Tess has decided she’d like to stay in Europe. At least through college. This made my mommy-heart sing because not only are we staying another five years, but college is so much more affordable here. But. It meant getting us all registered and social-security-numbered up. A daunting, bureaucratic, prospect.

I’d already struggled to just exist (DUDE! YOU EXIST!). I was one of the last Dutch people not just born at home, but registered in the Big Book at our local townhall. My entire existence was recorded on one small line, in one big book. I had, have, no birth certificate. Just a copy of that page in the big book. With the US switching to Real ID, I need a birth certificate. I also need a BSN (Dutch version of a social security number) and DigiD to complete all my official paperworks. And Tessa’s. We both need to jump through hoops.

Not only did we have a free weekend last weekend, but it was also Dutch Comic Con and my cousin Heidi had room at the inn. We packed up the van with American goodies for Heidi and her daughter Zoë (mostly Rice-A-Roni), as well as a cooler filled with a turkey for Steve, and all the magnets I’d picked up for Sabine (my cousin the baker) in my summer travels. It was a very, very full van.

Friday we drove straight to our appointment in Eindhoven to get our BSN’s. Oh. My. That was sooooooooo easy. Simply a beautiful, stress-free, sleek process. I checked in with my QR-code at a terminal right after the entrance. I sat on soft, comfy couches with a free coffee, while I watched the big screen cycle through appointments. And then it was my turn. Right on time.

The lady greeted me with a smile, took my form and passport, inspected it with a fancy loop, stamped all the things and I had a BSN number. Easy-peasy. Tess was just as easy, even with an American passport. And just like that we were done. I requested the DigiD’s the next morning on the App. And now it’s a matter of Tess applying for schools. We are on our way!

The rest of the day we spent wandering ‘s-Hertogenbosch because Heidi had a mother-daughter day with her mom. Den Bosch, as it’s known locally, is my mom’s hometown. My Oma’s hometown. My almost-hometown. I wasn’t born there, but it is one of a million places I go to go home. It is definitely the most beautiful out of all the places I call home.

Tess had only one request. Kibbling. Deep fried fish nuggets with ravigote sauce (mayonnaise-like with dijon, chives, parsley, shallots and capers). We easily found our favorite truck and got a big bakkie (bowl?) to share. Not with the seagulls, but they seemed to think they were invited too.

Mom, may I have kibbeling?

Tess, kibbling & seagulls wanting kibbling

‘s-Hertogenbosch most famous son: Jheronimus Bosch is famous for his surrealism, there’s a whole water parade in the Spring, this giraffe is of course my favorite!

Joods Scholieren Monument – a memorial for Jewish students

Tess & Holly outside the St. Jan’s Cathedral

Tree-lined path by the St. Jan’s Cathedral

Side-entrance to the St. Jan’s Cathedral

WWII memorial. The front figure represents the broken bonds & our fighting spirit, the rear two are a symbol of all the Dutch lost to concentration camps.

St. Jan Cathedral

It’s getting dark, the Christmas lights are up!

Side street to the cathedral

Back view of the cathedral at night. I can’t capture the full beauty when it’s lit.

One last view of the square. Off to Heidi we go!