I’ve lost an hour.

28 11 2008

I’ve noticed something this winter that I didn’t notice when I was here last December.  It gets dark here… and fast!!  I’ve lost an hour of sunlight being here in the Netherlands compared to being in Toronto or Windsor.  I honestly thought it was just me, until I googled it and saw it with me own eyes that I wasn’t going nuts.

times The nice thing though, is that in the summer the sun sets later so I gain the hour back.  For the most part the sun will go down around 10pm while back in Canada it sets around 9.  So I’ll deal with the lost hour in the winter, but it can get a bit depressing with the dark skies for most of the waking hours.   And when the sun is up, the skies are grey anyways adding a lovely misty, greying, dismal tint to the air. 

Come on… summer!

Advertisements




Oh I brought Canada with me!

26 11 2008

Although it is rumoured that it does snow on the occasion in the Netherlands, I didn’t really believe it until this past weekend!  We had snow!  In fact it started on Friday and continued right up to Monday morning, it was great seeing the white fluffy stuff fall from the sky.  Now I know what you are thinking, “if you were in Canada then you would complain”  Actually no… I enjoy the snow but I’ll be honest, by the time February rolls around I’m done with it.  Last winter was just that, we had a wonderful white winter and it snowed nearly every weekend but by the time February showed up I was done with it. 

Here in the Netherlands, the snow left as soon as it came…. but I did get a few pictures of the stuff before it melted.

herb

This is my herb plant that I have outside, the rosemary is the tallest plant that you see in the middle.  Thankfully it didn’t really damage the herbs and I can still cook with them.

Stoney wasn’t too keen on going outside in the snow, I think the little prince was use to the warmer temps and thought that maybe I had bundled him up and brought him back to Canada while he was sleeping.  Well I can’t blame the little guy since that’s how he ended up here in the Netherlands.

As of now, the snow is gone and the weather is starting to creep back up to the 7°C mark, so I can put my winter coat away and take out the fall one. 

Hopefully we’ll get another nice snowfall closer to Christmas, it will make my first holiday away from home a little easier…maybe…. probably not…but we can hope.





A busy week

19 11 2008

I haven’t been very faithful in the writing department lately.  It just seems that even though I’m currently not working, I am just non-stop busy.  This past week and a bit has been a hectic with school appointments, my appointments with schools, yoga (hey it’s free), shopping for Christmas presents, birthday presents (3 in 2 months ugh), trying to keep the house somewhat clean, and currently making a piñata for Ashley’s 13th birthday. 

Yes I know that she’s 13 and it seems childish, but the piñata is just for when the family is here for some fun.  We are having Mexican for dinner so I thought I would add a little surprise.  Besides everyone loves bashing things with a stick!  On Saturday she and 3 friends are going to go to the movies and then 2 of them are spending the night… Pray for me.

I have my Dutch test tomorrow to see what level I am, so I can start my inburgeringcurses.  I am interesting to see how much I really do know after being here for 5+ months.  I know that I can’t speak a lick; well I probably could if I tried.  My reading isn’t too bad and I can usually make out what the important things are in a letter.  When I hear it, I am able to pick out enough words at times to get the just of things, but don’t ask me for a literal translation because I can’t get the majority of the words.  I would rather start from square one anyways with the lessons, especially since I believe the classes I chose are mainly done with a tape recorder and computer.  I wanted to go during the day, but I also want to get a job.  I could have gone at night but that poses problems when Frank is on his business trips.  So this way it’s flexible and I can go on my time as much as 4 times a week.  I am hoping that once I start working then I’ll pay for classes at the ROC. 

Stoney is back to his old pain in the ass self.  He has to be on me or near me at all times.  I can’t go upstairs without him following.  The other day he was sleeping while Frank and the kids were downstairs, I had gone upstairs to read and he had a panic attack.  He started to whimper until he came upstairs and saw me on the bed.  I know I made him a suck, but MAN there are some days he just drives me batty.  Although one bonus is that he’s really enjoying the bike rides now, it does get a bit chilly for him but I have a blanket and his sweater.  He’s off to be groomed soon too; he’s starting to look a bit “Tramp-y”.

Frank will be home for a bit, no trade shows until January.

The kids are doing well and even though I have managed to piss off 3 teachers concerning them, they still enjoying school.  Only Ashley’s teachers to yell at next, I managed to irk Michelle’s last night at the meeting.  Oh well… do your job and I won’t have to become super bitch.  Brianna’s teacher meeting is tomorrow, so this is going to be interesting since nothing has been done since September.   Really is it that hard to send home a weekly journal so we know what work we have to concentrate on at home??  Yes this is going to be a “Dutch Rant” all those that have a problem skip to the next paragraph.  We had asked that the school send home a journal and extra math homework for Brianna since she was having problems with it, but has anything of the sort happened??? NO!  Am I pissed??? Just a wee bit.  I don’t understand the system here, I get that some students have trouble with school but do you really need to decide their future when they are 10?? I would like for them (all three) to have options in life, not do what the school feels they are capable of doing.  It’s frustrating and annoying.  This school also checks what I pack for Brianna for her lunches and questions her snacks if it’s something they aren’t familiar with.  Relax people it’s just a muffin.  The last time they were going to take her oat bar that I made because they thought the cranberries were chocolate (yes there was chocolate but dark chocolate and small bits).  Oh and let’s not forget, they won’t make a “toasty” (same as grill cheese) because the bread wasn’t brown bread.  Really?? WELL THEN… how about I give you a list of what she likes and doesn’t like and YOU can buy the groceries and make her lunch daily.  Trust me I don’t send the kid to school with crap.  She has the token cheese or one slice of meat sandwich, a piece of fruit, and a snack (oat bar, muffin, or a type of bread).  Let the kid eat!  You aren’t there to police her lunch, instead put the energy into teaching her!  Yes… frustration is the main thing here.  As for Ashley, she finds math too easy but they won’t give her extra homework.  The kid is asking for extra work and they won’t give it to her!!  God forbid she actually advances in her studies!!   Yes this is the stupidity I’m dealing with when it comes to the schools.  Ok… rant done now….

So as I was saying, things have been fairly busy and I can’t see it letting up anytime soon especially since we have the American Thanksgiving to do (with some of Frank’s co-workers), Sinterklaas, Christmas, 3 birthdays, New years, and hopefully me starting my lessons as soon as possible. 

Well now that it’s nearly time for bed, I need to check on the piñata and see if it’s drying properly.  I could only do one side today so I’ll have to pray that it dries completely so I can do the other side.  It needs to be painted and filled by Friday… eek!





Lest We Forget

11 11 2008

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

poppies-774775





It’s a good thing he’s cute.

10 11 2008

Well this has been an interesting week,  Frank came home from Russia, I started to look into my inburgering curses, and the dumb ass dog decided to eat a DARK chocolate bar wrapper and all.  That’s right.. chocolate…

So after a massive panic attack and chatting to Tammy on line, I made Stoney puke.  Unfortunately, enough chocolate was digested to give him the runs after the puking was done.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so miserable, he had to stay outside for a bit until the puking was done and he just sat there with his head hanging down.  I brought him inside and cleaned him up, then laid him in his bed with a towel, the poor guy started to whimper and then would bolt back outside.  My usually spunky dog was lifeless, he didn’t want to do anything except lay in his bed and whimper.  I knew he didn’t feel well because he actually wanted to be covered with the towel, Stoney hates covers on him. 

3005480112_95abe013af_bThat night, he somehow got under the bed and woke us with his whimpering, Frank and I had to shoo him out (I really didn’t want to deal with dog puke under the bed) and get him into his bed that we have in the bedroom for him.  That was of course after letting him go outside again to do his business and me cleaning him up as best as possible at 4 am.  The next day, this is what he looked like.  Now if anyone knows Stoney, you know that this really isn’t him.  His ears wouldn’t even perk up if I asked him if he wanted a cookie.  The only thing he would take was sugar water when I held the bowl under his nose.  So after calling the vet and going there on Friday, he’s now on the mend.  He has special pills to rebuild the lining of his stomach and intestines, special food to make sure that the trots stop, and special water to make sure he doesn’t dehydrate.  Although the food doesn’t seem to be doing much, he still getting the scoots and the problem is that he gets them at night.  So we’ve had a few accidents on the carpet since I can’t get to him fast enough.

All I can say is that I’m hoping he has learned his lesson and won’t touch chocolate again… ya right… this is Stoney we are talking about, the same dog that managed to get a bag of chips from a blocked room, bring them into the living room, open the bag, and share it with his brother.  I doubt that he’s learned anything from this ordeal. 

We have though, since now we know how far on to the coffee table he can reach!





“From Russia with Love”

4 11 2008

But in a total non-assassin way! Frank has returned from Russia yesterday, he had gone there for work for a week and now he’s home.. YIPPPEEE!! 

During his time there, he didn’t have a lot of free moments to shop or really enjoy Moscow.  But he did manage to buy himself a furry hat and a flask with the Russian embalm on it, key chains for myself and the kids and this… 

egg

The egg opens and inside was a brooch, but I prefer to display it closed.  I love it!  The picture doesn’t do it justice really, you can’t see the sparkle under the lights in the cabinet.  It is nice to get something special like this from somewhere I may never have the chance to visit.  I’m glad he was able to experience Russia, even though he had to work… but I’m happier that he’s home.





Paris – Day Two

1 11 2008

So… after a hellish sleep, thanks to the exhibition centre right outside the window tearing down things, I was up at 6:30am.  I’m not saying that I’m not a morning person, or that I can be a bit crabby about having to get up before the sun especially when functioning on very little sleep.  But I might be a bit “touchy” with out my coffee and the fact that it was still pitch black out.  For those who have seen me up early in the morning I appreciate all smart ass comments kept to yourself, thank you :). 

So I had some time to kill, so I thought I would try to plan my day.  The Louvre didn’t open until about 10ish and I was going to get to that museum come wind or rain or whatever else might be thrown at me.  I also wanted to get to Notre Dame Cathedral, but I wasn’t sure how that was going to fit in to the little time I had.  Well off I go to “Le Metro” (there’s an accent there but I can’t remember which way it goes – I’ll have to look that up), and I start to head over to the ticket (information – ya.. or lack there of) counter to ask what is the best stop for the church and or the Arc (I wanted to see that too.. I’m a little ambitious) and well the lady behind the glass, who obviously was less of a morning person then me,  had no idea what I was saying.  It could be that my French isn’t perfect, or that she didn’t have the best of English, or that it was loud… OR MAYBE IF YOU TOOK YOUR DAMN CELL PHONE AWAY FROM YOUR EAR FOR 2 SECONDS YOU COULD HEAR ME A BIT BETTER – oh sorry about that, remember not a morning person.  OK back to the story…

I get on the train and I head towards the Louvre, but instead of changing trains I just get off a little ways on the Place de la Concorde stop.  I walk up towards the huge intersection and what do I see??  The Eiffel Tower lit up by the sunrise (ok say it with me.. awwwww).  And that big tower thingie with fountains on either side.  I probably should look up that monument, statue, pyramidy thing and figure out what it is, but look there behind, the tower.  The sun was just coming up over the buildings and actually the main building it was starting to come over was the Louvre.  So after a few pictures here and there of the tower, the pointy thingy and the L’Arc down the road, I’d show a picture except I didn’t realize that a bus passed in front until after and ruined it.  I strolled through the garden towards the Louvre, well that was after I spent € 2 on a crappy coffee.  I went through a beautiful garden/park that probably is just amazing in the summer with the statues and the flowers, but in October there wasn’t much to see except the statues.  The place that I strolled through was called,  Jardin des Tuileries.  And by walking right down the middle it will take you to the front doors of the Louvre.  Now I remember the glass pyramids in front of the Louvre, and I have to say I really don’t like them.   I know they have been there for a while now but you have this gorgeous old building with intricate moldings, doors, and windows…then you get a glass pyramid.. oh. 

But at least since there wasn’t line up to get in.  I got there early enough to avoid the mass afternoon tourists, and instead of waiting in line to pay for a ticket, I used the automated machine.  But regardless I was IN!  Now I had to get my game face on and plow ahead.  For those who have not been to the Louvre, it’s massive and if you really want to see everything you are going to need the day to take your time and really enjoy it. I on the other hand had a time restriction.  So I go barreling towards the Mona Lisa,  of course stopping to enjoy the occasional piece of sculputre or painting.  Making good time until BAM …. tour bus.  ARGH.. ok, I can do this.  So with a little elbowing, a few pardon me’s and maybe one or two “Watch it!” I got through the first jam, sweet… full on and here we go.  I make it to the section where the Mona Lisa is kept and I’m nearly blinded by the flashing lights, I’m not sure what part of “please do not use a flash” people don’t understand but obviously the 20 different languages it was written in, it wasn’t the one they could read.  Now the Mona Lisa is an interesting piece, ok… ya.. I don’t get it.  I’m not saying I don’t appreciate it, I do I just don’t get it.  She really isn’t that attractive and she could have smiled a little more.  Oh FYI this isn’t an invitation for art buffs to give me the load down on the painting…really…no really, I mean it.  And don’t bother with that whole “DaVinci Code” thing either, I never read the book, I don’t plan on reading the book, and will more then likely never watch the movie either.  But M.L there was behind glass, so the picture taking was a little off and you can’t get a decent shot of her but hey I saw it.  Then I headed over to the Venus de Milo statue, this time trying not to step on the little children that were there for a school trip.  The wee little tots also made it interesting trying to take a decent picture since they all had to be first to look at the statue.  Check that one of my “must see before I die” list, well I don’t actually have a list but I’m sure if I did that would be on it.  Next up the Greek statues and Roman ones as well, and let me tell you there are a lot of those.  I basically did the run down one side and glance, run down the other side and glance because after about 20 of them they all started to meld into one big block of stone. 

At that point I headed towards the Egypt section of the Louvre, after asking how to get there since I got a bit turned around.  Don’t ask, the Louvre’s map is actually idiot proof once you get the hang of it.  I saw a mummy, more statues, some old pottery, some old jewelry and OK… I’m done.  I did take pictures and you can see them on my flickr site under the Day 2 of Paris.  I am not going to put them all on here. 

Eventually it was time to leave, I stopped at the gift shop to get a few gifts (and spend enough money to feed a small village).  Then Frank called to say he was on his way… WHAT?? But, but… I didn’t make it to the cathedral *stomps foot*.  But no time, if I had paid more attention to the clock I would have seen that the initial hour and a half that I wanted to spend at the Louvre turned into three and half.  Ugh!

So I get picked up and we head home, now it only took us an HOUR to get out of the main part of Paris… but it took us 2 hours to get through Antwerpen Belgium because of an accident.  In total a normal trip that should take 4 1/2 hours took 8 hours. 

All in all I had a great time in Paris and I really want to go back and finish the tourist thing.  Frank would like to go to the Louvre so he can see some of the artwork and statues.  But hopefully when we do go back, we’ll have more time and I won’t have to rush.