Monday, November 24, 2008

Wacky Weather

This weekend was filled with wacky weather. It started on Friday with sunny skies which quickly turned dark & stormy. 5 minutes later, back to sun. It went back & forth between sun and rain for most of the morning, followed by snow and hail.

Saturday it hailed and snowed most of the day. It was too warm to "stick", but fun to watch from the window.

It was freezing on Sunday and snowed all day, this time actually sticking.

I think we are now back to the normal gray skies with rain.

It is 8:48 and we are awaiting the arrival of our container. They were supposed to arrive between 8:00 and 8:30. At 10 the "temporary furniture" people are coming to get the temporary furniture. We have had to do a little shuffling so that they will be able to bring our stuff in, through the window, and then later be able to get the temp furniture out. I will take pictures as this should be entertaining.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Riding in the Rain

I ride my bike to the train station every day. It takes me less then 5 minutes to get there. I am able to park my bike in the manned "garage" and then easily catch my train. I think I will eventually have to pay for the garage (.50 euro a day), but they haven't take my money yet and I keep offering it every time I "check out". I have seen other bikes with stickers on the rear fender that makes me think I can by some sort of pass and that is what the website said, but when I asked one day the guy was pretty adamant that that was not possible.

Today it was a great little ride to the train in the morning. However on my way home it was POURING. I had to assume the "riding in the rain" stance, you know....leaning forward a little, head cocked sideways, forehead down and one eye the rain does not come straight down here...since it is so flat the wind can really get some speed...causing the rain to come sideways.

By the time I got home (keep in mind it was less then 5 minutes), my head was soaked, my forehead was freezing, my coat was drenched and I think I looked a little like a drowned rat.. or at least that is what I felt like. It must have been pretty bad as Kevin got me a towel out of the bathroom before I even had my coat off and was very insistent that I put on warm dry clothes (not that I had any other plans). To give you some idea of the hair was as wet as if I had just climbed out of the shower.

Even with the rain (and the whether seems to change on a dime) I still like riding my bike to the train!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Week 24 - Belly Update

Here is the lastest installment of my growing belly. It looks like I am averaging a 1/2 inch every two weeks.

This weekend started out pretty slow. We found one of the Retzlaff boys on Skype so we chatted with him for a while. He is currently in Australia, to be joined by Sara and the girls this summer. Expats talking to Expats via Skype...

Kevin and I picked up the apartment a little then he headed to the video store and liquor store while I took the dogs out for a walk. I was hungry as soon as I shut the door and it only got worse. The dogs' walk got cut short as I was soon nauseous and then cold and clammy not long after. Holy crap the hunger comes on fast! Once home I didn't stop to take the leashes off of the dogs as I quickly made a sandwich. Cannibalisim was avoided yet again.

Kevin was back by then and then headed out to meet his first dog walking client while I headed to the grocery store. Today was to be my first baking experience in Amsterdam. I planned to make apricot bars but needed a couple more things, a "9x9"-ish pan and a mixing bowl.

Once home, I realized i had forgotten the mixing bowl. My feet already hurt so there was no way I was going back..time to make due...with a stock pot! It worked, the sides weren't quite high enough but it was better then the alternative! My only challenge (the receipe was in US measurements and Kristin loaned me a set of measuring cups/spoons) was with the butter. I needed 1.5 sticks ~ 3/4 of a cup. The butter that I found here was marked with 50 mg in the hell was I to convert that? I winged it and so far the bars look like they turned out. We can verify the taste in about an hour :)

Kevin came home with a dog walking gig...he has had a lot more interest in his dog walking posts then in his math tutor posts...his master's degree has really come in handy :)

We are going to An & Steven's for dinner. They recently moved in to their house in Utrect. Tomorrow we are going to a MeetIn event to see Sinterklass' arrival in Amsterdam.

Sinterklass is a Spanish saint who comes to the Netherlands every year on Nov 14th (by steamboat) and then to Amsterdam on the 15th, with his Zwartepete in tow, on a white horse. You will need to read all of the details on Wikipedia as I won't do it justice and may start to make fun of it and its racial undertones...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Baby Wish List - Revisited

For those who want to send baby stuff ---- NOTE that this is not necessary!

Ok, so the baby wish list is not working. Evidently will not ship baby product outside of the UK. Barry & Josh thank you for being so patient.

Next thought...I found a cool dutch website It has a huge selection, the one downside is that it is in dutch. This is where trusty Google comes in, Google has a translator You can either have it translate text or an entire website. There are a couple of downsides, as you go clicking through the site you will sometimes lose the translation, so if you "back" button until you get your translation again it usually works. It may take a couple of tries, be patient. When it comes time to check out you have to be in the actual site and will need to copy/paste text to to make it through checkout.

If this is all too much of a pain in the ass (which we would understand), I think books are cheap to ship from the US (use USPS rather then UPS, DHL or Fedex -- as USPS is much cheaper --- by about 100 to 200 bucks).

Or...we have a paypal account and you could send "gift certificates" and tell us what you want us to buy with it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Too Much Driving

I had to go to the EMEA DC today. For those who don't know it is 2 hours (3.5 in traffic) south of Amsterdam, in Belgium. Since we don't have a car, I rented a car yestarday and will drop it off tomorrow. I was going to be able to make it to the rental office until after it closed on Tuesday so Kevin graciously went and got it for me. My back was killing me by the time I got home (at 6pm) and the rental office was closed, so I decided to take the car back tomorrow. I will drive it to the airport, drop it off, get a REAL starbucks chai and catch the speedy "intercity" train to Hilversum.

I used our GPS for the trip to Laakdal (the DC). When I got in the car, I plugged it in and dialed up the Zuid (ours) train station as I needed to pick my boss up at 7am. Now I know how to get there on foot and on bike, I figured by car it would be a little more difficult. I had learned from the night before that you couldn't trust our GPS blindly as it sent us down a one way street, the wrong way. The GPS had also sent us down little streets between apartments, rather then main roads. We just thought that it was the GPS. The story gets better (longer but better). I made it to the train station, got my boss and dialed in the address for Laakdal. Well the GPS wouldn't stop "drawing" and then said we were "walking on the A10" when we were actually under it. I decided to circle the block to see if it would figure it out and start giving us directions to the on ramp of the highway. No luck. Starting to get frustrated, and slightly embarssed, I pull out my blackberry and look up the directions on Google Maps. Gotta love google! It gave us directions (which were only a little challenging to follow while driving, I tried to get my boss to be navigator but he didn't take the hint very well :). It took another 15 minutes but we finally makde it on to the highway, headed to Utreect > Antwerp and then Laakdal! For the entire drive the GPS continued to try to get me off of the highway, tell me to make u-turns (on the freeway, with out using the on/exit ramps) and take immediate lefts when in the left lane of the highway/freeway. I finally turned the sound off so I wouldn't have to listen to it. I was getting kind of mad at "kevin's" gps and already plotting how to tell him I was buying a TomTom.

Once at Laakdal (3.5 hours later due to a delayed start and traffic) I emailed kevin and complained about "kevin's" gps. He said it was probably still in Pedestrian mode. Pedeistrian Mode! No wonder its "Arrival Time" was so drastically off (it said I would arrive around 8:30 pm, right up until I was in the parking lot).

When I got ready to leave for the day I took the GPS off of pedestrian mode and it worked perfectly! Traffic was terrible, immediately out of Laakdal. It took me an hour to go 6 km. I had smooth sailing, once I made it through the first 6 km.

All in all, a long day!

Since we had the car, we made a trip to Ikea on Tuesday night to pick up a couple of rugs (for living room, hall and baby's room) and a storage structure for the baby's room. Kevin should have fun assembling things for the next couple of days.

Our baby stroller arrived yesterday as well. Thank you Barry! I think I have it figured out how to run it (collapse, reconfigure, etc). I will have to practice a couple more times before the little guy actually arrives :)

It is 8:40pm and I am going to bed!

One more thing, very dana.

Last night as Kevin was shuttling Ikea items inside I took the dogs out for "final pee" and proceeded to leave our keys in our apartmetn door and then shut (and lock) the outside door. It was 9:30pm and neither Kevin or I had keys. (we have 3 sets).

I proceeded to buzz our 2 upstairs neighbors. "Petra" (who I haven't met yet) finally answered (it was almost 10) and let me in. Man do i feel stupid. Somehow I dont' think this will be the last time I do this. Time to figure out how to hide a couple of "hide a keys" and make Petra "thank you cookies". Maybe this weekend.

Kevin met Petra this morning, she was more forgiving today then she had sounded yesterday.

Good Night!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Original Haarlem

Kevin and I made a quick visit to Haarlem on Saturday. When it comes to walking around we are limited in duration by my hips, back and feet. I was able to handle an hour walk with Maggie in the morning and then about 2 hours in Haarlem. We walked through their very busy Saturday market, around the cathedral that Kevin had wanted to tour (it was closed to visitors for the day) and lunch in a cafe. We tried to go to one of the lunch places that Rick Steves' recommneded but they were either closed or the line was too long. We found a nice cafe that hit the spot though. It was very windy and the shopping areas were really crowded. We did wander through their Saturday market and had fresh stroopwafels, they are even more delicious then the ones you buy in the store!

Saturday night I was able to talk to my aunt, dad, grandma and kevin's sister on Skype. I love technology! With Kevin's new computer we have a great camera (gotta love a mac), so everyone got to see live video of my belly and I was able to see Mary Ellen and Elaine. I think I have Grandma and Dad convinced to get cameras. While on the "phone" with my dad, Lorena "called" to say they were watching 100 elk in their front yard.

After staying up too late on Saturday we were late getting up on Sunday. Alexander met us at our apartment at 9 to take us on a bike tour of Amsterdam. We went early enough that most of the city was still asleep and we had the streets to ourselves. Which was a good thing as we spent a lot of time looking up at buildings (each is different and has its own personality). This city is deceivingly small, if you look at Amsterdam on a map you think it is much larger then it really is, however you get can from one end to the other in about 20 minutes (accounting for no straight routes). I recognized where we were most of the time but was disoriented in how we got there and which direction we were facing. It is a good thing we will have more time to explore the city as I think we have only just scratched the surface.

We got home around 1 and I took a much needed nap from 2:30 to 4:30.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Week 22 - Belly Update

I can't believe that I am already 5.5 months, this is going much faster then I expected.

Our little guy has become quite active. He is sitting behind the placenta, so I mostly feel big bubbles. He will sneak an elbow or knee out every now and then.

At our third ultrasound (for details on why I have had three you can read an earlier post) the tech was able to tell us that that he is on track to be a 6.5lb baby. I was very excited to hear this as Kevin was a 10lb baby and I was not happy with that thought.

Below are the latest photos. I am only posting them every couple of weeks as it seems to take that long for my belly to expand a noticeable amount.

Below is a photo of Kevin's bike. He is very proud of it. He took this in the park that was between Eemnes and Hilversum. I think they officially call this a forest, but I can't bring myself too.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A very busy weekend...

Our busy weekend started on Friday.

We still don't have internet banking enabled on our bank account, it is a long story...On our trip to the bank last week we had learned it had not been enabled so we asked the ABN woman to enable it. Turns out she didn't get it enabled, rather our account was locked and preventing all access. It took Kevin an hour at the bank to get the account unlocked and start the transfer of our rent and deposit, and still no internet banking. It looks like internet banking will have to wait until we can change our mailing address here in Amsterdam, which we can't do until we register at the Town Hall...

After going to the bank, Kevin met our housing agent and landlord at our new apartment and signed the lease. The landlord woudn't sign because I wasn't there to sign. We were able take possession and I would then sign the contract later and then the landlord would sign it.

Kevin was then headed to the Internet/Cable/Phone store to set up our services. He needed a signed copy of the contract (by all parties) so our landlord and housing agent told him how to get around it...I love that the Netherlands if full of rules and everyone is very helpful in telling you how to get around them.

Kevin was able to get the services and drop the hardware off at the apartment.

We planned to "camp" in our apartment SUnday night, as our temporary furniture would not arrive until Monday. More on that later.

I met Kevin in Eemnes with chinese food. On my way back from the chinese restaurant I saw a couple of trick or treaters. I was suprised as Eemnes isn't exactly an hotspot for Americans, our friends tell us that Halloween is catching on here.

Saturday we planned to relax, pack and clean. It really ended up being a lot more relaxing. Kevin took Duke for a run and I took Maggie for a walk to the bakery...

We didn't want to cook, so we decided to try to find the one pub in town. I had seen it while on the bus, of course it was raining in the evening... We took the dogs with us so we tied them up outside the pub and went in an ordered. When the owner figured out that it was our dogs out side, he offered for us to bring them in. We were a little tentative, knowing how disruptive they can be. We decided to risk it anyway, they must have been very appreciative as they were perfect little angels. We had wished we had found this pub earlier...the fries and meatball/satay hit the spot!

Sunday morning we rapidly packed and cleaned the apartment. A co-worker offered to help us shuttle our crap with his CRV. We happily took him up on the offer. We should have taken a picture...the thing was stuffed.

We unloaded our stuff, took a quick look around the apartment and then headed to IKEA. We knew we needed a guest bed of some sort, so we figured we would camp on it tonight...We were really excited to be in Amsterdam.

Kris dropped Kevin and I, and our stuff, off and we began assembling furniture...we bought a bed, a desk, shelves for the bathroom, bedding and dishes for the kitchen. We should have bought a screwdriver too. IKEA furniture comes with everything you need, except for a screwdriver and a hammer. We ended up sleeping on the bed, on the floor....

For dinner (the grocery store was closed, as are most things on Sunday), we went to our new favorite italian restaurant, at the end of our building. It is fast, inexpensive and tasty! I picked up a take out menu, as their pizza's are delicious and faster then any other delivery!

Our apartment is better then originally thought. We have a storage space, but it is mroe then a storage space. It is three rooms (on the top floor) with a sink and toilet. We are going to make one of the rooms a guest suite. This way our guests won't have to listen to the crying baby! Now there is no reason not to stay with us when you come to visit. It would be ridiculus to get a hotel when we have that extra space. It really is quite nice (and free!). Kevin is going to use 1 room for a "bike" shop, 1 for storage and the 3rd for a guest room. Our aparment officially has more floor space then our house. There is a kooky little third bedroom (that a twin bed MIGHT fit in), this has become the dog room. This way we don't have to have the crates in the living room, as we just threw their beds on the floor in there.

Monday found us with a very long To Do list. First things first, I headed to the doctor (by bike...I love that) to get my asthma under control. I have been having an asthma attack every couple of hours. I stopped taking my Advair, due to the pregnancy, and it has gotten progressively worse. My new doctor is confident the inhaler he gave me will help, and it won't harm our growing son. Excellent!

Kevin began shuttling stuff upstairs (to storage), the suitcases (thankfully we won't be needing all 5 anytime soon), dog crates and the new bed to the guest suite.

The furniture arrived, was moved in and assembled in less then an hour. I took a trip to the grocery store, which included a stop at the bakery (for bread and croissants) and italian deli (for meat & cheese) and the grocery store for laundry soap, dinner and coffee.

When I got back, Kevin took the dogs to the park and I took a nap. He then went to get his new iMac and try to figure out how to set up the internet, while I went to get coat hangers (we have closets but no hangers) and my asthma prescriptions. I am getting faster about locking my bike! I think I break out in smile every time I get on it...