Saturday, January 24, 2009

Week 34 - less than 2 weeks to maternity leave, less than 6 weeks to baby

It has been a little over 2 weeks since I provided a photo update of my ever expanding belly.  

We still don't have a name that we can agree on, but are narrowing it down. Our son is more and more active, more of the time. Every now and then (particularly starting at 10pm and lasting until 12am) I become either a punching bag or a tumbling mat. It is cute for a little while but gets old when it continues to prevent my precious sleep.

I am looking forward to not having to work for the 4 weeks before my due date. I thought I wouldn't be, that I would rather spend the last weeks working and not thinking about what is going to happen after my water breaks. I have since changed my mind. I can't wait to be able to sleep in and then take a nap in the middle of the day.

I spend a lot of time rubbing my belly. I am looking forward to rubbing his back in a little over a month - not the sleep deprivation though.


Where to start...

Kevin received his SoFi number last week. This is like a US Social Security number, you have to have one for tax purposes, banking, insurance & employment. Kevin wasn't able to get one until we had registered at the Town Hall (yes, you have to do that too) and the Town Hall acknowledged our marriage. Kevin's legality in The Netherlands is based on my Work Visa and my residency (hence the marriage tidbit). So...he finally received a SoFi number last Monday, what we thought was the last hurdle to his being able to work. Monday afternoon he sent his resume and cover letter off to about 6 International Schools in the area. Tuesday found him spending all day at the International School of Amsterdam (technically in Amstelveen). They are very sure that they can keep him busy subbing full time and started to apply a little pressure on him to apply for their full time Math Teacher position. Kevin really liked the school, teachers and students. We were very excited that he was finally going to be able to get out of the house and feel productive! On Wednesday he went back and dropped off all of the appropriate paper work; copies of his teaching license, proof of health insurance (a legal requirement in Holland), SoFi number and temporary residence permit). Later in the day the school emailed him back to let him know that he wasn't actually legal to work yet as the temporary residence permit says he can not work with out a work visa. Agghhhh! 

My little ongoing joke/bitterness has been "one more thing and 3 more weeks". Turns out he can't work until we get the letter from the Immigration office that says his residency has been approved. As soon as he has this letter he can work. It is supposed to come in the next couple of weeks (yea right, the last paperwork for it was submitted on Jan 8th). A few weeks after we receive the letter we will get another letter that tells when and where to pick up the actual residency cards. What a hassle!

While at the ISA Kevin had observed a Math teacher, who has since been recommending Kevin as a tutor to parents. So far he has one student who is he tutoring twice a week. He is really enjoying it!

Yesterday, Kevin had appointments at the International School of The Hague and the International School of Almere. Both school directors were positive about his opportunities and want him to get in touch with them as soon as he is legal. They both said that native English speaking teachers are in high demand and that he shouldn't have a problem finding work, either full time for the rest of this year or part time next year.

Yesterday I fell as I was walking off of the escalator in the "bike garage" of the train station. It was raining really hard outside and the end of the escalator was wet and my shoes didn't have a lot of traction. I took one step and went down. I hit my elbow on the rail and my handlebars landed on my head. I didn't fall off of the bike, I was standing next to it which is actually a little more embarrassing. I was stuck under my bike so one of the attendants had to come and help me up. Don't worry, the little guy wasn't touched in the whole thing...just my head, elbow and pride. 

Last week we had dinner at our friend's downstairs. I had commented that I couldn't wait for our friend Bill to arrive in a couple of weeks. He was bringing us a bunch of baby stuff, glue mouse traps (we seem to have an unwanted roommate who laughs at our mouse traps -- so I am getting serious and you can't get the glue traps here), chocolate chips & shortening (both of which you can't find here). Well, as we were leaving Brian & Courtenay's on Sunday night, Brian slipped me a package of chocolate chips...yea! I promised to bring him some cookies as soon as I made them. I have an America's Test Kitchen recipe that doesn't use shortening (which is good because I don't have any). ATK's chocolate chip cookies are by far the best I have ever made. Each cookies uses about a 1/4 cup of dough. The end result is a thick cookie that is moist in the middle (the butter is melted and cooled before mixing with the sugar) and firm on the outside.  I made a double batch as there are several people we want to share them with!

Before I could make the cookies I had to scavenge the town for cookie sheets that would fit in our oven. Our oven is the size of a microwave as it is also a microwave, conventional oven and convectional oven. My american cookie sheets don't even come close to fitting! The first store I tried was Hema. This is kind of like Target, but not nearly as big. We picked up some baby stuff, from the list of 'must haves', but didn't have any luck on the cookie sheets. We stopped by Blokker, which has most house stuff, no luck. On the way we tried the cooking/baking store near our house...they didn't have anything small enough. I hadn't tried here first as this store tends to be expensive and I didn't want to pay a fortune for 2 sheets. The clerk did recommend a store by Albert Cyup (a huge street market). Kevin was starting to get annoyed by this point but I had to give it one more shot. The store was the best cooking/baking store I have ever been in! It was huge, had everything you could possibly need. I think I am in love with the store..ooh and they even sharpen knives...this is good as my chef knife has gotten very dull. I can't wait to go back and peruse everything that they have!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Week 32 Prego Update & Kevin's first Half Marathon

Sunday we traveled to Egmond (on the North Sea) for Kevin's first half marathon. He was not impressed. It was 2 miles in the town, 4.5 on the beach (directly in to the wind) 1.4 on rolling dunes and the rest on brick/cobbleston streets. I am very proud of him as it was very cold, very windy and difficult terrain. I was going to try to see him in town but I lost sight of him as soon as he entered the starting chute. For the majority of his race I was in the local hotel restaurant/bar/lobby sipping hot chocolate and doing my dutch homework. I was at the finish line in time to catch him if he was ahead of time. I stood there for 45 minutes and missed him somehow. He had finished and walked back to find me. I was really bummed to not see him finish, be able to cheer him on or get a pic!

Me before Kevin's race, on the North Sea. It was as cold as it looks!

Below are the latest belly pics. I can hardly believe I am due in 8 weeks.

I am very proud of myself for making it into the pool yesterday and yoga today. I was much slower in the pool then I used to be but I was able to kick without my knee hurting. I was actually swimming too, not just floating. I do have a bit of extra drag. Yes, I was that pregnant woman in a doesn't seem right to buy a prego swimsuit for just 2 more months. The yoga class was a Pregnancy Yoga class so it was very gentle but the stretching felt soo good! I am going to try to make it to the pool again tomorrow and plan to go to yoga again next week.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

New Years & Prague

New Years in Amsterdam

Well, we have lived through our first European New Year's celebration. Before the real excitment started, An, Steven & Vincent came over for dinner earlier in the night.

Our friends had warned us about just how crazy it would be. Their warnings didn't do it justice. About a month ago we received a catalog in the mail for purchasing fireworks. This catalog put anything you might find on a US Indian reservation to shame. The Dutch are only allowed to shoot fireworks on New Year's Eve so they go a little crazy with them. During the day it is just firecrackers, lots of noise and smoke. It was a little like being in a war zone.

The real excitement started just after midnight and then proceeded to go on for an hour and a half. Our neighborhood was lit up like a grand finale on the 4th of July but it was nothing as compared to what Centrum was doing.

The dogs were both throughly freaked out and would have crawled under the covers had we let them.


Several weeks ago we had found flights to Prague for super cheap. We left Amsterdam on Jan 3 and came back on Jan 6th. We really only needed 2 full days to see Prague, but I didn't know that when I booked the flights and it was only 29 euros for the Tuesday flight.

We made it a pretty lazy trip. We would sleep late on the morning and then return to the hotel in the afternoon for a nap before dinner.

Day 1:

King Wenceslaus (ok really a duke), who knew he was a real guy.

King Wencelaus Square

The National Museum. The mis-matched patches (lighter splotches) these are the patches for the bullet holes made by Soviet tanks.

King Wencenlas on an upside down horse, you can see the tongue sticking out of the horse's mouth.

The Powder tower, one of the last towers for the original wall of "Old Town", where gun powder was stored.

The Muncipal House, designed and decorated by Alphon Mucha in Art Nouveou. It was a beautiful building where we later went to a concert.

The front of the Muncipal House.

Jan Hus memorial. A predecessor to Martin Luther. He was burned at the stake 100 years before Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door.

Tyne Church

The Old Town Hall and the Astronomical Clock. Can you tell it was FREEZING while we were there?

View from the Charles Bridge.

Kevin on the Charles Bridge with the castle in the background.

After walking around all afternoon (and freezing!) we made our way to the "Little Quarter" where we warmed up with tea (me) and beer (Kevin). We then took a tram to a monestery by the castle, for dinner. (a Rick Steves recommendation). We had contemplated walking, man am I glad we opted for the tram, as it would have been a long, up hill walk in the cold and dark. The tram took 10 minutes and cost us about a 1.50 euros, total!

Day 2

Sunday morning we woke up to snow.

The crowd of people waiting for the Astronomical Clock to mark the hour. Granted it is kinda neat to watch, but this crowd is ridiculous, almost as bad as the one surrounding Brussels' Maniken Pis.

The escalator, down to the Metro, it goes straight down! I don't really like heights, so needless to say this escalator made me a little uneasy. It took 3 minutes and 10 seconds to go from top to bottom.

Inside the Muncipal House, prior to the concert.

Day 3

Monday we woke up to even more snow...

Park outside the castle.

Kevin outside the castle.

St. Vitius Cathedral, in the castle grounds.

A main hall in the Old Palace. Large enough to be used for indoor jousting. Horses could be ridden up the stairs, indoors.

Me outside the Summer palace. Why am always a the summer palaces when it is freezing!

View of Prague from the castle.

Fresh strudl, as recommended by Samantha Brown. We ventured far out of the city center for these. Less then a Euro each!

Kevin enjoying the apple strudel in the park and snow.

Satisfying Czech food!

Half devoured Honey Cake.

The House of the Black Madonna.