Saturday, July 17, 2010

Back to School

We’ve survived another week here in The Netherlands. Things are slowly coming along, but this place won’t really start being like a home until we move into the new house. Right now we are waiting. Luckily it should only be two more weeks and we will have the keys to the new house and hopefully a shipping container full of our stuff.

Jack’s birthday was Monday. At school, they sang “Happy Birthday” to him in five different languages! After dinner that night we went to the beach. It was so windy! You could almost lean in to it. They were “kite surfing” off the beach. I’d never seen anything like it: they get on a small surf board, launch this HUGE kite, and they are off! They really haul across the water. I guess the trick is figuring out how to get back to the beach!

Jack received some money for Easter and his birthday. He decided that he would buy a “Diabolo” or Chinese yo-yo. I found the one shop in Den Haag that sells them and programmed the address into the Tom Tom. I thought I was so smart! Traffic was horrific. For the second time that week we found ourselves stuck in gridlock, unable to even turn around. The two mile journey took almost an hour. We got there, purchased our yo-yo and started the drive back. This time Tom Tom took us a different way and I ended up missing the entrance to a tunnel. I spent 10 minutes driving around the bus terminal trying not to get hit by a tram as we looked for another way home. Tom Tom, it appears, is useless when you are driving over the tunnel you are supposed to be driving through. I think at some point during the ride I might have said something like, “NO ONE SPEAKS AGAIN UNTIL I SAY SO!” Grrrrrr. Mean mommy. I was lucky, though, and I did not get hit or a ticket for driving in the tram lanes and the wrong way up one-way streets to get back to where we started. Eventually I did get through that tunnel. When we finally did get home, I had sparks coming off my hair.

I’ve decided, the Dutch do not ride bikes for the health benefits or because it is environmentally friendly, they do it because it is FASTER!

For the record, though, Jack LOVES his Diabolo. He’s been practicing with all of his free time and even offers to entertain us after dinner each night. I’ll attach a video somewhere.

Thursday I went to a New Mom Coffee up in Wassenaar. It was all moms from the school. I met my new next door neighbor, Kathy from Chicago, who has a daughter in Jack’s class. I met a woman from Hockessin, DE, who’s husband worked with Walt at Valero. It’s a small world. Once again, I received lots of phone numbers and offers for help if needed. The school, indeed, has been a soft place for me to land.

Walt loves the job. Each night after the kids are in bed, we have a beer and he tells me about the people he meets. His office is like the United Nations. People are from Holland, England, Germany, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria and Oman. The engineering work is extremely academic and advanced. He is one of the few guys around with actual field experience, though, so he feels he has something to offer the team. They continue to explain about the Dutch concept of work/home-life balance. His boss Jaap is teaching him to bill his hours in such a way that he can take days off after he returns from a trip abroad. I am so very grateful.

Last night our friends Betsy and Ben came for dinner. Ben and I were friends from my time in Pittsburgh. Betsy is his darling wife of almost 10 years now. They live in Tilburg, about an hour away. I can’t tell you how nice it was to see familiar faces. Betsy, a Dutch native, spent a long time trying to teach me to pronounce our new street name correctly. Who knew that saying a Dutch street name could be so difficult? I think we might need a few more dinners and a few more bottles of wine before I get it right.

Walt is off to Malaysia tomorrow for a ten day trip. We will miss him, and I am more than a little anxious on how I will solve problems here without his help. Still, it is an opportunity for me to become more independent here. I think as long as we don’t have to shop for any more yo-yo’s, I’ll be fine.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the Netherlands. I can identify with SO many things in this post - driving on a tram track, the wrong way...only in my case in pouring rain and into a bus station where no cars are allowed! You do sound like you have girded your loins though and are bracing up. We must meet up someday, especially being MOTs (Mothers of three!)