Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Growing Belly

This week at school was one of the most difficult of the year. By Wednesday I was so exhausted that I felt as if I had a massive hangover. I almost came home early, but fortunately my Intern was able to help me out. He is a pleasure to work with - too bad his stint will end next week.

It is great to have a three day weekend - Monday we have off - I have been wishing for one of these for awhile! Tomorrow I should be able to make more progress on the Chest. Claire joined us for Easter on her way back to the States while she waits on her work permit in Switzerland. She is a pleasure to have around and is enjoying her time in Europe.

We came to the Cottage on Friday, took care of some things Saturday and did some mountain biking - actually found some hills here that I couldn't get up! Today I finally got the kitchen light installed.  A three day project. Incredible. It should be a matter of hooking up some wires after drilling a few holes, but I had to exhaust myself more than I do at the gym to get that thing up there. It looks great now, though!

In the past couple days Naomi has been able to feel the babies moving a lot. She is lying here now describing the kicks. I even saw the kicking through the skin on Friday - in a few months it will look like a scene from Alien. We have been taking a picture every week to show how her belly has been changing. It is going much faster than average for her - the combination of a small frame and the Twins.

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Week 15

Week 16

Week 17

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bulb City

This week was uneventful at school. A lot happened outside of school though! I realized that in order to make the seats/lids of the chest I would need to make a router table. So I did. It turned out quite nicely, although it isn't quite finished - just need to get a couple hinges and a latch for it. I figured while I was at it that a new workbench was in order, so now I have a much improved place to work too!

Today we got up a bit early and went to the Disneyland of gardens. It is called the Keukenhof, located in the middle of a bunch of Tulip fields, and feels like you are coming into a theme park. The crowds certainly aren't much different - but it was worth fighting them.

We got lucky with the sunshine and took lots of pictures. The crowds got to us after awhile though, and we headed over to Amsterdam for Naomi's Dad's 70th birthday party. He has been working on making his apartment livable for the last couple years and finished it just in time for this event. It gave him something to work toward. Finally!

New Workbench.

Router Table.

The Keukenhof (and a couple of the surrounding tulip fields).

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Another Intern

This week my new intern started. He is a really nice guy and, unfortunately, will only be around for a couple weeks. He has been teaching people to become real estate brokers for the past 18 years, but that market has dried up, so he needs to find a new line of work. Teaching middle school kids math is quite the change - he was rather overwhelmed after his first day of observations.

The weather was beautiful this week. 60s and sunny. On Thursday I got home before lunch and after a winter of hibernation, pulled the tools back out, got rid of the plants, and turned the plant stand back into a work in progress. I started making the lids/seats. Not quite sure how I will join the 45's yet, but hopefully I can figure something out soon.

I hope that the design will go together well. I make it up as I go and combine some different styles, so hopefully they will compliment each other instead of looking stupid and out of place. It was fun to start work again. Hopefully it will continue!

Sunday, March 30, 2014


The past week was a busy one at school. I had report meetings, which means the group of teachers discusses each student before the parents come to meet with the 'homeroom teacher' about their child's progress. This takes awhile when you have 200 students. Next week should be more relaxed though.

Now we are at the cottage and the weather is beautiful. Sometimes it is easy to forget we are living in Europe. Yesterday we reminded ourselves. We went to Deventer, a city about 20 minutes from here, for lunch. We sat outside in the sun on a big, crowded market square. 500 year old buildings surrounded us. A portable Gypsy-like organ serenaded us as it slowly meandered through the crowd. Even the food was delicious. Jackets weren't needed and the first minor sunburn of the year appeared.

We ordered a couch as well. The living room is not complete without one. We got a deal at an 'American' bulk couch store. They had a big sale on and we ended up getting our first pick for a price that was less than the other options. It might take awhile to get here, but it will be worth the wait!

Today we will do a bit of mountain biking...staying clear of the more difficult trails as Naomi's joints are all coming unglued. She grows bigger every day...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rotten Week

This week I felt pretty miserable, except for Thursday afternoon. Seemed like I had a bit of a bug. Nasty headaches, low energy, short at school. Thursday it was in the 60s and the sun was shining, maybe that made the difference. Maybe I was just recovering from the past couple weeks. Hopefully it will be better this week.

My lower level 8th grade classes are still struggling with Math. They have, as a class, failed the last two tests pretty miserably. I brought this up in the Math department meeting, and the teachers are worried about what will happen when the classes move up. They said that as of now, my tests are, if anything, a bit easy and the level of the material rather low. Students aren't motivated to do the homework or listen in class.

It would be nice to do some projects and things that would help with their motivation, but we are supposed to maintain the exam based curriculum which the students don't like, so they don't learn anything anyway. The problem is that if I deviate from the schedule more than a little I get in trouble. Then it will be instantly my fault that they didn't learn anything. At least I have 'done my job' and therefore am in the clear...

Friday after school we packed up the car full of tools, a bit of food, and my new bike. Sure is nice not having to worry about train schedules any more. We made a detour to Gerda's house to pick up some maternity clothes for Naomi. She is starting to get big.

We got to the cottage too late, woke up early, and had a very busy day. I am determined to make the final adjustments to the pantry this weekend (hence all the tools) so that the kitchen area is completely finished and functional. Unfortunately it started raining halfway through the project so I should be able to finish the cuts today.

After lunch we went to the dump to unload a car full of garbage followed by a trip to Naomi's Uncle where we enjoyed the afternoon and she picked up her mom's tax information. He has been doing the taxes for awhile, and it will be nice to have his advice on things. They have a nice, peaceful house complete with a workshop, fish pond, and aviary.

Now that Alies is gone, it is possible for Naomi and I to enjoy spending time with her Aunts and Uncles. She has a very interesting family...too bad Naomi wasn't able to grow up with them around more.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


A lot happened this week. Pictures speak louder than words...


Sunday, March 9, 2014


A week ago on Sunday Alies was smiling in her sunny living room. Naomi's friend Monique came to visit and we went for a nice walk through the woods. I took her back to Utrecht on my way to Rotterdam. Naomi stayed behind.

During work on Monday Naomi was having a really rough time with her mom. The smiling had stopped and the end was near. She asked that I come back, so I made arrangements with my school to be absent until Wednesday the 12th. Nice that they are so cooperative.

I arrived well after dinner just in time to say goodbye and watch the morphine drip go in. Naomi decided to camp out in the livingroom next to her mom. Just after 4 in the morning she heard some irregular breathing and got up to hold her mom's hand through the final moments. Alies passed away peacefully in her sleep at 4:13 on Tuesday morning.

After that the chaos ensued. The official people came immediately to draw up some documents and after an hour or so we went back to bed. After a couple hours of sleep Erna, Naomi's aunt came, and was a huge help with everything. She washed the body, Naomi put on some makeup, and they both dressed her nicely. The undertaker was there to help as well.

We cleaned out the bedroom and turned it into a funeral parlor. Strange to have this in a house, but here it is pretty normal. People can come and go at a time that suits them and we get to spend more time with them. Nice that it is spread out...but I don't go in that room any more.

Naomi has done a great job with making all the arrangements and hosting people. I have been busy cleaning out the kitchen. Hopefully the job will be done today. All the cabinets are in order and I am wrapping up the pantry. We had to throw out about two 55 gallon trash cans worth of food, a third can full of plastic containers and other garbage, and I have about 20 buckets worth of stuff to give away or sell.

We have a couple prizes so far: Naomi gets first place for finding the oldest thing in the fridge - pizza crusts from 1995. I found the oldest dated thing in the pantry - curry paste from 1985. We will keep that one on display. Finally, the most impressive bottle of alcohol was undated Gordon's Dry Gin - unopened but the first inch or so had disappeared. How long does it take to evaporate through a sealed bottle??

This is only the kitchen...the rest of the house is packed just as tight. It will be a big job to sort and organize this place into usable space. This is part of why we don't plan to sell it right away, but keep it as a second home. Being able to escape regularly from the business and smog of Rotterdam will be a real luxury...