It’s Been A Year – 100 Things I’ll Never Forget About The First Exchange

It’s been a year since that awful evening at the airport.  Since I wept with such open abandon it was embarrassing.  And since I realized that my life would never be the same, only better, since having an awesome Dutch girl live with Kris and I for a year.  In honor of that awful goodbye, here are the 100 things I will never forget about Naomi’s year with us…

  1. A disagreement over whether or not we had a garden.  This started right when we pulled up to the house from the airport.  She kept insisting that we did.  It took me 36 hours to realize that garden is British English for “yard” and the Dutch learn British English in school.
  2. Realizing that America is the only place on earth that finds it acceptable to hang a flag two different ways.
  3. Dinner the first night at Mani and introducing Naomi to our favorite pizza.
  4. First trip to Meijer and N’s reaction to the cereal aisle.
  5. The nightmare of a time we had with our local high school.  Horrible memory, but we got through it!
  6. The scavenger hunt I set up for Naomi to surprise her with a trip to Chicago.  But she didn’t know it was Chicago.  It just said, “Grab your flag and pack your bag, it’s time for your first weekend away!”.
  7. The playlist I carefully curated made up of songs from the musical Chicago, about Chicago and by the band Chicago.  She still didn’t figure it out until we were nearly there.
  8. Riding the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel
  9. First trip to the Sears Tower Skydeck (I know, I know… Willis Tower… I still say Shea Stadium, too).
  10. The email from Arianne, asking to come over and meet Naomi.  They would become the best of friends during Naomi’s year.  We are forever grateful to Arianne for reaching out.
  11. Introducing Naomi to, “The pan we like too much,”
  12. Spotify playlists from Day 2 dinner prep on that slowly included more Gers Pardoel
  13. Being introduced to the word “bagagedrager”.  This is the greatest word in the universe.  Donderdag is a close second.
  14. Going to the mall and outlets and seeing how N reacted to the way shoppers are greeted at stores.  Blew her mind.
  15. Being incensed when someone corrected N’s pronunciation for the first (and last) time.  It was like her first week here.  It’s never okay to correct someone’s pronunciation when they are in a strange place with strange people for an exchange year.
  16. Ice Cream Sundays.
  17. L.A. Ink Sundays.
  18. Pretty Little Liars.
  19. Conversational Dutch while cooking dinner – N always complemented my Rosetta Stone learning with little conversations while we cooked.
  20. First time seeing New York City from the George Washington Bridge.
  21. My mom’s house all decked out in pink with sidewalk chalk and balloons to welcome Naomi to her first weekend in NYC (thanks to Katie and Sara for all their help!)
  22. Driving into NYC and getting stuck in traffic.  And then my phone blowing up with “Are you okay?” Because there was a damn shooting at the Empire State Building.  Welcome To New York!
  23. Visit to the Statue of Liberty.
  24. First visit to Times Square.
  25. First bike ride to and around Central Park
  26. Times Square visits.  She loves that place.
  27. VOCA PEOPLE!  Her first Broadway show.  Where our friend, Sara, was brought into the action.
  28. Crazy guys jumping over random pedestrians (like Sara) in Battery Park.
  29. Chasing Knuckles who took a flying leap into a pond.
  30. Mugsy being completely thrown off by her accent.
  31. All the many, many hair braiding sessions.
  32. Prom dress shopping.
  33. Cirque d’Soleil (Beatles)
  34. Surprising her with a limo ride ending in a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon where we touched down and breakfasted and toasted with champagne.  That’s how we roll!
  35. A whirlwind day in Denver including a taxi ride to the wrong place, meeting up with one of Kris’ friends from high school and the best Italian dinner of the year (if not my life).
  36. Sharing with her and another exchange student from Argentina the joy of traveling across America by train – from Denver to San Francisco to LA to Ann Arbor.
  37. Getting off the train to Chicago on the way back from California and deciding there was enough time to run to the Sears Tower and get A (the Argentinian) to the Sky Deck (we were successful!)
  38. Taking her to her first concert in America one of the first nights she was with us.
  39. Winning Most Creative at the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre Chili Cookoff.
  40. Pumpkin picking and carving.
  41. The unexpectedly awesome Sunday when we went to Ferndale and ended up at the zoo.  And I made her take a picture with a peacock.  And it snowed.
  42. Supperclub – N was the favorite victim of the MC
  43. The first night in SF when we went out for Argentinian food.  Lots of laughs!
  44. Alcatraz!
  45. Bike ride on a wet day to Sausalito.
  46. The guy who can rap any word, including bagagedrager.
  47. Partying with her dad and stepmom on my birthday.  And drinking advocat.  Which might be made of raw eggs.
  48. Christmas in Vermont.
  49. NEW YEARS’ EVE IN NEW YORK CITY
  50. Meep! Meep! {thump thump thump}
  51. Convincing her we were going to make her skydive (when really we were surprising her with a visit from her bestie).
  52. Empire State Building at night, in the cold, with MamaCz.
  53. Accomplice!
  54. Art in Chicago including a stack of boxes (wait, is this an exhibit??)
  55. The Detroit Marathon and getting our 8 mile mark water from her (because the kid got up at the ass crack of dawn to volunteer!).
  56. Thanksgiving with friends in East Lansing.
  57. Dinner at the very start of the year with a group of gay men who seriously could not get enough of her list of American stereotypes.
  58. Color Run
  59. Learning how to duck face.
  60. Trips to Rust Belt Market and treat dreams.
  61. Eating at the only Dutch restaurant around (which is in Chicago).
  62. Learning to make ertwensoep
  63. Chicago by bike at night
  64. Election Day! (Kris let her bubble in his vote for President)
  65. Election Night at Aut Bar
  66. Best bike tour ever: LA – with our CRAZY guide who started fights with everyone.
  67. Santa Porn!  Papa Noel!
  68. Running into the entire population of Argentina in California.
  69. First day of school pic
  70. Homecoming dress shopping
  71. “The Ass”
  72. Frankenmuth
  73. Marking off the map on her bedroom wall with all of the places we visited: New York City, Long Island, Little Falls, Bennington, Brattleboro, Chicago, Cleveland, Toledo, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Albuquerque (her favorite city name), Lansing, East Lansing, Holland, Grand Rapids, Las Vegas… I’m probably forgetting some.
  74. Teaching her the joy of the pot we like more than we should.
  75. Pizza on the grill.
  76. Attempts at baking.
  77. Apples to Apples during the power outage.
  78. Wits and Wagers – how far is the earth from the sun?
  79. An attempted driving lesson (sh!).
  80. Watching her enjoy her first Halloween.
  81. The Halloween party where Kris and I clearly had the best costumes.
  82. Mac and Cheese Obsession (it is pathological)
  83. Try everything.  Twice.
  84. The “stereotypical Dutch” drawing.
  85. A short shared obsession with room escape games.
  86. Hearing Dutch in the kitchen on Mondays and impressing Ellen and Lizzy with my mad language skillz (they were very kind).
  87. Her taking Kris and I skiing for the first time in Vermont (also Kris’ last time).
  88. Skiing together in Michigan.  Which was also MY last time.
  89. Spending Christmas Eve with the Burnells.
  90. Visiting the Dutch Bakery (Krijnen) in Bennington.
  91. Her being terrified to cross the threshold at the airport because she didn’t have her luggage (they do it differently in Europe and the baggage claim is BEFORE you leave the gate).
  92. Hearing all about high school drama in the house (and still thankful she was never involved).
  93. Being so proud of her crazy huge role in a civic theatre production (Naomi ran that backstage!)
  94. Brunches at Zola
  95. Dishwasher Fitness Contests
  96. The constant smell of hairspray in the upstairs bathroom
  97. Avenue Q
  98. Watching her take pictures of EVERYTHING from EVERY ANGLE and then posting them on her facebook to share with back home.
  99. “It’s just SKYLINE…” and learning to simply accept it and let it go.
  100. A million other little moments that made up life in our house for an amazing ten and half months… so much laughter and love!

3 thoughts on “It’s Been A Year – 100 Things I’ll Never Forget About The First Exchange

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