Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Post Modern Working Mama - Attempts at Efficiency

This week I receive my first delivery order of groceries. We noticed that our weekends seemed to be consumed with shopping for basic staples that we need every week, and that this wasn't really much fun. The service works through Albert Heijn so it's the shop that basically owns the Netherlands and where we also get our shopping when we are not giving over most of our earning to Marqt*.

I was pleased with the service, I was so excited I actually clapped my hands when the bemused delivery guy brought our shopping through. But I had a little freak out when I saw the service fees. It amounted to roughly 10% of what I spent. That is a pretty frickin'  high commission in my view. I am still mulling over whether the time saved not going to the super market was worth the amount we spent to have it delivered. It is a flat fee I understand depending on how much you order (presumably it's less when you spend more), so maybe this is something we do every once in a while rather than replacing the weekly shop. Not really what I was looking for.

*Think Whole Foods, Americans.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Real Weekend Roundup

We had a great weekend, with a great visit from OH's sister A. Friday was a very hot day, but we braved the center of town, since A has never visited. We did the red light district, we looked at canals, we went to the nine streets to have lunch. It was all over for us, with both of our kiddos being very tired. Luckily A was okay to go out again without us, so she got to see more of the city while we sat in nap pergatory with our kiddo.

Saturday was EVEN hotter! We walked to a splash pool in the Beatrix park. A humored us for a bit and when it got too hot for our little people, she continued on into town and we took them back sleep. Actually Munchkin hasn't been sleeping... again. In the evening we had a babysitter and headed out to our old neighborhood for a very big and merry gathering of folks to eat suckling roast pig. Our friends E and M organized the event and the food was delicious. I have to admit since I'm no longer pregnant my favorite was the sides rather than the star attraction.

Sunday we got off to a later start but managed to hit the Rijksmuseum. Why yes, we were just there and we enjoyed it again as much the second time. Good place to take kids because it absorbs noise well and there is plenty of room to move around. It was cooler due to some rain showers that went through, thank goodness!

Monday A had a later flight and we actually managed to get out the door in record time in order to visit the Mauritshuis, which has a collection of Dutch masters paintings as well as the famous Vermeer painting Girl with the Pearl Earring. It is a nice little museum, and A thought it was more bang per square meter in her opinion. If there is an art slant to our visit, it is because A designs textiles for a living. It was interesting to note what caught her eye, lots of patterns for example!

We got back in time for a torrential rain storm to see A off to the airport. It's a short week for me as a result!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Still on Weekend!

We have OH's sister visiting this weekend! Weekend is still going. More to come this Tuesday.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

No Exercise Involved, But Still...

...We are all tired and sweaty here in Amsterdam. Why are we tired? Because two kids and being back at work is a bigger adjustment than I thought and I find myself exhausted at the end of the day. Plus Sausage has been waking up more often in the night. There is a direct and measurable correlation between times Sausage wakes up and number of cups of coffee I have. Silver lining, the coffee has never tasted so good at work.

Why are we sweaty? Why it's Northern European-style heat wave. We may actually hit 30 C, which I believe is *nearly* but not quite 90 F. Everyone starts to melt past 25 here, so 30 is practically punishment. On the other hand it is brilliantly sunny and delicious if you can bear the sweat, and we're just trying to figure it out at night. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


This week the cloud of anxiety about the kids going to creche and all things specifically mommy related has lifted, in time to make room for more general work-related anxiety. Goodness knows I need something to fret about or I wouldn't know what to do with myself.

I met with my friend A for drinks and talking through it made me conscious of the fact that I was feeling ill at ease with how rusty I felt in particular at work. Just when I was getting my groove on I had to stop. Coming back I felt distracted. I feel clumsy when I make calls, especially as I make them in Dutch and it's been a long enough pause that I'm not as sharp as I usually am. Sharpness is a good word for what I feel I'm missing.

Already though I can feel it coming back. I sense it won't be long before I'm back where I was before, which is a comfort. I just have to control the Crazy Mommy Hormones from reading too much into situations and feeling in the interim. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Lovin'

Munchkin has quite a few boy friends these days. As long as it stays on the playground, I'm okay with it!
Love is matching boots with shorts

Sort of like feeding time at the zoo: feeding toddlers chips at the cafe

Munchkin and J, who will also get a little sibling shortly! Perhaps their mutual struggle will bring he and Munchkin closer.

Ah, well, won't be wearing this shirt for a while!

Fortunately Sausage does not mind she has no little friends quite her age yet. She needs to meet her cousin on the other side of the Atlantic I think!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Weekend Round Up

First, many thanks to all who left their comments last week! A little TLC goes a long way. :)

We had a lovely weekend. The weather threatened constantly to rain but we seemed to get a lot more sunshine than promised, always a good way to perk things up. Friday we started the morning with Sausage at the GGD for her 3 mo appointment. This was the first time I took both girls and it went just fine. Sausage is motoring along, 5.555 kg and 58 cm. She got a shot which didn't go down well but nothing that a little booby couldn't smooth over.

We stopped on the way home at the playground where we got a call from our friend S to see about hanging out with her nearly 1 year old E. So glad she called! I had nothing planned at all for my mommy day, having no mental energy left over from the first week of work. We had a fantastic time - met for a coffee near our old neighborhood which happens to be a good middle point for us, followed by a walk in the Vondelpark to our old playground. It's summer and it was warm, the splash pool was full, and Munchkin stripped off her clothes and ran right in. We had lunch nearby and then I  headed back in an ultimately failed attempt to put Munchy down for a nap. We had burritos and watched a really interesting documentary, Pumping Iron, about the Mr. Olympia contest. 

Saturday we pissed away our morning doing food shopping on an otherwise sunny start to the day. I really need to get on ordering our groceries online. I've been thinking about it for a while, but it took getting back to work to get my head wrapped around shopping for the whole week rather than just a few days at a time again. We still managed to get out to the park and have a bit of a picnic + play before Munchkin had a nap. In the evening we had a babysitter and went out with some new American friends, K and A to De Zotte. 

Unfortunately, Sausage didn't get the message that mommy needed a lie in and woke up bright and early as usual. OH let me sleep in a little while longer. I tell you I've enjoyed the world cup but all the later rounds of games start very late here and I am desperate for sleep. We had an excellent play in the morning then during the Munchkin nap we adults strapped the Sausage on and snuck out to a private tour around the Rijksmuseum. It was for a friend's bday. It was very interesting to hear more about the history of the building. I'd also forgotten how little we really see when we look at paintings. It was nice to have someone remind me to pay more attention. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Second "First Week Back" Survived!

I feel like I hit the ground running after this maternity leave. News is: did not get one of the big deals I was hoping for. Sucks, but it was a longshot anyways. Hoping to parlay the opportunity into some deeper contacts in the company. Today I sent off a response for an RFP - fingers crossed! Won't hear anything until the end of the summer.

I'm glad I checked my mails during my leave, it's much nicer to come back and sort of know what is going on. Now to enjoy being with my kiddos Friday, though I am missing a work outing as a result. It's all about choices and juggling.

PS - if you watched the NL versus Argentina game last night - good for you! I fell asleep.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Why Yes, I Am Still Alive

Thanks for nothin' blog readers! I know there are readers out there. Actually a disturbing amount of activity on some recent posts, much more than my usual 15-30 views. I am toying again with making the blog private again. In this case you'd need to contact me to get access but once you have it, you never have to log in again. I think that's how it works anyways. Then I can get a bit more detailed on the going ons in our lives. Which is after all the reason this blog is here: an open email to friends and family mostly in the US but also all over the place.

Anyways, stuff be happening!

I'm back at work!

Yeah! Actually it's pretty okay. The pumping is going just fine so far which is a huge relief. Time will tell as Sausage gets bigger and wants more. In the meantime, one step at a time. I am especially finding it this time round a lot less of a drain on my limited time at the office, thanks to having both a laptop and a mobile which I can take in the room with me.

I'm also determined not to waste energy on being sad and missing my kiddos. Mainly Sausage since I've worked through being sad about Munchkin a while ago now AND she love the new creche.

Done With Sad. For Now Anyways

The adjustment period last week was really good for me. I got to build my confidence that the pumping would go okay, which was a big source of anxiety for me as were all things breastfeeding related. The whole drama with Munchkin and moving creches was perfectly timed to reinforce how much we like the team who staff our creche. They really do seem to care for all the kids, toddlers as well as babies. It meant I felt like I was giving Sausage over into good hands. And it helps just to know these people now for some time, whereas with Munchkin of course we were always just meeting the people.

And as I said above, I am not going to waste any more emotional energy on pining over what could have been. It helps that I actually like my job. It helps that it is summer and light out when I wake up and when I go home. It helps that I came back to quite a lot of big things going on at work (fingers crossed some of these deals land for me people!). I made my choice, I know the deal about work/family juggling, and I'm cool with it mostly.

Taking the Kids to Two Creches Suuuuuucks

We have done it once. By "we" I mean OH. Because it rained all day today. ALL. DAY. A normal occurrence here. OH took them in, and then decided he'd pick up Munchkin, so I picked up Sausage. What a mess trying to remember how to transport a baby! He's a hero for getting them there at all.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Sad, or, Totally Called It

As I suspected, I am sad this week as Sausage is really and truly starting to go to the creche. The adjustment period is for we parents, not for your baby, who at such a young age really is quite chill with the whole thing.

Monday afternoon it hit me hard, as I realized it was my last full day with her until Friday. I don't have work to distract me yet this week and I felt that molasses-heavy sadness that is Crazy Mommy Hormones Enhanced Sadness. I went for a long walk with my blissfully chilled out baby girl, making sure to really twist the needle in my reminding myself that this is probably our last baby too*.

I think with Munchkin too she was a much more challenging baby, and of course being the first it's a huge adjustment going from just adults to parents. Now we are seasoned at sleep deprivation and when I look back at it, Sausage is just soooo much easier. She is not even three months old and she is already sleeping luxurious, long periods of sleep. Especially compared to her sister (this entry from when Munchkin was six months and I don't think we achieved through the night status until she was a year old.

As it happens there is a silver lining to the moroseness: I have a redunculous amount of holiday left and it's use it or lose it in my company. Rather than extend my maternity leave, I'm going to try to take some weeks off August when all of Europe shuts down to go on holiday. In theory my clients should also all be out of town, and it will give me a few weeks to start getting the pipeline filled again. And I don't want to have to go through this grieving all over again by delaying the goodbyes. I think the anticipation might drive me nuts.

* My girls can have any sexual preference they want: lesbian, bisexual, transexual (I'm not paying for the surgery),marry a horse for all that matters, as long as they reproduce. That's the deal. I wants me some grandkids.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Fashion Reemergence, or, Why I Loathe Shopping in the Netherlands

I save a ton of money on wardrobe by living in the Netherlands. Firstly, women here on average have the polar opposite body shape as I do, and all the clothes are designed to fit their bodies rather than mine. That is: long ass skinny legs, straight torsos. On top of this, the Dutch LOVE 80's fashion. It basically never went out of style here as far as we can tell. Pretty much every woman of every age will wear some variation on oversized, shapeless top + tight, skinny-cut trousers. Pair with boots or heels (or better, boots with heels!) and you've got the national uniform. Swap trousers for super-short shorts, and you've got the summer look. Seriously, it sometimes looks like women have left the house in their underpants, such is the ginormousness of the top compared to the tininess of the shorts. To my sisters, there is even this year the revival of the beloved leggings/tights under shorts!

Why do I care about this? Because I am pretty sure we're done procreating. Which means in the nearish future I may be in a position to buy clothing that I could potentially wear for a long time. I am *excited* at the prospect of buying well made things I will love. If only I could find anything for my non-traditional (for the Netherlands) shape here. Probably if I had time to wander about and really dig, I would find sources here. But working parent life does not lend itself to shopping and to be honest, I don't really like shopping most of the time.

So I am trying online shopping, something I've been loathe to do for ages. I like to feel things and see them in person. I don't feel I get a good idea from a picture on a screen. But my desire not to waste time in shops outweighs my distaste for online shopping. I gave it my first go this week: big sales everywhere! I bought three things. Out of the three things, three things did not fit. Back they all go. I'm not discouraged - yet. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Weekend Round Up!

We had a really nice weekend. It was supposed to be crap weather the whole time and we seemed to dodge that bullet very nicely. Perhaps we will be the only country to benefit from climate change??

As y'all know, Friday was mama day and Sausage's first day wendag at the creche. As it was only 1,5 hrs it felt more like babysitting than really being separated from Sausage. It certainly helps to have a toddler to distract you! Plus all this drama with Munchkin has had the bonus effect of reinforcing our trust in our creche, perfect timing for this transition period wherein we are entrusting our little baby to them. Example: when Munchkin and I went to pick Sausage up from the baby group she was hungry. The leidster there immediately asked if I wanted to feed her right there, thus avoiding having to walk with a screaming baby back home. She was just about to give lunch to the babygroup and even though she was at maximum capacity she invited Munchkin to have a broodje (sandwich) with the group as well while I was nursing Sausage. Another leidster from upstairs with the toddler group came down to get something. She spotted Munchkin and greeted her with a heartfelt, enthusiastic hug. Both leidsters expressed how happy they were that Munchkin was doing so well at the other creche but that they were going to miss her very much. They are a very sweet team!

Friday night we had pizza and watched Grand Budapest Hotel, which was lovely.

Saturday we had a great day - we met our friend K whose hubby was out of town that weekend on business for breakfast at Little Collins. K's boy I is a sweetie and he & Munchkin get along famously. The weather was a little manic, going from cold and hot depending on the wind but we still managed to sit outside. Afterwards we ran the kids around in the park a little bit before they all started to get cranky.We did a wee bit of shopping then after a non-nap we had our friend N and I and their son J over for Early Parents Dinner. This is new for us but you'd think we'd have clued into it ages ago. Basically you and your friends with equally small children come over very early, around 5pm to have dinner so you have some time to hang out before the kids have to go to bed at their early bedtimes. Avoid a babysitter by sitting the kids down in front of the Electric Babysitter, El Boob Tube so you can finish a sentence. I made roast chicken as we were a little short on time and home made chocolate pudding. I heart making pudding! It was great to catch up with both N and I, whom we met in our birth class with Munchkin. They are just the loveliest people, we don't get to see them often enough.

Sunday was a quiet morning then our friends E and M with their daughters N and D came over for tea. We are so lucky to have friends who'll travel, though in writing this blog post I see we are due now to come round to others' next. They just got back from a long holiday in the US, and it was very nice to catch up. We watched Holland win over Mexico in the World Cup (hup Holland hup!) and sadly didn't get to skype with any folks since our timing was off.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kid Updates, or Why I Haven't Been Blogging

Munchkin and the New Creche:

She LOVES it. Weds she was supposed to go for a half day, as part of the adjustment period. They called at noon to say she was having such a fab time they didn't want to confuse her by taking her back to the original creche (the original plan). When I picked her up she didn't want to leave! Yesterday she went again and she also had a fab time - good sign! In fact the creche made some videos for themselves (not for us) because they were worried about her transitioning. They really care about the kids!

Sausage and the Old Creche:

Today is her first wendag - adjustment day - for an hour and a half. Yesterday I had her intake session. I am spoiling Sausage rotten until the day she goes. She is in my arms all day long. I let her fall asleep on the boob, all the time.

Munchkin and Potty Training:

Awesome! No accidents (knock on wood) until now. Amazing when you think about a couple weeks ago.

Sausage and Development:

Grabbing stuff, or trying. Sleeping - we are inbetween development spurts I think so it's going well.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Toddler Drama

So most of the family knows, we recently heard from our creche that our beloved Munchkin is not going well at creche. They told us they saw two kiddos: on the Weds, she was the bubbly, chatty Munchkin we know. On the other two days she went, she was silent and introverted to the point of painfulness.

Lots of discussion lead me to go in and observe on the good day and bad day. The bad day was as bad as they said if not worse. We discussed what to do with the creche. They have another location, with a single vertical group of kids. This means that there are ages 0-4, versus where she is now which is just toddlers (babies in a separate group). We've always preferred this in the past because as a baby it means your little one won't get lost to bigger, more demanding kids. But it seems the activity level is too much for Munchkin. Or something. We don't know. All we know is that she isn't blossoming in this environment, and it's been a while that she's been there.

Yesterday we went to visit the other location. The verdict: promising. Munchkin was shy but already warming up by the end of our visit. We are going to give it a try for a month and see if she does well here. We are grateful to the folks at the creche for working with us to try to see if we can find a solution.

The downside is that this creche is much further from us, about a 15-20 min walk. Why walk? Because with Sausage starting creche, we won't be able to ride the bike. We're going to try just having Munchkin at the new creche and Sausage at the old one since it is much closer. We may want to claw our eyes out after a month of having to pick the kids up from two different locations but thank goodness we have a month to try things out. First and foremost: see if Munchkin likes the new creche and comes out of her shell a little.

Weekend Roundup

Good lord, two kids are kicking my blogging ass! What on earth did we do Friday? We are taking baby little steps to go further and further afield from home with our potty trained kiddo. Still we didn't do a ton, we went to the park, we bought some food. But it perked up in the evening when we got to go over to our friends K and B's house for dinner. We had just had them over for dinner not so long ago so it was nice to see them again so soon. It's a haul to get over there as there isn't any public transit you can really use and we are serving our nine months of bike parole until Sausage is old enough to sit on the bike.

Saturday we had more yummy food, we had our friends J and A over for dinner. I bought Alaskan wild Salmon for the first time and it was awesome. We drank a lot and talked a lot. I also enjoyed a little challenge which was they both have stopped eating ALL SUGAR. Like none at all. Not even dried fruit. I actually *found* a recipe for a baked good, brownie-like thing sweetened only with bananas. It was actually palatable! Paired with "ice cream" made of pureed frozen bananas, it was okay! For folks who haven't had a baked good in a while, it hit the spot. 

Sunday we ran into town to get some stuff, ran back, then went back over to K and B's for an afternoon birthday party. We had a great afternoon.