Day 175: Beauty in the City and New Drivers Licenses

It was cold and sunny this morning and the lighting was beautiful. Jeff and I had an appointment with the town hall to turn in our California drivers licenses in exchange for Netherlands licenses. It felt a bit weird handing them over, but that’s what’s required. They want you to do this exchange within 6 months of living here and we’re fast approaching that milestone. How did that happen so fast?

If you’re an expat in the Netherlands, the agency that handles this process is called CBR and the forms can be found on their website: CBR.nl. Once you receive a letter from them, you can schedule an appointment with the town hall. You need to bring the CBR letter they send you with the application information, your passport, drivers license, residency card, and a copy of your 30% ruling, along with a passport photo. And don’t forget your 45€! All went smoothly.

On for the good part…here are some beautiful pictures of the snowscape and sunshine today. I loved the lighting and the colorful, patchwork, scarf covered tree.

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The other beautiful things I discovered today were at the Museum of Handbags and Purses in Amsterdam. A few girlfriends got together to explore the museum and to have lunch afterwards. Happy Birthday, to Carolyn!, I hope you enjoy the photos!! My favorite was the Diet Coke Purse, the lucite box bags, and the old Holland school bags(boxes) that used to serve as desks and supply boxes.

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Day 170: Friday Market Success and Homemade Sushi

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Found a good deal on fabric for our California Surfing Photo Op at the Friday Market in Amstelveen! Very happy.

Facebook’s Update Status Bar now asks:

“How are you feeling, Adriana?”

Is that like, “Hi, how are you? I’m fine. How are you?”  How are you supposed to answer that?  Maybe they should ask “What are you doing, Adriana?”  or “What do you feel like sharing with the world today? Is it something about your kids, your food, your mood, or some place you’ve been lately? Maybe you have a nice quote to share or a political opinion to spread, although I never share those!!  Facebook is sort of like Reality TV – we can get a glimpse of typically the positive side of our friends’ and family’s life story. I still find the news entertaining and enjoy reading the highlights, so thanks for sharing how you’re feeling. You inspire me and I feel happy for you.

Today I was feeling content. I had nothing I had to do and it’s Friday, so that feels good. I had 3 hours free after running errands without a schedule and I loved it.  Of course I had things to do, but nothing that was urgent. I started with a cup of coffee to warm up from the chill outside. I had to scrape the ice off the windows this morning before taking the kids to school.  I then sat down and began reading Facebook updates and email, and then working on the photo booth project and making lunch. I had bought an avocado and a cucumber, as well as other healthy veggies and decided to make a delicious lunch, homemade vegetarian sushi rolls. I wish someone was here to share them with me, but I hadn’t planned on making lunch – it just appeared after seeing someone share a similar recipe on their Facebook page.

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Preparing to make sushi rolls – cucumber, avodado, carrots, cilantro, sushi rice, wasabi, toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, salt.

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Sushi roll all wrapped up and snug in the bamboo mat.

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The final art piece – isn’t it pretty? It was delicious and easy too!

Hope you have a good weekend!  – Adriana

Day 161: Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jig!

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It’s nice to be “home” again. I’m still wrapping my head around where home is. But today, home is in Amstelveen with my wee family. The kids were excited to receive free olliebollen at Schipol airport when we arrived tonight from these beautiful Dutch ladies.

It’s nice to have a place to come to with your own stuff, that’s familiar. But my home is also with my friends in Sunnyvale and with my family in Thousand Oaks, and really with my friends and family all around the world. I think home is where you feel loved and safe and cozy. It’s a sense of place and belonging. And it feels ok to be home in Amstelveen today.

We had a great, quick trip to Lisbon. The highlight for the kids was an indoor roller coaster at the Columbo shopping center today. Even though we’re interested in rushing around seeing the sites, trying new restaurants, and absorbing European culture and history, the kids were most interested in room service, the hotel pool and a cheesy roller coaster. Go figure. I was the same way though. My highlights as a kid included swimming and being in or near water wherever I could and hanging out with my cousins and friends and family. Not much has changed for me, I guess. Those are still my favorite ways to spend time. Along with exploring the Pride land!

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Day 157: Family Bike Ride and Goat Farm

We were all busy cleaning up around our house today, catching up with laundry and decluttering. Isn’t that what you do on a weekend? But then the sun was shining in and we had to stop cleaning and go outside for a bike ride. Just like that.
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We live by the Amsterdamsebos, which is an awesome man made forest with lakes and rowing ponds and pathways and fields and trees of course, along with other surprises. My favorite part is riding along this rowing pond or body of water – I don’t know what you call it. But there are always people out running, and riding, and rowing and fishing, and strolling. There are protected paths that make it safe to take your family out for a bike ride, like we did today. Jeff and I also run through this forest every other day when we can get out for a run, as it is so conveniently close.

While we were riding today, we took the kids to a goat farm we had heard about and ran by earlier in the week. We parked our bikes and took a break to check out the farm. Here are some of the animals we saw.

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20121229-230630.jpg This trio was funny – the cow was snuggled up to the pig and the goat kept standing on the pig. The pig would grunt and eventually the cow nudged the goat off his back.

P.S. Being with the goats made me miss you Michele, and our trip to the Harley Goat Farm and your pygmies!!

Day 125: Day in the City – Amsterdam and Amstelveen

Patti Beth and I spent the day walking around the city… No real plan, just wandering and seeing where the roads and canals would take us. I like to call it wanderlust, I just wish I had a bit more sense of direction and ability to follow a digital map more than one step at a time. I definitely do not have visuospatial intelligence! Luckily getting lost was not a problem because that was the point! Funny how that works. Luckily we found the one shop we both wanted to find, along with several other treasures along the way. And who knew the one shop we both wanted to find was the same exact one!! Too funny.

We stopped for coffee and a bagel at Bagel and Beans. I was so excited to have a bagel again, and it was so tasty, toasted with sesame seeds, melted goat cheese, bacon and roasted pine nuts. Are you drooling yet?? A little slice of heaven, and no calories?!?
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Here are a couple things that caught my eye today.

We saw a canal house front decorated for Sinter Klaas with Zwarte Pieten and gifts all over the place, just like we would decorate out front yards for Christmas, but in Amsterdam there usually aren’t front yards.

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Most store windows have Zwarte Piet an Sinterklaas in the windows.

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And definitely not festive but seen on my walk home from the tram, an interesting view of garbage pickup in Amstelveen!! Look how they do it here. People bring their trash to these bins from their apartments and then the garbage truck comes to one location and pulls the whole bin out of the ground. What do you think about that??

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Day 114: My Mama and the Marketplace

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Watching my mom at the marketplace today made me happy. She was in her glory.

She was like a kid at Disneyland, going from ride to ride, excited by what she might see next, and oblivious to the cold weather. She walked ahead and smiled and waited for us to come join her. She shared what she fancied and spoke in Dutch to the sellers. She tasted the cheese samples and was excited to buy some warm frites! I think she gasped and giggled when she saw the dead fish on display, sharing how her mom used to love mackerel like the fishmonger was selling.

She stopped at the candy stand and picked treats to bring back home with her. Bread and fruit was purchased, as well as roasted chickens for dinner tomorrow night so we don’t have to cook. I like the way she thinks!

When the organ cart music player started to play, my mom started to dance. Her eyes were smiling and she was visibly happy.

My dad and I just admired her joy and passion. We were happy just seeing her BEING happy.

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She was happy just being there, at home, with her people, with us, her culture, her language, her food, and entertained by the movement of the marketplace. So simple. She was happy just being. And afterwards, she was filled with gratitude – for her life and her blessings and being together.

She IS content. We should all be so lucky to feel what she felt today.

Life is good and I love her so much. I’m thankful that she and my dad are here with us for still another month.

I hope you fill your weekend with joy and passion, and I’d love to hear about what makes you happiest. xo

Day 104: The Sun is Shining, Let’s Go Outside!

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Oma on her bakfiets.

 

When the sun is shining, the Dutch go outside!  I dropped the kids off at school, and was planning to clean and cook and get ready for company tonight, but the SUN told me to do otherwise. I came in and told my parents I was taking them for a ride today – on bikes!!  They were so cute and we all loved being outdoors together, getting some fresh air, exercise and sharing an adventure. We rode for at least an hour and probably would have kept on going if we didn’t have “work” to do!

We enjoyed riding all over Amstelveen and into the Amsterdamse Bos, a man-made forest close to my house. The sun was shining through the trees, and all the fall colors were beautiful. The crisp air felt fresh on our faces and we just had those perm-a-grins again. I hope the sun is shining again tomorrow. 😉

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Checkout Opa on his OpaFiets – and what’s that on his head? I don’t think a hat counts as a helmet!!

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Pure Joy!! Oh, to be a kid!! 😉

Day 89: Fall in Amstelveen

Here I Am…
appreciating the fall weather in the Netherlands.

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I went for a run with my dad this morning and the sun was shining. That’s a big deal here, and it set the tone for the rest of the day, inspiring us to Be outside.

As you look at the pictures, I hope you’ll take a moment to appreciate what surrounds you and to say a prayer or think a positive thought for those who are struggling right now. I love you…and wish you peace and strength.

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Day 86: Going to the Doctor

A stomach virus is going around school and our little one happened to catch something!  He seems well until the middle of the night, and then doesn’t feel good anymore. And then in the morning, he’s fine again. But today at school towards the end of the day, I received a call from Nurse Anita at the school. She is a typical Dutch lady who is full of pride and loves her job and the kids and has a strong opinion. She asked me to come pick him up and told me how this virus was going around school. She told me I didn’t need to see the doctor, but I already had made an appointment.

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Dutch Doctor’s Office

I don’t like going to the Doctor and don’t like to be a hypochondriac but I thought I should maybe take him in, just in case there was an obstruction in his tummy or something. When I called the doctor at 3:15 pm, he actually answered the phone himself. He told me that I was calling a bit late, and to come in at 5 pm.

When we arrived and checked in with the receptionist, she told us to have a seat in the waiting room and the doctor would be right with us. I didn’t have to fill out any paperwork. I didn’t have to show any ID or insurance documents. The doctor came into the waiting room to greet us, shook our hands and escorted us personally to his office. We sat down at his desk and chatted for awhile and then he invited Char to climb up on his examining table that was also in his office. There wasn’t a nurse or assistant doing anything to help out. They didn’t take his temperature. Nor did they weigh him. I kind of liked the personal touch of being human and not scaring the shit out of my kid. There was no intimidation and rather it was quite peaceful, even though we’d never really been to the doctor yet in Holland. He listened to Charlie’s stomach and let Charlie hear his own stomach. He told us that everything sounded and felt fine, and to watch and monitor him and to call back tomorrow if there was more discomfort. He told us of a delicate pain medicine we could give him over the counter and that we could pick it up downstairs in the pharmacy. When we went down to the pharmacy to buy the medicine, again they didn’t ask any probing questions and gave us the 50 pills that cost 1 euro and 20 cents. Really? Can you really believe that was even possible? Really?  I think I like it here.

The doctor also gave us the number for the local hospital in case we needed care.  He shook our hand, patted us on the back and wished us well as we left. A true, family man and a new friend in Holland.

Day 79: One Big Universe

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This was the view of the sky tonight in Amstelveen after a cold and heavy, wet rain.  We have two house guests with us tonight from the Luxembourg International School volleyball team, and we are their host family. we were waiting to pick up “Freakin’ Fresh” New York Pizza after Juliana’s volleyball game when I had to run outside to snap this pic. Juliana insisted that I didn’t cook something that they might not like!! I guess this happened to her before. 

Our guests are originally from Iceland and speak several different languages. I love this little Universe we all live in. And seeing this sky made me think of Thousand Oaks and Sunnyvale and Texas and the one, big sky we all live under even thousands of miles apart.  

And having girls visit from another country and watching them all play together with the iPhone 5 and joking around with Siri, eating Jolly Ranchers, watching an old Friends episode, and talking about how their brothers all play Minecraft, makes me think our world is really smaller than we think.  I think we all have a lot in common. 

One other small universe event happened this week too. This woman saw me walking through the school parking lot and stopped me, asking if I was new here. We ended up chatting about the international community and how to integrate the various international groups. She was Dutch, but was born in California. As we talked more, she told me she was from West L.A., near the area I was born and that her siblings were from Westlake Village – right next door to my family. Strange!!  And then she introduced me to her friend, who is Indonesian. We shared stories of our Indonesian roots and another connection was made. I love how life works and discovering the commonalities and connections. It’s like that 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon…

I hope you all have a good weekend!  xo