Hilarious to think Holland had enough of us, we’re striking again! Its been a long time coming, but Ryan and I have scrapped up the pennies and nickels from our money-making income to treat Europe with another go of a Gray takeover. Yes, I did have to get a credit card, yes Ry and I have a google doc of everything we need to bring and yes we are going back THIS WEEK.
Its a daily struggle for the both us of us not to wake up in a twin size bed, look out the window to our personal canal and bike to each other within 2 minutes, so we decided to bite the bullet and figure out when we could make our way back to Europe. We both wanted to see my family and see how the minions are doing, but also NEEDED to see Kaari and Saskia as soon as possible. The daily whatsapp conversations and Skype dates just do not cut it. Its crazy how to think how close we all became in such short months, but its something I am truly thankful for everyday. Those girls mean so much to both of us, and it literally brings tears to my eyes to think I am going to be hugging them this week!
We decided to plan our 10 day trip in accordance to one of the Gray’s biggest celebration. A 21st birthday. Our cousin, Sophie, has been studying abroad in Marseille, France this semester, and we decided to bring the party to her, and ultimately stay in her dorm room with the FIIIONNEEE gentlemen she decided to snap on a daily basis. A tough decision to make, but Ryan and I are flexible with our agendas. Also, her view ain’t too shabby.
We will land in Amsterdam after our GLORIOUS flight over the pond (sans stranger’s drugs—if you have no clue what I am talking about, look back at my first posting) and land in our home away from home. I can already smell the mistakes and memories. We will stay in the Dam for a weekend, then fly to France to start the ruckus of a 21st. From France we will pick up a third Gray (the destruction is real) and head to Barcelona. When Ry and I were planning where to go, we decided we wanted to go somewhere warm (we were planning during the polar vortex, in our winter coats inside our house, because we’re that cheap) and somewhere neither of us have been. Barcelona it is! After Spain we will go back to the Dam and celebrate what I am predicting to be one of my biggest hangover events; King’s Day. I like to think of this day to be somewhat like the best holiday in the world, July 4th, just Holland style. This is the first time EVER that Holland has had a King, so I am guessing it will be a pretty big day. I missed Queen’s Day when I was over there, so I am MORE than pumped to be a part of it.
I truly don’t know what I am most excited about. Seeing Sophie, Saskia and Kaari are definitely top of my list. Being back in Amsterdam is also there. Seeing my minions and Marion and Dimitri is up there as well. Being back on bikes, drinking Heineken, watching Ry fall on her bike, seeing people in windows, seeing all of our friends form Amsterdam, traveling to new places, I AM JUST SO EXCITED! And the fact that I get to do it all over with my best friend is literally the noodle to my bong.
The fact that I am typing on this blog again makes my fingers and heart so happy. Three more days and Ry and I will be already worrying about how fast the trip is going to go by! But till then PROST and Hail Marys my people!
Time literally flies. I cannot believe that in about a month I will be heading home to North Carolina. Fall has arrived and it is COLD. But Amsterdam is literally one of the prettiest places I have ever seen in the fall!
I am trying to spend the last days here in Europe the best I can. I ended up taking my last trip to Geneva by complete luck. Ryan and I were trying to go to Geneva since I have been here because one of our family friends lives there, but it was way out of our price range. But of course, once Ryan left, it was one of the cheapest flights out of Amsterdam, so I was able to go with our friend Kate.
Ryan left awhile ago and its been tough without her, but thankfully I have all the other girls and Skype. And I have truly fallen in love with my family. They have become such a blessing in my life and have taught me so much in my stay here. They always are looking out for me and making me feel as part as the family. I spent the last days with Ryan doing what we usually do. Sitting, talking, laughing and fighting over the blankets at night. I was there while her house was being packed up, and slept over on her last night in Amsterdam, on a mattress, on the floor.
It was obviously worth it. We actually took Ryan to the airport and said bye to her there because my family knew that I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her. And because Boris was in love with her and daily called her “sweeter than a dolphin”.
Looking back on the first couple of days with the kids and comparing it to how we are now is a complete 360. I can understand where they were coming from in hating a girl who just showed up at your house, didn’t speak your language and started bossing them around, but it has changed so much. Getting hugs from them everytime I pick them up from school, holding their hands while we walk, having FULL conversations with them and understanding each other are the few of many things that warm my heart. The kids I have started to do things together that remind me so much of my childhood. After school everyday we go to a canal and feed ducks their leftover bread from lunch. Reminds me of when my grandma JoJo would take me out to eat at this place in Greensboro and then go to the lake infront of the place and feed the ducks. I have also gotten Noortje addicted to The Emotions “Best of my Love” and it reminds me of my house on a summer afternoon with DB’s pandora playing and my mom in the kitchen. We sing and dance and play around in the kitchen like when my cousins and I were young with our aunts and mothers. It’s weird how the tables have turned, but reminded at how blessed of a childhood (and life!) I had. Making these memories with Boris and Noortje just remind me how lucky I am. We were talking about my flight the other night at dinner, and Noortje turned to her mom and told her “I think I’m going to cry when Erin leaves.” They have become my family over here, and I have a gut feeling I will cry when I leave as well.
Before Ryan left, we went with Dimitri, Boris and Noortje to do the most touristy thing we could do in Amsterdam. Go see the windmills. It was in an older portion of Holland and was completely in its historic state. The mills were in a town that people actually still lived in.
The first Albert Hein (the grocery store here) was still there and tons of little shops. I loved it because it had so much history in it, but yet you looked across the street and someone was tending to their garden. The windmills were cool, but nothing to amazing about them. They do what you think they would do, turn in the wind.
I have been trying to “Americanize” Noortje and Boris daily. From saying y’all and cheering on the Wolfpack to celebrating all the celebrations we can. I actually bought a pumpkin for them to decorate for Halloween. They only painted it because I didn’t trust them with a knife, but they loved it. We cleaned it out, change that, Noortje and I cleaned it out because Boris was grossed out by the pumpkin snot (there is always one kid) and made roasted pumpkin seeds. I drilled holes in the pumpkin and later that night we lit it up. They were so excited and we lit the pumpkin everynight until the pumpkin was more mush than a structure.
Speaking of Halloween, its is nothing that I thought it was going to be over here. NO ONE celebrates it. The kids have this day on November 11th called St. Martin’s in which they make these lanterns out of plastic bottles and go around the neighborhood singing songs and collecting candies. I didn’t ask much about it because I was upset every time I opened the door and there wasn’t a princess or a pumpkin there. Instead just plain Dutch children singing me a song I didn’t know. Bummer. I still kinda have a grudge over Halloween. Even when we went out in the city, not EVERYONE was dressed up. This was extremely awkward when getting on the bus as disney princesses and no one was dressed up. However, we found a place that was strictly celebrating Halloween and we had a great night.
This brings me up to my last travel in Europe to Geneva. Like I said Ryan and I were dying to go to visit Deniz but it was soooo expensive. Deniz was once an exchange student of our cousin Katie, and was now living there. Kate and I decided that we were going to go on one more trip before I left and told each other that we weren’t going to do the multiple modes of transportation. Just a flight there and a flight back. We logged onto the airport site and typed in Amsterdam to “anywhere”, and Geneva was the cheapest. So we booked. We were going to go from Friday night to Monday morning and enjoy a romantic getaway.
Switzerland is beyond words. Geneva is beyond words. Its is surrounded by the Lake Geneva and its background is the Swiss Alps. You walk out the door and you are literally in awe of the view. The first night we got there we met up with Deniz and her husband AK, sat in their house and just caught up. This included watching their wedding video in Turkey. Another place to put on my “to-go” list. The next day Deniz took us around the town of Geneva which is surprisingly small. It was sectioned off into two parts; the Old Town and New Geneva. The old town was gorgeous. All old building with so much history. The government takes such good care of their buildings and make it a priority of to keep their history preserved. You could tell how much work they put in because the buildings looked like new, but were years olds. Our first stop was breakfast where we enjoyed a delicious cup of coffee and chocolate croissants. Beyond words. We took two to go, they were so good. We walked around Old Town took pictures of the buildings and stopped at the Old Cathedral.
It was huge and reminded me somewhat of Notre Dame. We walked up both of the towers and got to see the panoramic view of Geneva, which again was beautiful.
The walk up the towers, was not so pretty, but we somehow survived and got to take stupid pictures such as this, which was rewarding.
From the Old Town we walked around the new (and more expensive) Geneva. We stopped for hotdogs on the street (not American, but close enough) and made our way to the bus station so Kate and I could catch a train to Chillion Castle.
The train ride was worth our ticket. We got to to pass the Lake and see amazing views of the Alps. The castle we visited was the biggest in all of Switzerland and was built literally on top of rocks in the Lake.
It took us forever to get through the entire Castle, so we pranced around, put on our best “Lord’s” accent and made complete fools of ourselves. We finally got to the top of the castle, also known as the keep and for one more time, were in awe of the view.
The night we went to a French Steakhouse where all they asked you was how you liked your steak and what you wanted to drink. No menus, nothing. The steak came with this buttery herby garlic sauce, fries and a salad. The steak was actually cut into two portions so that you got one portion at a time. It was unreal and delicious. After we got three different deserts all consisting of Swiss chocolate. This chocolate is all that it is cracked out to be, and I will never be able to enjoy a regular chocolate bar again.
The next day we went to France. Sounds crazy but Geneva is literally a step away from it. Its almost like going from State to State. Deniz took us to this Medieval town. It was a little village composed of all Medieval houses, but were used as little shops.
Sadly, it was out of season so we couldn’t see all the shops but we got to see the little town and location which awesome. It was on the lake, of course, and neighbooring a castle that some man just bought. I would love to be that man’s kid and have a rowdy game of hide and sneak in the house.
We ate the known for fish in the village, which can only be found in the Lake. Again delicious, and again finished off with more desserts consisiting of Swiss chocholate.
We made our way back to Geneva, picked up AK and they took us to the top of Geneva. We could see the entire city and the sky line here and see where the Jet d’Eau WOULD be going off, but because Kate and I have the worst luck ever, it was never on. Not once.
From there we went to our final dinner, Fondue. We got to experience the best food here. The Fondue was thick Swiss cheese and was delicious. I don’t know what was better, the cheese or the chocolate (which of course we got after).
The next day we had to make our 6:50 AM flight, which we did, somewhat. We made it on time, at our gate, but didn’t pay the best attention to see that our gate had changed. We sat at our first gate and kept looking at the screen to see if we were okay. The destination to Amsterdam never changed…but the airlines did. We failed to notice that. Therefore, once we got up and walked to board our flight at the A10 gate we couldn’t get on our plane because it wasn’t ours. The guy who was boarding was certain that our plane was at gate A2 so we started our sprint down to the gate. We got to the gate in less than a minute only to find that there were no plans flying out of that gate and learned that our plane was at A11. We sprinted back to where we originally were, but the gate was closed and we were screwed. Thankfully we had each other, another flight and made it back to Amsterdam. Just 10 hours later than we thought we would be.
So the countdown still ticks and I am almost home. This week is Thanksgiving and I can’t torture myself with making a meal by myself on Thursday. Plus DB’s fried turkey can’t be replicated. However, just because I am not making dinner on Thursday does not mean I will not be celebrating in full form and in full menu. Sunday, the girls and I have decided to have an all out Thanksgiving meal complete with Turkey, pecan pie, sweet potatoes etc. Its not home, but its exciting.
The kids have been getting extremely excited about Sinterklaas coming. If you don’t know who is, he is basically the Dutch Santa. He comes over on a boat from Spain every November 17th and starts the celebration. Him and his “elves”, also known as Black Peters, prance through the city throwing candy and what not at children. I wasn’t able to see him go through town because I was in Geneva. Its pretty cool how the country has it set up though. He comes through a different port each year, and rides a horse through the city. Very traditional and awesome for the kids to see the actual arrival of Sinterklaas. The kids can put their shoes out at night to see if he comes by and puts things in, but the big “Christmas” is on December 5th. Marion says they celebrate this as Dutch, but she also enjoys the Christmas celebration and decorating and what not. Good news for me, because my mother has already sent over pictures of my house being decorated. Torture to say the least. The kids have put out their shoes a couple of nights and are so excited the next morning to see little candies inside. One night “Sinterklaas” put a note in their shoes saying that the Black Peters accidently started throwing his money out instead of candies and that he needed help in finding his money. They were told to check their parents wallets and if the money had this little sticker on them it was his and to please put it in their shoes to return to him. Go figure Marion and Dimitri stole Sinterklaas’s money. Its such a cute little celebration and the kids get so excited every morning to see their shoes. Its different than America, but I am really enjoying learning something new AGAIN. Its always something different each day, but I love it. Everyday truly opens my eyes to something new, and how American tradition and ways aren’t the ONLY ways to do things.
I cannot wait to get home to see you all! The countdown is literally dwindling away!! Everyone have an awesome Thanksgiving and truly be thankful for what we all have. I know I am extremely blessed to have the best family, best friends, my health, their health, God’s miracles and the people who look after my family and I day after day! Hug and kiss your loved ones, and if you see any of mine…give them a hug for me! LOVE YOU ALL!
So I left my last blog with the cliffhanger of Oktoberfest. Well shockingly we all made it home safely, alive and full of proud American (Estonian, Australian) dignity. Like I said in previous posts, traveling from country to country in Europe is so cheap. Because of our travel agents, Kaari and Saskia, we were able to get to and from Germany for around 100 euros. However, with the cheap prices, comes a hectic schedule of traveling and many changes of transportation. To get to Germany we actually took a tram, a bus, a train, another bus, a flight, and then got picked up from the airport for another hour ride to where we were staying. It was a long day but we survived. Even though the beginning of our trip began with Saskia ripping a hole in the back of my leggings. Thankfully she is a design student here in Amsterdam and could fix them.
We decided we wanted to go to Oktoberfest months ago and started looking up ways to get there and places to say. When I say months ago, I mean when I first was here. Like five months ago. Hotels and hostels were already sold out. We literally had to look into our last option, camping. In tents. With no bathrooms. However, there was a bar at the campsite and 5,000 other campers. We said we could manage and decided to reserve a tent. However, we were lucky enough that Ryan knew of someone who knew of someone who said we could stay with him. Being that we never met him, had no clue what he looked like and if he was a safe kid or not, we decided to stay with him. It was in his families house and about an hour train ride away from the festival. But most importantly we had a roof over our heads, beds and a shower.
Thomas, the one we were staying with, was actually the one to pick us up from the airport. We could tell by his face that he was not ready for the craziness we were about to bring. And I think he was embarrassed by our Oktoberfest green hats. We made it about halfway through the ride home and asked to stop for “food”. Aka a case of beer. Ryan got carded. You have to be 16 to drink in Germany. Never gets old. We were allowed to drink in the van which was pretty cool, but even cooler that we go to drink our beer while flying down the Autoban. Bucket list, check.
We made it to Thomas’s house and found out that we would have an entire floor to ourselves and our own bathroom. We got ready for the night and went out in the town we were staying, Engelstraat. We decided to stash some beers in our purses for the trip over and for outside the bar. I offered Thomas a beer outside the bar and he said he didn’t like beer. Our friendship almost ended there. The downtown reminded me a little bit of Dublin. Very quaint with stone pathways. The first bar we went to was more of a chill place were bouncers would go around and check young people’s ids. Sadly Ryan didn’t get checked. We were very cheap at this bar and only bought one beer. After that beer was done, we just replaced it with one of our own. Resourceful. We were on a budget. After all the beer was gone, Thomas decided to take us to a club. Like a full force club. It was dark, smoky, loud, full of wild dancing tricks, and blaring jams such as “Fresh Prince of Bellair” and “Country Grammer”. We fell in love. We stayed there the entire night then made our way back home. Kate, Ryan and I were sharing one massive bed and once we all hit the bed, we looked at each other because we just laid into what had to be a piece of heaven.
The next day was our first day at the festival. We were awoken by a feast of bread, pretzels, eggs, meat, cheese, juices and coffee made by Thomas’s mom. The first thing we all wanted to do was say thanks so much and have a chat with her, but before we even got “thank” out, Thomas told us not to even try because she knew no English. I think she got the picture of what we were trying to say though, plus Kate hugged her so she knew we were at the least appreciative. We got ready, put our hats on and walked outside to rain. We had our jackets and some of us had umbrellas. Thomas said he hadn’t been to Oktoberfest in seven years, but we somehow coaxed him into going. Thank God, because we would of been so lost without him. On the train, we noticed that the sky had open up, and rain was coming down and coming down hard. Thankfully Ryan, Kate and I had our umbrellas, but Saskia and Kaari were out of luck. However, since Thomas’s mom packed him a bookbag (I am not lying) he has extras. Once we got to the train station, it felt like Oktoberfest. We were surrounded by people wearing the German Oktoberfest outfits, a band playing some tune that reminded me of Busch Gardens, and beer…everywhere. Thomas told us we had a way to walk so we all made the executive decision to get beers for the walk.
We made it to the festival and it was a mix between a state fair, Busch Gardens, and a community of AA escapees. It was awesome. We walked around stared at everything, took all the “tents” in and decided to park somewhere to get the well-known liter beers. The tents are not tents whatsoever. They are like miniature buldings with huge tall ceilings and two floors. However the middle of the top story is cut out so they can see what is going on in the pit, or the place where the band is and where the lucky tables sit.
There are a ton of tables, hundreds maybe even a thousand. To get a table you have to reserve, and they are expensive. Being so we were stuck outside, in the rain, next to these guys.
We enjoyed their company. Plus they had a squeegee that they let us use to wipe down our table. And also, rain or shine, Oktoberfest goes on.
The outside of the tent was packed with tables just like the inside. Once you sat at your table, you were basically stuck there. Which was fine, because we learned that once the weather gets okay, it gets crazy. Packed. We only sat in the wet for about an hour, and then the madness begun. The whole day was spent at the tent, making friends and drinking. We had an issue at the beginning of the night, were one of us didn’t feel so well (names not needed) and spent quite a bit of time in the bathroom. We all decided that if two of us were going to leave we all had to leave. While we were walking out of the festival, the person who was not feeling too hot miracously had a resurrection and was fine to go for the rest of the night. We all laughed it off, walked back to the tent where Thomas was (after stopping so Saskia, Kaari and I could ride this ride, vomitless) and somehow made it to inside the tent.
Thomas kept telling us to just make friends, which is ultimately what we did. We weren’t able to go on the first floor into the pit, but it was cool enough. Inside the tent was unreal. Loud, music blasting, people dancing and singing on top of tables and just having a good time. It was so much fun.
We made it through the night, stole two glasses for Ryan and I, made it last train and back to our beds. We learned however, that Thomas’s mom was sleeping on the couch because Ryan, Kate and I were sleeping in her bed. We cared, for about a minute, but that bed was too comfy to pass up. Plus if we wanted to tell her she should sleep in it, we couldn’t.
The next day we had to pack up everything because from the festival we were leaving straight from the train station to make our ways back to Amsterdam. Also Thomas wasn’t going with us, so it was the first day on our own. He probably decided not to take a second day with us because we were obnoxious, loud and Kate wanted too many group hugs that ended up as Thomas and Kate hugs. There were lockers in the train station, and a lot of them, but there were more people. We started searching every locker area, but every one was taken. We decided that the day was just going to blow because we would have our backpacks with us all day. We started walking out when all of the sudden a locker was just open. Of course it was the smallest one, but somehow we got all five of our bags into it, twice. Because I forgot my hat in it once we locked it and obviously I needed it. It was such a prettier day on the second day, and EVERYONE was out to celebrate. We were at the festival the same time as the day before but there were at least five times more people.
You could barely move, and even more, get a table. We bounced from tent to tent trying to find a table, but ultimately lost. Until, we paid twenty euros for one. Best money we spent. The day went the same as the previous, met new friends, drank, but sadly I didn’t have my camera and couldn’t document our times. We played German drinking games, one of which consisted of holding up a full liter beer with one hand.
I won. And am proud of it. Thankfully had my girls there cheering me on to beat the German boys. I felt so American. The end of the night was approching and with all of our courage built up, we decided it was time to get to the pit. We waited, flirted, chatted, and somehow, someway, made it to the pit. Literally inches away from the band, singing and dancing with strangers that paid WAY too much for a table that we got to enjoy fo’ free.
We left the party, headed to the station, bought a shirt that said “Good girls go to Heaven, bad girls go to Oktoberfest”, got some pizza and boarded the train. We were traveling by train the entire way back to Amsterdam, but had to switch over a couple of times. The second train was thankfully a night train so you could extend your chair out to basically a bed. We all were so comfortable in our seats in our own cabin, when all of a sudden girls said that we were in their spots. Sadly we were, so three of us had to move. We told each other to meet in the halls at a certain time to get off and get to our next train. We had to make sure that we were getting into Amsterdam at a certain time because some of us had to work. Myself included. We woke up, met up with each other, and started to wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. We finally asked why we weren’t at the station yet and a worker said that there were some problems and that we were going to be late. Since we had four minutes to connect to our next train, that was awful news. Long story short, the day that we planned to be eight hours of traveling was around thirteen. Missed trains, waiting in stations and being hungover was overall, no fun.
So we are all back now and back to working and what not. The days are dwindling down to when Ryan goes back. I am not too sad now, but I know when it happens I will be. Thankfully the other girls are not going anywhere. Same has been going on with the family. The other night it was just the kids and I. Noortje has had a loose tooth for a while now, but won’t let anyone look at it. Just like any other six year old would do. We were eating dinner and all of a sudden she starts screaming “my tooth!! my tooth!!” I looked down to a mouthful of blood, and thought I was about to vom. But then realized she was more scared than I was. I took her to the bathroom, cleaned her up and got her excited about losing her tooth.
It was a big deal for the both of us, because we have come so far in our relationship. I mean to be quite honest, having a girl come into your house, boss you around and not speak your language kind of sounds like it would be no fun. But we have grown to understand each other, have fun and ultimately trust each other. Its good to know we have finally got to this stage, because I never thought I was going to get here with these two. But I am a happy Au Pair with my little stinkers.
So the days are passing a lot faster than I thought they would. I can’t believe that I have been over here for about five months and that I only have three left. Not a lot has changed with the my schedule and life. I stay home on the weekdays, clean the house, do the groceries, take care of the kids, cook the meals and do other mommy things. I really am starting to enjoy the kids company more though. The cutest thing happened the other night that made me realize how much I am really starting to love this family. Noortje has been feeling sick lately and we just realized that she has not one ear infection, but two. So the nights and her sleeping abilities are not ideal. I am on the same floor as the kids so I can hear basically everything they do at night. I heard Noortje shuffling around and could hear her squeal, “momma, pappa”, but they didn’t hear her being they were upstairs and it was just a mur-mur from her. I decided to get up and see what I could do but when I opened my door she was already standing there, pitiful, and asks me to come sit with her in her room. So we walked back to her room, holding hands and I sat with her until she fell back asleep. Ah. Just warms my heart. I also taught them how to love the Pack. They wear their tattoos and scream GO PACK on game days! Talk about warming my heart.
Other than the kids starting to like me there have been more occurences over here in Holland. Kip (Yip) and I have become very close friends, except when he gets on the counter or steals meat from me while I am cooking dinner. Which has happened, twice. He’s a fun cat though and a great hunter. So far Kip has caught a total of six mice. The first one he caught was surprising and a little unbelievable being that the kids were the ones claiming he caught one. The kids and I were downstairs when they ran into the kitchen to tell me that the cat had a mouse. I obviously didn’t believe them because the majority of their stories are lies. I heard Boris giggling way to much though, and knew that if he got a hold of the mouse the probability of it ending up in my purse or bed or something of mine was likely. I went out to where the kids were and there was the cat pawing at a real, and still somewhat living mouse. I screamed, the kids died laughing and Demitri came down and got rid of the mouse. Just to let you know, Purk (the original cat) is 20 years old, and has YET to catch a mouse. Another reason the two cats don’t get along. Yip is a show off and Purk is lazy. Anyways, mouses have become a regular apperances around the house, thanks to Yip and his giving heart, but thankfully, the majority or them end up at Marion’s side of the bed.
Along with things being found in our house we had an issue of losing something very special and important to us recently, Boris. How the system of picking up the children from school works is complicated. Because a new school for all Dutch children is being built the students are seperated within different buildings. So the kids are in the same “school” but not in the same buildings. And because of the system being so put together, Noortje and Boris are not in the same buildings, which makes it EXTREMELY difficult for pick up, being that they both get out at 3 and are about a five minute bike ride from each other. However, I have a system down. I get Noortje and then pick up Boris because one of his other classmate’s mother has the same issue as I do and the two boys can play together while their nanny and mom pick up at the other building. So anyways, Noortje and Boris both were having kids over to play. Boris’s friend was going to go to his house first so that I didn’t have to bike four children. Noortje, her friend and I made it to Boris’s school, went to his classroom and found no Boris. The teacher, who is an old short Dutch lady who knows slim to no English, started to panic thinking that I had already came and got him. I started to think maybe he went with his friend back to the friend’s house and I just misunderstood Marion about the playdate arrangement. I called Demitri and asked him about the situation, but by the tone of his voice, that wasn’t the arrangment. The teacher called the mother of Boris’s friend and found out that Boris was not at the house. So Boris was not at school, not at home, not at the friend’s house, and basically lost. We searched the school, because knowing Boris he was just being his uncontrolable self and just hiding, but he was no were to be found. Demitri came to the school and I took the girls back to our house to get away from the craziness. On my way home I called Ryan to see if she could get on her bike and just start looking for him. We literally had no clue where he was and who he was with. At home, I just waited and didn’t call Marion or Demitri because I knew that they were worried enough. About an hour and a half had passed and I saw Demitri’s car pull up with a chocolate covered face Boris in the backseat. Wherever he was, he had a good time. What had happened was that Boris followed his classmates onto a day-care bus. And of course only on this day, a kid named “Yoris” was supposed to be on the bus, but had left school early for some reason. So when Yoris’s name was called, Boris raised his hand. From there he played with all his friends, ate chocolate and got to meet police officers who finally found him after what felt like hours of searching.
Speaking of getting lost, Ryan and I got the most lost I have ever been in my entire life. I once walked from the beach condo to the Lee’s cottage once, which is about a 10 minute drive so about a three hour walk, but the way Ryan and I got lost was about 50 times worse than that walk. We were going to Sask’s house warming party and thought that our phones would be able to direct us there. Our phones are usually on point, but do not help when going through the woods and bike paths. Thankfully 90% of the trip was in the woods, on bike paths. We were fine with it at the beginning because we were in such a pretty part of the woods. We took pictures, took in the scenery, but the joy only lasted for about 20 minutes.
It was a blessing that only Ryan was with me, because I HATE getting lost. I get so worked up, hot and pissed. She is one of the few who know how to approach/handle me at these times. We were lost for 3 hours, we passed the same spot in a road about ten times, and we were hungover. If hell was on earth… However, we were about to go home and start over, when all of a sudden we saw these bikers turn on a hidden path we had not seen yet. The path we OBVIOUSLY needed. We made it to Sask’s house, had such a good time, met some new people, taught Europeans how to play Circle of Death, listened to Kaari sing and play the guitar and ended the night with a twenty-year old girl sleepover. It started out as a horrible day, but ended out to be a perfect one.
Even though we get lost far to much, Ryan and I have been exploring Amsterdam and trying to find new places and what not. Every corner you pass there seems to be something new that we have never seen before. The other weekend Kate and I actually went to a rooftop bar that gave you a skyline view of the entire city. It was an awesome view, but the beer prices were a little unreal. Ryan and I tried another “rooftop” bar, which had potentinal but was a failure. It claimed to be rooftop, and even though it was on the top floor of a tall building, having the entire bar closed in kinda defeated the purpose. It was still a cool concept. It was called “Canvas”, and every night they have some unknown artist to come in and paint on a canvas. Hipster. And the beer was super cheap. Ideal. However, the music is what drug us out of there. Ryan and I are able to deal with bad music choices, but the music was something I have never heard/never want to hear again in my life. It literally was the reason we left two euro beers. Not without stealing a glass or three of course.
I also went to my first market with Kaari the other day. There is a market every Friday here in Amstelveen, but the markets in the city are unreal and huge. It has everything you can imagine from clothes to bikes to art to scissors, everything. We spent a good two hours just going through stuff, found some awesome deals and planned our next trip to the big market. This big market only comes once a month and is supposdely a day event. We will have to bike into the city and catch a ferry to some town, but Ryan and Kaari said everything is there and everything is cheap. Its like a maximized yard sale.
Sask’s birthday was this week so we went out for drinks and dinner one night, gave her all of our gifts and had a firework of a dessert. I knew I was going to have a good time when I came over here, but I never knew how lucky I was going to be in meeting friends like Kaari, Sask and Kate. They really are a great group of girls and this friendship that we have kindled will for sure last a lifetime.
Sask’s birthday does not end this week however, and we are celebrating it (tiara and all) in a huge way at OKTOBERFEST!!! We leave this Friday for the main event and words cannot describe how excited I am for it. We were going to be camping out at the event (yikes) but through connections and abilities we were able to snag some spots at a locals house. Many stories I am sure coming yall’s way from the weekend! Prost to everyone!!!
Bet y’all didn’t see this blog coming so fast! Sadly Marion isn’t pregnant and we aren’t adopting a child, but Marion did come home with a new cat the other day. It was a surprise for all the children (myself included) and we were all so excited. Minus Demitri who composes missions in his head to kill Purk already. His mission has become a little more challenging considering he has two to tango with now. Anyways. The new cat’s name is Yip. Even though I call him Kip to piss off Boris and Noortje. Its a sibiling thing. Ryan was over when Yip came and of course when Marion took him out of the tote, he went straight for Ryan. Some weird six sense thing she has. The cat is sweet though. I am not a cat person, but do love animals, so I manage. The other thing about Kip is that he is ginormous. Like if your laying down and he jumps on your stomach, you blackout for a second ginormous. So the majority of this fat cat’s time is spent on my bedroom floor.
Purk and Yip absolutely hate each other, and I enjoy refereing the cat fights. However today, the fight did not turn out the way I would of pleased. I was cleaning up the house, thinking the cat door was locked because Yip isn’t use to the house yet and would probably run away. Well it wasn’t. I found this out by Yip fat ars being on top of the fence, which was now leaning because of the weight put upon it, and Purk staring him down. Eff was the only thing I could think. I went outside, punted Purk inside and calmly called Yip to come inside as well. He gave me the look of “really b*%#h” and jumped on the only side of the fence. After an hour of following the cat around the neighboorhood, I called the animal whisper. She surpringly had something to do this week (her boys are in town this week) and couldn’t help me. Her advice: “pick him up”. So I walked back to the house instead. I called Demitri to let him know that his mission was halfway completed, and he answered with a somber “he will come back, happened last night, dammit.” And he did. That little….
Another update is that Noortje is a little swimmer. Both Boris and Noortje started lessons this year. Boris got kicked out, surprisingly. But Noortje has done really well! She tells her parents that she wants to be a champion swimmer like Erin. I’m not a champion, but I let her believe it. Doesn’t hurt the self-esteem either. The other day, I was in the shower and Noortje came storming in with her suit still on, and showed me a little award she recieved and was screaming “my kikker diploma, i’m a champion”. I didn’t know what I was more shocked by. The fact that we were close enough she could barge in on me without knocking, or the fact that a frog is a “kicker” in Dutch. Weird. That day was filled with many phone calls to grandparents to explain the whole ordeal of her award and tons of pictures. She was so proud of herself and even slept with the award that night. Her next step is for her “flipper” diploma, once she learns how to dive.
So everything is going well here. I am so lucky that I have a family like the one I have here. We are so open with each other and comfortable around each other. Even enough to barge in on each other in the showers. I can handle it. This weekend I plan to prance around in my cowboy boots and NC State jersey due to the fact that its the kickoff game for the Pack. I am really bummed that I will not be able to watch it in person (espeically because so many of my friends are making their way down to Atlanta ), but I will do my best to represent the Wolfpack Nation and stay up till 1:30 AM my time in order to watch the game! Wish me luck!!
My last couple of weeks here have been unbelievable. The Olympics (aka my favorite time of the year 1. because they are awesome and 2. because they lead up to shark week) started, and I had a close friend who was actually participating in them. Having Lauren go to the Olympics was something that I knew would happen eventually, but the fact that she was out of the water the majority of the year and still made the team was unreal. I messaged her and Mere daily to see what new things she was getting and who she had met. I also watched daily as her twitter and instagram followers increased by the hundreds. Ridiculous.
We started the Olympics over at Kaari’s house by watching the opening ceremony and stuffing our faces. Way too typical. We tried to see if we could name someone we “knew” from each country and failed somewhere within the A’s. Ryan even stated “I know someone who is Armenian”, which Kaari sweetly answered with “no you don’t, you’re thinking of the Kardashians”. What is our world coming to? We watched all 92307548923 countries walk in just so I could try to see Lauren. I vote that we permantly change our name to plain AMERICA, so we don’t have to wait 2 hours to watch our country walk in. Just a suggestion. Once American started to walk in a told everyone to shut up (as if I could hear her voice or something) and my eyes were glued to the TV. Then all of sudden peeking over the right corner of the screen was Lauren. I screamed like a little girl, maybe some tears were shed, and realized that I HAD to go see the Perdues while they were over in London. It was a once in a lifetime chance. I hadn’t seen anyone from America, minus the Shalleys, in so long and I knew seeing them would really be special. Kaari then started to look up ways for me to get to London (travel advisor, unpaid) and found a cheap ticket to London. That’s what so awesome here in Europe. I can go from country to country cheaper than a tank of gas in American sometimes. It comes in handy at times like these. I texted Meredith to tell her my ticket had been purchased and I could feel the tears forming in my eyes. I am blessed to have such an awesome friend like her and was so excited that I was going to be able to see her and her family (minus P-Chick).
I asked my host family if it was alright that I left for London on a Thursday. They of course were so excited for me to see the Perdues so they had no problem with it. I left Amsterdam around 10:30 and got to London by train, bus, ferry and horse back by 8 in the morning on Friday. The transportation was not first class but it was manageable. That was until the men infront of me decided to lean their chairs all the way back basically laying on me. Rudeness to the extreme. I may or may not of slammed my arms, knees, legs or whatever body part I could move against the back of their chairs multiple times. It seemed like I had the right to do so. Mere had told me where they were staying, and had kindly invited me to stay with them, so I made my way to her metro stop. Or in London terms, the tube. I made it to the stop and met Mere.
Words cannot describe how so excited I was to see her and know that I was able to hang out with her and her family for a good weekend. Lauren was being held in captivity with her gold medal so I wasnt able to see her till later in the day. Meredith took me to go see the tower castle and bridge with Olympic rings and waited for her parents and Lauren to meet us. We all got lunch at this adorable pub, Dr. Phil leading the way and holding a fast pace obviously. From there we said bye to Lauren, and Mere and I went to heaven in the form of a store. Harrods. I had a stomach ache walking through some of the stores. I mean all of the stores. However, Meredith spotted a little outfit for her dog Lucy and needed some approval on her purchase. The pirate dog outfit what purchased. Sadly no Jack sizes.
The next day we went meandered around London and got Lauren’s stuff out of the village because she was staying over in the flat. Dr. Phil had left earlier that morning and took the medal back with him. He got stopped by security because the amount of metal within it could be highly explosive with certain liquids. I wish I could of seen how impatient he was while security went through all of his bags. But thankfully, the medal made it back to America. We went shopping throughout London, met some of Lauren’s teammates and tried to get her ring tattoo which was sadly unsuccessful. Honestly my favorite part of the trip was going back to the flat with Lauren and Meredith to start getting ready. We laughed and joked and smiled more than I have in a long time and it’s those times that I know I will cherish in my heart forever. . It was perfect. We got ready and headed to a pub where the flat owner was patiently waiting to meet Lauren. We sat with him and his friends for a good while, had a champagne toast to our gold medalist, drank a view more and headed out for the night.
Well, almost headed out for the night. Until Lauren’s manager called her to inform her she left her passport at the check-in at the village and it would be awfully challenging to get to Paris the next day without it. Long story short, we got a cab, got the passport and had a good night. We went to a place called ChinaWhite were the drinks were more expensive then the cab ride over. Thankfully we met up with old friends, Dr. Jeff and Sid Cassidy from NC State who were more than happy to help us with the dilemma. The night ended with a bus ride home? Thank God Meredith has directional sense like no other and we made it safely back to the flat. The next morning I had to say good bye to the Perdue girls as they headed off to Paris. I walked around for a few hours and finally headed to the train station to go back to Amsterdam. I slept the entire way back which was awesome and no one was in front of me this time meaning no rude players could lean their chairs back. Thankfully.
After I got home from London, I had two days by myself in the house. My family left the Friday I was in London to go on their family vacation in Italy for about two weeks. Even though I didn’t have them to hang out with, I of course had Ryan. Ryan had told me earlier in the week that she found out that she was moving back home a lot earlier than we expected. She will be leaving the first of October rather than the 20th of December with me. I felt upset and mad at the same time but seeing how upset she was and torn up about the whole situation I decided to try and help her out rather than add fuel to the fire. On the lighter note, because her family is moving so quickly back to the states Ryan has had to do slim to nothing for the past month, and will have to do slim to nothing for the next month. Due to her kids already starting school in America, they aren’t in Holland and the mom is obviously with the children. Therefore, it is the dad and Ryan in the house. AKA Ryan does nothing. Which is awesome for me because we are on the same schedule, because she doesn’t have one.
In the next couple of days my mom, DB and Em were coming to visit! I was so excited to see them, but told myself that I would not do the embarrassing cry that Ryan did when she saw her family. Fail to the max. I couldn’t help it when I saw my mom or when Em grabbed me and hugged me so hard I couldn’t breathe. Tears were shed but only happy tears. As y’all might remember my first four days here were spent in my bed. If you fall asleep before nighttime on the day of your landing in a new country, its game over. So the game plan for the first day was to try and get the family to stay up till nighttime. We decided to show them around Amstelveen, go to the grocery store, show them Ryan’s house and do little things are the town. We cooked dinner that night, Em fell in love with Purk the cat, and mom found a complete hatred for him because he slept on her suitcase. We all went to bed pretty early that night because we had a huge day in front of us tomorrow. My bed is only a twin size bed, but being that Emily and I don’t sleep apart when we are together, I dragged Boris’s bed in my room and Em slept on his farm-themed bed. She loved it. I loved it.
The next day we BIKED to the market in Amstelveen. It is only a 8 minute bike ride, if that, but the fact that I got to see Michelle on a bike was awesome. Sadly she was kinda good at it, so I have no good stories.
The market comes to the town every Friday and its huge, filled with so many different stands of fish, meat, clothes, purses, cookies, jewelry etc. etc. etc. but most importantly to Momma, CHEESE. We spent a good three hours within the market, one of those being at cheese stands, and got all the supplies needed for dinner. We then biked back to the house, grabbed something quick to eat, and went to the bus stop to go into the city.
We went through the entire city making stops at cheese shops (of course), the flower market, Van Gough museum (Em’s fav), the Iamsterdam sign, shops, and so on. They took in the city, the row houses, the canals like I did the first time I saw it. Well maybe not the first time I saw it because I was so grumpy, but the first time I APPRECIATED it. We ended our tour with a canal cruise. This was pretty cool because I had not been on the water yet. It was cool to see the city through a whole different view and you could see the entire structure of the row houses along with the city. Also being on water is one of my favorite things, along with my entire family. After the cruise we made our way back home and started cooking dinner. Kate, Kaari, Sask and Ryan were all coming over for dinner to meet my family. We had a good time, talked about our families enjoyed bottles(sssssss) of wine and debated on going out or not. I told Em I would do whatever she wanted to do, but was secretly in my head praying that she was too tired, because I was too tired. She was tired at the beginning of the night, but some how rallied. Damn to be 17 again. We ended up going out into the city our normal way, biking. However, Em’s knees couldn’t handle the biking so Kaari and I both dinged her into the city. It was my first time dinging someone for a long period of time and honestly, I don’t like it. It’s hard. We made it into the city, had one beer and left. Kidding. We made it into the city, Emily figured out why we love it so much, and left around 4:30. Thankfully Emily and I got home around 5, and only had to wake up at 6:30. We went to bed, Em slept on her bagel I made her, and we got a good 45 minutes of sleep.
The next GLORIOUS morning, we packed up our bags (somehow) and made our way to Paris! We were only going to be in Paris for two days and three nights, and had absolutely nothing planned. It was somewhat nice because the days in Amsterdam I had structured hour by hour. Am I Michelle’s daughter or what? Our days in Paris were spent eating a lot of food, smelling a lot of scents, visiting the “got to see places” (the Lourve= Em’s fav) and laughing at Emily’s stupid comments such as “Is that the real Mona Lisa”. The Lourve was a really cool place and I loved the architecture there, but hated the glass pyramid. It was a little too much art for Emily and I, and sometimes Momma, so the majority of our time was spent trying to find AC vents and taking inappropriate pictures.
My favorite, and I think the entire family’s favorite, was Notre Dame. We saw the outside of the cathedral, thought that was going to be the end of it, but Momma decided she wanted to go in. Em and I looked at the line to see it appeared to be a 2 hour wait, but mom insisted that we had to see it and the line was moving fast. Thankfully she was right. We got into the Cathedral within 10 minutes and it was worth every moment of waiting. Words cannot describe how beautiful it was. Everything had so much detail and was so beautiful. It was literally unreal.
We ended our trip in Paris with watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympics in French. It was pretty awful to listen to, and even more awful when we noticed that Elton John wasn’t going to perform. I think we all still have a little anger in this. We left Paris in a run to make it to our train and spent the next two hours laughing with each other about things that I can’t even remember what they were. I always have the best times with my mom and my sister and the memories that I created with them, and DB, throughout this trip will be irreplaceable.
We got home to the house a little later that night, noticed Ryan had gotten into the cheese momma wanted for dinner, and called it a early night. The next day I took them into the city again were we saw the Red Light District (another one of Em’s favs) and went into the Anne Frank House. We piddled throughout the city, went home and made our way back out again to the best resturarunt in the world, “I have no idea how to spell/say it”. But its the restuarant we went to for Ryan’s birthday. We ate awesome food, Em questioned everything on her plate (minus desert) and spent hours chatting away. That night I helped everyone pack up their things (along with some of Ryan’s and my stuff) and started growing the pit in my stomach. The next day Ryan drove us to the airport and we said our goodbyes. Everyone did an okay job at holding their tears in. I hugged Em at least 5 times and my mom about 6 and they were off to the motherland. I made it all the way home until I started balling crying in Boris’s farm-themed bed that was still right next to mine.
It was such a good experience to have some of my family come and visit me. I don’t know if it was more of a good thing or more of a bad thing however because I miss them, and everyone else at home, so much more now! However, I am still loving it in Amsterdam and when my family came back from Italy, Boris and Noortje came up and hugged me and said how much they missed me. It helped out a lot.
So now I am back on schedule with the kids and the family and things are feeling back to normal. The other girls and I actually made our ways to the “beach” here in Holland. We actually didn’t go to the shore, but rather to this man-made lake type of deal. It was sunny, it had sand and water, so I was more than happy.
I told myself I am going to write in this thing more often because these hour long posts are a little unreal. I will work on it! Hope you are all doing well, enjoying your first few days of classes, enjoying work, and enjoying not being an aupair working in Amsterdam. Haha SUCKERS
Okay so maybe Ireland isn’t necessarily ”home”, but considering how amazing it felt being there and the fact I cried when my plane touched down in the country, it felt like home. This was my first time traveling out of Holland, and I did it alone. We are so limited in funds and try to spend the least amount of money when traveling therefore, it isn’t as easy as getting on a plane and landing in Dublin. Because Kaari is an expert at finding the best deals (Ryan and I wouldn’t be going ANYWHERE if it wasn’t for her) we are able to get to Ireland at a ridiculous cheap rate. The way I got to Ireland was by a bus to central station in Amsterdam, a hour ride bus ride to Eindohoven airport and a flight into Dublin. The flight I took was the cheapest of cheap flights, so I was worried about the size of the plane because I hate flying. Also I was worried about my luggage because we all decided to do carry-ons and carry-ons here are weighed. It is something like 18 pounds the bag can weigh, and my carry-ons are usually around 42. There is only one bag allowed as well. You can’t have a purse or a pillow or a camera case. Just one bag. Also the bag must fit into an iron basket thing to prove that the dimensions are the correct demissions required by the airline. However, there is a “known” European bag that all airport know as a sufficient carry-on and are usually bypassed when asked to be weighed or to be placed in the iron basket thing. Thankfully Marion had this bag and let me use it.
Getting to the airport though was the first on my to-do list. I had to catch the bus at central at 12:45 and the bus to central is about a 40 minute ride. I did my usual morning routine of picking up the house, going for my run, showering and what not and decided to re-check my ticket to see if I was on pace to get to my bus on time. Looked at my ticket and my heart sunk seeing that my bus for the airport left at 12:15. I ran to the bus stop, which is thankfully is feet away from my house, got on the bus and started to panic. I guess the bus driver could tell I was freaking a little and asked where I was headed to. Once I told him where I was going and at what time I needed to be there (which was about 10 minutes away, and we had at least 20 minutes more of bus riding) I saw his eyes say “lady is crazy”. However, it must of been the twinkle in my eye or the tear running down from it, that made the bus driver skip about four stops to get me to my next bus on time. It did frustrate some people, but nevertheless I got there on time. There are good people still in the world.
Once I got to my next bus, I noticed I was the only one on it. A huge bus that was all to myself. After an awkward five minutes of driving the lady driver asked if she could put some music on. I said yes of course, and Fleetwood Mac started blaring out of the speakers. I moved up a couple of seats. I finally got to the airport where I met my worst enemy thus far in Europe. The baggage scale. My bag was over by about 8 kilos so I had to take out a couple of jackets, scarves and whatever else I could pile on myself to allow my baggage to weigh the allowed amount. Once the weight of my bag was okay, I could go through security and put everything back in my bag. I find it stupid, but whatever, I got on the plane with all of my belongings. On the plane I sat beside this sweet Irish couple who were returning home, and graciously bought me a welcome gift of two glasses of wine. This, I believe, is where my love of Ireland began.
I landed in Ireland and went off to try to meet Ryan and Kaari. I knew how to get to my bus stop, but once getting off the bus stop I didn’t know where my hotel was or if I was even close to it. Therefore, I proclaimed myself lost. Once, I got off the bus I decided to grab a sandwich from a store where I heard my name being called from Kaari and Ryan. Somehow Kaari’s mom eyes saw me on the bus and chased it down to where I was. And of course, Ryan saw that there was a subway near, and found me at the register. I can’t resist. We went to the hotel which was a little nook in the wall of buildings. It was nothing luxurious, but it had a door, lock, two beds, bathroom and complimentary shampoo. Pretty nice for us poor aupairs. Before we made it into our room, I was already dying laughing. The door knob to our room hit us right about in the mid-thigh. Leprechauns do exists, at least in Ireland.
Our first night was started with a couple of drinks in the room and heading out to the “temple” portion of Dublin. We were greeted into the temple part of Dublin to live music in the streets and my heart stopped when I heard a familiar tune from one of my favorite movies Titanic. We stopped and watched the street band perform until the song was over and moved along. From there we made our way from bar to bar and ended up at the legendary Temple Bar. Ryan and I both squealed of excitement once we saw that they had the King of Beers on tap. However, we were only able to enjoy one Bud each due to its price, but the one beer was well worth it.
The next day we meandered around the town of Dublin. We first stopped in the restaurant/pub that was connected to our hotel. The pub was such a cool looking place that reminded me of the bar from “PS I love you”. Not because of it being based out of Ireland but because of the home-feeling it had and the coziness feeling of home.
The food was amazing, but the staff was even better. Everyone in Ireland is so nice and treated you like family. They are always up for a conversation, make you laugh and of course are always down for a cold beer. We decided that we would only eat at this place, and before we went out at night we would go down the pub to have a beer and see our new friends. That day, we saw the majority of the town and all of the important buildings along with the well-known array of Dublin Doors. We stopped in a huge park called Marion Square to see that street performers were performing in what seemed to be some sort of carnival. We stopped and watch some performances such as a guy who juggled swords on a roller thing and a guy who played the piano with bouncy balls. https://vimeo.com/46584464 (I’m really good at holding a camera) I also got my face painted because for some reason I cannot pass up a face paint. After the park we finished our self-tour of Dublin with St. Patrick’s cathedral. The Catholic Churches here are all so big and detailed and gorgeous. We stood staring at the Church for a good amount of time and decided it was time to celebrate our Irish heritage with a cold one.
We headed to a pub where live music was being played, of course. Everywhere you go in Ireland some music is being played. It was awesome. The cool thing about the pub we went to was that the older musicians have never met each other before. They just came to the pub, and started playing with each other.
Ireland is such a cool place. Once we left the pub we shopped a little for ourselves and for our families. I knew that I was going to drop some money because I wanted so many things and because I knew that everything I saw I would want to get for someone in my huge Irish Catholic family. Well I wasn’t wrong. And because of my extreme shopping I got a free CD. Which I just noticed I have yet to listen to, but is entitled, Irish Pub Tunes. Consider me in. We headed for home, got dinner at our hotel pub, got ready for the night and went back down to the pub for more live music. Live music is awesome all together, but the music that Irish bands played was right up my alley. Lots of rock and classic songs that everyone had no shame in singing along to. That night we bounced from bar to bar but ended up again at Temple Bar. I am not sure how it happened, but Ryan and I ended up meeting our long lost cousin there. She is not a true cousin, but we claim her to be. Again, another sweet to the core girl who gave us her number, told us places to go and wanted to stay in contact even after we left the country. She even offered a place for Ryan and I to stay the next time we come to Ireland. We won’t forget that.
The beautiful sound of a five am alarm clock woke us up the next day. It was tough getting up, but knowing where we were going got us out of bed. Kaari bought tickets for us to go on a bus tour all around Ireland. Again, Ryan and I would go no where without this girl. We traveled over 500 kilometers and saw the majority of the country. The tour guide was such an intelligent man full of knowledge of his country. He knew everything, everyone, dates, numbers and was absolutely entertaining. We would travel from place to place and get off the bus to take pictures. We saw castles, countrysides, old cottages, abandoned forts and other important artifacts. However, the prettiest thing we saw, and by far my favorite place in the world now, were the Cliffs of Moher. Once traveled up the narrow country side roads, you could start to see peeks of the Atlantic Ocean. During the ride once I started to see these glimpses of the ocean the Titanic theme song started playing through my head, because I am in love with the movie Titanic and because that is how pretty the view was. It needed its own soundtrack. Once we got to the Cliffs, we started our climb to the top. It was such a pretty journey up the cliff that you didn’t even mind the walk. Plus the harp playing of some lady made it more enjoyable. Once to the top we took pictures, and gazed out into pure amazement. We started our way down one side and started up the other. We did the same things on the other side, but noticed that people were climbing over certain part of the barrier in order to get to the cliff without any protection from falling over. Coincidental a memorial for “all the brothers and sisters who lost their lives on cliffs” was right before this opening of the fence. So of course, Ryan, Kaari and I went to unprotected portion of the cliffs to get better pictures. I felt safe at my distance away from the edge, but had to leave once I saw a girl walking in wedges, a little kid trip, and when a guy wearing a slippery windbreaker had half of his body hanging over the edge. I was not going to see someone fall off and ruin my perfect interpretation and picture of this place. We ended the 13 hour tour with a dinner at our pub and our last night in the town filled with live music and happy faces. The next morning was another early morning but we got home safely and to our beds.
Ireland is one of the best places on earth and by far one of my favorite places by far. I hope to go back someday and hopefully be able to stay for a longer time in order to really take in all of its beauty. It was a great first trip to take and I cannot wait for my next trip, which will be to London to see my Perdue family!! Being able to give them each a big hug and see a piece of home is something that is needed tremendously. As if the week couldn’t get any better, DB, Momma and Emily are coming into town as well! I have so many exciting things planned for them and the thought of actually seeing them so soon makes me smile so big. I miss my family so much and can feel tears forming by just thinking about their arrival! Many more memories to make with the people I love!
And that is why this blog is so long. Finally have my laptop back to intrigue the few that follow the blogging of a college graduate whose best friend is spell check. I went back to see the last time I wrote, and noticed it was all the way back in May! I cannot believe that I have been here this long! Everything runs on a normal schedule now, and I am so comfortable with my surroundings that time has literally flown by. I miss everyone at home and apologize for being AWFUL with my phone. Being six hours ahead of you isn’t helping as well. So in that case, let me update you all of the life of aupair Erin.
The family is absolutely awesome. I could not ask for better host parents. They treat me so kindly and make me feel so comfortable at the house. Its not only that I fell comfortable around them that makes me so happy, they make me feel as if I am a part of their family. Telling me their work issues, never excluding me from conversations (which would be so easy, speak in Dutch), and basically just treating me like a daughter. A daughter who cooks, cleans, watches over her two younger siblings and speaks only a fraction of their native language. An awkward daughter, but a loved one. The majority of my time is spent with the kids. As of this week they are out of school and home all day long. ALL DAY LONG. This being said our relationship has become a love-hate relationship. It is challenging being in a setting that you are not used to, and is not how you were raised. How Boris and Noortje are raised, is certainly not the way I was raised. Not saying it is wrong in any means, but its something I am not used to. Not only do I have to get use to how the kids behave, but the kids are trying to get use to how I “work”. Having a hissy-fit is all good and well, until your five minute mark is reached. From then on out you can sit in your room and yell it out while I hold the doorknob so you can’t get out. Noortje is not a fan of this, but is learning. Little things such as this are the obstacles we face daily, but we are trying to understand each others ways a little better. I am learning the basics in Dutch while Noortje is learning the basics in English. We try our best at each others languages and sign language to the best of our abilities. We somehow make it through the days with the minimal of tears. Boris doesn’t even try to understand me. He is a piece of work. He enjoys running around the house naked, throwing balls in Noortje’s face and pooting in inappropriate settings (i.e when I am talking to the package man at the door; I guess pooting on the man’s leg was “cute”). Its an experience to say the least and I am so appreciative of my mother and what she put up with. I told my mom once that I hated the movie “The Wizard of Oz” for some unknown reason one day, and she told me that it was probably because when Scott and I were little she would put us in the pack and play and put the movie on everyday because it was the longest one we own. For some odd reason I think Noortje and Boris will have the same feelings about the movie “Winnie the Pooh”.
Another reason that I am becoming more appreciative of my mom is how clean my house always was. The little things I did while growing up, have now reappeared in my life, but I am on the other side of the spectrum. Growing up, while walking up the stairs I use to pass clean clothes, that were nicely folded at least 10 times before my mom would literally put them in my arms and make me take them up. When I use to shoot trash and miss, did I go behind the trashcan and pick the trash up? Absolutely not. Now when I see this, I can feel the blood rush to my head. Karma has come back to haunt this girl. The little things like that makes my blood boil, but I cannot say that I haven’t done wrong here. Even though my mistakes have been few, forgetting to pick your daughter up at school is not to cool, especially when it happens twice. Opps.
So for the aupair portion, life is good. For being a 22 year old, in Holland, within reach of her cousin by a two minute bike ride, life is awesome. Europe is such a worlds different from America. Even though I have been here for almost four months (weird) I am still amazed by it. I have successfully learned my way around the town and become a pro at biking. Well, I was a pro at biking on my OLD bike, until the night Ryan went down 10 points in cousin stat. For those who follow Ryan’s blog, her story was a little on the “not my fault side”. Since she has successfully won my love over, and we are both over it, lets get the true story out.
Twas, around four in the morning and birds were chirping to signal our time to depart the bars. Being that we were in one of the busiest portions of the city, there were a ton of bikes parked near ours. Kaari and I successfully got our bikes out of the racks, but Ryan was having some trouble. Being the awesome cousin I am I asked if she needed help. ”I GOT THIS” in the most stubborn Ryan voice was my answer. So I stood on my bike waiting for her to make a fool of herself. Success. Three bikes and Ryan took a tumble and THANKFULLY the two owners of the bikes Ryan knocked down were standing right there (sarcastic). Deciding that Ryan obviously needed help, even if she didn’t want it, I went over to help her pick the bikes up, and to calm the girls who believed their bikes were torn in half due to the 30 inch drop. Giving the “I told you so” eye to Ryan, I started to walk back to my bike, which graciously wasn’t there. My bike had gotten stolen along with my entire keychain. My heart sank and I started running one way while Kaari biked the other to see if we could track down the demon. However within two minutes of the search I knew it was useless. I got stopped by the police who thought I was running from an axe-murder, and I told them to help me look for my bike. I was reassured with their laughs that my bike was gone. It was a long bus ride home for me and I ignored Ryan for a full 6 hours. New record. Telling my host parents was the worst thing I ever had to do, and hearing that the bike was 400 euros was the worst thing they could respond with. However, I purchased a bike for less, Ryan helped out, and these Diva Grays are over the night white-lightening was taken.
The summer here is a little different than the previous summers I have had. By this time in summer, I am usually done with swimming and meets, and have found my place near the ocean (that hurts coming out of the mouth/fingertips). I have a nice seven shades of darkness on me and I can look at my tan line in disgust to see how pale I am during the winter months. Sadly, I daily look at my tan-lines fading day after day. Its not that the weather here is ugly, which some days it is, but there is literally no time to go out and chill by the pool. Especially with children. And more so with children who don’t understand english. However, today, my friend and I (aka the mom that lives beside me) took our kids to the Bos Forest which is also known as the amusement park for outdoor people. It is a huge forest filled with trails, tracks, canals, horses (ew), stages, fields, etc. etc. etc. It is absolutely gorgoues. That is where both Ryan and I run through and sometimes at night take bike rides. Its such a pretty place and I learned today that there is a pool there! Its perfect because its a big kiddie pool that is only three inches deep. So you can let your child run wild without the fear of them drowning. There were a ton of people and kids there so parents just laid out in the grass while their naked kids yelled and screamed and splashed each other till the point of tears. Boris and Noortje fit in well. I know what we will be doing more often in this beautiful weather we are having, because I enjoy enhancing my tan lines.
Speaking of swimming, I have actually found myself back in the pool swimming laps because (everyone hold your breath) I actually missed it. The pool is about a 10 minute bike ride from the house and is filled with the elderly and myself. The first day I went to the pool I asked the front desk which locker room was the womens and she said “there is only one”. Sweet. Thankfully there are changing rooms so I don’t have to see unwanted elderly things. When going into the actual pool area, the same stroke was seen throughout. The “I dont want to put my chin, hair, or face in the water breaststroke”. Being that I am not a fan of this stroke, I had to make some enemies in order to claim some lane space. I actually got yelled out in Dutch by a man once, and just nodded my head acting like I knew what he was saying. He eventually left what is now mine and Varile’s lane. Varlie is this sweet 70 something old lady who enjoys sharing a lane with me. She holds our lane for the two of us until I get there on certain days. She is a fan of the “I don’t want to put my chin, hair, or face in the water breaststroke” but I have talked her into a couple of times to pull some backstroke out. She passed her record of laps in an hour the other day. 24 laps, also known as a 600. She’s a beast.
There are certain events that I missed so much around this time at home, such as 4th of July. Being that it is my favorite holiday, it was tough to celebrate is with a cake. A pretty cool cake with sparkles, but really? Ryan and I tried our best to celebrate, even made up a song, but it just didn’t cut it.
However, I also made perfect timing in coming over to Europe during the Euro Cup. Apparently every country is extremely proud and true to their “futbol” team, but Holland is known to bleed orange. During the time of the cup you could not go anywhere without being blinded by this orange. To even think about getting a seat at a bar for the games you had to show up at least two hours early, which of course us locals knew, and games were watched in awe, respect and free of technology. It was such a cool atmosphere seeing the love for the country during this time. Once Holland was kicked out of the cup, I think I saw at least four older men crying. Legit crying. It was a heartbreak town to say the least.
Another fun experience that I have had here was being able to go to the Heineken museum and learn nothing about the beer but drink plenty of it. Purks of taking an employees pictures with his friends and following him through the museum to get the free beer at the end. Each person, who is of legal age, got a bracelet with three free “beer tokens” on it, but Ryan, Kate and I had the most important token of all and it was THAT guy.
For all those still reading, aka the ones who truly love me and care about what the heck I am doing over here, this is the final event I have for you. The Shalley making their way over the pond. I hope you have all seen the video of them surprising Ryan on my Facebook (if not grab a tissue and go). Having them over here was so nice and such a piece of home that I KNOW she needed, and it was great for me to see them too.
Their weekend was filled with us showing them how much we get lost, a bangful dinner, dancing, singing and Trey’s first ride in the buckfiet. We all know what the buckfiet is, and we all know that Trey should not fit in it. But he did and it was one of the funniest things in my life. I claim myself to be a pretty strong girl and pretty talented with biking, but Trey was not the easiest thing to carry in the thing. Trey sober wasn’t easy to carry. Trey using my grocery bags as armor, directing me which way to “fly” and flapping his “wings” to help me gain some momentum was impossible to carry and further more impossible to not pee on yourself laughing at the moment. Somehow we all made it home save and were able to make ourselves Grays enough to ride a beer bike and presentable for Ryan’s birthday dinner that lasted 5 hours the next day.
At viewing point the beer bike looks awesome, easy and a joyous time. Its a 12 seated bike with a huge table in the middle of it, and comes complete with a keg in the center of the table, and tap (stay classy). The biking at first was challenging, but the further we got, the easier it got. I don’t know if it was us getting use to it, the beer helping us out or the three strangers we picked up on the street to help us out, but it got better. Oh and PS, Divas dont pedal, the sit on the back and command.
The five hour dinner was the best food I have eaten, period. I felt like I was on Top Chef and someone important. Neither, I am, but wouldn’t mind being. After dinner, and a GINORMOUS bill from wine, Ryan, Kaari, Trey and I decided to put our boogie shoes on and go to the piano bar for some good shagging music, and a good last night for the Shalley clan.
Welp, that has been my life here in Amstelveen. I will update soon because Ryan, Kaari and I made our first trip out of the country together to the motherland IRELAND!!! Hope you are all doing well and miss you so much!
The first week of work is over! I didn’t think it was bad at all and actually enjoyed having a set schedule for my week. The week with the kids was a task, but somehow we managed. Its challenging to understand them, and vis-versa. I have a feeling a couple of times I told them they couldn’t do something such as go to the bathroom or give me a hug. I’ll figure it out sooner or later. Dinners went well, the kids enjoyed pizza night the most, due to the fact they got to make their own pizza. Boris had an attitude about not being able to reach the ham or something, so he didn’t make the picture.
Thursday and Friday Boris stays home. This being, Thursday and Fridays are my favorite days. We had a pool party one day and went to the park the other. He is such a cute boy and can get away wtih anything. I tried to get him to backfiet me on the way home from the park, but that ended in a temper tantrum and a silent bike ride home. Nanny mistake #1.
This week I have been able to get out of the house a lot and see Amsterslveen, the town Ryan and I live in. I run most every morning to see the city, which is filled with gardens and water ways. Its easy to get up and run, because its such a pretty atmosphere. Ryan and I also did a long bike ride this week to catch up. We rode through what is known as the “Bos” forest. It is a huge forest with both a bike and running lane. A lot of people go out there to play sports and what not. No hunks found yet. It is also were the Olympic Rowing Team of Holland has their training center. We rode by there looked in, and found no Olympians. Yet. Its such a pretty place to workout in and just get out the house in. Walking around this city is a lot more peaceful and tranquil then walking around Raleigh, Greenville or anywhere else I have lived.
This weekend is commonly known as Alexis’s and my birthday weekend. I celebrated the best I could without her, but being honest, not the same without having her by my side. Friday night was our big night out. Ryan and I got off work around the same time and decided to “have a beer” before Kaar got off work. We biked to a pub just around the corner, sat outside and chatted about random things that Ryan and I would only find interesting. About five rounds later, we decided it was time to bike home and get ready to go out. Plus the couple beside us got food that smelled slightly like heaven, and we knew if we stayed any longer we would have to get food. We got back to Ryan’s where the kids were already asleep. We had to pull a high-school drinking sesh in Ryan’s bathroom whispering, which somehow turned into a drinking sesh, in the bathroom, with the lights off because of the bugs flying in. After a couple of drinks and a round of never have I ever, including the explanation of the game to our Estonian friend, we biked on to the city. The bar we went to reminded me of Rumors in downtown Greenville. (Going through this night is making me think I had a very highschool birthday, and I am a-okay with it) The bar played ridiculous songs that Ryan and I of course knew every word to, including Grease Lightening and Ride wit Me. It was such a fun night, filled with too many free shots, too many creeps and too many times I thought I looked good dancing on the stage.
After we wore out the bar we got on our bikes. I took my first tumble on the way home, thanks to Ryan’s athletic abilities. When I opened my eyes from the fall, not only was my bike on me, but Ryan and her bike as well. She kept saying sorry, but failed to give me hand to help me up. Typical. I decided to lay there for awhile because it was way more comfortable than pedaling a bike, but knew I had to get home. I got up and tried to start pedaling, then noticed my pedal was bent in so much I couldn’t. Again Ryan being the best cousin in the world, had already proceeded to bike home (with my purse, phone and shoes) and left me. After a good thirty minute BARE FOOT WALK HOME WITH MY BIKE, I made it home were I then facebooked Ryan how much I hated her. I then told her I was coming by her house to get my things. I didn’t. Ryan stood outside for thirty minutes. We are pretty much even now.
Saturday was my actual birthday. I woke up to the kids screaming what I was guess was happy birthday to me in Dutch and dragging me downstairs. So cute, but so not ideal with how I was feeling. Marion and Demitri were down in the kitchen with a cake and a candle, flowers and a gift. They said they tried so hard to make me feel important on my birthday and not to miss home to much. I did miss home a lot, but they were too sweet to do everything for me! My family is really so awesome. The cake was the best freaking cake I have had in my life. It was a dome cake, chocolate truffled outside and chocolate mousse on the inside (my favorite). It was a really healthy breakfast.
Ryan came over after baring gifts and we biked to the park for a picnic. That was of course I told Demitri I broke his bike, which he laughed and fixed it. He was amazed that we did that damage to it. Its a talent that us Grays posses. It was such a pretty day, and everyone was out there. I should of taken my suit to tan in but forgot it. We met other friends there, had a feast and took a nap. Ryan and all the other European pales obtained a sunburn, and that marked the time to go home. We rallied to go out due to hurting from the night before, and from sitting out in the sun all day. We biked to the city to on of Ryan’s friends Sauskia’s house who actually lives in Amsterdam and goes to the University there. Her house was a cute, compact town house. The best part about it was the terrace. When you went on top of the house you could see the entire city-scape, and with the sunset it was one of the prettiest things I’ve seen. We got on our bikes to go out, when we noticed our friend Kate didnt have a bike. This would be our first experience of “dinging”. Dinging is when someone just sits on the back of your bike, but is a lot harder than it looks. Kaar was the brave one who dinged Kate and was surprisingly successful. We ended up going to a bar having a drink, deciding pizza would be more appealing and biked home. Ryan decided to stay on her side of the path this time, and we made it home safely!
Yesterday was a joke of a day. Ryan and I went to lunch, got icecream and laid in her bed to watch awful ABC family movies. We got to skype the family at the Keller lake house. It was the perfect timing for a skype sesh. We were talking to Katie when we could see the fear in here eye. Its like someone showed her ET. It turned out it was a copperhead in the water eating a fish. The ever-so brave Austin Shoemaker took the phone so we could see it. The rest of the skype session contained the view of Susu’s nostril, Katie’s scared face, Austin’s “abs”, Aunt Punky’s “puffed face” and the killing of the snake. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a skype of the Grays. I also got to talk to Momma and Scott who were at the beach, and got to see that Scott was sadly tanner than me. I also got to see my grandpa there who was making his all famous crabcakes, and I felt tears building in my eyes. Not because I missed everyone, because I was missing those damn crabcakes.
Today is actually a holiday, so Ryan and I do not have to work today! Running errands, getting lunch and dropping off my cracked computer at the airport are on our list of things to do, and then another work week begins! Hope you all had an awesome Memorial Day weekend, enjoyed the beach/lake/river and celebrated being an American! I miss you all and hope you have a good week!