365 Days of Joy: July

I’ve decided to do 365 days of joy this year (inspired by the wonderful Raquel Kato, author of the Story of a Rose blog).  Some posts my be long, some may be only a sentence, but the important thing is finding joy in your everyday life, because there are so many things to be joyful about, and I tend to forget that. I’ll be posting one every week, and hopefully, along with joy, I can gain a little consistency in my life. 😉



Ok, so July was a mess of a month and I didn’t do any blogging whatsoever. While it was annoying that I didn’t have enough time to blog, it was also nice that I was busy enough to not have time to blog. Instead of doing a daily account of my joy, I will just write a summary and then get back to the weekly thing on Wednesday.

July started off with two of my best friends arriving in Europe. Kate and Marissa started their 8-week European backpacking adventure by visiting me in the Netherlands. Their visit brought so much joy into my heart. Not only was it great to get bear hugs instead of the European kisses on the cheek, but it was also great to be with people who I could be 100% myself around.

I spent a little over 2 weeks with Marissa and Kate. We went to Germany first to visit Linda, who was Marissa’s foreign exchange student in high school. And then we went to Spain.

I’m not going to go into detail about Spain because I want to save it for my travel blog, and I will let you all know when that get’s posted.

I left Spain and went back to the Netherlands for my last five days in Europe. Those days were consumed mostly with tying up loose ends and packing. The family did have a celebration for my feast day (July 22nd) and they had a wonderful going away dinner for me. Not only that, but they got me a sweatshirt that says “I was an Au Pair at Kasteel Amstenrade, and I survived” followed by the names of the kids. It is so cool.

Leaving the Netherlands was hard. I was shocked that I made it through the day without crying, but I think I was just too overwhelmed and jittery to have any real emotion. It was like I was shell shocked the entire trip.

The airline lost one of my bags, which was annoying at first, but all that didn’t seem to matter when I stepped out of the customs area and was greeted immediately by Grace jumping into my arms! Then I saw the rest of my welcoming crew and I was in a state of overwhelming bliss. My grandparents, my brother Joe, my brother-in-law Bryan, and two of my nephews, Matthew and Dominic, were there waiting for me with a sign that read “Welkom Thuis Madeline.”

The next few days were just as joyful as I reunited with my family and my best friend, Katlin. My mom had a party for me on Sunday and it was the first time our whole family was together in over 15 months.  It was loud and full of laughter, just how it’s always been.

The last week of July was spent getting my room together at Kilty’s and starting my new part-time job as a nanny for three kids in Des Moines. Yes, I’m still a nanny, but hey, when you are good at something and love it, why quit?  It’s weird being back in Des Moines and having it be a permanent stay. I have never actually lived here for more than 3 months, and I’m excited to call this city my home. I still need to find a weekend job and a car, but so far I think I’m adjusting nicely to the new arrangement.

I loved my year in the Netherlands, even with the tough language and cultural barriers. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I will always have fond memories of it. But now, I’m so happy to be back in the good ol’ USA.

Now, as I always try to do when I start somewhere new, I have a list of goals for my new life back in America.

  • Get a second job
  • Buy a car (yikes)
  • Get started on a book program
  • Volunteer for a presidential campaign in Des Moines
  • Get involved with the Church, hopefully by helping with a pro-life or youth group
  • Write book reviews for my blog
  • Start a work-out routine
  • Save my pennies for traveling

This list is pretty vague right now, but it’s a start!


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