Sunday, October 26, 2008

Upswing Sunday

You know, after that total downer of a post yesterday I felt better. Not 100%, but it helped to get all of that out and decide to just move past it. Thank you to my wonderful friends and family- you all are what pulls me through junky times like that!

A Little Structure

There are so many things that I want to blog about, and then don't because of the sheer size of the idea - like, for example, what is different here in the Netherlands compared to Texas - that I shy away from it and think of it as a feat that can never be accomplished. Well, it dawned on me that if I break it down into smaller parts it's not that big of a deal. (You'll never guess who I was talking to when I came up with this revelation. Funny how coloring a big picture and tackling weirdo blog hang-ups can be SUCH parallels.)

SO! My aim is to pick from the following gargantuan topics and try to take a chunk out of them, say, once a week or so:

What's different here in NL compared to back home (didn't see that one coming, did ya?)
Things I LOVE about Holland
Food we've tried here
Things I miss about home
Wish list of the week
Cute Megan-isms of the week

As I think of more, I'll add them here (mostly so I don't forget). So, without further adieu, here are your Cute Megan-isms of the Week:


Be Sure To Laugh If You Think This Is Funny, OK?
Megan is really trying on her comedy wings lately. When she gets a laugh, say for something along the lines of, "There's this lady who's on the 'How It's Made' show? She has curly black hair and she sings really, really, really, REALLY pretty? Actually, I've never heard her sing." which catches Kip and I off-guard and we snort at how grown-up and yet how very five she sounds saying this. She was surprised by the laughter, naturally, as she wasn't aiming for comedy gold at the time, but she says it about 11 more times in the same conversation, trying to figure out what about it was so funny the first time. She got her first lesson on "Funny the First Time. Only."

So she hits me up with her best material when I'm working- at the computer, in the kitchen, when I'm a captive audience.

Megan: Mama. Knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
Megan: Dewayne.
Me: Dewayne who?
Megan: Dewayne the bathtub. I'm dwowning! It's like "Drain the bathtub I'm drowning," but in lisp! Get it?
Me: (slightly forced) Ha! Ha ha ha ha!

*repeat 5-6 times*

Megan: Knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
Megan: Dewayne.
Me: Dewayne who?
Megan: Little baby poops in diapers!

It's like the improv around here, folks. Don't forget to tip your waitress.

She Said, "Pretend You're A Monster That's Going To Eat Me."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What's Wrong With Us?

Leaping without a safety net. Man, is it hard. It's hard to feel the rush of adrenaline from the free-fall with all this panic of hitting the ground. From trying to get my wings spread as a photographer to Kip's dealing with the world financial situation to Megan trying to make good, solid friends like she had back home, we're a real wreck here.

If You're Bored...
Add to that a photo shoot done, and poor Megan had to endure hours of boredom while I edited like mad. Never do we fight so much as when she is bored and I have something pressing that cannot be done with divided attention. So, part of Wednesday and Thursday we were at home at each others' throats- her bored and whiny, me stressed and pegged below "E" on patience. BUT, we made it through, no blood was shed, and photos were delivered on time. After the hours and hours of editing, I realized that I had a bag of crafts and junk upstairs that I purchased over a week ago to keep Megan preoccupied in case of bad weather or, say, I had to edit photos for hours on end. ARGH! The bag has been moved to my office now, so it isn't overlooked next time. Sheesh- at least she'll have a lot to tell her therapist in her 20s.

Neighborly Love... Well, Not Really
Some of you may have been saying, "If she was so bored, why didn't she go play with the neighbor kids?" Well, Maya and Emerson were busy for some of the week, some of it was my fault, I didn't think to send her out, the weather was crummy part of the time, and- well, some of the neighbor kids are just plain mean. And to clarify, it's some of the Dutch neighbors, not Maya and Emerson- there is one little girl and boy who gang up on Megan when they are together. One will come over and ask Megan out to play, and they'll play nicely for a good long time, then the other will come over and then it's pick on Megan time. And yet, bless her heart, she still is nice to them. She opened her bedroom window to say hello to them one afternoon, and they looked up and shouted "Megan, keep your mouth shut!" to her in Dutch (our next-door-neighbor translated). Here's the kicker- one of the kids' parents WAS RIGHT THERE AND DID NOTHING ABOUT IT.

Now, if you are a new reader who I don't know (which there is one of you- I'm glad you're here! Welcome! Bless your heart for reading all my babbling!) I must explain something to you- Megan is one of the happiest, most warm and welcoming kids you'll ever meet. She would give her last cookie to a friend if she thought it would make them happy. She shares. She takes turns. Sure, she's no saint, but she's damned close- too close for a punk 4-year-old to shout mean things to her. It's totally and completely humiliating, but I want to beat these kids up for her! One of these kids has been mostly cold and mean to Megan since she came to school (she calls him "the boy you give the stink-eye to, Mama" when telling me about her day) but the other was someone who I thought would be a sweet friend, and was grateful she lived so close- now I'm glad she lives close so I can keep an eye on her. Little punks.

ANYWAY, this is all a giant digression, and from this I feel a little relief from venting, but I'm still agonizing for my poor kid. She doesn't understand why these kids are mean to her, and it broke my heart to see her elated one minute that they were nice, then dejected as she came home when they ganged up on her. But it brings a meatier point to mind- if I shield her from these mean kids, is this a disservice to her? On one hand it is gut instinct to stick up for your child when anything bad happens in their life, but I don't want her to be ill-prepared when I can't be there to help her out. NOT that I have come right out and told her not to play with these kids and they are mean, but I have steered her to other friends as alternatives. As a parent I suppose you want to be the Avenger, dishing out justice for your child- I'm not sure if this time I let her have a little heartbreak and scoop her up in the aftermath.

On A Lighter Note
But, enough of that. Megan and I headed to the woods today, and they are still breathtakingly beautiful. The paths are filling with golden leaves, but a lot of the trees have yet to change- something I need to check timing on so that I can book client sessions when the trees are ablaze in their fall colors. We visited the farm first, fed about a kilo of bread to the ducks, scratched a few sheep and goats, then tromped into our favorite part of the woods, where the dogs run unleashed. I toted along pads of paper and crayons, and we made fairies with leaf-rubbing wings. Hers had big, fat pink tears running down it's face- I asked why her fairy is so sad, and she replied, "She doesn't have any friends." My heart fell like a lead balloon.

Don't Tell My Mom She's Right, But...
Before I left Houston, I was telling my mom about Megan's behavior changes over the 6-8 months before the move. She was clingy, and did not take saying goodbye well, even the simple "see you soon" to family that came to help pack, or who had gathered to celebrate birthdays or holidays. She had been sleeping in her own bed, granted it was in our room pushed right up against ours, but she had been sleeping there for months and suddenly was waking in the night and scooting over to our bed. Meals were a neverending battle- first over what to eat, then over not eating or not staying at the table. Getting dressed, clean, in pajamas- ANY transition in the day was a struggle where it has normally been no big deal.

"She is your mirror, hon," my mom said, taking my hand. "Watch her- she reflects what she sees and feels in her parents. I know, because you were mine." Looking at the crying, friendless fairy... well, they both hit the nail on the head. Except the pink wings- as far as you know.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Seven Down, Four To Go

A week has FLOWN by- I thought Meg and I would be sitting, bored, for most of her fall break, but with the week we had there was little downtime for that!

Iron Chef Dutch?
Megan and I have been cooking dinner together- I know most of you that know me don't list "domestic" or "family chef" when asked to name my virtues (which I'm sure happens to you all the time, getting stopped by strangers shouting, "QUICKLY! NAME THE MANY VIRTUES OF KARI NOSER! WE HAVE NO TIME TO LOSE!!!") but I have been cooking up a veritable storm the last few weeks. Megan has even been adventurous enough to try it all! She's eaten fish two times this month (up from once the entire rest of this year) and has been my little chef, helping with measuring spices, collecting ingredients, and even browning ground beef! The only downfall is that the fridge is quite full, and we often find ourselves at lunchtime saying, "How old is the Shepherd's pie? Was that Sunday or Saturday?" and things like that. With our guests in town in just a matter of weeks, we won't have that problem for a little while.

Library Nerdiness
The library system in the Netherlands seems overly complicated and is weirdly costly- it was 35 Euro for Megan and I to get library cards, and if a book you want is at another branch there is a charge to have it sent to your local library (some upwards of 2 Euro a book! What?!? I can bike to Haarlem for free!) BUT, they have an English books section for adults AND children, so we've been reading a lot this week. On our last trip, Monday, Megan and I had an OCD moment- there is a kid's Lego station that has a bin in the middle that resembles a Trivial Pursuit game piece (google it if you are lost on that analogy) and she and I took about 10 minutes after we had built masterpieces to sort all the Legos into separate bins by how big the blocks were. It was delightfully compulsive, and Megan really got into it. We even roped in a kid that came up to build- at first he watched us like we were weird (we're used to that) then you could see that he figured it out, and he corrected us when we misplaced blocks in the wrong bins. Ahh, OCD is contagious!

KNP Starts With A BOO!
The first photo shoot for Kari Noser Photography went well- you can view images here:

The kids were great, the mom's were great- I am so lucky to be included in this group! I've even gotten a few potential clients emailing for availability! It really was a great party, even for my poor neglected Glenda The Good Witch. She did surprisingly well, even though I was basically unavailable to her 98% of the event. Such a trooper.

More soon- Kip and I are going to watch The Office!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ready For A Break?

Fall break, that is- Megan's last day of school for 10 days is today! I know what you're thinking- "What on earth are you going to do for 10 days?!?!" Yeah, I'm thinking the same thing.

KNP's First International Gig
The ESMGH (Mom's Group) Halloween party is next Tuesday, and I am the official photographer for the event- I am trying to figure out how I am going to get myself, my gear and my daughter 6km from our home without going mad. And also planning alternatives in case it rains. I'm hunting around to see if any of the mom's has a car- that may be the best bet...

Down To Three
With relatives heading into town in just a matter of weeks (wooo!!!!) I am down to 3 unpacked boxes, and 4 unpacked space bags of linens, towels and random clothes. Thank goodness for vacation- Megan is going to be a pro at laundry before it's all over!

We are just beside ourselves with excitement at the thought of seeing family- Megan will be playing, coloring, cooking and then say "Mama? I just miss that old Granddaddy. I can't believe we're going to see him in a few weeks!" I'm so excited I'm in denial that I'm going to have to prep the house for it!

(This is so lame- it's been sitting in the "Edit" list for a week. A week! I will post with a lame explanation.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Mostly Blame Facebook

I really have been slacking a LOT on the blog, folks. I wish I had a good explanation or even a justifiable reason, but I don't, really. I've been out of the house, developing a sort of pattern to life here, and just have not sat down to write in wayyyy too long. For that, I apologize. But enough of that, let me tell you what I've been up to!

Mondays are a weird day- a lot of the stores are closed Sunday and half or all day on Monday, so my Mondays usually consist of a run to the grocery store to get things we ran out of on Saturday. We go through coffee-milk and milk like crazy, and we're starting to go through cereal quickly now, too, now that Megan has finally adjusted to the time change and is STARVING when she wakes up every morning. Mondays are also job-posting catch-up days, where I send a dozen or so emails that mostly are unanswered. (Oh, and I got my second "Thanks, but no thanks" email from Canon. Dangit!)

Tuesdays the last few weeks, Shayna has been missing all morning, and this past Tuesday I tagged along with her to the English Speaking Mom's Group of Haarlem. Best move I made all week! It was so exciting to be in a room full of women who have their own nightmare moving stories, kids who are bilingual or more, horror parenting stories, and they all want to hear yours! I was so relaxed and felt so at-home with these strangers in just a matter of hours that I plunked down the dues for the year and joined them. When I filled out the application, I put my "" email address and was asked to photograph the Halloween party in 2 weeks. I sure hope this pans out to lots of business in the area- there sure were a LOT of adorable kids (and for some unexplainable reason I did NOT have my camera with me). So Tuesdays from now on will be Mom's Club meetings in the mornings- wahoo!

Oh, Market Day! This is one of my favorite days, mostly because I get to practice my Dutch for about 2 hours as I shop the different vendors that come to our town. I wish I could take a snapshot of the smell of the market- roasting nuts, the kebab stand, the Stroopwaffle vendor, the rotisserie chickens... if you aren't hungry before you get there, you become extremely so upon getting the first whiff of the rich smell of the marketplace. We eat like kings Wednesdays, too- all the produce is freshest, so we dive right in to berries, carrots, apples, spinach, etc. We've been snarfing down Jonge Kaas, too - it's what you would call Gouda, I think, mild and delicious. Now I'm hungry.

Wednesdays are half-days, so I try to get the market-run completed before I get Megan for lunch so we can run errands or enjoy the weather if it's nice. We went last week to a little park near our neighborhood that backs-up to the oldest house in Heemstede- a fort or something- which is now a tea room and available for rent for weddings and private parties. We are never disappointed when we go exploring around here!

Thursdays have been different almost every week so far. It's a full school day for Megan, so I try to cath-up on things that would bore her to death (housework, runs to the store for boring things like mustard or coffeemilk). We've also worked in Library visits Thursday afternoons, and a quick run at the playground before dinner.

Fridays are fun- Meg only has school until noon, so the day is wide open! Last Friday we went to the woods for a few hours and walked, then went to the kinder-farm and chased goats, pet stinky sheep, watched giant ducks, and marveled at the Belgian Giant Hares. One of them (still a baby) is as big as our dog Andy.

Gymastics class for Megan starts at 9:45 every Saturday morning. We found out from Femke's mom, Nina, about the class - the instructors were asking the kids to bring friends to help fill the class, so we visited about 3 weeks ago, and Megan loved it! It's not traditional gymnastics, it's more like a balance and movement class. They will have a theme or idea like "We're at the zoo- what animals are there?" and then they run around being tigers and monkeys and alligators and such. Maya joined up, too, so all three girls get to play together 6 days a week.

I don't think we have accomplished a single thing on a Sunday since moving here. I kind of like it that way- sleeping in, maybe putting some laundry away, watching a movie or two, or taking a nice long walk in the woods when the sun is out. Today Megan and I watched Enchanted, twice, then ate lunch, she played in her room while I sorted laundry, and then we watched Cars while eating dinner. We all relax and charge our batteries for the week ahead.

Dusty Canon
I am vowing to myself I will go out and be creative this week, my camera has basically sat on the kitchen table for a week now. I've had some ideas running through my head on shots I want to try, but most are wardrobe-limited (why didn't I pack my wedding dress?) so they'll have to be kept in concept stage for now. I do have my first international client on October 30th, so I am pulling together props from our newly unpacked stuff to take with me. I can't let myself get rusty, though- I'll be doing some practice shoots with Megan in the next week to get some ideas for the client shoot, and hopefully I can use them in my promotional materials, too! I'll let you know how it all goes....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Our Stuff Is HERE!

Wooo! I've been unpacking for four days!!! With 94 boxes (this includes furniture an beds and the like) I knew it would take awhile, but it's here! It's really here!

Things We Were Surprised To See: (aka, the "Who Packed This Mess?!?" List)
- Key to the liquor cabinet (sorry Kathryn!)
- One of Megan's rain galoshes
- Kip's Bonfire axe handle
- Kip's high school letterman's jacket
- Carved wooden embellishment from top of liquor cabinet
- Umbrella toothpicks, wrapped with care in paper
- One Spode dinner plate
- Two Haviland china dinner plates
- Kip's softball shoes

Things We Were Excited To See:

- Our kitchen knives
- Our drinking glasses
- My warm clothes
- Megan's entire bedroom, complete with furniture AND toys
- Our bed
- Our down comforter
- Our pictures and artwork
- Our movies!
- Mixing bowls, dinner plates, flatware- basically everything from the kitchen