Jun 13, 2014

Let's Catch Up or Blogging as an Avoidance Strategy

It's about time for an old school blog post where I talk about "what I've been up to lately" and "when was the last time I cried in the produce section" and "how I feel about owls."

Because, I had a terrifying realization the other day.

Summer break is almost here. 

{Cue the music from Psycho.}

It's just my kids home for 6 weeks straight, no biggie. I'm not developing any nervous ticks or anything. Probably my heart palpitations and difficulty breathing are related to something else.

Which is why it's better to ignore reality, and spend a few moments remembering happier times. Such as last night, when I finally finished filing our US taxes. Wait, no.

How about a few weeks ago then, when I attended a super hipster storytelling night in Amsterdam, and felt a bit out of place for not being 23, and for not having a mustache. And yes, yes it was in a squatter's house, complete with a naked, mangled mannequin hanging from the window. And yes, they did serve homemade, organic lentil soup. How did you know?

Actually, it was an enjoyable night. Especially when I overheard the kid behind me tell his friends, "Yeah, I have a friend who's 35."

Did you hear that? He doesn't have anything against people who are middle-aged. In fact, he has a close friend who is openly 35.

So that was fun.

Speaking of fun, I had my own storytelling night back in May, and it wasn't a big flop like I feared. We had some wonderful participants, great music, food, and just the right mix of humor, emotion, and potty talk. Admittedly, it was lacking in the facial-hair department, but we're going to do it again anyway. Soon. Because that's the kind of courage it takes to be 36.

Thinking of the past month, here are some things I've said recently that I more or less regret, yet feel the need to immortalize on my blog:
  • "3 of those avocados were a real disappointment." 
  • To my 6 year-old, who wanted to play on the wii for 20 minutes: "Fine, have fun wasting your life away."
  • "Just gotta support my peeps." 
  • "Crap, is it already time to plan our next vacation?" 
  • On a facebook post about all-natural shampoo: "literally everything on earth is made of chemicals." 
  • Let's just add to that everything I've ever said on Facebook ever. Social media is just a big anxiety-fraught place for some of us. 
  • Oh, and how about complaining about my kids being home for Summer vacation? Yes, let's add that.
And now for the photos:

Mark and I went to the Cinque Terre in Italy, without the kids (should I add that to the list?):

1st King's Day (formerly Queen's Day), aka The Great Crap Exchange. Also, my favorite day in Amsterdam-- except that my phone was stolen this year-- and probably the biggest experiment in sensory overload ever.  If there is anything in existence, you can find if for sale on King's Day. The best are the things that kids do to make money: everything from dancing, singing, and playing a musical instrument, to drawing a unique monster or giving a "homemade" compliment, to 3 minutes on a hammock or the chance to smash a head of lettuce with a hammer. Who wouldn't pay 1 euro to beat the crap out of a head of lettuce-- don't say you haven't thought about it. 

The Annual Avondvierdagse for Primary schools: walking 5k in the Amsterdam "woods" with thousands of other families, 4 nights in a row, while sucking on a homemade lemon/mint pop. And like most inexplicable things, is actually very enjoyable.

                                                                                                                                                                    Nate turned 6, and I think this sums him up perfectly (I guess I can make GIFs on my phone now, though I have no idea how I did that):

And, we went to Barcelona (You hate me now. That's OK, I kind of do too):

So that takes care of what we've been up to lately. To answer the other questions: it's been a while, thankfully, and the owl thing needs to stop. Please now. Except for this, which I just read, and enjoyed. But that's the only exception. 

Jun 9, 2014

A Story of Bike Theft: This Time Vengeance is Ours

On Tuesday, we woke up to find Sam's bike missing. More precisely, we woke up to find Sam's bike keys missing. After a small amount of searching, we went outside to see if they were still in his bike.

That's when we discovered that his bike was stolen, if that's what you still call it when you leave the keys in your bike for the taking. (It's not hard to put two and two together with this kid.)

For some context, within just the past month, Sam has:
  • left his backpack, with his camera and wallet inside, at a park in Barcelona-- where it was stolen. (Barcelona is the theft capital of Europe, and when we inquired about a Lost and Found at the Park Information Center, they almost laughed at us.)
  • left his nice rain jacket at the Barcelona Airport. 
  • lost his bike keys at a park in Amsterdam, delaying us for an hour on a busy day, while we waited for Mark to bring the spare key.
  • had to leave his bike at the train station because he couldn't find his keys, which happened to be in one of his pockets.
That's just in 1 month. There simply isn't enough time or space to list everything before that.

But that morning there was no time for lectures, as he had to hop on the back of his dad's bike and rush off to school. Later, when I picked the kids up from school, the first thing I noticed was Sam not wearing his jacket. He had left it at the playground.

After retrieving the jacket, we went to get on our bikes, and Sam said, "hey, where's my bike?"

"Um, it was stolen because you left your keys in it, remember?"

"Oh yeah."

Sometimes, I find it amazing he remembers to breathe.

While he was perched on the back of my bike coming home from school, I listed all the ways he could earn money to help pay for the bike. And in the middle of my lecture, I spotted something unbelievable: Sam's bike right there on the sidewalk, just blocks from our house.

We screeched to a halt, and stood there for a few minutes, staring in disbelief.

The keys were gone, and it was locked. Oh, did the thief think that was going to stop us?

We zipped home to pick up Sam's recently-copied spare keys, and returned to steal his bike back-- if that's what you call it when you use your keys to take your own bike back.

Such sweet, sweet euphoria. So, on behalf of every victim of bike theft in Amsterdam, we offer you this:

Jun 3, 2014

And the Envelope Please...

Decision 2014 is made.

It was easy once we found out that Costco changed its mango salsa recipe. And now, I've discovered a place in Amsterdam that serves it, with a pulled-pork salad no less.

The salsa gods have spoken; we're staying in Amsterdam for another year.

After weeks full of fretting, discussing, diagramming, coin flipping, list making, over thinking, hand puppeteering, Buzzfeed quizzing, and Universe imploring...it all came down to the path of least resistance. Which is to say, I took a good, long stare down the barrel of a do-it-yourself international move and thought yeahI can just continue to get solid deodorant imported, thanks. 

Because sometimes procrastination just feels right.

So, one more year to ride bikes in all kinds of weather.
To muddle my way through conversations in broken Dutch.
To dread the awkwardness of the three-kiss greeting.
One more year of missing people who are so far away.
One more year to further explore this part of the world without jet lag.
One more year to not deal with the piles of stuff we've accumulated here.
One more year of this adventure.

Best not to blink.