27 July 2011

The Repatriate

We've been back in Minnesota for one month and one day, probably the wackiest thirty-two days of my life. It's been a month of much house hullabaloo, as we learned the night before we flew out of BE that we had an offer on our old house, which we had started planning to move back into for a couple years in the interest of being settled before the baby arrives, and two days after arrival found a house we really liked and made an offer on. The process of getting to "pending" on both homes was not without a few snafus (if you have two hours, we'll tell you all about it), but we are cautiously optimistic that as of mid-August we will be rid of one and into the other.

Also occupying our time: buying two cars, seeing a new midwife group, getting insurance, finishing up with Belgian odds and ends (so happy to no longer be paying electricity there, given our "catch-up" bill that caught us by surprise a couple weeks ago).

Until our sea shipment arrives, we are living in a furnished apartment and are very thankful for the space and for the outdoor pool that we're using almost every day. But I have had much phone and email work organizing and researching, etc. and the kids have been a bit trapped inside since I can't send them to a backyard. And we are way out west and feel a bit out of things somehow.

It seems that the boatload of transactions and to-dos have numbed me a bit to the reverse culture shock, but here are a few observations:
  1. Lily, upon seeing the typical yellow school bus of America: "Are those old-fashioned school buses, or just the way school buses look here?"
  2. Soren is fascinated with American makes of car. BMWs, Audis, are so boring and ubiquitous in Belgium. Dodges? That's novel. Ford Mustangs, Pontiacs, Buicks, Chevrolets: They are exotic to him.
  3. Clara, upon waking at 3 a.m. on our first morning in America, went into the bathroom and after a few minutes called: "Mom! The [] won't go away!" Watching her try to operate toilet flushers has been a recurring amusement for me. Gone are the buttons in the middle of the tanks.
  4. Soren also felt like the water was coming up to get him when he flushed. The toilets here have a lot more water sitting in the bowl than in Europe.
  5. A license plate we saw two days after arriving: 2LAZY2P. It was probably later that night that I told Matthew: "Let's just get fat, get huge cars, get a huge house, and do all our shopping at Costco." I felt a bit anti-America for the first couple days. Then I got too busy to think about it. Now I feel like it's settled down a bit and I'm seeing more of the advantages of being here.
  6. I can't remember how to prepare or plan meals, and grocery shopping overwhelms me. So many options. Plus the kids ask for so much more in the store than they did in BE -- again, the novelty? My love for cooking is dormant.
  7. We miss our liters of milk (smaller containers seemed fresher) and the taste of the milk, especially Soren who is a milk connoisseur and would notice if I bought a different brand in BE.
  8. OH CUSTOMER SERVICE. I will save this for another day.
I'm not sure how much longer I can maintain a Belgian blog. But I sure have liked writing here, the discipline of being (er, somewhat) regular in writing. We shall see.


Schoonmoeder said...

Let me be the first to say --- "hooray, we're glad you're back!" We've missed your blog, and the joys and tribulations of repatriation will make for good reading!

sarajane said...

We are happy to have you back in the States. As for meal options, there are approximately 530 varieties of soup to be had at any American grocery store!
We also want to remind you that we have a beautiful oak table and chairs that technically belong to you. They might be wonderful for the new house.
Love to all,

Anonymous said...

Welcome back! Yeah for the news of the house sales! Where will the kids land for school? We have cordelia at a little spanish immersion charter school in hopkins/minnetonka and she loves it! I have loved following your adventures..hope your reverse culture shock passes quickly and you settle in quickly! Take care!