Saturday, July 17, 2010

Den Haag

This was a week full of "firsts" for us. The kids had their first look at the school. We saw our first windmills and royal mansions. The kids had to use their first bathroom in a grocery store. Audrey was the first to see a canal up close and personal. And, poor Audrey again, was the first to get bitten by a dog.
The school was everything we expected. They were serving sushi for lunch that day, which was a curiosity for the kids, but they also offered noodles. The food there is actually pretty nutrious, always offering a variety of fresh foods and even soups (which is very Dutch). They have PB&J, but they hide it behind the counter:) The school is otherwise very American. They don't have to do any standardized testing, which is nice, and they can celebrate Christian holidays like Easter, which I also love. The kids go to school for this coming week, have off for Easter Week, and then have a three day week due to the celebration of "Queen's Day", Queen Beatrice's birthday. More on that later. I think in the next month, they will be home more than at school, but maybe that is good.We've had very little chance to get outside and look around, mostly because we don't know what to go see.
We had one drive from Leiden into the city of The Hague. The kids were facinated by the villages, the green fields full of farm animals, and the random windmill. The royal estate for the Queen's son and his daughters is along the road, as well. We hope to be invited for tea! I explained to the kids that in Holland, the city of The Hague is pronounced "Den Haag". Jordan asked why they called their city "Dead HOG".
After seeing the school on Thursday, we were off to Albert Hein, the local grocery, in a desperate search for milk. The minute we stepped foot inside the store the kids needed to use the bathroom. This place is small and very old and there were no signs for a WC. I asked a man stocking produce if the had a restroom. Of course he spoke no english. He signaled for us to follow him and he took us up the largest, tightest spiral staircase I'd ever seen. I've seen lighthouses with fewer steps! The kids had never seen anything like this and celebrated each step LOUDLY by jumping, dancing, and singing both going up and then again, coming down. Our elderly host was clearly unimpressed. Could he tell we were new around here? Hmmmmm.
Poor Audrey has had a week full of tough lessons. While feeding ducks at the canal, she leaned too far forward and went head over teacup into the slimy black water. She was sitting between my legs at the time. I don't know how I could have prevented the whole thing. I pulled her out immediately, but it was too late. I carried her at arm's lenght back to the hotel room. All the way she cried "I slip!" "I fall!" "Yuck". I had to throw out her clothes. She had a very long very soapy tubby and all was well again.
Yesterday we went back to the Albert Hein. While Walt and I wrestled with a shopping cart, Audrey walked up to a strange dog and, don't you know, he bit her! He did not break the skin, but he gave Audrey, Walt and myself a terrible scare. I'm hoping that she will be more cautious in the future. We are brainstorming on ways to keep her safe. Good Lord, the child is a magnet for trouble.
We moved out of the hotel yesterday and into our temporary Shell housing. We have the 2nd and 3rd story of a pre-war brownstone. It is huge, offering us 12 foot celings, floor to ceiling windows, and five bedrooms. It's so nice to spread out after two weeks of living on top of one another. The kids are feeling the stress of all of the changes, though. Putting them to bed last night was like game of "Wack a Mole". Everytime I put one down, another one popped up. The great thing about the house is that it's 50 yards to Walt's work. It's nice to know he's right here if we need him.
I shoud go, I've been hogging the computer. Jordan and Audrey are playing on the stairs again. These stairs are more like a steep sliding board than a staircase. They love the novelty. The baby gates come on Monday....

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