Monday, February 18, 2013

Amsterdam Everyday Life

The past couple of months I've really looked forward to going back to Texas.  But now that it's here, I'm getting all nostalgic and realizing how much I really will miss it here.  We've taken a lot of fantastic trips, and I think I've been pretty good about recording those.  But--I haven't been nearly as good at documenting some of the things we see and do every day, so this is an attempt to try to remember those things. Obviously Cameron is at work Monday-Friday, while Andy and I try to fill up our time with fun activities.  We try to go out twice a day, weather permitting, from about 10:30-12:30 for a more formal activity (story time, the park, a museum, the market, etc.) and then wander around for an hour so at 4 or 5 after nap time.  I'm sure this will be overly detailed--and I don't expect anyone to read it--but I just want to remember the details of our wonderful 6 months here!

Transportation: We have a great location in the city center.  I can walk to most things.  I can take a tram to everything else, and we're lucky enough to have about 8 different tram lines come through the stops right by us.  Trams are very stroller-friendly; they even have two stroller parking spots that are usually free.  If we lived in one of the bigger cities where I used the metro instead of trams, it would have been tougher with a stroller.  (Though we do take the metro once a month or so, usually to head to Ikea.)  We also take trains to head outside of the city or to go to the airport.  Cameron rides his bike to work--30 minutes each way--and he loves it.  He comments almost daily about how much he'll miss it.  Except for the days when it's pouring rain and he gets to wear his rain gear. :)

In the stroller spot!
Usually they are MUCH more full.
A ride on the metro.
Grocery Shopping: The major chain here is Albert Heijn.  I'm sure there are lots more options outside of the city, but I literally haven't shopped anywhere else.  We're lucky enough to have a small location that is a two minute walk from our house.  It's probably the size of a 7-11 gas station?  I'm amazed that such a small space can fit almost everything we need.  I have to go to a bigger Albert Heijn--as "big" as two 7-11's--once or twice a week for celery, sour cream, baking powder, or other random things.  I stop by the store every day, and I've come to love that.  I love that I don't have to plan meals more than a day in advance.  I pop in and out in five or ten minutes.  All of our food is fresh, and we don't waste anything.   Going to the grocery store in the states is such a long ordeal even if you just need one thing--parking, the store is huge, etc.  I really will miss Albert Heijn.  Some little things I won't miss: pushing a stroller while holding a heavy basket, the narrow aisles that aren't stroller-friendly, the giant lines just before dinner, the more expensive prices, having to remember my own bag(s), having to bag my own groceries, and carrying all my groceries up my forever-long stairs.  Oh and I won't miss the cashiers speaking dutch to me and having to say every single time, "I only speak english."  Although one of the only phrases I've learned is, "Do you want your receipt?" to which I can correctly respond, "Nee."  :)

We also stop by the market to buy veggies and fruits occasionally because they have things that even the biggest Albert Heijn doesn't have.  Like sweet potatoes.  Which are actually really expensive here.

Our standard grocery store purchases: milk, fruit (apples, oranges, or bananas), veggies (broccoli, zucchini, or a bag of spinach), yogurt, cereal, bread made in their bakery, cheese, eggs, peanut butter (they have the best peanut butter here!), nutella/jelly, magnum bars, and stuff for whatever recipe we're having for dinner, which is probably some kind of soup.  We've eaten incredibly basically here, and I think we'll all miss it.  We usually have soup a couple nights a week, fancy eggs once a week (eggs with sweet potatoes or zuchini or something), pasta once or twice a week, then who knows what the rest of the week.  Meat is pretty expensive, so we have it about once a week.  I hope we take some of the simplicity we've learned here back home with us.

"Our" Albert Heijn

From one end to the other-you can see how small it is.
Church: We've loved church here!  It takes us about 25 minutes to get there using the tram.  We've loved our ward.  It's small and diverse.  There's always a lot of missionary work going on, which is fun to see.  We have three sets of missionaries in the ward, and we've had a lot of fun having them over and getting to know them.  There are a good amount of american members in the ward, which has been fun.  There's even an english sunday school class!  We listen to our other meetings using translation headsets.  Well--Andy rarely lets us wear them in sacrament meeting since they're his favorite toys.  They've let Andy go to nursery since he was about 16 months old.  He did great the first month or so.  Then he hated it.  I think he's come around and likes it tolerates it again?  There are usually about three kids in there, but sometimes he's the only one.  He loves his little friend Lucille when she's there. 

Andy with his nursery leader. 
Eating Out: We rarely eat out here because 1) restaurants aren't equipped for Andy-ness, 2) the food is super expensive, and 3) the food isn't very good.  Let's just say we're looking forward to amazing Texas food.  We do usually pick up take out from either Wok to Walk or this really good Indonesian place right by us once a week or so.  We've gone to Va Piano's a few times, this great (cheap!) Italian place we can manage Andy in.  
Indonesian food is big here!

Shopping: As far as clothes go, I actually have bought less here than I ever thought I would.  I do love the styles, but the quality is so low for the price I haven't been able to justify many purchases since I knew I'd be back in the states so soon.  I never thought I'd say it, but I'm tired of H&M.  (Maybe since it's about the only option I can afford here?) I used to browse there a few times a week, but haven't been in as often.  I do make trips to Hema (reminds me of Target) a few times a week for a number of things, since it's practically outside my front door.  

Bouncy Bunch: This is a little music class I've been going to with Andy on monday mornings the past couple of months.  It actually didn't live up to my expectations, but the point was to find us something to get us out of the house and it accomplished that.  I think Andy really started liking it, and he still loves some of the songs we learned.  It's about 20 or so kids who come.  They all sit on their parents laps and we sing songs, dance, play instruments, play with bubbles, etc. for about 45 minutes.  It was tough to wrestle Andy to sit on my lap, but (I think?) I'm glad we did it. 

Library Story Time: In October or November we started taking the tram to a weekly english story time at the library.  The library's a beautiful building right on the dock.  Story reading is every tuesday morning at 10:30 in a little theater in the children's library.  We've really come to look forward to it, especially seeing some of our favorite friends there, Stephanie and Ashley.   If Andy's feeling generous, he even allows us to grab lunch afterwards.  We have a great time reading stories, singing songs, blowing bubbles, and playing with the parachute.  It's definitely my favorite activity we go to because no one minds that Andy runs around most of the time and doesn't actually listen to the stories, which means no chasing/wrestling for me.  :) After story time is over, Andy loves running around the gigantic children's library while I try to keep up.   

You can see how Andy climbs all over everyone. 
Awesome children's library!
Looking at the children's library from above. 
English Bookshop Story Time: We discovered this friday story time in a local bookshop about the same time we found the library's.  It's only about a ten minute walk away.  Andy likes it, some times more than others.  We had to take a break for a couple of months because of persistent tantrums when he wasn't allowed to pull books of the shelves or crawl up the stairs.  Still, it's been a fun little activity for us where we read stories, sing songs, and play instruments.  
The English Bookshop is on a darling little street in the Jordaan.  

1 comment:

  1. Ben and I are just commenting on how old Andy looks! He is seriously so cute. I'm glad that you guys found some fun activities to go to!