Sunday, February 26, 2012

Week of Jan 20th

Ryan had a no school holiday week for Carnival, so we had lots of time to play.  There are a couple of North American and International mom's club here, so I decided to take the kids to a North American mom's club play group on Tuesday.  Everyone is very nice and helpful to try and navigate everything here.  There is one mom from Seattle - small world!

We also bought a bike this week, which I've been itching to do, but the weather hasn't been great to be able to use it.  Everyone bikes here, which I think is going to be so fun and a change of pace from home.  And the plus is that's it's so flat that it makes it really easy to ride!  There was one bike left at the house that Troy is going to use until he finds something he likes.  We also got a seat for the back of the bike, for one of the kids to ride in, since the trailer is pretty snug with both of them sitting in it now.  On Saturday we biked to the big farmer's market and bought lots of produce.  Ryan has a blast on the bike, Abby not so much.  She just hates the helmet, so she's just mad about it.  But, she's getting more used to it and every time settles down a little faster.

Today we got up and out of the house early and headed to Dusseldorf and Cologne, Germany for the day.  Amazing again how close everything is.  Dusseldorf is about 1.5 hours from here and Cologne is another 30 minutes from Dusseldorf.  I was so excited Dusseldorf had a Starbucks!  We really wanted to go to Cologne, so didn't stop for very long in Dusseldorf.  People drive incredibly fast on the highway here.  We were going about 80 or faster and people were flying by us.  Cologne is actually pronounced and spelled Koln here, so no one really knows what city you are talking about if you call it Cologne.  Amazing churches here.  We ate at a German pub and walked around for a bit before the kids got too tired.  This will be a city we'll come back to in the spring when a lot of the castles along the Rhine river open.  I have heard it's amazing to take a boat cruise on.  Another beautiful city to spend more time in!  I forgot the camera, so we only got a few pictures from the phone.
Ryan just about as excited as I was for Starbucks :)

The big beautiful cathedral

Carnival Weekend Jan 18 & 19th

Ryan started his Carnival weekend off with a party and parade at school.  All the kids came in costumes, which was fun to see and basically like Halloween at home.  We had such a fun weekend watching all of the Carnival activities in Eindhoven on Saturday and Maastricht (about 1 hour away) on Sunday.  There was a fun parade in both cities and people got so creative.  Lots of drinking, dancing, and music. Fun people watching to say the least! The streets were filled with people all dressed up in costumes.  We stuck out by not being dressed up!  Our Sunday trip to Maastricht was cut short when a snow storm came thru really quickly.  We were running back to our car.

Ryan watching the parade in Eindhoven 

The streets of Eindhoven

Parade in Eindhoven

 Square in Maastricht

Square in Maastricht right before the snow storm started   

Friday, February 17, 2012

February 11th Weekend

We had a fun weekend braving the last few days of the cold storm.  We went to the largest Saturday market in Eindhoven on Saturday, but it was still so cold (I'm sounding like a broken record with the cold!) that Abby lost it walking around, so we had to cut it short.  It's very similar to a farmer's market except the vendors have a ton more fruits and vegetables to choose from and there are textile merchants as well.  We'll definitely be checking it out when the weather warms up.  Troy and Ryan then had a little outing together for lunch and a train ride to a neighboring city (about 20 min), so Ryan was very excited and talked all afternoon about it.

All of the ponds were frozen so it was neat to see all of the kids and parents ice skating and playing on the ice.  There were so many people at any pond or canal frozen!  Abby was just a little too small to be able to go.

On Sunday we decided to take a drive to a town in Belgium called Antwerp.  It's about 45 minutes away, which reminded us how amazingly close everything is!  We didn't know what to expect of the town, but were pleasantly surprised on how neat and European like it was.  Very old architecture and tons of outdoor cafes, lots of places to walk, a castle, and a few churches.  After driving by the castle, and for those who know about Thomas, Ryan's blanket (Thomas the train), who has now become his imaginary friend, we learned that Thomas has a cousin Erg who lives in a castle.  We never know who we will learn about at the new places we see from him and it cracks us up.  It always starts with "Did you know, Thomas has...." and then the story expands. Most things were closed on Sunday so we didn't get out too much, but another place that will be so fun in the summer to check out.  Of course I forgot the camera, so no pictures. :(  They also have an American grocery store that we checked out.  We bought a few things (Troy has been missing tortilla chips :) ), but it was very expensive.  I have a list of the things I will be bringing back with us!  The one thing we bought was a big thing of regular mustard.  Their regular mustard is more like dijon here, so I can't imagine how strong their dijon mustard must be.  Way too spicy for the kids.

Ryan is starting to settle into a routine with school.  He was sick on Monday, so he was home from school.  I think the excitement and newness of being here has passed and he is now realizing we aren't going home for awhile.  It has been a rough week with him being tired from transitioning to full day of school and not being at his house with some familiar surroundings. I am also not use to full day school and a routine here and Wednesdays are half days and I totally forgot!  I am suppose to pick him up at 12:30 and got a call from school at about 12:50 wanting to know where I was.  I felt horrible!!  Ryan was not phased by it at all because the teacher let him play a computer game.

Today is the start of carnival, so school is having a big celebration and all the kids come dressed up.  It's almost like Halloween.  Ryan picked out a Cars racing suit.  He looked pretty cute and was really excited.  All the teachers were dressed up, so it should be a fun day for him.  The parade is tomorrow, so I will take lots of pictures of the festivities this weekend!  It's also a holiday break from school, so Ryan has next week off.

We joined a gym this week and I know the Dutch people love their coffee, but they actually drink coffee at the gym too! They have an espresso machine for everyone to use.  It is crazy to see people drinking coffee before and after they work out and I think I saw someone drinking it as a break between their work out!  They have a whole seating area where everyone socializes after a class or working out and has a cup of coffee.  Kinda neat they make working out a social thing, though.

Lastly, we are both in shock with how much gas costs here!  I knew it was expensive and we don't have that big of a car, but it costs about 88 euros to fill the tank, which is equivalent to $117!!  No wonder most people bike!!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Our first weekend

We had a great first weekend here.  It has been sooo cold (9-20 degrees) and another snow storm came pretty quickly and dumped about 5 inches of snow in a couple of hours on Friday, so that derailed our weekend adventure a bit.  We decided to stay in town and explore some sites here instead of driving.  On Saturday we went to the Daf Museum (a Netherland company that makes trucks and cars) and the downtown shopping area.  Ryan LOVED the car/truck museum.  It's a huge warehouse full of antique type cars and trucks they made (everything from fire trucks to tour buses).  We then headed over to the downtown area and had a snack at a cafe that overlooks the train station.  It was a really neat, very European cafe and the best part for the kids was to sit there from a few stories up watching the trains coming and going from the station.  As Ryan would say "I saw 2 double deckers and 2 single decker trains".  We could have sat there all day. We also got a coffee maker - it has been a long week without coffee - and a GPS!!  I am totally fine driving now with this thing to help me back home!

Ryan started school on Monday.  I got a little teary eyed - it almost felt like Kindergarten. :(  He loves his school and teachers already.  The first thing he told me when I picked him up was "Mom! They taught me in English today, not Dutch!"  It is like a real elementary school (pre-k/4 thru 6th grade), so he is fascinated by all of these big kids that come around and all of the classrooms.  We have to stop by every classroom to see what the kids are doing and he doesn't quite understand that he can't join in with them.  I forget that his preschool in Beaverton isn't like this, so this is all really new.  He has mentioned a couple of children's names and that one student speaks Dutch as well.  Everyone at the school is so nice and helpful.  They have a library full of English books and he gets to check 3 out a week, so that will be nice since it's hard to find English books here.  I haven't met too many parents yet, but hope to soon.  I had to laugh that on Friday's it's pizza day for lunch (this is the only day that they provide lunch as they don't have a cafeteria) and it's Dominos pizza. :)  Amazing how much American culture/stores are actually here.

I'm feeling a little bit more comfortable navigating the grocery store and where I need to go to buy stuff for the house.  I have been so confused on why Abby's whole milk seems to expire after a day (expiration date is still a week or so away) and smell so sour (almost like sour cream), whereas the other milk has been fine.  She has been refusing it too with a terrible look on her face and I felt like she started not trusting drinks she was given.  Well, today Troy's coworker's wife took me to the grocery store to help translate some things and I realized we've been buying sour milk.  There is such a thing here!!  So, poor Abby has been drinking sour milk and no wonder she has been refusing it!  I have now found the right thing to buy for her.  

Most people go to the grocery store multiple times a week depending on the size of their fridge.  I feel like I go almost every day or every other, but it's been helping me to feel more comfortable in the store as well.  There is a different store for most everything. Europeans, I think, would be astounded to see a Costco.  Just so unthinkable here.  

The Dutch tradition of Carnival (celebration before Lent) starts Feb 18th with a parade and some fun activities, so we are looking forward to seeing this.  The schools also have the week off as a holiday week. 

Here are some pictures of our house and our weekend...

Our house and very Euro car :)

 Our street

Ryan playing in the snow

Abigail walking in the snow

Ryan in front of one of the Daf trucks

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We made it!

After so much planning I can't believe the time has already passed and we are in Eindhoven!  We made it after a very long day of traveling.  We knew Abigail was not going to be easy on the flight, but thought she would at least sleep some of the way.  Unfortunately, she hardly slept and we had to walk up and down the aisles rocking her quite a bit.  Ryan did great and slept for about 4 hours of the flight.  He was so excited to get to Amsterdam....the city he's heard his dad go to so much this past year.

Our house is in a nice, quiet neighborhood near a few stores.  We have already made 2 trips to Ikea for things.  Navigating the grocery store is quite a challenge. There are some of the same items like at home, but quite a bit is so different.  It's hardest to find stuff the kids will like since their staples aren't here.  Abby is being quite picky, but I'm also not sure if it is because she has a cold.  It takes twice as long to figure out what to buy and where to get it. 

I'm still a little nervous to drive.  We have a stick shift car, so that makes it tricky to drive and figure out directions, plus of course watch out for bikes!  I tried to go to Ikea by myself with directions, but got turned around and was too nervous I would get totally lost, so I went home.  Everyday we get a little more familiar with streets around here.  Ryan starts school on Monday, so I am going to have to figure it out by then!

Abby and Ryan are somewhat adjusting to the time.  We haven't had a full night of sleep yet.  Our house echos quite a bit, so you hear everything from any area of the house.  With Abby's cold, she has woken up every night around 1 am and in turn wakes Ryan up.  He is then wired and will not go back to sleep until sometime between 3-4 am.  I tried to have him just play in his room, but since it echos so badly we kept hearing him and he eventually also comes out to find us as well.

We have had a few appointments to check in with the city hall and immigration, so that has taken up quite a bit of our time. Ryan is a little nervous the security guards at these places will take him to jail if he is too loud (maybe we have tagged onto this a little :) ), so he stays really close and very quiet.  He pretty much stands dead in his tracks when he spots one!  :) We are thinking of doing a day trip somewhere close this weekend, so I will post some pitctures!  We miss everyone terribly!!  If you have any favorite places or favorite spots you've been to please let us know!!