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Friday, April 25, 2008

We Are Moving

to our permanent home in A'Dam during the next few days. We will be leaving the tight quarters, small streets of the 9 Straats to a two story place with a garden for Scout to do her business. A garden is a tiny plot of space that is a special treat for renters. We will be able to fit our bbq, a small table and chairs and maybe one other item in our secret garden.

Our new place is located on Valeriusstraat (rhymes with Hilarious) Straat which is the longest street we've seen in awhile. The door to our crib opens up onto a one way street which cuts down on the traffic. There will be kids nearby who break-out the straat chalk will their parents bring out their benches to watch and chat with the other parents. Feels similar to 9570 158th Cul-de-sac.

We've got the kids their beds the other day which are a little different from their Portland set-up due to the size and shapes of the rooms. The Dutch are very resourceful when it comes to making things work in such tight spaces. Kiley has a large room which overlooks the garden and has some interesting demensions to the room. Kiley is upgrading to a bunk bed that has a queen bed on the bottom and a twin bed up top. Her mother promised to carry her up to the top bed when she falls asleep down below (fyi-Dad had surgery on his right hip...). FYI, Kiley's bed/room will be used for all you guests so get your climb on.

Quinn, on the other hand, downgraded from a queen bed to a small single bed which fits into his unique sized "room". He has a cool blue bed, with a neat dresser and a little storage section for his toys. Quinn's room will not be used for the guests unless they are 36 inches or smaller. His room looks over the street, right next to Mom and Dad's room

The honeymoon suite is a standard square room which is off-limits except for some small people who wander into the room at all times throughout the evening/night. The family bathroom is down the hallway right next to THE STAIRWELL...

We have a spiral staircase that is more straight up then spiral. This type of staircase is very traditional in almost all Amsterdam homes so you have to adapt but you still cringe a little bit when the kids cruise down the stairs ("stay to the outside of the stairs.") Or, as one realtor told us, "You just fall once and you remember to be careful. We all fell once."

This Wednesday is Queen's Day which is a national holiday that has about 1 million people dressed in Orange invading the area for the biggest block party in the world. Everyone is out selling anything (kids sell their toys) so we might be picking up some new additions to our house. The party goes well into the night/morning with fireworks and spontaeous celebrations.
We'll have a post party recap...

Tot ziens

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

In the beginning

a family moves to Amsterdam which prompted them to become bloggers. Big bloggers. This is our new life in the 'Dam.

Salsa looks like ketchup but has a surprisingly familiar taste (a lot like chicken...)
Phresh. The food is very fresh and tasty. The bread and cheese are to die for.
Coffee is less about quantity and more about quality conversation.
Pay attention when riding or you will leave your mark on someone.
Every canal looks familiar so don't use them as visual landmarks for directions.
Poffietiers are small, puffy silver dollar-esk pancakes that are fantastic. A little powdered sugar and butter. 'nuf said.
Cartoons have gone global "Hey Mom, Diego can speak DUTCH!"
Bikers RULE everything and anything.

A letter told us we could only bring over belongings that equaled 18 washing machines stacked on top of each other in 3 rows. Translation, please. We thought we were being very strategic in our selection until the moving crew estimated our "stuff" to be 1,300 lbs over the limit. Brian had to quickly reduce his running footwear museum so we wouldn't be paying some serious euros for the overage. In the end, we wound up with a few lbs to spare so Jac was able to squeeze her spinning bike onto the back of the container. We will see our valuables in about 5 weeks if we are lucky. The first part of the move done.

Next was the removal of all remaining "stuff" in our house. Everything had to go either in Storage or Goodwill or the Dumpster or Lisa Eves. The last 24 hours were exhausting but we had great help from our awesome neighbors/friends. No matter how much we loaded, donated or tossed out, there was still more "stuff". It was a bottomless house. After a quick bite at Stephanie and Michael's house, we did finish with a few hours to spare before we had to take off to the airport @ 4:30am (a huge thanks to Lisa and Pri for escorting us out to the airport). Tot Ziens, Portland.

The kids did fabulous start to end. We dressed and carried them out of bed pre-dawn in the U.S. and walked off the plane in Amsterdam 20 hours later without one meltdown. Along the way, we had a four hour layover in Chicago which allowed us to get Scout out of her crate so she coud stretch her legs. The flight into Amsterdam was smooth except for the landing when Quinn exclaimed "I've got to go potty! I've got to go potty!" He did his best to hold it but we were on the longest airplane taxi in history so in the end his body won out and a cute little puddle was left in business class.

After pulling (8) 100lb bags off the carousel, and gathering a XL dog crate that was holding a slightly dazed and confused dog we were stumped on just exactly how you get out of the airport. We figured it out and cruised into a beautiful sunny dutch day that eventually turned into a cloudy, snow day 1 hour later. Our new Dutch friend, Anna, gathered us up and brought us to our temp. apartment on Wolvenstraat. A very small place in a very cool location, Jordaan, which is in the west part of the city (if you know him, Richard Mulder's stomping grounds as a young Dutch boy).

We had a slight snag upon arriving at our temporary apartment. Brian got to the place first and had all of our luggage, crate and Scout laying on the sidewalk when the landlord pulls up and announces "I didn't know there was going to be a dog." We thought we were going to be wandering the streets of Amsterdam with our light (8) 100lbs bags and easy to hold dog crate in search of a place to stay. But, after walking across the street so Brian couldn't hear his lengthy conversation in Dutch (obviously, he thought Brian was already fluent in Dutch), the landlord came back, introduced himself (Paul) and escorted us up to our apartment. Whew. We got to sleep in beds that night.

That same day we decided to freshen up the apartment with some scented candles. We were just starting to settle in (unpacking, relaxing, much needed potty stop) when Kiley came running down the hallway with eyes as wide as saucers calling out "Mommy, Mommy, my HAIR! my HAIR!" We think she got her hair caught or Quinn pulled it but quickly realized it was neither. The smell of burned hair is very distinct...Kiley laid back on the coffee table to watch tv when the back of her head dipped into the candle and gave us all a good scare.

Later, we decided to take a little family nap before heading out for some food. Our quick cat nap turned into a 6+ hour power nap. We woke up at 8pm and did not go back to sleep until 4am. The next day was a wash as our teenage 8 yr old did not get out of bed until 2pm. Jet lag is powerful but only temporary.

The first of couple of days was all about our two feet. We covered a lot of pavement discovering this quaint little city. While it is a small, quaint city, your feet get a little tired walking around in circles because you got lost using the canals as visual landmarks.

Friday we decided to become a little more like locals and take on the tram system. We were on the way home from visiting the kid's school in Amstelveen. We jumped on a tram without tickets thinking we could pay once we were on but found out that was not possible. We jumped off and tried to pay on the platform with one of the machines but they do not accept credit cards or euros. We needed a debit card which we won't have for another week. Not good. We then decided to walk over to the tram that will take us into the city and jump on without tickets. If caught, we decided we would plead ignorance (Marc Patrick was our inspiration). Jacqui and the kids hopped onto a tram while Brian confirmed the time standing outside on the platform. The tram doors slammed shut and Brian watched the family wave goodbye. He had no money and no clue where the tram was going. Inside the tram, Jacqui laughed and then quieted the kids down as they shouted "WE LEFT DADDY! WHY DID WE LEAVE DADDY?! WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING?!" She knew she would see Brian again even though he had no money or clue about the tram system. In the end, they were reunited at the next stop and rode like bandits into the city.

A little fact--The Amsterdam population is 750,000 but home to over a million bikes. Today, we joined the bike population with the purchase of (2) used bikes. Brian has a mini-seat on the frame of his bike where Quinn sits right in front of him, holding onto the handle bars and yelling to the pigeons to look out. Jacqui has a seat and footrests on the back of her bike for Kiley to sit side-saddle. The bikes make it very easy to get around the city but you do have to pay attention. Brian almost rear-ended a woman on her bike the first 5 minutes into their inaugural ride while Jacqui almost tossed Kiley off her bike as she went flying over a speed bump (Kiley's shoe actually did fly off). We survived the initiation so now consider ourselves true locals!

At the end of 5 days, the kids have adjusted quickly and refer to the apartment as home. Quinn announces every time we come up the stairs "It's GREAT to be home!" while Kiley has told us frequently she "loves it here." But, we all miss our friends and family back home.

Photos to come...