Day 47: Efficiency

Here are two things that we’ve run into here that don’t make all that much sense to us. One, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV in the States) – or the RDW, as known in the Netherlands, and secondly, the lack of use of credit cards.


Waiting for our turn at the DMV equivalent, drinking a cup of complimentary espresso. Not bad!

Today we had to drive to Rotterdam to prove that we live in the Netherlands, after we’ve already proved that we live here and have proof with our residence card. But we had to drive an hour plus to take our paper and another paper to show proof that we can be here and get our car out of customs. But we didn’t get our car out yet – we have to wait until tomorrow for our highly paid consultant to bring over the Title document that we shipped with the car, directly to the RDW. Once they receive this document, they’ll issue Dutch license plates which will take another 5 days. Everything takes more time than necessary and no one really has an answer as to why this is so. They just say, it isn’t possible. And so we wait. And wait. We paid another fee to register our car here but this leads to my next hmffff… ( I”m sure it’s like this for foreigners coming to the United States DMV as well, yet it just doesn’t feel all that foreign to me.) 

When you want to pay for something, in the States you can use your credit card. Here, they don’t really allow you to use a credit card. Everything has to be from a debit card with a PIN attached. Or, I just haven’t figured out how to use a credit card yet, but I don’t think that is the case. However, you can load separate money on your debit card to act as a ChipKnip – which I think is more like a credit card, but I’m still not sure. Hopefully someone will explain it to me and I’ll be able to park with my ChipKnip card. I don’t understand why they don’t allow credit – it’s just not possible! And if you’re a foreigner, it’s really not possible to pay but with cash! Crazy, right? Or just different?  Hmmfff…


You can’t use a credit card to pay! Normal!

Day 42: Speed Dating and SUP

There was a blog the other day written by another expat that talked about speed dating – but it’s about women who are looking for a new Best Friend Forever! (BFF) or several new friends. I love this concept and think it’s something most of us do quite frequently. Unless perhaps you’re Dutch or grew up and still live in the same small town with your old friends and your extended family and don’t really have a need to make NEW friends, because your social network is so tight.

So many of us at the kids’ school are all in the same boat – some of us here a year or two or 5 or longer, some just arriving, some getting ready to move.  For the newbies (like me) I definitely have to put myself out there and “date” as many woman – to find new friends and establish new workout routines, and homework play dates, and coffee get togethers, and GNO and such.  For the old timers, they have to date again, because it’s like they’ve been divorced when their friends move back to their original homes or new expat assignments.  They have to meet new friends to fill their date cards. And so we go… to the PTA Newcomer’s Coffees, and out to group lunches, shopping at the farmers’ markets and trying out new gyms.  Lots of fun dating, but boy, my paper piles, laundry, and clutter are collecting higher and higher!



A gorgeous day to lunch outside, with new friends – swapping stories and sharing ideas about how to make it in “this world.”

After my “first shift” was through, I rushed back to school to pick up the kids to go and fix J’s passport photo for her residence card. We stopped at the Kings Almarkt – an American  store super find! They have so many things we love and today we picked up miniature ice cream cones. Char was so happy!

after school snack!


After getting the kids settled and homework started, Jeff was so sweet to drive me over to the Ijburg, to test out a new paddle board with Morene. While I paddled, he took the kids to dinner and waited for me. I think we all had a good time. The kids love being spoiled by their dad.  I loved the traditional, orange Boga, touring board and might have to get one when our car arrives, which could be any day.   I loved being on the water, getting a workout and enjoying the sun shining and reflecting on the water, even if it was cold!

Hope you have a good day and take care of your girlfriends!!

xo Adriana


Day 38: Sun Shining = Go Outside


When the sun is shining, it feels like you’re wasting money if you’re not outdoors.  Or, I guess you’re wasting sunshine and it’s a precious commodity in the Netherlands. But still, our family was enjoying the slow morning and not quite in a rush to get out of the house. 



A lazy morning gave us time to make pancakes – or as the Dutch say, Pannen Koeken. Kids loved ’em.

We had planned to go to the Zuider Zee Museum, but as soon as we mentioned the word “museum”, our littlest little angel started to throw a conniption fit even if it would be the most fun. What is a conniption fit, anyway?  I just know my parents always said that… but I’m sure you can imagine what I mean. I think we needed a little down time this morning so we just hung around until lunch time, and decided to head into Amsterdam for a canal cruise instead. The weather was so gorgeous, that we needed to be outdoors and being on a boat was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.  Anytime you put me in the sun and on the water, I’m happy.  And if the mama’s happy, everyone is happy!  



This beer boat made me smile!


Imagine having to parallel park here on the canal. In the rental car, they have these metal pokey sticks that you can use to break the window in case you drive into a body of water!  Scary!!



Happy Labor Day to all my American Friends!!  Namaste.  xo

Day 34: Finding the Fun

I’m all about having fun and making connections and today couldn’t have been any better.  Now that we’re “settled,” there was time to get out and enjoy this wonderful city.

I got up at 6:15 am and went for a run!! Can you believe it? And yes, it was fun!  I made coffee for Jeff and lunches for the kids and then put on my shoes and out the door I went for a little jog. I ran to the downtown and around and back home, along the canal, passing some ducks and dog walkers along the way. it was a perfect way to start the day.

After dropping the kids off at school, I came back to shower and to get ready for a day shopping with the girls in Amsterdam. We walked around the 9 little streets – stopping into quaint little shops, watching out for bikers, and getting more comfortable with the city. This was a lot of fun!



Colorful bike




Pretty blue flowers


Licorice by the cash register

The kids had some entertainment too after school. Christian went to hang out with his new friend for the first time. They rode bikes together to the McDonalds and shopping center. Let’s just say I’m stretching outside of my comfort zone. All went well and I think he enjoyed his taste of independence here.

Jen and I promised to take our boys to the Amsterdamse Bos to check out the little boats. We finally made it over there and they had so much fun. I actually loved being on the water and enjoying the sunshine.  I really didn’t want to go, because we had a girls’ night out planned and wanted more than five minutes to get ready, but we didn’t want another day to pass and it worked out just fine.



Rushing home, I scrambled to warm up dinner that I made in the morning and to listen and to share all of our fun stories before heading out again. Oma and Opa called and we were skyping with them too, as I got ready.  Good news! They bought their tickets and will be here to visit for 2 months, in about 2 months!  

Girls’ Night Out was such a blast. I needed that time with the girls to just be girls and hang out and chat and share stories as girls do.  We had so much fun, that we didn’t leave until after midnight! In Holland, you have to ask for the check and they don’t just come and offer it. Ah, how we forget! No wonder they never came around until the restaurant was clean and the workers REALLY wanted to go home. I’d say, it was more than a good night and we’re planning another one next month, if not sooner!



I love full days like today… now I better get to bed before the sunrises again.  Tot siens. xo

Day 19: Vondelpark * Rijksmuseum * Houseboat * Tram

We’re getting better at preparing for the day. Each kid carries a backpack and today I gave them each a checklist:

1. Backpack

2. Water Bottle

3. Light Rain Coat

4. Umbrella

5. Something to Read

All of these things are to help them take care of themselves. They can carry their own pack and their own jacket and always have something to drink. If they want to add more, they can, but they still have to carry it all day. Teaching them to take care of themselves while also being responsible for their own stuff!

We were happy to venture out to meet the Petersons again today. We met in the Museumplein and walked over to Vondelpark together. We got a later start than usual, and everyone was already hungry soon after we gathered. I had read about a cooking cafe for kids and both my youngest, and Kris’ youngest like to cook so I thought this would give us a destination to seek out in Vondelpark. I’m good at coming up with ideas, but not always so good with following up with the details! For example, I knew the name of the restaurant in VP (generally), but didn’t jot down the address, hoping to explore the park and venture upon it by chance. Not such a good idea when you have 8 hungry people! Eventually we found it after stopping to ask at least 3 strangers. But I think the kids had a good time making their own pizzas and ham and cheese croissants. It was a fun experience at the Kinderkookkafe.


After the kids refueled, they wandered over to a playground and enjoyed running around together in a new park. They found some fun swings where 3 people could swing at once. I loved seeing their smiles. The boys then disappeared for a while and we could see their shadowy figures through the trees. They found some tall pieces of wood and were building a teepee. I think they could have stayed for hours.



Weather reports showed that afternoon thunderstorms were quite possible so we had planned to check out the Rijksmuseum. The good news was that the rain never came. We still were able to walk around and enjoy the art at the museum. Luckily, only a part of the museum was open as the rest is under renovation. This proved well for the kids as their attention span for art is not that high. I actually enjoyed hearing their perspective about what they saw and what stood out. J and I kept trying to determine from what angle the light source was used to paint the layers of light and shadow. We never did agree, but I think that will help us to discover some new art research. Our family favorite exhibit was one from 2008, which was a rather unique and unusual Grandfather Clock, that was in the shape of a tall, grandfather clock, with a frosted glass face with dry erase numbers written on the face from the inside. Behind the glass, it appeared a man was inside the clock and counting the minutes passing by erasing the arms of the clock and re-writing them again. It was to show the passing of time and we all got a kick out of it. Of course we all loved Rembrandt’s Night Watch painting and discussed how the sword looked three-D, how we liked the shadow of the hand on the other man’s jacket, and the element of surprise with people’s faces hiding and peeking through the crowd.


After our brief tour of the museum, we played in the Museumplein again as the kids love the big, flat swing and wanted to share it with the Peterson kids.


If the kids are happy, I’m happy and so we stayed for awhile. We then walked to the tram and took it to visit the P’s houseboat, which was very cozy and nicely decorated in a Dutch theme with blue and white and red colors. I think it would be fun to stay on a vacation houseboat. However, I felt a bit sad for them, as the owner’s houseboat was parked directly in front of their vacation boat which completely obstructed the view of the water. They did have a small window portal from the bedroom to look off and see a bit of water, but if they wanted to see more, they had to wander over to the owner’s floating backyard or walk to the top and sit on top of the houseboat. They of course, were gracious and the owner was very kind to them, so no worries… The kids all had fun exploring and being in a new environment with their California friends.


I had fun sitting with Kris and just relaxing as I felt tired by the end of the day… staying up until 1 am watching the Olympic Closing Ceremonies was probably not such a good idea! Did you watch them too?

The kids and I soon said goodbye and found our way to a new tram stop and journeyed home on the Metro. On the tram, J asked me if I missed California yet. She said she did a little bit but knew that we weren’t going back any time soon, so she really didn’t think about it much. I told her we would feel home sick at times but that we’ll adapt and that we have to live in the moment, which she is doing. She is very smart and realizes that she must manage her expectations, even though she doesn’t know that is what she is doing. I believe that happiness comes from when your expectations are in alignment with your reality. She expects to live here and doesn’t expect to move back home, so she’s happy. Pretty simple. I shared with her the expression that the grass isn’t always greener, and she started to sing a Justin Bieber song about the same topic. It’s amazing, but I think she gets it. We are here now and our job is to enjoy BEING just where we are. As a family, we chose to come on this journey and so we are enjoying our green grass, so to speak, right here, right now. And we’re enjoying keeping in touch with our family and friends back home too. Little C especially loved talking to one of his BFFs this afternoon, as you can see by his smile.Image

All is well and today was another good day. I hope you had a good day right where you are too. xoxo

Day 14: What I Am… Is What I Am

Are you what you are – or what?

(Thank you Edie Brickell… I used to sing this song on top of my lungs – did you too?)


I found this pillow today on our all day furniture shopping palooza with Anita and Kelsi. We bought everything we needed to finish furnishing our house today!  All the beds and couches, tables and chairs, desks and dressers were ordered today. Can I hear a big shout out?!?!  This is a HUGE accomplishment if you can only imagine trying to furnish a home in a day or two or three!  Anita gave us another full day of Dutch translation and driving and organizing the details for our shopping trip while Kelsi tried to teach me a few dutch words here and there. We are so happy that our furniture will be delivered this weekend already, with the couch coming next week. When we ordered our couch in the states it took 6-8 weeks for delivery time. I was so excited when they said it would only take 9 days.  I AM so happy and exhausted!

Kris and Scott decided to spend the night with us last night and our kids all still wanted to play together after breakfast. We were so lucky that they decided to keep our kids with them while we were on our never-ending shopping trip.  They all went to the forest and explored Adventure Island again. I think they probably had more fun and were definitely less bored than they would have been shlepping around with us from shop to shop!  Thank you Scott and Kris for entertaining our family and I’m sorry we were gone longer than expected. We loved seeing you and can’t wait to see you all again this week.

Hope you all are enjoying the last few weeks of summer. xo