29 August, 2011

I have a problem...

...I'm addicted to baby stuff.

No, seriously.  It's pretty much all I can think about.  I'm busy daydreaming about how I'm going to make the baby room look, what the baby's name will be, which pram I'm going to buy, whether or not I'm going to have a boy or a girl, how much giving birth is going to hurt, how I'm going to cling on to my own identity, how I'm going to juggle work and pay for day care (which is a stressy post, all of its own), everything.  I feel like there's a tidal wave of blah blah blah that is bursting to get out of me, but I don't want to bombard my poor husband (who only last year went through all this while I was planning a wedding!) and I'm sure there's only so much baby-talk that my friends can take, so you're my lucky victim.

How is all this baby blabber related to my integrating you might ask (if you're even still here.  Chances are that you've long clicked on to another, more interesting site).  Well.  When I'm not on the toilet (nobody seems to tell you how often you have to wee before you get pregnant!) or wearing a peg on my nose from all the offensive smells surrounding me, I've started putting together a Lust List for what I absolutely must have for my baby and some of the items are Dutch!

A couple of weeks ago I had a mad dash to the hospital in the middle of the night (well it was about 5 am, but it was still dark, so technically the middle of the night) because of some nasty bleeding that I was trying not to freak out about.  While I was waiting for the doctor to finish delivering two babies (two!  One straight after the other - it's a production line!) I noticed a lovely little bit of writing, stuck right on the wall.  It seems that there is a fabulous website called Mooi op de Muur where you can order fabulous stickers for your walls, wth a store in Almere!  Now I'm busy trawling every single picture for suitability and inspiration:

from the Mooi op de Muur website
And when I'm not busy trawling websites for nice decorations, I'm comparing the prices and usability of different prams (or buggies, or kinderwagons, depending where you come from).  Of course I made the mistake of googling 'bugaboo' and now I'm in serious trouble.  Bugaboo is like the Porsche of prams.  Really.  Here's what I'm lusting after most, the Bugaboo Cameleon:

 Both images are from the Bugaboo website

The major selling point for the Bugaboo, as opposed to other brands is that it's Dutch designed and owned!  You see, as it's such a big investment, I had to have a good selling point to Maarten.  But with a retail price of around 850 euros, we are searching every day on Maarten's favourite website of all time: marktplaats.nl.  On the upside, they seem to retain their value very well, so we should be able to make some of our money back after a couple of years when I get tired of it the baby grows out of it.  Of course, if anyone has a Bugaboo that they would like to get rid of (or if Bugaboo would fancy throwing one my way), please let me know!

So those are two of the many hundreds of things swirling around my head at the moment.  But, with the 'baby brain' that I appear to have been afflicted with, I will probably have forgotten what I was talking about by tomorrow.

If you've had a baby of your own, what did you think about all the time?  What about prams?  What did you use?  How did you train your brain to think about other things?  Help!

18 August, 2011

Meet Inky...

For those of you who haven't been formally introduced, Inky (short for Inkblot) is our 14 week old baby in waiting.

Through all the health dramas of the last few months that I've posted about here, my body clearly thought that I wasn't under enough stress and thought it would throw a baby into the mix.

I was due to go into hospital for the LLETZ surgery and literally two days before I started to wonder if something was amiss.  So Maarten and I were crowded around the pregnancy test and were staring in disbelief at the two lines.  We didn't quite believe it, so did it again in the morning (the day before the surgery) and bolted to the doctor to find out what on earth happens next.

Cue good  news, the surgery was postponed until after we made it to the twelve week mark of the pregnancy.  This last week I was thirteen weeks, so they wheeled me in and a team of about ten people took care of slicing off the nasty cells quite safely and now I'm free to get on with enjoying (is that the right word?) being pregnant.

Needless to say, Maarten and I couldn't be happier.  Although I'm not usually into the mushy stuff, this truly is a gift.  I just have to figure out what to do with it...!

PS.  If you need any help figuring out what is what in the picture, the baby is laying face down with the head to the right of the screen.  The white line across the top is the spine.

11 August, 2011

Expat BlogHop - False Expectations

This week has flown by and it's already Thursday and time to post in Windmill Tales'
regular Expat BlogHop.  Here's this week's theme:

Before you moved to the country you are in now, whyat expectations, ideas (things you though happened, things people did, etc) did you have then, that proved to be not true at all?

I think that I was pretty clued up about the Netherlands before I moved here.  After all, I had been commuting backwards and forwards for a year before I made the jump.  I knew almost nobody wore clogs any more and that tulips are not actually Dutch (just ask the Turkish, they'll tell you) and that hardly anybody is any sort of drug user.  One thing I did believe however, was that Dutchies would be the same as Australians.  You know, easy going.

Ah, no.

In my years of tour guiding I had met (and loved) countless Dutchies.  In fact, if you ask any tour guide in Australia, almost every single one will tell you that Dutchies are THE BEST passengers to have on tour.  Flexible, fun loving, enjoy a drink, and have a get on with it mentality.  Just like most Australians.  So, I thought it would be a walk in the park and moving to the Netherlands would be just like coming home.

Except it wasn't.

Honestly, I was expecting to have myself a new Dutch BFF within three weeks of landing.  I was expecting to go out for Friday night drinks with my colleagues every week.  I’d be hosting regular dinner parties.  I didn't realise what a rude shock I was in for.  I'm still looking for my Dutch BFF three years later.  I've had drinks with colleagues only a few times, and always at organised events.  Making dinner plans is always such an ordeal.  

Having to make dinner plans a month in advance with friends is just not for me.  I refuse to believe that a person is so busy that the only free evening they have is a Tuesday in five weeks time.  Absolutely refuse to believe it.  Special events I can absolutely understand.  but a casual evening with a bowl of pasta?  Ah, no.

Don't for one moment think that this is an "Australians are better" post.  I'm not so naiive.  I realise that Australians can be so easy going that it's almost impossible to make a decent plan.  Traits that I was perfectly used to when I was living in Australia are now almost unbearable.  Waiting until you get somewhere to make a plan?  Changing your mind fifteen times before choosing a place to eat?  Behaving as though running a half hour late is ok and acceptable without a phone call?  No thanks.

Now I'm used to the differences and understand that I should not have based my expectations of a couple of hundred people on holiday.  Something interesting that I’ve noticed however:  many of my other lovepat friends met their husbands whilst on holiday and have also struggled to adapt here as the people are so different to what they expected.  So is it our fault that we have these expectations, or are the Dutch just so good at integrating into their location at any given time, they give a false expectation as to what it’s like at home?

Just sayin’...

Back my tour guide days

04 August, 2011

First Ever Expat BlogHop - What is an Expat for You?

This post is inspired by my blogging friend over at Tales from Windmill Fields who is kicking off a regular expat blog hop.  I hope I can be dedicated enough to participate each week, but my posting record tells me otherwise!  I do really need a good kick in the pants to keep on top of a decent schedule, so let’s hope this is it!

This week’s topic is What is an expat for you?  Not an easy one to start with, I must say!  I did think about recycling an old post, my before and after meme, but where’s the fun in that!  So what does it really mean to me to be an expat?

Even though I refer to myself as an expat, I’m really not.  I’m not here on assignment and neither am I a trailing spouse.  I think the actual term for me might be ‘Lovepat’ or as I like to call myself: an Import Bride, although Maarten certainly didn’t pick me out of a catalogue (he’d be feeling pretty ripped off if he had)!

But what does it really mean to me?  Being a fish out of water.  Trying new things.  Having to cope with a different way of doing everything.  Trying to find good underwear.  Not being able to buy Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.  Driving on the other side of the road.  Swearing in a new language.  Above all though:  being shameless about finding new friends.

Although I’ve lived in half a dozen countries in my lifetime, I found making friends in the Netherlands far harder than anywhere else.  For the first six months or so I didn’t make any friends of my own.  I would trail along with Maarten (trailing spouse after all, perhaps?) and his friends would be friendly, it didn’t always translate itself into friendship.  I was at a bit of a loss as to what do next.  It came to the point where a trip to the local supermarket was becoming a big (or)deal.  I was becoming agoraphobic.  Going to work and coming home, with only the very occasional shoe shopping diversion (which before I moved to the Netherlands was almost a daily occurrence.  Have you seen the shoe stores in Edinburgh?!).  I was joining Meet Up groups in Amsterdam, but couldn’t be bothered going all the way there to actually meet people.

It all changed one day however, completely out of the blue.  I was at my lowest point.  It was January, my first winter here, dark and very, very lonely.  I received a message out of the blue via Facebook of all places!  From a South African woman living here in Almere!  I wasn’t alone!  We arranged to meet for lunch and really hit it off.  After that I was completely rejuvenated.  I had one friend of my own.  One friend!  Before I knew it, I had another.  And another.  And it snowballed.  Now I look around at my circle of friends and have so many, it’s hard to count.  And not just acquaintances, but real, true friends.  The kind of friends that you can sit in silence with and not feel uncomfortable (not that there’s ever any silence, mind you!).  The kind of friends that you know you can ring in the middle of the night and they’ll rescue you.  The kind of friends who just get you.  Know what I mean?  It’s precious and I’m eternally grateful.  I feel like I’ve finally found my place here in the Netherlands.

So when you ask, what is an expat for me?  I say new friendships.  I couldn’t be without them.

What we are talking about

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