Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dutch midwives and our new neighborhood

Friday I left work early so that Kevin and I could go to the bank to activate our new cards (you can't do it over the phone) and then go to our first midwife appointment.

The bank went well, we had to have someone show us how to transfer money to our "chip", but now think that we can do it on our own :) Your bank card (it is called a current account since they don't use checks here) has access to your current account and to a chip on the card. You can put "cash" on the chip and then use the chip like it is cash with out having to enter your pin. This is handy for small purchases and train tickets.

We caught a fast train to Amsterdam central and then a tram to get us close to the midwife. I have choosen to use the Geboortcentrum (The Birth Center), as it was recommended to me by an American friend of a co-worker. The Geboortcentrum is on a street that has become dedicated to everything about babies. There is a store where you can by baby stuff and maternity clothes...of course it is a little pricey for the clothes..but the baby paraphenlia seemed to be reasonably priced. We had followed the GPS from Leidseplein to the Geboortcentrum, so we were a little early (even with my what seem to be hourly pee breaks...I think I drank too much water at lunch), so we had coffee and pie at the cafe next door. It was filled with pregnant women and the pie was excellent, I can tell this is going to be a regular stop before or after my appointments.

Our midwife was very nice and her English was very good. I had brought my medical records from my OB/GYN in the US, hoping to not have to do all of the blood tests again. No such luck, we couldn't find in the records where it said my blood type, the amount of sugar or iron in my blood, RH factor or immunity for Measles or Rubella. In the US, I was able to do the blood tests and ultrasound in the same office as my OB. Not here. I need to go to another clinic (maybe hospital) to have the blood tests. She is also sending me for another ultrasound as I didn't have the records showing the measurements of all of the organs.

So far the care seems very similar to the US. She had prefaced the appointment with the comment that in the Netherlands, being pregnant is not treated like a disease or illness (as sometimes in the US) so they are less invasive (fewer tests, etc). We laughed at this afterwards, as she is running the same tests they did in the US (not more or less) and asked all of the same questions about our health and habits. One difference...I can have sushi here (as long as it is fresh)....

One funny language translation she was giving us the details about the blood tests, she said I didn't have to be "sober" for them (this after asking if I drank or used drugs). We all had a good laugh as what she meant was I didn't have to fast before hand. Not fasting is good, as I don't think I could...I eat more now then I did 2 weeks ago. Breakfast at 6:30 of cereal and juice, ham & cheese croissant and an apple at 9, lunch, yogurt and another apple at 2ish and then dinner when I get home. If I don't eat that frequently I begin to have cannibalistic thoughts.

After the midwife appointment we decided to walk to our new neighborhood and have dinner there. There is a great little Italian place very close to our new home, hopefully they provide takeout!

After dinner we walked to the Amsterdam Zuid train station and caught a train back to Hilversum. While we were waiting for our bus to Eemnes we saw to incidents we never expected to see.

We were sitting in the bus transit area, when we watched 1 bus back into the front of another bus. We kept thinking he would stop…nope…CRUNCH. About 5 minutes later, as we were boarding our bus, we saw another bus go to parallel park in front of the bus that had just been hit. He cut it a little to close…CRUNCH. After riding the buses here for the last 2 weeks (and watching them stop and turn on a dime) I never would have thought they would hit each other…I had stopped flinching when they would come close to bikes, cars or other buses…Kevin and I are both back to flinching..

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We have a home!

We got the apartment we wanted! We will move in on Nov 1st and we can't wait!

In Kevin's wanderings yesterday he made it to Beatrix park, where he saw a group of people standing around smiling while their labs (and other dogs) played off the leash...This park is only 8 minutes from our new will be great for the dogs daily walks!

Our apartment is large enough to have a fold out couch (in addition to our current furniture) so we can house guests! Don't worry, we will provide earplugs for everyone who comes after March 10th. In fact we may have our first guests just bring a costco size container!

First come, first serve!

Now for our container to will be to Rotterdam on Nov 19th and then take another 2 weeks to clear customs and make it to Amsterdam. Until we have our own stuff, the relocation company will provide us with furniture.

I found a midwife today, our first appointment is on Friday. In the Netherlands, after your baby is born a "maternity assistant" comes to your house for 3, 5 or 6 hours a day for 8 days. She helps new parents figure out what they are supposed to do with there little bundle of joy... in addition to doing things like changing your sheets, laundry, cooking, etc.

Today was the first day that I felt our son move, consistently. I had been feeling it every now and then, but today was much more regular. Wierd.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sunday, Monday & Tuesday - Nothing special.

First things first...we haven't heard back about the apartment yet. We had to raise our offer on Monday and are still waiting for a reply. Yes, we will let everyone know what happens :)

Sunday we took the bus and train into Amsterdam to have lunch with Diane and Alexander. Diane has known Kevin and his family for about 25 years. She has been living in Amsterdam with her husband Alexander for the last 10 years. We used a combination of the GPS and the bus maps to figure out how to get to her apartment, this proved to be slightly more challenging then we expected as the Amsterdam Marathon was on Sunday and it runs past her apartment and wrecked havoc on the bus routes. We made it and had a tasty lunch and good conversation. We also got to see the runners come past.

In the afternoon we caught the train back to Hilversum to have dinner with An, Steven and Vincent. We stayed out too late on Sunday and I ended up not being able to physically get out of bed until 8am. I was able to make it to work by 9:30...note to self, bed time is 9:30 at the latest!

I got a great haircut on Saturday, while he was trimming my hair he found two gray first. I can't really blame them on my son yet, so they must be Kevin's fault.

Kevin went into Amsterdam today and explored the neighborhood we want to live in, on foot and in the rain. We are going to be really bummed if we don't get the apartment in Old South. Kevin had sent me an email at one point, when he was standing in front of the building.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Today I went to my first pregnancy yoga class. It had to be the most gentle class I had ever been too. I would say it was more like easy stretching with a short nap at the end. Yes, I took at 15 minute nap at the end. I think I might go back, just for that feature!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Apartment Post #3

So it seems that I am still learning how to post and our internet connection is REALLY slow.

I couldn't get Picasa to upload more then 4 photos at a time. These are the remaining Milletstraat pics.

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Apartment Hunting Post 2 -- Pics of Oude Zuid Apt

This is the apartment we made an offer on. It is on Milletstraat.

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Weekend Adventure & Prego Pics

We had originally planned to spend both Saturday and Sunday in Amsterdam, but we got off to a slow start on Saturday. I slept until 8, Kevin had gotten up earlier. We decided to modify our plans and ride our new (used) bikes to Hilversum so that I could get a haircut and save Amsterdam for Sunday. We didn' take the shortest route in to Hilversum, but then we are still learning our way. We were only 10 minutes late to my haircut apppointment, which isn't bad considering we only left 45 minutes before hand.

Before we left Eemnes, I did some quick grocery shopping for the weekend, not knowing when we would be home and not wanting to risk the grocery store being closed. Tonight I am going to try to make Beef Sukiyaki, from a mix. We will see how well I can interpret the directions.

After the haircut we grabbed coffee and lunch at a cafe and then headed back to Eemnes (around 2pm). I love the little cookies you get with your coffee! Oh and the cheese..I love cheese here!

For those who are tracking, below are this week's prego pics. Notice my belly has grown a half of an inch in 2 weeks :)

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Apartment Shopping

Thursday we went apartment hunting in Amsterdam. We found 2 that we really liked, neither had deadly dutch stairs. We made an offer on the one in Oude Zuid and are working through the negotiations. Monday we will call and place an option on the one in the Pjip, in case we don't get the one in Oude Zuid.

Apartment in Pjip.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We Made It!

The last week in Portland was very hectic! Thursday the movers showed up to box everything up. We headed to the Hotel Monaco to for the rest of our time in Portland. The dogs loved all of the attention that they got at the hotel.

Friday we went back to the house to begin cleaning as the rooms were emptied. It was a little weird to see the rooms empty and clean. The house was much cleaner then when we bought it.

We didn't finish cleanning and making dump runs Friday so we had to go back on Saturday for a little more cleaning, touch up the paint in a couple of rooms and then the last dump run. I can't believe we actually got it all done.

We dropped the dogs off at Andrea & Luis' Saturday morning. We wouldn't see them again until Monday, in the Netherlands. We then headed back to the hotel to check out and head to the airport. We tried to get an upgrade to business class, but no such luck. I am so spoiled from my Nike travel!

The flight was good, we were able to board quickly. There was a couple sitting several rows in front of us that were very high maintenance - with a cranky toddler. It is a good thing we are already pregnant! We were able to deboard really quickly and beat the crowds to immigration. Our bags were also the first off of the plane...we flew through the airport. We met our driver and he took us to our temporary apartment in Eemnes..a very small town outside of Hilversum.

We settled in, showered and waited for An & Steven to come with our groceries. This really meant we kept falling asleep on the couch...I didn't even hear them ring the doorbell, she had to call me to wake me up. It was great to see them!

We went to bed around 8:30/9 and tried to sleep through the luck. We both woke up at 2:30 and were up until 5. I went back to bed and kevin feel asleep on the couch. I woke up and 8 and decided I should go to work. I had warned them that I didn't know when I would be in...particulary with the buses and jet lag.

Work went well, and I have started to get settled.

Kevin did a little exploring in Hilversum, looking for a phone store and a bike store. Both were closed until 1pm. He then headed home to wait for the taxi, to go to the airport to pick up the dogs.

The dogs had had their own little adventure. They had gotten out of Andrea's backyard not long before Josh & Peter went to pick them up. The neighbor had Duke and Maggie was running from everyone. The neighbor was minutes from calling the shelter and Josh & Peter and to chase Maggie down. Once they got to the airport they discovered that the crate we had gotten for Duke was too small (it was huge!) so they had to buy a larger one from Northwest Airlines (not the cheapest place to buy dog crates). They then sent them on their way. I think all 4 of us could live in Duke's new crate.

I figured out how to get home on the bus..although I had missed it by 5 minutes, so I had to wait at the Hilversum train station for 25 minutes, for the next one. Once home Kevin and i tried to go to a restaurant for dinner. Who knew they would be closed on Monday I said - little town. Luckily the grocery store was open (they are closed on Sundays and close around 7 or 8 pm).

After a tasty dinner of spaghetti, I gave the dogs a bath...they were definately not themselves.

Tuesday our very helpful Crown agent picked us up and took us to The Hague where we applied for residency and I got my SoFi (tax) number. There was a slight issue with my passport as it is issued in my maiden name and has been ammended to show my married name. To the dutch this is like I have two different names...very troublesome.

After getting the SoFi number we headed to the bank to set up our checking account. US citizens can only open an ABN Amro account at a specific branch, we are told the US government is afraid we are going to hide our US dollars in Euros...

After we made it back to Eemnes we had a snack and then headed in to Hilversum to get my monthly bus pass and see if we could make it to a phone store. The phone store had closed at 6, so we grabbed dinner and then headed home. On the way home, we missed our bus stop (kevin didn't beleive me when I said which one it is). We got off 3 stops later and then caught the next bus back.

Once back (at 8:30), I headed straight to bed! We both slept through the if I could not feel like I need a nap, as soon as I get up.

Wednesday I headed back to work. I met my new boss (he was out on Monday), learned more about what I am going to be doing and got more settled. I was able to set up our dutch health insurance and also worked out. I hadn't worked out in more then a week...and I could tell.

After work I was able to time the bus schedules right and made it home very quickly.

Kevin had a very adventurous day. He took the dogs for a run around Eemnes and found a bike shop. They didn't have very many second hand bikes, so he later showered and headed to Hilversum. He bought a very nice 2nd hand bike, a gps and a sim card for his phone. He rode his bike home...through the woods and in the rain.

Tomorrow we go house hunting.

We learned this morning that our dear friends had lost their twins. They were only a couple of weeks ahead of us. Neither Kevin and I can imagine the loss they must be feeling and our hearts go out to them.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Its a boy!

We went in for our last US pre-natal visit on Monday. Our doctor asked if we wanted to try to get an ultrasound before we left the country...silly question. Of course we did!
We are having a boy! Now we just need to find a good name.
Below are the good pictures from this visit. There were a lot of pics that looked pretty scary (skull, ribs, etc). These are the cute ones.

In the mean time, our move date if fast approaching. As I am typing, the moving company is packing the house...I really want a nap but the bed is already packed and I am afraid if I laid down on the couch they might wrap me up in a paper, with it.
Kevin is making runs to the dump....hopefully only 1 or 2 more and I am trying to stay out of the movers way.

Monday, October 06, 2008

First Prego Pictures

In one week we will be living in another country! That is really weird to think about...

Below are pics of me and my growing belly, for those who are keeping track. I am 18 weeks and no I don't know the sex yet :) We will find out once we get to Amsterdam and I find a midwife.

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