Monday, December 15, 2008

More Company On The Way! (And Unrelated Photos To Add Interest.)

The second round of visitors takes off in about 28 hours! Our dear friends Tewlyn (comrade from days at the Pottery Barn, supermodel extraordinare and kick-ass chick) and Jesse (of, co-photo-nerd and target of all my Nikon-related jokes) are landing around 11:30 am our time on Wednesday, with Kathryn (Kip's older younger sister, Megan's twin separated at birth by 28 years, and also known as "Frieda Gilroy") arriving 24 hours later.

WE ARE SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously- it's one thing to see family, but to have people who aren't even related to you say, "Sure! We'll come visit you!" is just so completely cool to me. I'm even going to clean the bathrooms, that's how honored I am to have them stay with us.

KNP Global, Trying To Fly

I had my first international family photo shoot last week with a sweet family from the ESCGH. Their 2-year-old son was such a riot! The shoot was a 2-parter, the first scheduled time on Thursday was abandoned due to my late arrival which was due to a total rookie error (forgot my camera battery and had to turn around and bike 2 km back to get it) and also because young son was MUCH more interested in playing and pushing buttons on my camera than posing. To try and get him to sit still I told him to push his nose so that the flash would go off. End result? Approximately 50% of the photos from that day AND the rescheduled shoot Sunday have him with his finger on his nose. He remembered the game 4 days later, little smarty!

So, as I type this and totally procrastinate editing round 2 of their session, I must mention that I have another gig on Wednesday - yes, the day my guests arrive, but a paid gig is a paid gig - to shoot photos with Santa at the ESCGH's Christmas party. Poor Megan is going to have to play lighting guinea pig for me, as usual, so I should have a ton of (really poorly lit) photos of Megan and Santa later this week. I just hope I don't bore everyone to death by being in the office to marathon-edit those shots so I can actually enjoy my company- the group gave me a 1 week timeline to get the photos out wich is totally do-able, but I may be moving the Mac downstairs so I can visit and edit at the same time!

Other Recent Mind-Boggling Events

Oh, by the way, my daughter is riding a 2-wheeled bike almost entirely by herself. I would have pictures, but my job is to first clutch the back of her jacket with such viciousness that she knows I'm there, then run like mad and shout "PEDAL! PEDAL PEDAL PEDAL! WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING! STEER AWAY FROM THE TREE! YOU'RE DOING GREAT, MEG!" and then let go and whoop and holler, and finally shout "USE YOUR BREAKS!" Needless to say, I am falling asleep writing this. When we started this adventure at around 3:30 pm she was reluctant to get on the bike- she has been using that little toddle bike for about 6-8 weeks and has been zooming around, balancing nicely, and wasn't looking to change, thankyouverymuch. I somehow convinced her to just TRY the bike, and we made it all the way around the block only stopping 5-6 times. By the time we rounded the 4th corner back on to our street, Megan only needed help balancing to get started- she would shout, "OK! LET GO, MAMA!" and I would run next to her with my hands way up in the air so she could see I had obeyed her command. The look of panic/excitement/freedom/horror/pride/exhilaration on her face was amazing- she was independent for just a moment, so thrilled by life, almost six instead of just five-and-a-half. One of the best afternoons of my entire life, that's for absolute sure.

Rounds of Local Crud

Kip and Megan have both been ill for the last 2 weeks at least- Megan is hacking and full of crud, and tummy troubles seem to get mixed in here and there for extra fun. We finally have her poor digestive tract under control, but had to bring her home early from a Christmas party Saturday (where I met some really lovely people that I will talk more about later) with an ear ache so painful it caused her to cry the entire hour and a half it took us to get home via tram then train then bus. She cried herself to sleep with sticky, grapey Children's Advil breath and nose-drops running back out of her nose, and woke up with painless ears the next day (thank heavens). She still sounds like she should switch to Menthols, though. It's kind of cute and I wish her voice could stay so gravely for a little while longer, but I'd rather have her well and not sobbing on late-night public transportation. So I have been boiling sheets, towels and clothes; disinfecting bathrooms and kitchens and I'm ready for everyone to feel well again. I've so far been lucky enough to skip these rounds of crud (knock on wood), and both hands are chapped from all the cleaning and hand-washing.

Really Lovely People From The Christmas Party

I realize that I said I would talk about them, but I am finding myself lacking anything really interesting to say about them. Maybe if they call and invite us for coffee like they said they would, then they'll make the blog. A girl's gotta have standards, I suppose.

Totally Unrelated Photos To Add Interest

I realize I haven't uploaded any new photos in over a week, and may not have time to edit and upload the few batches I have from our recent excursions to Haarlem (Kip bought a bike!) and Sinterklaas morning.

So, here's one of the gifts that Zwarte Piet left for Megan the week leading up to Sinterklaas:


Those are knitting needles, some yarn and her initials in chocolate letters. Totally unrelated to everything here. I'll try to get some more interesting things up soon!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Winter(ish) Wonderland

Just a few quick shots of Megan in the snow this afternoon...





Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Visit With Sinterklaas

(Please continue to know that this is a Dutch holiday. I swear.)

Sooooo, with the fast approach of December 5th, Kip's office had a Sinterklaas party for all the families that work at BMC here in the Netherlands. It really was well done- the venue was "Chimpy Champ," a Dutch cousin of "Pump It Up" or "Monkey Buisiness" or name your local warehouse full of bounce houses here. It did follow what we expect when we go to local playgrounds - it had a giant, totally cool playscape that never would exist in America outside the 1980s. It was easily 2 stories high, had nets and tunnels, ladders, giant slides- total kid wonderland. Kip raced a co-worker to the top and beat her. Her. Way to go, dear!

There were trampolines, too, and we kicked off our shoes and tried to give Megan whiplash, or at least a concussion:



But, the highlight of the party was the visit from Sinterklaas and his helper, Zwarte Piet. Now, if you read this blog (or at least the last post) you know my mixed emotions about good old Piet. I get that it's a Dutch tradition. I get that they tried to make Piet different colors a few years back and NOBODY thought it was cool, they prefer the Dutchman in black face. Did I smile and laugh when he acted silly? Of course. Did I wink at him (because I knew who he was behind the giant afro-wig and brown face paint)? Of course. Would I bring this tradition home with us to the US? Of course not. But, when in Rome...


Sinterklaas was spectacular. He had the perfect Sinterklaas voice- loud and baritone, warm and reassuring (for those few nervous kids). Piet was just silly enough, but not scary, and had the kids laughing with his antics, and lead everyone in Sinterklaas songs. They gave out gifts to the children one at a time, which I thought was so wonderful- each child was called by name, then stood by Sinterklaas while he recounted a few tidbits on how the child had been a good boy/girl that year (he prints his emails from parents now instead of writing in his big book) and then gave them a nice gift, and a big bag of pepernoten cookies. Every kid. It was just priceless. He even spoke English for Megan (Piet, too).




Megan had such a blast- she made friends with Faye, who is 5 like her, and Tim, who is six. Kip has his eye on Tim- he's older, and likes American girls. Megan had Tim's complete attention from the moment they met, and I think Kip got a headache from giving him the evil eye for talking with HIS daughter. His BABY GIRL.


After the Sinterklaas party Spectacularrrr, we joined a few of Kip's co-workers and their families for an undefined meal at a family restaurant in Amsterdam (yes, they do exist). Tim and his family gave Megan and me a ride to the restaurant, and we listened to a children's music CD the entire trip over. Megan and Tim were singing and singing, joking and giggling. Then Megan put her head on his shoulder and he sat straight back in his seat and froze, eyes open REALLY wide. I thought I was going to choke holding back laughter. Then he said something along the lines of "you can stop that now." Ahhh, cooties.


The meal was excellent, as was the company, and the adults all sat around drinking beer at a giant table while the kids played on the playground outside. They ran in to eat, for dessert, and for other little things like paper airplanes and boo-boo reports, but mostly stayed outside. Megan had insisted that we bring in her Sinterklaas gift, so part of the time she stayed indoors playing with her Littlest Pet Shop and ignoring Tim, much to his chagrin.


Always keep them at arm's length, Meg. Even if they are blonde haired, blue eyed and taller than you.