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Month: November 2004

Finally

Well I’ve tried to post like five times now and every time it gets deleted somehow. It’s a little frustrating. Anyway, I had a great weekend. Saturday evening I went out with Anna, the Au Pair I went to the Reggea concert with and she brought a couple of Au Pairs that she knows, Bea from Hungary and Katherine from Germany. We started out at a little cafe and just talked for awhile. Then Katherine had to leave and Bea, Anna and I went to a really cool club called The Water Front. It was so much fun. Most of the people didn’t even get to the club until almost 1am so we ended up staying out really late. I didn’t get to bed until almost 6am! I love dancing though and that’s what I did the whole night so it really was a blast. We’re planning on going out in Amsterdam next weekend too so that’s exciting. I’m so glad that I’m finally getting some friends. It’s such a relief. A person can only go so long with out friends and these girls are really nice. First of all we have a lot in common just from being Au Pairs. Trust me, we’re like mini-mothers and never get sick of talking about our kids or hearing about someone elses. Plus, we have other stuff in common as well. Also, the fact that I don’t drink isn’t an issue and I never feel pressure from them. I really think I may have found my group.

Ironing

Today was such a great day. After I came back from taking Caroline to preschool, Robbert said that he was going out shopping or something, he was taking Timo with him and could I do some laundry? Interestingly enough, that had already been my plan and I had actually thrown a load into the washing machine earlier that morning. So, in the absence of any children, I decided to do the incredible amount of ironing that had been piling up over the last couple of weeks. See, here most people hang dry their laundry and so you have to iron everything. That ended up taking me the entire day! (it had been awhile since I’d done any ironing, I guess). Well I’m sure you’re wondering why an entire day of ironing other people’s clothes qualifies as a great day. The reason it was so wonderful is because, it’s the day after Thanksgiving and my rule is I don’t listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. So, the whole day was spent doing the mindless chore of ironing and singing and dancing to music I only get to listen to once a year. It put me in such a great mood! For those of you who know me, you would be so proud of me. I’m the opposite of Scrooge this year, I’m actually looking forward to Christmas! Tomorrow I plan on doing a little Christmas shopping, actually I have a few Christmas presents already purchased. Today was just a plain wonderful day and I expect tomorrow to be just as great.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope everyone is having a great time today and that you’re able to spend the holiday with those that you love. Obviously it’s a bit different here since they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. To be honest it makes me pretty sad because Thanksgiving is pretty much my favorite holiday and it’s usually the only time of year that I get to see certain parts of my family. I was going to try to make a Thanksgiving dinner for my host family but unfortunately most of the traditional food you can’t buy here. What’s a Thanksgiving dinner with out turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie?! With out all those it’s just dinner. So I abandoned the idea. I was actually looking forward to making it too. I made Thanksgiving dinner one year for my mom and the Brunnette family because the rest of my family went down to see my Oma but my mom was sick and couldn’t go. That was one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. It felt so great to sit down to a dinner that I made all myself. I think Amanda made the turkey actually but I made pretty much everything else. Anyway it was a great year. Every Thanksgiving holds great memories for me and so this Thanksgiving that’s what I can be thankful for. Even though I’m on the other side of the world from the people I love the most and can’t have the yummy stuff I usually have, I still have so many great memories from Thanksgivings past. Plus, I’m on pretty much the biggest adventure of my life so far and the family that I’m with is so good to me. The kids are great, I love them to death and I think they love me too now. It’s a beautiful day and things could not be much better.

E-Cards

Today was a nice day. It was my day off and since I’m trying to save money, not spend it, I stayed at home most of the day. The nice thing is, now we have internet at the house so I got a chance to kind of play on-line. I haven’t done that in awhile. There’s this fun little site I signed up for, www.sugarqube.com, and it’s got a bunch of really great e-cards. The ones for Thanksgiving are mostly games and so I really had a blast playing on them. Then Morton and Timo came up and I let them take a shot at the games. It was really more fun watching them play the games and laugh at the cards then it was doing it myself. Kids really are great, they bring a whole simple, innocent perspective to things that sometimes I find myself losing. Hopefully I will never fully lose the ability to look at things with a childlike wonder. Things are so much better when you get excited about them.

Belgium

Yet another trip has gone by. This one was great although it couldn’t have been more opposite from my Paris trip. I went with my host family and they and three other families rented a little hotel for the weekend. It was a beautiful place. Everyone had there own room, which were very cozy, with their own bathroom (trust me, over here, being used to hostels, that was a big luxury!). There was also a living area with a bunch of extremely comfortable couches, a dining area, a huge kitchen and a bar. Basically what we did all weekend was sit around, drink tea and talk. Very “Gezellig” as the Dutch would say. I was actually pretty proud of myself, I had a whole entire conversation with someone about my Paris trip in Dutch! I think it was the first adult conversation that I’ve had. Sure I can talk to the kids in Dutch no problem but when it comes to adults it’s a bit more embarrassing because the Dutch speak English so well that they’re just not used to hearing Dutch with an accent and they tend to laugh. Not so good for your self confidence. But the adults this weekend were very encouraging and helpful so I was comfortable trying to speak Dutch with them.

Outside was much colder than here but it was still very green. We were in Brussels so it was very hilly and there were lots of trees. I always forget how much I love mountains until I see them again. The hill in Brussels I wouldn’t necessarily qualify as mountains but it’s a far cry from the pancake flatness of The Netherlands. On Sunday we also visited a nice little place that I think would be great in the summer time. There’s a river that you can kyak down and places to hike and things like that. It’d actually be a great place for a youth group trip if it wouldn’t cost so much to get there. Oh well. Then on Monday we spent the day in Maastricht which is a nice old Dutch town. We ate lunch and did a bit of shopping and then headed back home so that I could be in time for my Dutch lesson.

It was a very relaxing, enjoyable weekend. Something that’s good to have every once and a while. Now back to reality.

Happy Birthday Joel!

Well today’s Joel’s birthday. So Happy Birthday Joel! Sorry I can’t be there to celebrate with you.

Other than there wasn’t much going on today. It was my day off and since it was rainy and cold (typical Dutch weather) I stayed in most of the day. I did have my Dutch lesson this evening which I always enjoy. I feel like I’m actually getting good at it. It’s amazing what you can do when you have to do it. All lot of the people in my class have been here for months or even a few up to 5 years and they are at the same level as I am! I’ve been here the least amount of time of anyone in the class. Everyone else in my class is working here and is quite a bit older than me which is ok but a bit of a bummer as well. We don’t have a whole lot in common. It’s really hard to be here and have the values of not smoking or drinking because it seems like everyone else here goes out and drinks and smokes all the time. I struggled with it a bit when I first got here, whether or not it was ok for me to have a drink or two in a social setting. Smoking was never a temptation because I think it’s gross but it’s really hard to be out and say that you don’t drink. In the end I decided that it really was my value not to drink and I even made up some personal “rules”. It’s very different being all alone in a foreign country and suddenly realizing that there is absolutely nobody to tell you what to do. Then what you were brought up with your whole life becomes real or disappears. I guess it’s something you technically know but you don’t really realize until you actually are on your own. Luckily I had good parents and they raised me with the right values. It really gives a whole new meaning to the verse “Train up a child in the way he should go and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Well I’m “old” now and the values I’ve been raised with are good and they stuck. The only thing I really need is to find a good church here and while it’s important to me, I think it’s almost good that I haven’t yet because I’ve been doing what I’m doing because it’s right and not because someone is going to check up on me. In other words, I think my life is more real now than it’s ever been and that’s definitely a good thing.

Paris

Well I went to Paris over the past weekend. It was absolutely wonderful! It was so surreal seeing all those famous sites that most people only dream of ever seeing. I went with another Au Pair I met through my host mom. Her name’s Nicole, she’s from Florida and she’s working for an American family near Amsterdam.

We left Friday evening around 6pm. We took the train which was a new experience, sort of, I’ve never taken an international train before. It was pretty sweet as well because we got to be in first class because of an student deal that Nicole found. We arrived in Paris at around 9pm and got a bit lost while trying to figure out how the whole metro and bus system worked. We ended up wandering up and down the streets of Paris for way too long trying to find our hostel and although the people we asked were very nice they were all absolutely horrible at trying to give us directions. Anyway, we did eventually make it and roomed with two Australian girls who had been back-packing around Europe for the last two months. It was very interesting hearing their stories.

The next morning we started out at the Eiffel Tower. We got there just slightly after it opened but it was already pretty busy. We of course went all the way to the top; it was an excellent view of Paris. Paris is much bigger than all the cities I’ve gotten used to in The Netherlands. After that we hopped a bus and took a look around Notre Dame.

By the time we were done with that both of us were pretty hungry so we stopped for some famous French crepes and they definitely did not disappoint, hmmmm. The weather had been beautiful so far all day, a little cold but what do you expect in November? Suddenly however, it decided to rain so we took a break from outside and did a bit of shopping.

When we were all shopped out, it was still raining so we gave in and bought umbrellas, so of course it stopped raining five minutes later and didn’t rain again the rest of the trip! Oh well, I have a nice umbrella now. We walked over to The Louvre and I went in and saw the Mona Lisa. It cost €8.50 so Nicole opted out. I would’ve loved to spend an entire day or two there it’s so huge and there’s so many magnificent works there but we didn’t have that. Seeing the Mona Lisa was totally worth every penny though.

From there we took the metro over to Arc de Triomphe. There was some type of ceremony going on there with the police, I’m assuming it had something to do with remembrance day but I’m not sure. By then it was almost 6pm and dark so we went back to the Eiffel Tower and saw it all lit up. During the day the Eiffel Tower is an interesting structure but at night it’s very nearly breathtaking and on the hour it has lights that sparkle for ten minutes which makes it even more spectacular.

From there we hopped another bus and went back to our hostel to put our stuff down. We relaxed for about ten minutes and then went back out to see Sacre Coeur and The Moulin Rouge. On the way we ate another delicious crepe and I got my portrait done by a street artist.

Finally we went back to the hostel for the night and Nicole went to bed. I however, went downstairs and met a bunch of really nice people, most of them from Seattle. Around 2am I decided it was time for bed.

Sunday we woke up early and took a train over to Versailles and saw a bit of the chateau. I didn’t know someone’s house could be so huge and extravagant. With most of the rest of France starving it’s no wonder there was a revolution! We didn’t have much time there because we had to head back to Paris and catch our 3pm train back home.

So, it was a short but amazing trip. I definitely want to return and be able to spend a bit more time there but I am happy for the little time I had. I know how blessed I am to have such a great job that I can just head out Paris for the weekend. I plan on doing plenty more fun little trips like that during my stay here. Just one of the benefits of being an Au Pair!

Cold

We don’t have internet access at the house so I have to walk to my host mom’s office to get on the net. It’s not really a bother since it’s like a two minute walk however, it’s extremely cold in here right now which makes it really hard to concentrate. Other than that though there’s not a huge amount of exciting stuff going on in my life at the moment. It’s actually been really nice not to have a ton of stuff to do all the time. I’ve had a lot of time to just relax and really think, I never really had that before. For so long I was always running, running, running and as I’m sure most of you know that’s just exhausting after awhile. But here I’ve done my fair share of exploring the area but apart from my Dutch lessons on Monday and Wednesday nights there’s almost no place that I absolutely have to be. I’ve also been trying to stay in a bit more since it seems like every time I go out I see something that I just have to buy and I’m trying to actually save some money in anticipation of Joel and Helana coming. But like I was saying, I’ve gotten a chance to really think about where I want my life to go. I think everyone should take a year and be able to just decide what’s important in life before they barrel head first into life. Maybe that’s why there’s so many people who are miserable, in jobs they hate and just plain burnt out. I hope to come out of this a much more cultured and confident person ready to take on life and do what I’m really called to do. Like I said, lot’s of thinking time and these are just a few thoughts that have come of that. No actual decisions yet but I’m getting more and more clear ideas as time goes by. Any conclusions I come to I’ll definitely let ya know. Until next time…

Hello?

Well this is my first post…I think it should be fun to be able to post my thoughts somewhere. I’ve always been a journal person so this is perfect for me. For those of you that don’t know (and I don’t know if anyone will be reading this who doesn’t know me but oh well) I’m 18 and currently living in Rotterdam, The Netherlands as an Au Pair. I’ve been here for about three months and have already done quite a bit. The biggest thing so far was going to Rumania which was a great experience. I’ve got a bunch more stuff planned for the next couple of months so I’ll keep ya posted!

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