Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Last Blog in Belgium

Hello Friends! I guess the saying “time flies when you are having fun” is not just a cliché, its real life. I only have 10 days left as a resident of Belgium before stepping back into reality and moving stateside. Thank you everyone who has read my blog throughout these 10 months, it means the world to me.

As for a few fantastic events within the last couple of weeks…

My sister and I ventured up to The Netherlands to visit the Keukenhof gardens, which is by far one of the prettiest places I have ever been. I believe it ties for beauty and awe with the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef. I mean, it was unreal. There are a few pictures below that can’t even begin to really represent how nice it was. For all of you who will be living or visiting Europe between April and May of next year, put this on your to-do list! 

Glory and Filip surprised Joy, Kate, and myself with Disneyland Paris tickets!!!! They woke the girls up extra early in the morning and asked them to eat breakfast. The girls were really confused as to why they were up so early, then Glory and Filip handed us the train tickets! SO, we packed a little backpack and were off! We spent 8 hours there and it was just marvelous! I took the girls on the Indiana Jones ride for the first time and they loved it so much we went on it twice! Then I took Kate on the Hotel Tower of Terror and she was SO brave! She is only 6 years old!!!

I just returned from a 4 day road trip to coast of Northern France to visit the Beaches of Normandy. That was an unforgettable road trip with Louise, Henriikka, Lucy, and Alisha, and we camped and sat on the beach, ate, and drank. It was an incredibly spontaneous trip; we had no plans and went with the flow (and actually had to sleep in the car one night- which had so many funny moments I laughed till I cried). We went to the American Cemetery where over 9,000 soldiers are buried after World War II, and paid our respects at Omaha Beach. It was a great closure to spend a weekend with the girls who have so positively influenced my experience here in Belgium.

Now for the sappy part. When I got home from the road trip Fillips’ parents (so Joy, Kate, and John’s grandparents) were here and I wanted them to sleep in my room so they could have their own space. Upon arrival, I was tired and wanted to sleep. There is an extra floor mat in John’s room so I slept on his floor after showering and unpacking. By the time I laid down on the floor in John’s cute little room, he was already sound asleep. Just laying there and listening to that little angel snoring had me in complete tears.

Looking around the room I saw all his puzzles, his make-believe kitchen set, tool kit, car and train track set, and his cute little books he likes to listen to at bed time. At that moment it hit me: I am going to miss every single aspect of living here, and I love  this family so much. 

These children are my inspiration; they keep me young, honest, and dreaming. I am going to miss their random questions, their thoughts about the world, the way they hug me, the way they run in my room like there are no boundaries, the way they sing in the car, and the way they use their creativity.

When Glory’s wallet got stolen, the first thing Kate said was “well, maybe that person needed the money more than we did”.
John pretends to talk on the telephone when he has a question.
Joy always gives me riddles to figure out, and makes me laugh.
Kate holds my hand when I take her to gymnastics.
John likes pooping in my toilet the best.
Joy is always creating things (like Polly Pocket houses) with leftover garbage.

I could go on and on about how much I love these kids, but I don’t need to. Anyone will be able to tell how dearly I am going to miss them by the way I smile when I talk about them.

SO: this blog is dedicated to the most wonderful host family I could have ever dreamed of, and for more life-long friends that I met in Belgium who are going to stay etched in some of my fondest of memories forever.

As for my soul mates who are back in the states: I am REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU ALL!!! Thank you everyone who has visited me in Belgium (that was incredible to have so many fantastic visitors), written me letters in the mail, kept in touch with Skype, e-mailed me, Facebooked me, and called me. I appreciate your support and your time. I am looking forward to catching up with you all… but after I give you a 20 minute hug!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

4,000,000 Tulips .... YES!

Hello Friends!

As of today, I only have 3 Saturdays left as a resident of Belgium. Just thinking of saying goodbye to my host family and friends makes me tear up, but for now, I am not going to think about it and just update on all the new things in my life:

My mom, sister, and godmother are now in Europe visiting me, and it has been WONDERFUL! We went to the open-air markets in Stockel and bought fresh flowers and delicious strawberries, walked around Brussels and got full from beer and waffles, and enjoyed the scenery in all the ridiculously green parks around Belgium.

Tomorrow, my sister and I are going to the Netherlands to see the Keukenhof Gardens to see over 4 million tulips in bloom. It is the most visited place in Europe and has attracted over 40 million visitors in 60 years. I am just counting down the minutes until I go CRAZY with my lovely Nikon!

Also, I was accepted to teach in South Korea, and could not be happier! It really is true that everything happens for a reason. I was planning on doing Teach for America if I was accepted, but now that this opportunity came along, I could not think of anything better! I get to continue to travel and live abroad, teach English, try a new profession, all while not having to buy anything (i.e. bed, car, etc.). I just get to show up in Asia with my 1 suitcase and backpack and gear up for a whole new adventure! YAY!!!

In regards to the USA: I am so extremely proud of all my friends!!!. My mom used to tell me that “birds of a feather flock together” – and that my friends are a huge representation of what I am. WELL THAT IS A HUGE COMPLIMENT! When I get updates from you, I am very pleased! With graduations approaching, new adventures planned, new classes beginning, new job opportunities, blooming internships, and happy relationships, I am just delighted for everyone!!! Its going to be supercalafragalisticexpelidicious to see everyone again!!!

Much love always~ Chrissy

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Childhood Dreams

Hello Friends,
I just wanted to take a brief moment to reflect on Randy Pausch's Last Lecture. If you have an hour, please go to YouTube and watch it, and if you have a few free hours, you can read the book too! I have also recently re-read The Alchemist. Both the lecture and the books reflect on one very important question: the search for self. In Randy's lecture, he talks about making goals as a child, and sticking to them! We need to dream big! Too many times they are forgotten, or thought of as "unachievable". This man is dying of cancer, but he still knows how to live. In the Alchemist, the young boy in search of his Personal Legend and Treasure goes out on an adventure to accomplish his dream. What he learns at the end of the book is that it is not the end-point that matters, but the journey. So many people just give up when they reach a "Brick Wall", but that wall determines who REALLY wants it (and finds a way to hop over), and separates them from the people who just kind-of want it. It is also important to help others attain their dreams, and always believe in others.

This blog is more of a reflection for myself, because this year in Belgium has really taught me how to live, act, and dream like a child again. I just hope and pray I never forget this lesson.

Nothing is impossible. We just have to believe in ourselves.

Peace and Love ~ Chrissy

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Happy May!

Hello Friends! Some say that April showers bring May flowers, but here in Belgium it goes: April showers bring [more] May showers… But, I am still loving it! So: HAPPY MAY EVERYONE!

As for updates on my end: my mom arrives in just 5 days, and my sister arrives in 11 days! I am so excited! This weekend was incredible; I went to the 100-year celebration of the Africa Museum, and also went horseback riding with Henriikka at the stables. Below are some pictures that I took this weekend. I hope you enjoy them! Much Love ~ Chrissy


Long Exposure Shot 

Grand Finale 


 Before the Fireworks

 Henriikka with Symphony

 Henriikka riding Wonder

 100 Year Celebration of the Africa Museum

 Henriikka at the Tervuren Park

 At the 100 year Festival