Fietsen en Fotos

So, I nearly named my blog this…Fietsen en Foto, which translates in English to “Bicycles and Photos”. I had envisioned our family of six immediately going on all sorts of bicycle adventures and taking many photos along our journeys. Why is it that I build these castles in the sky? Had I forgotten that our five and three year old are still on training wheels? Or had I forgotten that the last time I rode a bike was when I wore my hair in pigtails and had rainbow colored spoke beads on the wheels? My imaginations turned into challenging realities in our new land of the bikes. Because of my insecurity in these first few months, I’m thankful I named our blog differently. I’m gently tiptoeing through our new life here in the Netherlands.

Everyone around here are truly experienced bicyclists. They are not the serious type we see in the states with tight biker shorts and helmets. The Dutch are born with bikes and can carry, pull, and balance just about anything from mounds of groceries, to kids, to pets, and more. It is not uncommon to see a two year old or younger riding without training wheels. Parents teach younger children how to ride bicycles by riding their own bike along side with them.

Bicycling along with this new language was all a bit intimidating for me, but I really wanted a bike for two reasons. Number 1: This was and still is my only means of transportation (other than my own two feet) until I officially get my Dutch driver’s license and get an automatic car…not standard. Number 2: I really wanted to get out there in the narrow streets and bike paths that are shared with cars in our village. I wanted to accomplish this and not be afraid. The longer I waited, the harder it would be.

So, I bought a bike. As I was testing one out at the local bike shop, the young gentleman could sense my insecurity in this decision. I was terrified. As I hopped up on a bike in the front of Jac Kemps bike shop, I wobbled and swerved big time. I looked like a beginner for sure. He smiled and said, “It’s okay. I won’t look.” He turned his head and went back indoors. God love him. If he only knew how much that meant to me. I smiled and practiced a bit. I dared not go on the main street just yet. I ended up buying a navy blue used bike, but instead of riding it back home, I walked it back home. Sad, but true. Mary Kate was with me and I think she was terrified just as much as mommy. She insisted I walk the bike with her in the backseat. I could handle her kicking my backseat when I drove my Ford Explorer back home, but not my bike. I played it safe.

My game plan was to practice on Sundays when everything is super dead, quiet, and looks like a ghost town. I needed as much room on the streets as possible to make my mistakes. I wanted to learn the roads and memorize quick pathways backwards and forwards before I jumped in headfirst. Back when I wore those pigtails and had rainbow spoke beads on my bike, my daddy’s voice came to me, “Jessica, you are in control.” I eventually was practicing a bit everyday with Mary Kate fighting the bike ride each time. She sensed my fear for sure, but we worked through this together. My ten year old helped out as well by riding along beside me to the market or to the Spar, a tiny and perfect sized grocery store here in Schijndel. I needed his confidence and courage to rub off onto me. He kept reminding me to go faster and that I was not aloud to get off my bike and walk. Thank you for that, Lance.

After three months, I am now loudly singing along with Julie Andrews in Sound of Music, “I have confidence in confidence alone besides which you see I have confidence in me!” I now feel comfortable going out and about daily with my bike. It’s absolutely invigorating to freely and happily ride my bike amongst this gorgeous fall weather. Biking over or under golden and fiery red leaves is heavenly. As far as our family bike rides, those are coming. We are in the midst of still purchasing more bikes for family members and getting them road ready. This is all a bit slower than I anticipated, but I am confident we will get to encounter those bicycling journeys that I dreamed up in Texas.


Mijn fiets….my new friend
and no longer my foe.


  1. Love it! I was really shaky too for the longest time. I still occasionally feel a little off, but now that B can ride- it’s a ‘load’ off lol! So glad you guys are loving it and jumping right in. Seriously- is this not the best place to be an expat?!?!

  2. Two things came right to mind when I read this – the first was the Friends episode with Phoebe when Ross gave her a bike, but she just walked it everywhere because she couldn’t ride a bike. And the other thing was how appropriate that Lance helped you get on your own 2 wheels and really ride. Is he not the one who took Lane’s and Maci’s training wheels off and got them going? I love that boy’s confidence!

    I’m really proud of you Jess!!! I love that you can put MK in the back and go. I’m still not sure about that when I see others do it. You are awesome!

    • Ok…this just made this post even better! I so forgot about Phoebe! I’m cracking up! I think I will have to find that episode on YouTube now! Funnneeee!!! And Lance! Yes! He was the one that took the training wheels off Lane and Maci’s bikes! I wasn’t even around to get videos of it. We ended up having to put Maci’s back on and I will definitely have to get Lance back involved with those bike lessons for her.

      I had bought my bike when we were waiting on our air and sea freight to arrive. When I brought it home it sat in the garage most days. When no one was looking I practiced tootling around inside the garage and getting use to getting on and off my bike. Then the kids insisted taking me to the park to practice and then venture around in our neighborhood. I am just giddy now that I can ride comfortably now! Thanks Cecilia for the reply! Made my day!

  3. Julia Motekaitis says:

    I used to practice that scene from Sound of Music over and over with my big sister, and we’d spin around and look in the mirror and try not to laugh, but we always laughed. I love picturing you as Maria von Trapp!!! :) We miss you all, but we love watching you embrace life abroad! Praying for you always.

    • Thanks Julia for the prayers! I can picture you for sure trying to start out serious singing that song and then breaking out in laughter. Kind of like my face with the lovely chocolate you shared that one evening. Missing you and our College Station families! Thanks goodness for the internet!

  4. Jess!
    I had no idea the bike thing was such a struggle. I’, so glad I ran across your post! You are doing some amazing things. I’m currently trying to convince the boys to do Maymester’s in Europe so me & Matthew could hang out with you guys…Calvin is a maybe…Ben isn’t taking the bait…maybe prod him on Facebook if you can? My idea is that me & Matthew would come hang out with you guys a bit, Wade would meet us close to the end of their Maymesters & we’d go do some family vacation when you guys finish school…pie in the sky I know but I gotta dream. I’m so proud of you. Keep pushing out of your box. You are growing so much! I’m so proud of all of you! Bonnie

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