We’re Going on a Teddy Bear Hunt

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We’re Going on a Teddy Bear Hunt

We’re Going on a Teddy Bear Hunt

This article was originally published in the FAWCO (Federation of Women’s Clubs Overseas) magazine. Inspiring Women Magazine – Summer 2020 “We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day. We’re not scared. Oh no! Grass! Long, wavy grass! We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh, no! We’ve got to go through it. Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy!” It’s never been my favorite children’s book or song. I know. Call me a Bad Mom. The repetition is good for kids, but it is just the kind of chant

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Brokenness & Hope

Brokenness & Hope

It has been a muddled few months. I’d moved houses, my children were at home, and the Coronavirus lockdown oppressed the city with its depressing quiet view. The only lights flickering through my days were the gorgeous spring weather and my WhatsApp messages. I’d barely gasped for air between unpacking boxes before Ariadna, the American Women’s Club VP of Membership reached out to me – “What do you think about this?” I give authority to whoever has a good idea. “Go for it,” I said, and I went back to laundry/homeschooling/the Board Meeting agenda. About a month ago, I clicked

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Life Love Hope

Life Love Hope

A festive vibe energizes the city. I’m on the number four headed towards the Nationale Bank stop. The passengers are filled with excitement despite the drizzle accumulating on the ancient tram windows. Darkness fell hours ago. I check my phone. 6:07 p.m. This is winter in Antwerp, days before Christmas. The tram eases to the stop. I descend the steps and walk on the glistening cobbles. The darts of moisture are in that in-between-stage, as any seasoned expat knows – it would be self-indulgent/wimpy to open an umbrella, but I left my hat at home. I glare at the rain

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Lost and Found

Lost and Found

  A wise friend once told me – there are seasons in life. There’s of course, the big ones like school, college, marriage, motherhood, etc. But then I like to think of the subsets – the everyday life. With each transition, there’s a learning curve and then there’s the stuff that goes a long with it. I remember my first time out of the house with two children. My daughter was 18 months old and my son was a newborn. I was on my way to introduce our baby to my husband’s co-workers at his office in Dallas. I’m on

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Antwerp Christmas Market

Antwerp Christmas Market

When my family and I lived in the Netherlands, my husband and I used to get up on a Sunday, look at each other and say, “What should we do today?” If it wasn’t raining, the answer was often, “Let’s go to Belgium!” We drive and park and wander the streets of Antwerp admiring the architecture, the wide boulevards, visit the Bric-a-Brac market in Sint-Jansvliet and inevitably feast on a waffle from our favorite stand in the train station. We’d head back to Leiden before dark. We’ve visited Christmas markets in Brussels, Brugge, Paris, and Aachen. For some strange reason,

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Antwerp Zoo China Lights

Antwerp Zoo China Lights

The first week my 5-year old son was enrolled in Belgian school, he went on a field trip to the Antwerp Zoo. “But Mama, we didn’t take the tram, we took a school bus,” he jumped around like a kangaroo when I picked him up from school that day. He loved the zoo – the animals, the playground, the bus ride. A few months later, as he blew out his candles for his birthday, he wished the whole family could go to the Antwerp Zoo. On a chilly day in December, Sinterklaas rang our doorbell and scurried away on Amerigo

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AWCA Gala Evening

AWCA Gala Evening

The Indian summer air shimmies through the wide boulevard of the Meir – leaves on the towering trees dance. Shop lights glow in the twilight as the final shoppers are deposited, hands full of bags and eyes wide with excitement – the Saturday evening beckons. My dress bounces around my knees and high heels click on the pavement I’ve so often passed over – always pushing a stroller laden with cups, snacks, and a discarded jacket, shoe, or both. Tonight, a tiny gold purse dangles from my wrist. Freedom. I grab my husband’s suited arm and we sashay towards the

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LamberMontMartre

LamberMontMartre

The depressed clouds had been crying off and on all morning – their tears flooding our patio then drying just as quickly. Like a confused husband, we shrugged and decided to move forward with our plans. It was a once-a-month outdoor event (only occurring during the summer months, at that) and promises had been made to our daughter. We skipped the tram and drove into the city – to the free parking lot just a few blocks from the impressive but lonely museum. We’d seen the museum the week before – after a visit to Antwerp’s newest and (in my

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Te Boelaerpark

Te Boelaerpark

Gravel crunches under my feet. Naked trees loom above me, their skinny limbs reaching into the grey cold sky. I push faster – dodging patches of ice and slow Belgians. I must be the coldest and fastest person in this country right now. The red thermometer flashed outside the Chinese restaurant around the corner: 3 degrees. Celsius to Fahrenheit mental conversion is just something I have little will to master, but I do know this. Three degrees is cold. I chase the puff of frozen air ahead of me while jamming to my American rap and pop music buzzing in

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Antwerp Zoo

Antwerp Zoo

“The Antwerp Zoo is stunning, it’s really a botanical garden with animals,” a fellow expat friend told me last fall. “Have you been?” she asked. Despite the numerous times we’d visited Antwerp while living in the Netherlands, we never had taken the kids. Passed it plenty – it’s just steps from the Antwerp Centraal Train Station, but with daily prices at a rate of 19 Euros/child and 24 Euros/adult – 86 Euros just seemed like a lot to shell out in one go. Upon moving to Antwerp we quickly discovered the beauty of the zoo membership. For 189 Euros, the

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