Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Amsterdam: The First Week

I guess I've never formally announced it on our blog, but we're living in Amsterdam for 6 months.  (It started out as Dublin for a year, then switched to Amsterdam for a year, and is now Amsterdam for 6 months.)  We just got here on the 24th.  Cam is doing an international rotation for work (Dell), and we couldn't be more thrilled for this opportunity!  It's been a long time dream of ours to live internationally, so this is perfect. It has been quite the week!  Things are so different here.  Especially with a baby.  It makes you realize how convenient the US is.  But it's kind of fun to adjust to a more "no frills" lifestyle.  Anyway, here are some highlights so far:

The Good

  • Andy was amazing on the flights!  Amazing!  I had anticipated the absolute worst, so this was a lovely surprise.  He slept like a champ for about half of it and was somewhat easily entertained for the rest.  No complaints here!  
  • Our hotel is super nice.  We've stayed in a hotel this week until our place is ready to move into tomorrow.  (Tomorrow...Yay!)  It's a great location and the staff has been amazing.  And it has a delicious breakfast we'll miss dearly.
  • The hotel chocolates.  I steal extras off the maid's cart every day.  (I think I inherited this maid cart stealing from my mom.  I swore I would never do it, but here I am with ten extra chocolates.)  
  • We went to visit the area our house is in, and we love it.  It will be so nice!  We wanted to stay downtown; I don't think we realized how downtown this place is.  Right in the middle of everything!  Some pluses: Seriously, I'm a few doors down from H&M.  And there are about three other H&Ms within a ten minute walk.  Can life get any better?  I'm also a few doors down from an awesome gelato shop.  Also, three doors down from the most famous fry shop in Amsterdam.  Also, we're one street away from a huge shopping street.  Again, can it get any better?
  • Speaking of H&M, I love their kids section.  And it's not picked over like Salt Lake's! 
  •  Amsterdam is beautiful, with the canals, the bikes, the cafes, the architecture...seriously beautiful city.  It's the perfect city for us and I think we will love it here.  
  • We made it to church Sunday.  (Just to the last 30 minutes.  Long story.)  That was so nice.  The familiarity was so refreshing.  Everyone was so nice.  We can't wait to go back next week.  It's about 30 minutes away by tram, but maybe we'll bike there from now on.  Sacrament meeting is in dutch, but we listen in English through headsets.  They have an English sunday school class, which is cool. 
  • We've done some fun things so far.  Lots and lots of walking, which we've loved.  It's been so cool to see everything.  We went to a really cool museum on Saturday called Museum Ons' Lieve Heer Op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic).  It's a house that houses an old Catholic Church in the attic.  It was built when Catholicism was banned in the reformation.  That was fascinating.  We're excited to do more of the bigger touristy things; we want to go once tourism season ends in a couple weeks to avoid some lines.  We also walked through the red light district for a minute on Saturday.  Saddest thing I've ever seen.  I don't know what I was expecting, but it was way worse than I thought it would be.  There are no words to describe it.  There are definitely some seedy parts of the city we'll be avoiding.  (I am already so sick of the smell of pot. I haven't smelled so much pot mission. Ha.)
  • We're so excited to start travelling!  We've made our list of destinations and we're excited to get started in the next week or two.  First up: Paris!  
  • Cam has spent a few mornings at work and already loves it.  He gets to ride his bike to work, which he loves.  Everyone at work is super nice.  And the hours will be amazing.  He says they all get in between 9-10 AM and leave promptly at 5 PM.  Europeans have it right!  
  • We got all our immigration and settle service appointments figured out, which is good.  
  • We're going to get bikes in the next few days!  It's so cool: everyone bikes here.  (Even girls in skirts and heels.  It's amazing.)  They have special bike paths.  They even have special seats for little ones like Andy.  
  • I was kind of nervous about the language barrier, but seriously everyone speaks English.  It's really nice.  We'd heard that people speak English better here than any other European country, and I think it's true.  

The Bad

  • Jet lag has been rough.  Luckily I *think* we're through the worst of it, but wow.  Jet lag is rough enough on its own--but when you and your baby are jet lagged, that's a whole new story.  Andy's used to a pretty structured schedule so it's really thrown him for a loop to have his days and nights swapped.  Long story short, we're up a lot in the middle of the night.  Thankfully, I think he's finally getting adjusted!
  • Staying a hotel with Andy.  Good heavens, we are ready to move into our apartment.  We're really trying to get Andy's schedule set up here, so it pretty much means Cam and I sit in the dark during his naps (3 hours during the day) and at night, starting at 7 or 8.  We can't use the bathroom (Andy's crib is blocking it), we can't leave, we can't really hear the TV over the sound's super annoying.
  • It's been tricky trying to get food figured out.  The first couple days were rough, but I think we've got it figured out better now.  Because we've been in a hotel, we pretty much have to eat out every meal.  I'm not a big fast food fan in general, but it's hard to find other places to eat that are conducive to a baby. Basically, I've gone to bed hungry every night.  It's also been really hard to feed Andy.  He's really hard to feed when he's not in a high chair.  He just wants to run around and play and doesn't want to be held.  It's also hard to find food he wants to eat.  A couple days in we bought some bread, peanut butter, yogurt, etc.  That's helped a ton!  And it will be amazing to get into our kitchen! (Have I mentioned how excited I am to get into our apartment?)  
  • It rained a ton for the first couple days we were here. But it's beautiful now!  It's a nice break from Texas heat.  T-shirt and jeans weather=amazing.  So I guess this should really be on the "good" list.  
Anyway, we are loving it here.  Even the "bad" list of things already has improved or should improve significantly once we get in our apartment.  It's definitely an adjustment, but this is such a great opportunity to experience a culture different than our own.  We feel so lucky!  

At the airport, right after we landed. 
Andy on the way to the hotel.  Don't judge us: we couldn't get our carseat put in right, and supposedly this seat converts for someone his age?  He looked so grown up in it.  Don't mind the strange outfit, someone had a blowout.
Dam Square 
Typical street here.  So pretty!

He's been such a trooper!  Good thing he loves his stroller so much.

The street we will live on.  So cool! Yes, no cars.  Apparently the movers are planning on parking a street away and lifting boxes through a window.  And they're acting like that's a totally normal moving practice. ?!
Our place! We're interested to see how it will work, because you can't really see our place from the actual street.  Maybe the door on the street takes us to some sort of courtyard where you get this view?  We'll see.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Andy, 14 months

How in the world is my baby 14 months old?  I feel like he just turned one.  I seriously tear up just thinking about it.  I am loving this stage so much.  Andy is a complete joy.  At dinner tonight my friend Kasee said to me, "Wow, is he this good all the time now?"  Yes!  He is.  He is an absolute joy 99% of the time.  Of course there are the normal challenges associated with a toddler who can't sit still and wants to run around and explore all the time, but even those things make this stage even more fun.

He's taken steps for a month or two, but finally got around to walking (preferring to walk rather than crawl) on August 11.  He's so excited that he knows how to walk, it's all he wants to do.  (On our flight home from Utah he walked all the way from one terminal to the next.)  He falls about a million times a day so he has red marks all over his sweet little face.  Most of the time he gets right back up.  Sometimes he needs some loves (for about 8 seconds then he wants to explore again), and I savor those special times I can offer him some comfort.  He has a funny walk--he always walks with his left food leading.  Like a gallop.  I'm assuming he'll grow out of that soon and develop a more "straight" walk.  One cute thing he does is he stops to take breaks.  He runs around like a crazy person and then randomly drops to the ground and lays down for a few seconds.  Then runs around again.

I'm amazed at how much he understands.  I'll tell him to do things, and he does them.  His words are mama, dada, doggy (sounds like daddy), and uh oh.  He also has his favorite babbling noises: ee-oh (he says it alllllll day long) and myta. He is extremely talkative!  Since he's my first, I didn't realize how talkative he is, but lots of people comment on it lately.  He is so excited all of the time.  My friend Kristin pointed out the other day how excited he is to see every single person.  He gives people the biggest smile and waves.  He is super friendly.  (He even waves to pictures of himself on my computer screen.  How adorable is that.)

He's finally getting to the age when he really plays with other little kids.  It's pretty adorable.  I was watching him play with his friend Amelia the other day, and it was just so cool to see him really interact with her.  They were having so much fun together, laughing and chasing each other around.  He also gave his little friend Maya kisses today.  He just walked up to her and gave her a few kisses.  Melts my heart.  (He gives me kisses all the time and I love it.)  He will also randomly walk up to one of us, lay his head on our shoulder, and give us a hug.  So cute.

Andy loves his dad!  It's one of my favorite things to watch his reaction when dad gets home or when we pick him up from work.  I can tell the instant Andy spots him.  He starts beaming, saying dada over and over, and just giggles.  It is super cute.

He's turned into a fantastic eater.  I'm amazed by how much he eats.  About a month ago, he weighed in in the 75th percentile and is in the 95th for height.  I love his little pot belly and elbow dimples.  He's really thinned out quite a bit though.  Definitely turning into more of a little boy and less baby.

I sure love being a mom to this sweet little guy.  

Love those crossed ankles. 

Aug. 11, the day he started walking.
Left foot always forward

Pictures at this age can be tricky because as soon as he sees the Camera he wants it sooooo bad.  

Andy has loved our moving boxes everywhere. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Family Pictures

While in Utah, we had our first family pictures taken!  They also doubled as Andy's 1-year-old pictures.  We love how they turned out!  We went to Fotofly Away at Thanksgiving Point--they always do such a good job.  Here are some favorites:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Utah Visit

We visited Utah from August 3-13 and had a blast!  We spent the first half of our time with my family up in Bountiful, the next half with Cam's family in Cedar Hills, and then a final day with my family up in Bear Lake. 

It was a busy time for my family, and Cam had to work a bunch, but we squeezed in some fun stuff.  We had a trip to the pool, a BBQ on the deck, a late night walk, a trip to the cabin, a visit to City Creek (Cam's first time), a trip to the zoo for my birthday, a visit to my grandparents, a birthday lunch (Cafe Rio), and a birthday dinner (Texas Roadhouse).  Andy and I also got to visit a splash pad with a dear friend, Katie, and her darling little guy Kaden.

The plane ride! Andy was a champ this trip.  
Andy and beautiful Aunt Sara.  We loved seeing her so much! 
Family in the cabin.
Andy and Uncle Dale
Cam and Andy with Grandma Bonnie. 
Hanging out with Katie and Kaden at the splash pad.  Andy loved it!  He was fearless. (Too fearless, in fact.) 
City Creek
Grandma and Grandpa Messick.  Love and miss them.
We love the zoo!  I think we've gone every single visit to Utah this year.  This was the first time Andy really loved it.  
Train ride!

Andy with Grandma & Grandpa Messick. 
Texas Roadhouse for our birthdays!
We had a super fun (and very busy) few days with Cam's family!  We started with a lunch at Kneaders, a big barbeque with Greg's side of the family, family pictures, a visit to the farm at Thanksgiving Point, a birthday dinner at Market Street Grill, lots of wedding events for Cam's sweet cousin Andrea, meeting Ward, Amy, and Garrett (new family members we absolutely love and had so much fun getting to know!), and a Baker family reunion. I also got to sneak in a few visits with friends--I got to get ice cream with Andrea  and Addy and got to visit Marsha and her little guy Ben.  (It made me wish we lived closer to them so Andy and Ben could be best buddies!) 

Andi and Andrea on their wedding day. Such a cute couple!
Andrea and Addy.  Love and miss them! 
Andy's seat of choice.

First pony ride.  He loved it!
Breakfast with Ward, Amy, and Garrett.  It was so great to meet them! 
Ward and Greg, brothers reunited. They look so much alike!
Ben and Andy.  Have you ever seen cuter little boys?! 
Us with Marsha and Ben.  Sure wish we lived closer!
We headed up to Bear Lake for a Messick family reunion for our last day.  (We drove both ways in one day=crazy.)  We had so much fun seeing everyone!  We were especially excited to spend time with Rachel, who returned from Jerusalem a couple days before.

Me and Justin my cousin, my favorite little boy in the world.  (Besides Andy, of course.)  
Andy practicing walking, his favorite activity as of late.   

Sara and Rachel.