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Category Archives: Moments

An Arab, a Dutchman, a Chinaman and My Error

You can help 3x as many children go to VBS in Congo this summer just by a SHARE!

You can help 3x as many children go to VBS in Congo this summer just by a SHARE!

No, this isn’t the beginning of a joke. It is a key insight into the life we’re living as expats in the multinational area surrounding The Hague.

At dinner this week, the Arab gentleman to my left discovered his Chinese colleague across the table has only one child, a son, as does the Dutch couple across from me. The Arab has five daughters. All were variously surprised by the fact that my husband and I have four sons.

“All boys!”

“Such a large family for America!”

“Isn’t one or two more the case?”

I commented that larger families were not uncommon in the military.

“Why is that?”

Although I’m not really sure, I speculated for them that the job security, housing, and health care probably played into it. Later, though, I realized my error.

Certainly these benefits have a role in the decision to have more children, but I think a deeper more fundamental aspect of the human condition is at play. My eldest Ethiopian son has at least 8 brothers and sisters somewhere, and families with 8-12 siblings were not uncommon in his country of birth. If you’ve ever toured the great home of a common family from a by gone century (especially in the US), you were probably amazed when told the number of children the woman of the house gave birth to; somewhere I remember being shocked by a number as high as 21.

How many of those babies lived to become adults?

Of the adults, how many died before the age of 40?

Our proximity to death, the frequency with which we experience it both first hand and through our neighbors, the fact of mortality which cannot be ignored day-to-day drives family growth, I think. Perhaps I am in error again. Perhaps too many variables are at play in these life decisions to consider in a simple blog post.

The other day my husband was wondering about friends nearing retirement who choose career and lifestyle over having children. “Do you think they regret it now?” he mused. We’ve known several couples with no children of their own who nonetheless take on vital roles in the lives of children through service organizations, churches, and nieces and nephews as well. Engaging the next generation in these ways can be very fulfilling and part of our nonprofit work in Africa.

Still, an old proverb says “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Quivers of the time reportedly held five arrows as a rule, yet we only have four. Hmm. Yes, only God knows what all influences our decisions.

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Kristin King is an author and nonprofit co-founder currently living in Holland. She is currently promoting her first crowdfunded project. Please stop by Congo VBS 2016 and join the crowd.

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Posted by on June 1, 2016 in Living in Holland, Moments

 

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Soldier’s Goodbye

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 3.04.27 PM(Guest Post by Ryan King)

When I returned from my first tour in Afghanistan in late 2005 I was having a hard time relaxing. I felt tense and on edge most of time. They told us this was common post-deployment behavior and would slowly go away. Someone recommended simply having ‘alone time’ or ‘relax time.’ It seemed ridiculously simple, but I tried it anyway. I would sit outside alone and simply relax for an hour or so a week. Sometimes it was with a cigar or a pipe or a beverage. Alone time became a once a week routine that I have kept up for over a decade. But I wasn’t really alone. At least not until tonight.

Argos became a part of our family in 2003 while we were living in Belgium. We also already had an eight year old white German shepherd who was showing signs of age. My wife and I decided it would be good to get another dog and friends of ours allowed us to adopt their dog when they were unable to keep Argos. He and our shepherd Angel were instant friends. They played and romped and were constant companions. Our old shepherd dog became young again and lasted another five years. Argos saved Angel’s life…at least for a little while.

Argos was a golden Labrador/golden retriever mix who was always friendly and filled with energy. A friend of mine dubbed Argos “Full Throttle” and the name couldn’t have been more apt. He loved to get attention from anyone and was so eager to please. He never bit anyone or barked in anger…but he would lick you to death sometimes.

Yet, he was my constant companion during nearly a decade of alone time. He would sit with me quietly and sniff the air. On occasion he would bring me a ball and insist that I throw it for him to retrieve. Even last Sunday, our final alone time together it turned out, he brought me a ball a few times and his weary eyes told me what he wanted. I tossed the ball for him and he slowly walked over to it, bent down and picked it up in his soft mouth, and then slowly walked back over to me to repeat the routine.

Tonight was the first alone time without my friend and near constant companion. I keenly felt the aloneness and realized it had never been alone time after all. Argos, I miss you.

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Ryan King is a career army officer with multiple combat tours who continues to serve in the military. He has lived, worked, and traveled throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. He writes post-apocalyptic, dystopian, thriller, horror, and action short stories, short novels, and novels.

Argos earlier this year, his first Holland Spring also his last.

Argos earlier this year, his first Holland Spring also his last.

 
 

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Mommy’s Sleeping In the Kitchen With the Dogs

With four boys in tow we moved into our assigned housing in the Netherlands and were shocked by two things. One, the place was larger than anything I ever expected in Europe–especially Holland. Two, there were three floors of wall-to-wall pale cream carpet. First thought…wonder how much carpet costs in Europe, since there’s no way we’re getting out of here without paying for at least part of that stuff.

Our dog, Argos, is a golden lab, born in Belgium, lived in Maryland and now residing in The Netherlands.

Our dog, Argos, is a golden lab, born in Belgium, lived in Maryland and now residing in The Netherlands.

The kitchen has large squares of tile pretty much the same color except for the occasional blood splatter.  See, it’s not my sons who have had the worst spills. They are only allowed water upstairs. It’s not the random marker bleed or crushed ink pen that has me sleeping in the kitchen. It’s the blood our family dog is coughing up.

The vet thinks the smoke dispersed across his lungs on the xray is cancer, and since Argos is 12 years old the recommendation is not to open our pet up to confirm. Instead we apply treatment for the other ailments our dog might have. If one of those works, then we confirm he has pneumonia complicated by an infection or a fungus.

The antibiotics give mixed results. Nothing happened at first, then he had a few good days which turned to not so good as the medication was about to run out. We bought more. The fungal medicine comes in a day, and we hope, pray and focus on the possibility a few days of the treatment will bear remarkable improvement.

Meanwhile I am ever so glad I splurged to get the peroxide with the spray top. Between that, the Resolve, and the Scotch Guard I put down when we moved in, you won’t find any spots so far.

A few days ago our dog barely coughed all day and slept on a big blanket spread out for him by our bed. Tonight though his breathing sounds like he’s running hard even when laying still. And the bloody spittle on the edge of his muzzle is the brightest red substance ever–oxygenated hemoglobin straight from the lungs beats grade-school acrylic paints hands down.

No matter what happens in the night, our dog has me within arm’s reach.

UPDATE: Argos died at 6am the morning after I wrote this. RIP Beloved Pet. You are missed.

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 Kristin King is an animal lover, author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2015 in Moments

 

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Emu and Wallaby, Friend or Foe? (All Creatures Great and Small…)

Not something you see every day.–Kristin

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Moments, Videos

 

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Holland Expat – Surreal Moment

Hoping for a deal on blue willow bowls...

Hoping for a deal on blue willow bowls…

Dishes get broken. This is a fact of life. Our family eats lots of cereals and soups. We use a LOT of bowls. When another of the everyday dishes we registered for when we got married broke this week, my husband said, “Go ahead and get some new ones.”

Hmm. The last time I bought blue willow bowls they were $5 each. The same make is $16 online now. Yikes! Occasionally though, the odd item will turn up at antique or 2nd hand stores. So I thought a quick trip to my local Antique and Vintage shop was in order.

Strange day.

Sun on the windshield when I headed out turned to slanting wind. Rain would follow–maybe hail like the day before.

In the shop there were no bowls in my pattern or anything with blue. But there were 3 bowls the right size with a different bird on each. The shop keeper set them on the counter for me.

“How much are they?”

He inspected the bottom where it said dishwasher safe. “You take them,” he got out paper to wrap them up.

“How much are they?” slower this time. Language and translation is sometimes an issue.

“You like?”

...surreal deal on these bird bowls. "Tjilp tjilp" is what birds say in Dutch. Cheep cheep!

…surreal deal on these bird bowls. “Tjilp tjilp” is what birds say in Dutch. Cheep cheep!

“Well yeah, I prefer blue, but the birds are nice,” I said.

“You take them.”

Hmm. I could wait this out. The prices here are reasonable all around, so I waited for the paper wrapping and bagging to be done when I was sure he would tell me how much I owed. Hands down this beats the “would you like large fried with that” suggestive sell I learned back in the day.

Finally he passed me the bag. Said nothing.

I looked around. “Thank you??” I asked in Dutch.

“You’re welcome,” he turned to other matters.

Huh. I left the shop with my–not purchases–free gifts? I was still trying to work out what happened. I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything there before, certainly no large purchases. Huh.

The wind knocked my hair about with a light spray of water. My mind cannot seem to get past this experience. “What happened?” it asks.

“I think the antique shop just gave me free bowls because they were ‘too new’ for them. Has to be some reason, right?”

Surreal Holland.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher, and expat living in Holland.

 

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Presidents’ Day Prayer

Thomas Jefferson Collectible Stamp

Thomas Jefferson Collectible Stamp

Thomas Jefferson’s

A Prayer for the Nation

Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people, the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

–Washington D.C., March 4, 1801

Amen.

 

More prayers of US Presidents available on Beliefnet.com.

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Kristin King is an author and publisher. Her top sellers are “Unsinkable Vampire” and “Cain’s Coven,” and her latest novel the Begotten Bloods Series is Death Taint. Her imprint Three Kings Publishing can be found here. Three Kings is a Mom & Pop publisher of Christian writers (not necessarily Christian books).

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Moments

 

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Am I a Bad Mom?

(Wednesday…)

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.14.01 AMAnd is there any mother who hasn’t asked herself that same question at one time or another. Well, today was one of those days. Here’s how it happened.

Our Lil’Man has a tendency to complain. For a couple days it was his upper arm. In play I gave him a “good job” tap/punch on the arm, and he was all “Ow, don’t do that.” I apologized, listened about his arm for a bit, gave him a hug. I thought maybe he’d bruised it at the Play Gym he went to with a friend over the weekend.

Sometimes he’s not wanted to ride his bike to school even when the weather was nice. He’s had a tendency to fall behind, complain about his legs. These sorts of complaints are fairly common to him, and they are only voiced when he’s doing something he’d rather not too. For instance, fairly often during homework.

I’ve assumed a couple things. 1) He was wanting some extra attention. And let’s face it, he’s too cuddly not to get it while at the same time I try to downplay the complaint itself and focus on expressing my love and appreciation for him–anyway. 2) He’s not really hurting that bad. I mean, he’s fine at recess, right? (Yes.)

So yesterday when his eye was bothering him, and he made such a huge deal of it we put on an ice pack, gave him some children’s tylenol and lots of pats. I thought I listened, but those two assumptions were there. Even in the car after dark when cringed away from headlights and said “ouch!” I suspected maybe he had a mild migraine–my light sensitivity is tied to those.

Then TODAY he wakes up with the tell-tale pink eye that really looks like he has pink eye. I called the doc, got the morning appointment, dropped of the other kids at school and side-lined the to-do list.

The doctor says it might be pink eye, but with the light sensitivity he wants to rule out another infection (didn’t quite catch the name of that one). We get an immediate appointment with a opthamologist and drive across town (it’s not far) to that clinic.

Then comes the moment when BAD MOM feelings descend.

“Does he not complain of aches or pain in his joints?”

Uh-oh. Joint versus arm is pretty much the same in my kid’s language. The way they all consider their foot or ankle “leg.”

Needless to say Lil’Man does not have pink eye, and all those little complaints are also tied to a larger issue. We have a referral to another specialist, and I don’t know what is in store.

As a parent, though, I have to address these feelings that I’ve let my child down, that I haven’t done my job the way I’m supposed to. And I have to acknowledge that the Bad Mom thought is a lie. It’s a lie from the Father of Lies to tear down moms and dads, to make us feel bad about the relationships where we wield the strongest power, the life long influence.

I reject the lie. I reject it on behalf of all mothers who love their children, who do the best they know how, and can’t possibly be prepared for every eventuality.

I thank God for Unexpected Blessing of the pink eye. The one that sent us straight to the doctor, and to another doctor, and to as many doctors as my son needs to address his issue to the best of the ability of modern medicine.
The pink eye that reminds me that I am not in control, that control is a seductive illusion. That my child and I are both in the hands of the One who’s the whole world in His hands. The One who gave me these children and made me a mother, because He believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself.

Related posts: Unexpected Blessing of Flight Doing a 180, Getting a Migraine

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and President of Future Hope Africa. She lives in Holland as a US expat with her husband, their four sons, and their golden-lab.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2015 in Moments, Unexpected Blessings