Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Haarlem & Other Stuff

On a whim (and after some good advice from our new friend Claire), we headed to Haarlem for a little day trip on Saturday.  It's only a 30 minute train ride away, after all.  We loved it!  We're wondering why we haven't been before?  We've now vowed to explore more of the Netherlands outside of Amsterdam.  It's such a beautiful place.

Haarlem felt like Amsterdam, but smaller and with basically no tourists.  It was the perfect place to go for a few hours. Since we were there on a saturday, we got to see their market.  We both liked it even more than Amsterdam markets!  We also checked out St. Bavo's church, where both Handel and Mozart played their famous organ.  They were having a book sale inside which was...interesting.  Reminded us of a certain bible story. :)  After that, we headed to De Adriaan Windmill, where we got our very own tour and climbed some treacherous stairs.  We rushed to the Corrie Ten Boom house afterwards, where I enjoyed an hour long tour.  Cameron was there for the first ten minutes, and then kindly let me enjoy the rest while he took Andy outside.  It was amazing to see THE hiding place!  I can't believe 6 people had to stay in that tight of a space for two days and two nights.  I was inspired as I learned more about Corrie and the network(s) she oversaw.  What an incredible woman. I want to read the book again now.  A highlight of the tour was when I got to play a hymn on the piano called, "You Are My Hiding Place," while everyone else in the tour sang along.  We rushed back home after that to get Andy down for a very belated nap.

The end of the day wasn't as great as the first part--we went all the way to our church for the ward party with a giant salad in tow.  We get there: empty church building.  Apparently the party was the day before. Someone told us it was Saturday.  Language barrier mixup! :)  Anyway, some Haarlem pictures:
On the train.

At the market. 
Cam with his homemade stroopwafel at the market.

St. Bavo's Church 

The windmill! No making fun of my hat.
Ten Boom living room.  There's the piano I played!
Where they crawled in and out of the hiding place, which was behind the wall. 
Ten Boom House: this was her dad's watch shop, the living room is above it.
And now for some random other things...

Things that aren't my favorite right now: 
-Our sink is super backed up.  And the cleaners came to clean the other day and thought they'd fix it themselves, so the pipe is now leaking.  And the landlords say it's not their responsibility.  Fantastic.
-Everything I put in the oven, I burn.  The oven must be super strong or something?  I made some brownies for the elders yesterday that I undercooked by ten minutes and they were severely burned.
-Andy's going through some phases that aren't my favorite.  First, he likes to throw everything.  All day long.  Blocks, toys, whatever.  He thinks it's funny to throw things at me, too.  I swear I get some injury from him every day.  The other day he threw this big, heavy wood toy at the back of my head; it hurt so bad.  I have a goose egg now.  It seems like he doesn't understand us telling him, "No!"  So we don't know how to get him to stop?  Also, his new favorite places to hide things are in the toilet and the garbage can.  Who knows how many things he's thrown away?  I found my keys in the garbage yesterday.  It's also his new place to put his sippy.  When he wants a drink, he opens the garbage, takes out the sippy, takes a drink, and puts it back.  Seriously! Our sound system/DVD player remote is currently MIA, so that's good.
-There are these weird street organs that you occasionally find in the touristy areas of Amsterdam.  Tourists must like them?  I have absolutely no idea why.  They play incredibly loud, cheesy circus-like music while the operator shakes a can of coins to try to get you to donate.  There's a new guy that's started playing right beneath my living room window in the afternoons.  Precisely at 2:40 he shows up. Every. Single. Day.  Conveniently, it's always right as I'm deciding I might close my eyes for 20 minutes before Andy wakes up from his nap.  It's so loud I can't even hear TV while he's here, so the idea of a nap is a joke.  He stays for an hour!  I'm ready to open my window and start throwing things at him.
What they look like.
The organ below my window.  
-I've about had it with neighbor that lives below us, Kees.  I think last time I wrote about him, I was still trying to be a good person, so I only said nice things about him.  I am now past that point.  He came up to talk to me this morning about a few issues he's having.  Let's just say he needs to take a chill pill.  He's taken it upon himself to correct everything we do wrong--little things, people. He's particularly obsessed with how we (allegedly) forget to turn the light off in the hallway we share.  He leaves us a note every day to remind us (not kidding) and has now talked to us about it three times.  I'm telling you--we turn this light off 99% of the time, so he needs to get over that 1%.  He also can't handle that we park our stroller in front of the fire exit.  He's talked to me about it a few times, and each time I tell him I'll move it when the management asks me to.  I don't know why he takes it upon himself to be the enforcer around here?  I am trying to love him, really, I am.

Some other fun things we've been doing and some good parts of life right now:
-The weather has been so beautiful here lately.  It hasn't been horribly cold and there hasn't been much rain.  Wonderful!
-I feel like I'm getting the hang of cooking here more.  I've started to pull out the crock pot.  I've figured out how to modify some of my favorite recipes.  We even found green chilies at the market last week, so I could make my favorite white bean chili. Cameron still complains that all I make is soup, but I did make Shepherd's Pie the other day, so there's progress!
-Cam is growing a beard for Movember.  Or whatever it's called.  I actually like it!
-Andy's doing some pretty cute things lately.  My favorite milestone is that he's starting to enjoy being read to.  His favorite book is "Pat-a-cake."  It's incredibly boring to read 20x a day, but I'm not complaining.  Progress, people! He also loves cars now and says his own version of "Vroooom" while he pushes them along.  He's getting really good at building towers with his blocks.  Much to Cameron's delight, he loves to sit on our laps and watch youtube videos.  I like watching "Ellen" clips with him in the morning while we cuddle I try to make him cuddle with me.
-Andy and I found a couple weekly story times we've been going to.  He doesn't exactly listen, but it's nice to have some new things to fill up our time.  We've even met a couple friends, which is great!
-Andy and I have been to a few museums: we went to the Allard Pierson Museum (an archeological museum), the Bible Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum (a contemporary art museum).  All were fantastic.  We especially loved the Stedelijk because we went with a friend: Amandine, who Cameron replaced at work while she's on maternity leave.  I have a museum card, which means I paid 50 euro to get into the 30 main Amsterdam museums for the year.  It's nice to be able to pop in and out of all the great museums here.  We've attempted two more museums with Cameron but didn't quite make it: the Rijks Museum (the line was too long) and we tried for the third time to get into the Anne Frank House, which was closed.
-We've been having lots of people over!  Dutch people aren't exactly the friendliest, so it's nice for me to have some people over so I get some positive human interaction. :) We've made some good friends at church.  There's a pretty good amount of americans in the ward, which is nice; it's been fun having them over and getting to know them.  We had two girls in the ward over last week, Claire (who I mentioned before) and Mary Kate.  I somehow mixed up the Cayenne Pepper for the Chili Powder in the chili I was making, so the food was so spicy it was barely edible.  I felt so bad!  They were sweet and kept saying it warmed them up. :) Ha!  We also had Amandine and her husband Olivier over for dessert.  We have three sets of missionaries in the ward, so we've been rotating having them over.  Our friends Dave and Abby invited us over for dinner last week, which was delicious.  It's always fun to see them! There's also an american guy named Allen in the ward who lives here.  He's super nice--he gave me a bike to use while I'm here. We had him for dinner a while back, which was fun.  We're going out to an italian place with him tonight, which we're excited about.
-I went to a really fun relief society activity at Abby's house, where about ten of us got together and made dinner.  We each were in charge of a different part of the meal, and we showed the other sisters how to make it.
-We're obsessed with an asian take-away place here called Wok to Walk.  It's incredible.  We get it at least once a week. The best part is that Andy will eat it.  He only has about 5 foods he'll eat recently, so this is an achievement and makes it an even more appealing dinner choice.  Random, isn't it? What toddler's favorite food is spicy coconut curry?
-Cam works at home on tuesdays, so I've been trying to go out by myself while Andy takes his afternoon nap.  I love it.  I usually go to this particular cafe that has a great view of Amsterdam and get a hot chocolate.
-Incredibly exciting news: Cam and I just booked tickets to go to LONDON! We're going for the weekend in a couple weeks.  Claire is ridiculously kind and offered to watch Andy for us.  She's even nice enough to act excited about it.  We're staying right next to where I lived on my study abroad, so I'm beyond excited.
-I found a way to watch all my favorite shows from home here!  Claire (have I mentioned her enough?) showed me a website where I can find all of them for free.  Even Downton Season 3! I'm especially loving Parenthood lately.  I'm all caught up now.  I'm such a baby; I cry every single episode.
-We found a fun park to play in last week, Oosterpark.  We had the playground all to ourselves:
I don't understand how to use my camera.

And to finish off, some adorable pictures of Andy from sunday:
I just love his parted hair.


  1. I loved reading all of this! First of all, I"m jealous you got to go to the ten Boom house! That was probably my second favorite book from the summer. Andy looks SO cute in those sunday pictures! His little tie! and his part! That's so fun that you can go to London with just the 2 of you!!

  2. I love that Andy keeps his sippy in the garbage can. That is just the best. And yes, he has probably thrown away toys here and there, you better keep a good eye on your favorites. I know Amelia has trashed a few of my precious Little People, it makes me so sad. You are being so social and doing so much! And sounds like Claire is a new bff, haha.

  3. How neat you got to visit the Ten Boom house! I loved The Hiding Place! Also, I am addicted to Parenthood, too. I just finished an episode, and like you . . . I cried. Happens to me every time. Love Andy's little tie. Also, have you tried time out with the throwing? He might still be too young, but you could try it. Tell him if he throws something at you again, he will have to go to time out. When we first started timeouts with Kaden, I would have to hold him in the corner, without looking at him or talking to him. Then, after a minute, I would exlain that we don't throw things that are hard, but we can throw balls or soft things, give him a hug, and send him on his way. For the most part he will stay in timeout when I put him there now. Might be worth a shot. SO JEALOUS ABOUT LONDON!!!

    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who cries through every Parenthood episode. :) No, I haven't tried time out! Great idea. Thanks for the suggestion; I have no idea what to do to get him to understand, so it's definitely worth a try.

  4. No fair Steph, you live in Europe AND get to see Downtown Abbey Season 3 before me. Not cool.