Day 73: windmill on a sunny day

windmill on a sunny day

Gorgeous day along the Amstel River

white walled shoes and tires

 

I wrote a post for today and lost it while trying to post the above picture! UGH!! That part I don’t like.

So now I’ll share an abbreviated version – because it’s late and the pictures say it all. Thanks to the Holzers for inviting us to go on a ride with them. So much better than furniture shopping! They knew the way along the Amstel River and into Amsterdam, and we had a blast. Luckily for their weather app that predicted good weather from 1 – 7 pm too, because this morning, was rainy, breezy and cold! Who knew the sun would come out and stay out, especially since it was raining on us as we began?

I love days like today – where you don’t really have plans but have tentative plans, and then things just fall into place. We were supposed to meet some friends of Juliana’s, but Jeff wasn’t feeling well, so I had cancelled. Then Patti had mentioned the idea of going for a bike ride, and I was thrilled when Jeff felt up to it. We probably rode for 3 – 4 hours with a couple breaks in between.  The sun was shining and it was absolutely gorgeous and crisp out. So glad we didn’t stay indoors!!

We made thai curry and homemade pizzas for the kids as an impromptu dinner. I love when a short visit leads to hours of shared time together. Good times!  xo

gardening lady along our ride today.

Day 32: Road Trip + Rain = Crazy Kids, Crazy Parents

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All I can say, is I can’t wait for our mini van to be delivered to us. Who would have thought I’d ever, ever say that?  I don’t even like minivans and used to pretend mine wasn’t one!  And having a car at all is a HUGE treat, but having a rental sedan with 3 big kids sitting side by side and touching each other and crossing legs over one another and being confined in such a small space with so much noise and interaction on a normal day, not to mention a multiple  hour road trip is enough to drive someone crazy!  Yes, I’m feeling a bit crazed today. Whatever. This too, shall pass and tomorrow they go back to school. I love Mondays!  😉

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We drove to Oosterbrook today to the Airborne Museum near the Rhine River. Jeff used to be in the 1st Airborne Division (now I hope I get all these facts right, since my knowledge of military history and history in general is lets say, maybe not my strongest or favorite subject.) CORRECTION: I made a big mistake – Jeff is a graduate of the US Army Airborne school, but served in Armored Calvalry – NOT the 1st Airborne Division!!  Doah— insert foot, stop writing about history?? Nahh…

But I am thankful for his love of history and that he chooses to share this with our family, especially since we are here where so much happened. We celebrate Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day in the states by visiting memorial sites or museums, so this is quite normal for us. And to hear the kids making connections to the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall we saw in Cupertino and Pearl Harbor that we visited a couple months ago, and what we saw today, made me very happy and reminds me that all the arguing and bickering and noise in the car was all worth it. I’m thankful that my kids are appreciating a bit of history and are understanding how others didn’t get to live with the same freedoms that we do. We liked the art work outside the museum, the diorama in the basement of the museum that made us feel like we were part of the war time experience, the peaceful nature that surrounded the museum, seeing the pictures of the local families being evacuated from their homes and protected by the joint allied troops and the red poppy memorials that we also saw in Cupertino. All of these things connected us to the past and we could relate a bit more today. I’m starting to like history… who knew?

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After we spent some time at the Airborne Museum, we drove over the John Frost Bridge crossing the Rhine River, through Nijmegin, and then into Germany.  We drove through the towns of Kleve and Emmerich, but we didn’t get out of the car as there was storm after storm, both outside and inside the car!  I did manage to snap a few photos of the beautiful scenery. Also, lots of places were closed since it was Sunday. The towns roll up on Sundays and not even (most) of the grocery stores are open!

We drove back home, and really – it sounds like we went for hours and hours – but everything is very close by car and we were probably home within an hour and a half from our furthest destination in Germany. The kids loved when Jeff drove 150 km/hour on the German autobahn and was still passed by a Swedish car on our left!  Coming back into Holland, the speed limit was drastically reduced to 80 km/hour and you have to obey the speed limit, otherwise they will take a photo of your car and send you a gift in the mail – it’s already happened to one of my new friends!  No tickets please.

The day ended at home with a nice, traditional Dutch dinner – meat, potatoes and a vegetable. I had prepared food before we left and when we got home, we were able to warm things up and sit down for a more relaxing, more enjoyable shared family time.   Ahhh… hope you have a great, family Sunday and relax and get ready for the new week ahead.

Namaste.

Day 30: TGIF!

We finished our first “week” of school today. So nice to start on a Thursday and have a short, first week. We had just enough time to get the hang of things and figure out how to get there on time, how to park in small places, how to be prepared for rain at any give minute and how to adapt and change plans.  We made new friends and discovered new places. All in a week.  

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We had fun playing on the playground after school and making new friends, meeting the teachers and figuring out the lockers and block schedules.

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The school is beautiful and very welcoming to families. I arrived early to pick up the kids and headed to the cafeteria for a cappucino while waiting! Soon other moms came and the kids came, and two hours later, we closed down the place and headed home.

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Far from home, but yet in the center of the courtyard at our new school and feeling like we belong here.Image

While the kids were at school, I met up with my new friends and we headed over to the Friday special market place for some socializing and shopping. On Friday, in the town center, merchants come and set up shop, similar to a farmers market, but with a swap meet flavor added to it. You can find plants, sheets, shoes, produce, fresh bread, fish, chicken and beef stands, and so much more. It’s a great outdoor market place, and these fountains are part of the entertainment. It was so much more fun to shop with friends. We were on a mission to find something to cook for dinner tonight, and were searching for ideas. We came across a savory pie place, and all of us bought these mini pies to serve to our families, along with side veggies and salad. So fun, right? The hardest part is figuring out what to make, yet today it was easy!  The pies were delicious and we’ll be definitely having them again! We are planning to make the Friday market a weekly girls’ outing, after a visit to the gym! We’re starting trial runs at the local gyms next week – time to get back in shape again! 

After shopping for dinner, I met up with 2 other new friends for lunch at Popov – a great, little outdoor deli near the water fountains in the Stadshart in Amstelveen.  I ordered a delicious, chicken grilled sandwich with pesto and sun dried tomato. It was great to share stories and get to know the other women at our school. 

I’d say today was a fulfilling and fun day. They say it’s going to rain this weekend, so I’m glad I was able to be outside most of the day. Hope you all have a great weekend!

xo Adriana

 

Day 29: First Day Of School in the Netherlands!!

Ahhh…… Today was the first day of school for all three kids and all of us are happy. They are all attending the same school, with the same drop off time and the same pick up time. How cool is that?

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CJ’s favorite subject was his Design Technology class. His favorite part of the day was the design technology class and discovering how things are made. He had so many stories to share.

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Here is our first time, middle schooler!  She loved her new, male, homeroom teacher (almost as much as Mrs. Pereira)! We heard he was the grade level favorite teacher. He was very friendly and warm and welcoming – to her and to me when she brought me over to see her classroom after school. He is also her Humanities teacher, and I think she is going to have a fabulous year.

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C was most worried about moving to the Netherlands and not having any friends. His favorite part of the day was playing with his new best friend, and his twin brother. He also said his teacher was very sweet and that he liked his classroom. He especially liked the games they played together during class time – sounded like team building, ice breakers that must have worked! He’s very excited to go back to school tomorrow.

I loved having a couple hours of alone time. It’s been awhile, ya know!  I spent it cleaning up the house and unpacking and reading emails and facebook posts. I also put on my sneakers and gave them a little run/walk around the city, which felt so good. Nothing fast, or long, but just long enough to give me a reminder of what I’ve been missing. I talked to some moms today to find out where they work out and if anyone plays tennis. Hopefully I’ll check some places out next week and get “busy” again!!

After school, the kids played on the playground and the moms chatted… sort of like at Ponderosa!  They played forever and then we drove over to the local ice cream shop for first day treats with our new friends. We had so much fun, that we decided to have dinner together too!

Jen and her family came over to our house and we ordered “Freakin’ Fresh” pizzas that were delivered freakin’ fresh to our door via a motorcycle delivery guy! The boys were so excited by this.

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So glad we got to christen our new IKEA table with new friends tonight! We all fit around it and it felt like home!  The kids are happy and the mama is happy!

Life is good!

Day 27: I AM – We Are Legally Nederlands Residents!

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If it were only so easy to have everything in one place, one portal, with all the checklists and to do items, life would be so easy! I see a business opportunity!! 

The first time Jeff and I heard about the expat center was totally random. We were walking around looking for housing and were getting hungry and looking for some place to eat. I looked up and saw the I AMsterdam logo and the bike in the window, and that is what caught my eye. Of course, I was curious and dragged Jeff with me to check it out. There was so much knowledge in this place, with helpful, knowing people!  Who knew? Who knew that this is the place we would eventually need to visit and why didn’t anyone tell us?  In the portal we create one day, we’ll make it easier for other expats to find their way!

So today we had an appointment to meet with this government center to register as residents of the Netherlands. We brought our passports and apostilized documents of our birth certificates and marriage certificate. We filled out paperwork and signed our life away. The good news is, we are now officially residents and I can officially work here if I want to.  We have all been assigned BSN numbers – basically a Social Security Number that is linked to government services such as doctors, insurance, dental care and taxes. The number is ours permanently, even after we leave.

The thing that really frustrated me on principle only, was that Jeff and the kids were granted residence for 5 years. I was only allowed a 1 year permit. WTH??  I have to prove that we’re still married in order to stay here after a year!  I have to reapply to stay and ask for an extension. I guess I’ll need Jeff to come with me and sign on my behalf that we’re still together. That just makes me mad. I understand why they might have that standard, but it doesn’t seem fair or just. Do you? 

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Here’s my crazy husband, playing with me for this picture. I liked the wild wallpaper and matching coffee mugs… not very Dutch like, though!

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Here are my 5 year resident kids – without their mother!!  GRRRRrrrrr…..

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Here’s the official letterhead!  Kinda cool, right?

Dag – Tot siens!! xo 

Day 24: I Am (Almost) Home

I feel like I’m almost at home now. My comfy couch created a comfy nook in our great room and I love it.  We were busy cleaning the house, I was in my pjs with makeup under my eyes and my hair in a messy ponytail, when the previous tenants of our house came by to pick up their mail and stayed and chatted for awhile, giving us so many tips and shared stories and I didn’t want them to leave!  Sally has been an expat since she was a kid and has lived in 9 different countries!  Her insights and attitude were inspiring and I wanted to hear more of her stories. We exchanged contact info and are planning to meet for coffee next week! Yippee!  

Gerard and Anita and Kelsi came over to spend the day with us.  They brought dutch treats for the kids and a beautiful houseplant for us.  Thank you guys! We had coffee and cake when they arrived, and then took the tram up to the city for a few hours.

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Wooden Shoe Boat on the Amstel

It was so hot today, that we thought we’d go up to the Albert Cuypmakrt and walk around in the outdoor market place. It was over 30 degrees here (80+ Fahrenheit) and we were all a little uncomfortable with the heat. However we joked about enjoying the sunshine now because winters are long here.  We searched forever for a normal ice cream cone and couldn’t find one. We ended up at a McDonald’s for McFlurry’s and Sundaes and a nice, tall coke filled with lots of ice.  They typically don’t serve ice here or water for free.Image

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Afterwards, we walked back home from the tram and made tacos for dinner.  We sat outside on the patio in the bit of shade we had.  Even though it was hot out, coffee is always served after dinner.  We had a drink together and then said goodbye to our guests.

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(Too bad the ice cream truck drove up after we already had dessert!)

I’m glad to be sitting with the fan on and the windows open on my new comfy couch.  And check out what’s on TV – Jeff found a way to get NFL game day casts on the computer and hooked it up to the TV. He’s happy. Life is good.

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Day 22: Our Shipment Arrived!

Today was much better, thanks for asking!  I don’t mind bad days because they are part of life and I don’t expect everything to always be a-ok. It’s normal, I get it. And I just have to wait it out (like I did) and wait for the sun to shine again (which it did!)

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Early this morning, the truck arrived with our stuff. Now we didn’t ship all our stuff and the truck that brought our stuff was really big and understuffed, which is a good thing! You see there isn’t that much storage space in this big house. And I kind of was enjoying living with little, but I know our stuff will bring comfort. Like our rug and rocking chair and bean bag chair. Ahh… soft and cozy, and gezellig! I like comfy places and it’s getting there.

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We had 63 boxes total – including 1 big orange bike, 2 chairs, a stool, a rug and other miscellaneous stuff that makes us feel comfy. That’s not that much for 5 people and an international move, right? We left our furniture at our old house as a guest house and hope our friends and family enjoy staying there from time to time.  Now we just have to wait for our table and couch to be delivered – hopefully tomorrow and then we’ll be ready for you to come and visit!!  😉

Actually, while I was unpacking, Ruth came to visit. She is Simone’s sister-in-law, and lives in the area. 3 minutes away, in fact… how crazy is that? Simone, is Debbie’s Dutch friend, who I met before moving here. And today she asked Ruth to stop by to bring us flowers as a welcome. How cool is that??  I am so touched. I am all about relationships and can really give a crap about stuff. And seeing Ruth at my door, carrying a beautiful flower basket just touched my heart. And that she went out of her way to greet us… wow. Thank you. I love them and love that you both reached out to make us feel welcome. Thank you Ruth and Simone!!

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Oh, and there’s a story about the wooden shoes too. You see Jeff and I came to Holland 14 years ago and these wooden shoes were made especially for me by Helma’s brother who runs a wooden shoe factory. We toured the factory and he shaped these to fit my feet. How cool is that? They have been sitting on my porch at home in Sunnyvale for the past 12 years so everyone would know I’m Dutch! And because I love them. So now they’re back on Dutch soil to great our guests at our front door. Doesn’t that make you want to come over for a cup of coffee. Just show up and I’ll make you a cup.  😉

We worked all day to unpack and to make our house feel more like a home until it was time to go meet the Petersons again. The kids really wanted to see each other to celebrate Ben’s birthday and to do a sleepover. We joined them for cake and ice cream and then brought their boys over here for one last sleepover before they leave Holland tomorrow. Happy Birthday Ben!!  Image