Number of days without a bike theft – 364-371
Days since it last rained – 1
OK, working on bringing things back up to current, after recent events will point out where my time has been.
OK, let’s talk about those companies I don’t like in the Netherlands. First up is of course the Dirk, simply because it’s not as nice as Albert Heijn, and I can’t find anything there. Next up is Sligro, because they hate babies and also cater to Dutch cannibals.
I now have another.
D-Reizen is a travel agency chain with locations on almost every corner in the city, advertising trips to places near and far for outlandish prices like a week in Kenya for €4 and such. And there’s a reason these prices seem to good to be true – you know, because they are.
For my birthday, and for the fun of it, we had decided to take a vacation. Looking at the last-minute deals on D-Reizen, we found a really good deal on a place in Italy. When we contacted the site support with some questions, they said we should come in and speak to them in an agency.
So we did.
Once we told them what we wanted, we were presented with a price that was twice what the site listed. We asked why it was so much more, and she said it was because it was last minute. So our reply was that this fare we saw was taken from the last minute deals. She looked and agreed, but then said that fare didn’t exist.
So we asked why it was listed as such.
She explained that it was hard to explain.
We asked her to try.
Her reply was that it was based on a whole lot of things.
We asked if that low fare had ever existed.
She replied that it could have.
We asked when, and why was it listed as a last-minute deal fare.
Eventually, she admitted that the fare as listed had never existed, although persisted in saying that it was possible for it to exist.
Apparently we have some sort of theoretical travel physics here, where there are the fares that could possibly exist at some time in some place, but don’t really exist, despite what’s advertised as the current last-minute fare.
So I hate D-Reizen, for lying about what their fares actually are.
And then, in my research on D-Reizen, I discovered that they were owned by none other than the Dirk! It all makes sense now, because I can’t find what I’m looking for in either one.
Now that I’m done hating, I’ll let you know that we leave on June 23 for the Italian hills. Putting the trip together on our own for less than half what the agency wanted, we found a little apartment in Umbria, where we’ll stroll markets, cook our own food and just get away for a week. Can’t wait.
But, leading up to that, this current week was birthday week. It was also the week of my first Father’s Day.
In the old days, birthday week was a week meant for celebrating your birthday for the entire week, doing what you wanted to do, going where you wanted to go, etc.
In the new times, the Kitten takes precedence, which is as it should be, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love birthday week.
But it was consumed with responsibilities as well as celebrations. There was a trip to the Consultatie Bureau for the Kitten’s checkup, where we were informed that everything was fine, EXCEPT that the Kitten has temper. It’s a similar diagnosis to what the huisdokter gave us, so no further opinions are necessary. This diagnosis was delivered after the Kitten smiled for the nurse, clapped her hands, and got weighed and then some time during the measurement lost it and went into one of her furious full-blown screaming meltdowns that wouldn’t subside until she was back in my arms.
As part of the Consultatie visit, we were advised to start feeding the Kitten solids three times a day, and work on phasing out bottles and mixing in snacks. We decided to dive right in, and the Kitten took to it with gusto. In her first days of three meals, she ate some seriously big meals, and because we make her won baby food, we know the ingredients, and that she was eating 1-2 bananas a day, as well as an apple, a whole zucchini, cereal, and beans or lentils. She loves to eat!
It’s so funny the way she sits in her high chair like a baby bird, mouth open, waiting for the next spoonful, until she’s full, when it clamps shut and mealtime is over.
Another thing Nicole wanted to get her for snacktime was Cheerios. For those of you European readers, Cheerios are a staple for babies to snack on, as they’re whole grain and sugar free, and good for developing coordination as they pick up the little O’s and feed themselves.
I need to explain this to the European readers, because they don’t do them here. Nicole had to go to the American/British grocery store to get a box, which she paid €10 for! Needless to say, this could be her last box, unless visitors from the states bring them!
So, European parents, what do you give your little ones for healthy finger snacks?
On my actual birthday, Nicole presented a NOFX hoodie that she had bought me at the concert and sneakily sent home with the Kitten’s boyfriend’s mom. We then also had to take a trip to Immigration to push through our next round of Visa paperwork. While we were there, it was revealed that Kitten’s nationality had never been registered with the Netherlands. It was a missed step in all the bureaucracy that the Dutch love so much. You see, when she was born, I had registered her with the city, then later we went to the consulate and registered her with the US. At some point, I was supposed to go back to city hall with her birth certificate and passport and register her again, and so today it was off to city hall again.
Now, city hall is surrounded by Waterlooplein Market, and if you’ll remember, we had made a trek here on my birthday last year, to see if we could find a record player. Now last year my birthday fell on Pentecost Monday, and the market wasn’t open. Not knowing this, we wandered around, looking for it, wondering how we could not be able to find a flea market when we were where it was supposed to be, and feeling alone, lonely and lost.
And if you’ll remember, the last time I was at City Hall to register the baby, it was while Nicole and the Kitten were in the hospital, and I got another big lesson in Dutch bureaucracy.
So this time, I was pretty prepared.
I went to City Hall, and said I needed to register the baby’s nationality, to which they informed me that one doesn’t do that without an appointment (like last time), to which my reply was then, yes, I’d like an appointment as soon as possible, and I was given one for one hour later.
Kitten and I then wandered through the flea market, and I had some loempias (Vietnamese spring rolls) from a street vendor for lunch. When I showed up for my appointment, it was known from previous experience that this appointment is NOT to see your person, but to pick up your number and then wait some more.
Which is what we did.
Eventually, I got in to see the person, telling them I needed to register this baby as a US citizen. He looked at her papers, pulled up a screen and we were done in about three minutes.
In comparison to where we were one year ago, this year’s birthday was a royal success. I didn’t feel overwhelmed or lost, and managed to successfully and easily maneuver through the Dutch bureaucracy.
Happy Birthday to me indeed.
The week of my second Amsterdam birthday was also the week of my first Father’s Day ever. And the Kitten got me the coolest gift ever – a red ukulele!
OK, I’ve been obsessed with ukuleles for a while, for reasons that are too long to get into here, but I will point you to an article I wrote on why the ukulele is the instrument that will usher in the next era of punk rock.
For now, I’m working on learning to tune and strum, and picking up my first few chords. Eventually, playing songs will be part of my and the Kitten’s daily routine, and then it will be time for Glad Rooster to go into the studio. I’ll let you know once we’re close to cutting our first album.
We also had a big special family Father’s Day, the same way we celebrated Nicole’s Mother’s Day number one, with a trip to the zoo, and a wonderful family outing.
Kitten is growing so big so fast! And the zoo is a really great place to see it. The aquarium is still her favorite, but while she used to just be held while she stared in awe the fish, she now likes to sit on the ledge where she laughs at the fish. She also fell in love with the butterfly house, with all the colors flitting through the air.
I look at how far we have come in this past year and am amazed in every way. Kitten is becoming less of our baby and more of our little girl everyday. I’m so excited for this chance to take our little family vacation and spend a week just the three of us, and then I have to wonder -
What DO Dutch parents feed their kids instead of Cheerios?