of this week, Josh signed that contract and so we will be moving to Amsterdam at the end of this school year.  Amsterdam.  Not Boston.  Not home.  And things have been moving at warp speed ever since.  Within hours of Josh's acceptance we were contacted by movers to start the quoting process - and in fact have already met with one mover and have another two to interview this week.  We have started speaking with the people who will help us with the relocation about places we are thinking of living (inside or outside the city) and getting our lives started in our new country.  And we have been speaking with the people who will assist us with our exit from Barcelona, our home of the last 4 1/2 years.

So Amsterdam.  I'm sad, excited and terrified about this idea.  I won't lie, part of me was hoping that we were going home.  I miss home.  I miss our family and friends.  I miss my house and our stuff (that has all been sitting in storage).  I miss the "normalcy" of our lives there.  But at the same time, I'm excited that we are embarking on another adventure.  And what an amazing opportunity for Josh!

This is going to be completely different than when we left for Barcelona.  We are older.  We are wiser. And we have different expectations than we did the first time around about our adjustment since this is our second time around.  In a way this is a good thing - we know how hard it was the first time, so we'll be prepared.  And at the same time, it's almost scarier because I do know the challenges that are ahead and know that there are plenty of obstacles and challenges to face and a completely different culture than that in Spain to adjust to.

The kids are surprisingly on board with everything.  Liam lives in the moment and I don't think he fully gets how soon this is happening.  He's not thrilled with the idea of leaving but nor do I think he gets that it's in a matter of weeks, not months or years.  Aidan initially told us "You are ruining my life!  I grew up here!  I love it here!  And I want to live here for the rest of my life!".  Then I showed him a real estate website and that it looks like we could have a house with a yard instead of an apartment if we choose to live near school.  Yeah, we all have our price.  That was Aidan's.

But that doesn't mean that the adjustment is over for either of them.  I know that we have a long road ahead for ourselves and the kids.  More so me and the kids.  Josh is like a chameleon and has this crazy ability to just adjust no matter where we go.  It does not phase him.  I wish I could be more like him.  I, myself, have moments where I'm super excited.  Then that evolves into overwhelmed.  Then into moments of I don't want to go, what are we thinking??  And then right back to excited.  So I'd be stupid to think that the kids are going to just accept it and move on.  Sure, kids are flexible, but we've done this once and we've paid the price.  And I know it's just not that easy.  It took Aidan THREE YEARS to decide he liked Barcelona (and need I tell you to go back to his statement above to see where he is now?).  He's older and more mature now and totally gets it.  But the moment he leaves his friends, yet again, is the moment that the shit is going to hit the fan.  And it's not going to be pretty.  I'm sure our trip to the States this summer and knowing we aren't going back, is not going to help things with him.

We have a school lined up for the kids.  It's not our top choice school (they are on a huge wait list for it) but I think it's going to work out just fine.  The issue with most of the schools in the Netherlands, as I see it, is this whole half day Wednesday thing.  Yeah, not only is their school day 45 minutes shorter than it is in Barcelona (but more on par with the US than we are here), they get out at noon every Wednesday.  I'm hoping that Wednesday is considered an activity day or something, kind of like in France.  I guess we'll learn more about that as it gets closer. And because we booked our flights months ago, we didn't realize that school would start earlier - as in August 18!  I booked our flights to return to Europe (figuring better to buy round trip just in case) to arrive on August 20th!  So we had to change that this week too, because no joke, we otherwise had to deal with the truant officer.  Yeah, they take school pretty seriously there.  But now the kids will be there on the first day (we arrive the day before) - they will be exhausted but they will be there!

So like I said, we have a school lined up.  And we're getting bids from movers.  And starting to talk with the relocation people.  So things are starting to happen.  There is still so much more to do on the backend like cancelling gym memberships, utilities (but timing them just right), bank accounts, home repairs, home inspections (very rigid here and our landlord currently has 4 months of rent in a security deposit), figuring out our plan with the car and/or turning it in early, getting medical records and so much more.

And that's all before we leave for vacation and then home.  We will be on a cruise for 2 weeks and then heading straight home for Boston (just the kids and I on the Boston portion as Josh will come back here to finish up any last bits of details in BCN and then head for Amsterdam) for 5 1/2 weeks.  During that time I will need to clean out our storage unit, determine what is getting sold and what is coming with us to the Netherlands.  I will need to do the same with our house while also managing any repairs that need my supervision.  The kids will be in overnight camp for 3 weeks which will help alleviate the stress of getting things done while trying to balance their schedules.

We are hoping to do a house hunting trip during the second week of June (which is only 4 weeks away) so that Josh can move in mid July or August 1.  We have bank accounts to set up, social security numbers to get, a car to buy/lease (depending on the outcome with our lease here) and of course, a house to move into and unpack (let's be realistic, Josh is only unpacking the essentials until I get back at the end of August).

So while are lives are (finally) moving forward, they are going to be rather chaotic for the next several months.  But the light is at the end of the tunnel and we have so much to look forward to.  We still have more visitors coming to Barcelona.  We have a trip to England the first weekend of June.  Our house hunting trip the second week of June.  Our cruise of the Baltics (including St. Petersburg, Russia) the first two weeks of July and of course, our trip home.  And then we will be focused on starting our new lives in the Netherlands - learning a new language, adjusting to a new culture, meeting new people and hopefully making some new friends.

And I have to say once again how proud I am of Josh!  He has worked incredibly hard to get to where he is today.  He is a brilliant man an I'm so happy he has the opportunity to take on this new and challenging role where I have no doubt he will thrive!

When we started this journey 5 years ago, never could I have foreseen where we are today.  What was originally supposed to be a 2 year ex-pat assignment has turned into a life changing experience that we will never forget.  We are thankful for all the love and support we've had along the way - we couldn't have done it without you!  And with that, I'm going to need a new name for my blog - so anyone who has recommendations, I'll take them!


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