Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Into The Woods

It is strange being alone in the house all day on the days Megan is in school- today is especially strange- they are having a teacher celebration day, so Megan doesn't come home for lunch today like she normally does. I look forward to our lunches together, it gives us time to talk about her morning (which is normally forgotten by the time school is out in the afternoon) and it gives us a chance to start the day over again on those days where the morning was unpleasant (which has been frequent over the last few weeks).

Voorwegschool Verjaardag September 2008 127

So I sat, sipping my coffee and eating some kind of spicy chicken soup (heavy with cumin and yogurt) and decided I need to sit down and catch everyone up on what's been happening the last 10 days. The weather has been so nice that I have just neglected blogging, and instead was out experiencing! This week should give me a chance to catch up- it rained most of the day yesterday, and has been pouring all day so far again. The camera should get a well-deserved rest for a few days.

The Woods
Heemstede has the most beautiful wooded public park I have ever seen. Since discovering how close and gorgeous it is I have hardly left, and Megan is falling in love with it, too. There is a stillness there you cannot find in Houston, and it has the advantage of not being infested with mosquitoes. In the hours I have walked there alone and with Megan I feel my creativity and spirit recharging, and a sudden re-belief in fairies.


There is a section of the park where dogs are permitted to run unleashed, and you all will be seeing much more of it in the weeks and months to come. There is a main pathway that is as wide as a neighborhood street, lined both sides with wonderfully tall trees that interlock branches stories above the path- it has a very cathedral feel.


Even Kip is not immune to the effects of the woods, his inner Boy Scout stretched his legs on Saturday as we made our way through the forest to the local pancake house, and Sunday as we gathered some fallen leaves, twigs and pinecones for Megan to get crafty with at home.


I Scream, You Scream, We ALL Scream For Pancakes!
I may have mentioned in the Harvest Festival entry about how Dutch pancakes are addictively delicious. That was just from the small taste I had at an outdoor festival. On Saturday we made our way to the pancake house, and let me tell you... there is only one phrase to describe the experience: hartstikke lekker. (Awesomely-absolutely-rediculously delicious in Dutch, bascially.)


(By the way, we didn't actually let her eat the entire bowl of powdered sugar.)

More soon, I promise... I am editing and uploading photos like crazy for y'all!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bike Fever, Bike Feee-verrrrr

I got a bike!

For those of you who don't know, we are going SANS car for at least a month to gauge if we will actually need one. Kip is riding on borrowed wheels from Femke's dad, JP, and I was riding a borrowed bike for about 3 days before I found my new best friend ever:


Introducing, Petey the bike. (Named by Megan for a dog who was named for a bike. Full circle.)

So far Pete and I have ridden to Haarlem and back, among other daily tasks like going to the market, the grocery store, and wayyy out to the bank. I can't tell you how much I was praying for Advil about day 3 of having a bike, I think I managed to rack-up around 45 kilometers in that time period.

Now that I am more mobile, I will have a chance to explore the area much more, and hopefully bring some more interesting sites to the Flickr site and the blog.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Catching Up On A Few Things

The smell of chili and cumin is wafting into the living room from the kitchen- Kip is cooking "tacos" (they need air-quotes, one of the things for my wish-list from Santa is a bunch of REAL taco seasoning packets from Texas). Megan and I just snacked on some "Mexican corn chips", basically taste like taco shells. Still, they're good- just... different.

That seems to be the way we are dealing with lots of things here- finding something to fill the need, and trying to ignore how it may be different.


With Ike fallout going on in Houston, it seems so rude to talk about how much fun we're having here, what with the air conditioning, internet access, houses with no flooding and all. But, we are having fun- let me recap the last week:

Autumn Harvest Festival/Heemstede Spelentuin
The local kid's petting farm had a fall harvest festival, and we went with Femke, Laura and Nina. The quick overview- pancakes are AWESOME:


Little kids climb like goats (even when wearing skirts):


Dutch festivals on farms are just so darned quaint.



After a tearful goodbye,

... we headed over to the Spelentuine (basically playground) right down the road. We pigged out on frites, the girls ran around like crazy while the grown-ups sat and talked, and we finished the visit with a round of decadent beverages.






Prince's Day
A Dutch holiday that boils down to wearing fancy hats. It is the day that the Queen delivers their "State of the Union" address, with new laws and goals for the next 365 days. This was a blip on our radar- we have no hats.


Sports Day
Field day! The kids ran around like insane monkeys all day long and came home totally exhausted! So did our neighbor, Shayna, poor thing- she was roped into volunteering for the event.


The kids each wore headbands they had made, and each class carried a special banner they had colored themselves.



The Coolest Dentist's Office EVAR
I swear I will ride back this week and take pictures- I didn't expect to need my camera when going for a dental appointment. The dentist's office seems to be the bottom floor of his house, which is right on the river- it is gorgeous!

Megan Speaking Dutch - The Movie(s)
If you haven't checked these out yet, you MUST.

I think she's progressing quite well, considering all that she's up against. It's just so darned cute the way all these kids speak Dutch. Cute and TOTALLY incomprehensible, but still cute.

More to come....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thoughts On Ike

If you're not in Houston, you're probably reading this. Right now most of our friends and family are assessing damage, living at friends' houses, standing in lines for food, water, ice, gas and are under strict police-enforced curfews. We are totally consumed with thoughts about home, our families and loved ones, and we're eating up all the news we can get our hands on about what's happening back in Houston. I am feeling guilty, I'm not there to share in all of this, and I get choked up when I think of all the weirdness that's happening back at home.



But good lordy- the only hurricane I went through in Houston wasn't even a hurricane come to think of it- it was Tropical Storm Allison. Water was the problem there, and fortunately our house was high and dry. Working conditions were restored through most the city in a matter of days, we never went a day without power, and there were no long lines for necessities like gas, food or water. So, basically, I have no point of reference as to what is going on there, and it kills me. I wish I could fly home tomorrow and help out, but there are so many folks there locally that are out of power and have time and desire to help, I'd just be flying in to sit at the airport, as there's no gas anywhere and who knows where I'd sleep.

All I can say about this is HOLY CRAP we wish we were there to help. I didn't know how bad a hurricane could be until I saw photos of my friend's house with a tree poking through her roof. And images of our neighbors with a tree through their house. And numerous neighbors with smashed cars, houses, and trees down in every direction. Our house managed to make it without damage, and I am thanking every deity, just to cover all my bases on this one. Kathryn reported that everything was looking pretty good, but there are some hanging tree-tops that look a little scary- once tree services are out and running around that should be an easy (albeit not cheap) thing to remedy. Others have it so much worse, which compounds the original guilt. (And, just so you know, Dutch chocolate doesn't help.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

An Appreciation For The Finer Things

Someone (who will remain nameless) once sang to Megan "Toot, toot, toot comin' out my back door" about a rather funny and embarrassing and, well, socially verboten bodily function. For some reason (say, the amount of laughter said unnamed person punctuated the lyrics with) this has stuck with Megan, and occasionally is sung around the house.

Yesterday was one of those days. After singing the altered lyric, Megan asked (as she often does about songs I, uh, that unnamed person sings to her) if those were the real words. (After all, didn't Pavoratti sing "Meg-a-moo Lilly-ooooo, You are so silly-ooooo!") I told her no, and sang the real line for her. This peaked her interest, so we looked it up online (thank goodness for YouTube) and listened to it about 11 times in a row. Here is the conversation that followed listen #4:

Megan: Mama, who is Doot-Doot-Doot?

Me: What?

Megan: Who is DOOT-DOOT-DOOT?

Me: Oh, it's nobody. It's just a little word to sing.

Megan: What?

Me: Like "La La La."

Megan: *staring at me like I'm insane*

Me: It's a nonsense word. The song would have meant the same thing if he had sung "La, la, la lookin' out my back door."

Megan: Mama, I'm afraid Doot-doot-doot is real.

Me: What?

Megan: I'm AFRAID Doot-doot-doot is REAL.

Me: You think Doot-doot-doot is like a monster or something?

Megan: *eyes wide* Yes.

Me: Noooooo, no no no no no. Did you hear the rest of the song? He's singing about happy things- he just got home and he's happy about it.

Megan: Then why is the Doot-doot-doot looking out his door?

Me: *blink*

Megan: *blink*

Me: Uh, Doot-doot-doot isn't real, it's just silly words in the song.

Megan: *looking incredulous* Then WHY is it looking out his back door?

Me: Because Doot-doot-doots like squirrels?

Megan: Oh. *clicks on "Replay"*

That 5th listen she heard more of the words, and then she was all "Mama, 'Doot-doot-doot' is just silly words! Like la-la-la!"


Mommies are sometimes right. Right?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Home Is Where My Heart Is

I am homesick. I'm just not going to sugar-coat that one bit, I am totally and completely homesick. We had an appointment to meet our family doctor today, and she asked me what I missed the most about home, and I said "My friends" and I nearly broke down and cried right there in her office. I keep having little crying spells here and there, as I read-up on the lives of people back home or catch-up with emails. It's not so bad that I am completely miserable, but I wish I could be home for things that are happening in my friends' lives right now, and it sucks that I'm 7 hours ahead, I can't catch-up with them in the evening there, it's either 6am while they're still at home for a quick chat or during work hours, which only work for a few people. I can't even imagine how Megan feels, but she's steadily making friends at school and on our street, but that doesn't replace the people she's known her whole life back home.

Star-Spangled Neighbors
BUT! Something so great happened this week- down a few houses on the other side of the street a family with an American mom and Belgian dad moved in! They have 2 girls, one about Cousin Jack's age (born December of '03) named Maya and she is going to the same school as Megan. I got to meet Shayna, the mom, at lunchtime yesterday, and she seems very nice. It was funny- I was talking to Femke's mom, Nina, in English, and Shayna looked over at me, then said in a very hopeful and marginally desperate manner (that I am 1000% positive I would use when running into other English-speakers here) "Are you American?" And when I told her that we lived on her street, I saw a glimmer of relief in her eyes, maybe a reflection of the glimmer in mine. I hope we become fast coffee friends- the girls are already playing together, here at our house so that Maya's little sister can take a nap, and I can feel the relief in Megan- being able to play AND communicate. The giggles coming from upstairs are like an auditory box full of puppies.
The more they play, I realize how very integral a part of learning another language having an English-speaking friend is- they are role-models for one another, taking baby-steps in communicating in Dutch. They're currently playing hide-and-go-seek, and each of the seekers have been counting to ten and beyond in Dutch.

An American Without A Car Is Like A Dutchman Without A Bicycle
The rental car we have is almost due back, and with our brand-new SoFi numbers (YAY!) and with an actual bank account (DOUBLE YAY!) we are starting our search for our own car. Chances are it will be used, and tiny, and possibly diesel. I will no doubt be spending the rest of the day looking online at used car places. I'm hoping that in the meantime I can manage to find a bicycle- I figure one bike and one car will keep things flexible. I can bike into Haarlem easily to run errands or even for work, and if I'm going to start photographing folks again, I HAVE to be able to get around somehow, I'm not going to cart around my gear by foot, that's for sure.

Kari Noser Photography, Global Operations
With the move, I'm casting my net out in the Dutch market of photographers. I've been researching for a week, and basically I can't find anything (no less in English) about the cost of booking a photographer here. The closest I found were prices for wedding packages, which I'm not quite ready to start putting together, so I'm hitting the ex-pat network and starting with some "Portfolio Building" sessions. With that, I've also re-vamped the website, feel free to check it out here:

UPDATE - if the above link does not work, try this one:
As with all things technical, sometimes there is a user interface issue (like the thing between the chair and the keyboard) and I am experiencing a little glitch right now that I should have ironed out in the next 12 hours. I hope.

We went to the market with Shayna and Maya and Emerson later that afternoon, as we're out of fruits and veggies for the most part, and I can't wait to get some more chicken (the poultry vendor is good and very affordable- the chicken tastes so real- hard to explain, come visit and I'll feed ya), roasted peanuts, new flowers, and a giant stropwaffle! So far, that's our week, and for now tot ziens!

Monday, September 8, 2008

New Look

I have a very bad habit of changing the look of my blog when feeling uninspired. So don't worry - you're in the right place, I just shuffled things around, changed the look of things a bit.

To tide you over until the next update, here's the latest most hilarious photo of Megan that I love so much...


Alfred Hitchcock, eat your heart out!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

You'd Think I'd Forgotten My Blogger Password Or Something

I'd like to say, "Boy! What a week! I was SOOOO busy I just didn't have time to sit down and write!" but then my pants would instantly catch fire. The later part of the week I spent right where I am right now- at the computer, not out doing anything interesting or photographically noteworthy at all. I worked on my CV (Dutch resume) and applied for a few jobs. I know, but put away the no-doze, 'cause it's not gonna be one of THOSE kinds of posts from me this time.

Still Jetlagged And Other Mind-Blowing Developments
Yeah. They say that your body takes one day for every hour of time difference to overcome jetlag. Whoever "they" are- apparently they haven't traveled. Ever. Especially in the "X-hours Ahead" direction.
Wednesday, Megan came home from school, ate lunch, then took a giant nap like she hadn't in ages. At least 2 hours. I, of course, checked her every 30 minutes to make sure she wasn't suddenly burning up with fever or throwing up or anything weird, and thankfully she wasn't. I eventually wrote it off as Megan still trying to adjust to the time change, poor dear. She has still been so bleary-eyed after school in the 3-6pm hours, and she perks up around bedtime. If she weren't five, I'd be loading her up with coffee in the morning, like I do to myself.

But OH the rattiness! Everything that can be an argument is an argument. Things that might surprise you are an argument. What toothpaste to use. SHE WILL NOT WEAR JEANS, ONLY DRESSES. And what's for dinner? Oh, that's the grandest argument of all, what with it's nightly guarantee! If it's not peanut butter and jelly, well, get ready for a war mister. I'd like to say that I've just been letting it all run it's course, knowing full well that these outbursts and misbehavings are all part of her trying to learn to cope here, but I won't lie. Fortunately, after being mad at me she will hug me- it seems that no matter how angry she gets with us, she still needs a hug from mom or dad.

It's a good thing she's cute AND sweet, otherwise she'd be in a lot of trouble.
(This photo is living proof that no one within 100 miles of Megan can stay un-wrapped around her little finger. Seriously, you can see why we're in so much trouble here, can't you? How can you get mad at THAT?)

Market Day
I remembered to bring my camera with me to the market on Wednesday, and then totally stuck out like a dorky tourist the entire time I was there.
As my bags grew heavier, I missed more shots, until finally I just swung my camera over my shoulder, bought a giant stropwaffel (still hot) and marched home. So my strategy for this week is to shop first, then return with camera and business cards (in case of questions) and wear something that looks more professional than jeans, a wind breaker and my dorky American running shoes.

Will Work For... Lenses?
As I said earlier, I applied for a few jobs, two of them with Canon. (Oh, yeah.) I have no idea if I will hear anything, so this coming week I am going to track-down the relocation service's pamphlet about helping spouses find work, and I'm going to see if they can pull any strings to get an interview for me. Oh, how awesome it would be to work for Canon. It makes my stomach do little loopty-loops just thinking about it! Not that I'd totally work there just for a discount.

I'd like to keep going, but I am just blah. I'm not totally sure what it is- probably a combination of exhaustion (we have the world's most uncomfortable bed right now), missing home, culture shock, and some identity crisis to boot. Back home I was just starting to really get into a grove with my business, and now I'm gun-shy. I'm pulling together a little package for some ex-pat contacts for holiday portraits, and market research has been a beast- nobody publishes their prices here. I just realized on Friday that I probably should be searching using DUTCH keywords (DUH, KARI) instead of english- finding "Netherlands Photographer" or "Dutch Professional Photography Association" is not easy when the sites are all in Dutch. I do have to say this: thank God for Google Translate. And coffee.

Another Week Over
It feels like we have been here for ages now. It's strange- I keep over estimating how long it's been since I've been in Houston, must be that life was so hectic and frantic in it's pace for so long that now things are more "normal" it feels like time is double it's normal value. I keep telling myself, "Once X happens, then things will start to feel normal again." Arriving in the Netherlands. Getting over jetlag. Getting chargers and power cords. Getting Megan into the school routine. Not injuring myself for more than 2 days in a row. Finding work. Having our belongings arrive. Learning some Dutch. Making some friends. Getting some photography gigs. Seems like the list is never-ending... I suppose it will end with "Fly back home."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gems from the Megan


Megan: (singing) My Jeeee-sus is aaaaa-liiiiive!

Me: Your Jesus? Are there other Jesuses? Like for other people?

Megan: (very matter-of-factly) Yes.

Me: Oh? What other Jesuses are there?

Megan: Ummm... Snow Jesus.

Me: (choking back laughter unsuccessfully) SNOW Jesus?

Megan: Yes. He isn't MADE of snow, he MAKES snow.

Me: Oooooookay.

Megan: And there's Rain Jesus. He makes rain. But I bet you can guess that.

Me: Of course.

Megan: (nonstop wiggle/giggle/goosey-ness)

Kip: Ok, kiddo- time to sleep.

Megan: I can't, daddy!

Kip: You CAN'T?

Megan: I can't! I have too much energy in my coo-coo!



Me: Uh, ok. Well, you can have a carrot, or a boiled egg, or...

Megan: arrrrgh.

Me: What? You said you're starving.

Megan: What do I have to say to get the sweet stuff?


Life is never dull with Megan around, that's for sure.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The One Where Kari Cut The Tip Of Her Finger Off

Yeah.  No Great Story For This.
Yeahhh. Let's just say lesson learned- you shouldn't use a vegetable peeler in place of a cheese plane. Doesn't end well. I nicked off a nice bit of the end of my ring finger, and instantly said aloud, "Oh, this isn't good." Too bad for me, it wouldn't stop bleeding, or I would have just slapped a bandaid on it and kept going.

I did, however, get to visit our new doctor's office, and they are VERY nice. They're also really close- I walked there in about 10 minutes. Now, in case you don't know me that well, I don't do well with blood OR pain. I was dealing with both, on an empty stomach. The walk over helped a little, but when they cleaned it I nearly passed out. The nurse said, "Yes, that might be unpleasant." I advised her I could teach her a few other English words to describe it more accurately.

After having to pry my rings off and have the wound re-washed (another near collapse event) the nurse bandaged me up and said, "Now, leave this on until at least noon." I told her that I probably wouldn't take it off until next Thursday.

A little better...

I got to walk over and do our shopping, which got some looks, and managed to knock it a few times, which got more looks as I yelped. Megan was horrified and enchanted at the same time- she watched carefully as I changed the dressings this afternoon after I managed to soak the original wrapping by washing dishes. Good thing is, if you start off your week with a minor injury, chances are the rest of the week can only go better.


(PS- the text in the photo thing is a total rip-off, I mean homage to The Bloggess, who I worship very un-secretly.)