Saturday, November 17, 2012

Top 10 Things learned while living abroad

10)  We haven’t picked up any obnoxious accents.  Remember when Phoebe from friends went to England for a few days and came home with an obnoxious English accent.  “Well, that’s just lovely, I’ll call you on my mobile darling.”  Well, we haven’t picked up any European slang or accents yet.

9)  There are a lot of people who speak English.  English is an international language and there are many people who know multiple languages.  Albeit, some struggle with English many do very well and are very helpful.  When going up to stranger, just be sure you ingratiate yourself and be respectful.  Be sure to comment briefly that that you don’t speak their language.  Better yet, while speaking their language mention that you don’t’ speak their language and do they speak in English?

8)  There are English speaking and American television shows.  We were surprised to see that there are a lot of American shows on TV in English.  Most have subtitles of the local language. Yes, you can still get the Kardashians!   You can’t escape it!

7)  It’s hard to communicate with friends and family back home.  With the advent of the internet and tools such Skype, Facetime, blogs, and Facebook its easier than ever to keep up with friends back home, but the time difference is a killer.  Being 9 hours you need to make a special effort to communicate with friends and family.  Most of the time, we need to make an appointment.

6) Its freakin overwhelming!  Sometimes the amount of things that are needed to be done can seem like an eternity. Add the fact that you don’t speak the language adds another element of surprise as most forms, documents and bills are in the local language.

5) You become very close to your family.  Not because you are forced to hang out with each other J but you have to go through this major transition together. 
4) It can get expensive!  Not being familiar with the area you end spending a lot of extra money, because you haven’t found the bargains just yet.
3) Ground beef and burgers taste different.  We consider ourselves somewhat of a connoisseur of burgers.  Well, in Italy, you can drive anywhere and pull off on any roadside and get a great cup of coffee.  Well, the same is true in the states for burgers.  You can get a great burger in the States just about at any dive bar or road side restaurant.  Well, in Europe the beef is just different and the burgers are too.  Something’s are just not the same

2) Speeding tickets are mailed to you.  No “Bad Boyz, Bad Boyz whatcha you going to do when they come for you" routine…..The Dutch just mail you a bill when you speed.  We've have had 7 bills lately, because qwe've been looking out for the old black and whites.  That’s not how it works in Europe. They just send you a bill!

1)  People are just people.  We all want to be liked and accepted. Humans have this habit of   generalizing and stereotyping about other groups of people.  At end of the day, we are all the same albeit with very some unique qualities.  Everyone is just trying to get by and be happy no matter what part of the world you live in.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wish us luck.

It takes a lot of courage to start a new school in a new land with a new language and then to do it again in two months will take even more courage.

If you had asked me 2 weeks ago how Connor was doing I would have said great! He is saying lots of Dutch words at home, not complete sentences but animal words, numbers, a few colors, yes, no, please and thank you etc. He seemed like he was happy with the children at school and we were even having a few playdates with Dutch speaking classmates.

But things were not as they appeared. Apparently he was struggling a lot at school and one night at dinner he said “why does no one like me? The boys all push me & hit me & step on my hands”. Well rip a mother’s heart out! I just held him and cried right there at the dinner table. After further discussion Chris and I think that the boys at school AND Connor are doing Karate moves on each other. One little boy in his class shows the kids his Karate moves and they start play fighting. I don’t think it would be a big deal but because of the language barrier Connor is getting upset (even though he is doing it too as I’ve seen it myself). Then the same week we had a very concerning parent teacher conference.  So now we are considering moving Connor to an International School.  

When we moved to the Netherlands in August we were very enthusiastic about putting Connor in a Dutch public school and all of us learning Dutch and integrating into the Dutch community. We had heard the primary school close to our home was a great school. My thought was school will teach him Dutch and at home I will work on teaching him to read and write in English. Well things are not working out the way I had thought. We are spending lots of time at home on trying to learn Dutch and no time on English. There are only so many hours in a day. Also less than 3 months into the school year and his main teacher quit and the other teacher is set to leave in December. Not a great way to start the year. Then at Connor’s parent teacher conference they informed me that they cannot ask him to do things because of the language barrier so he just plays most of the time. They had nothing to show me except 2 sentences from the teacher who quit. “Connor is a polite & quite boy. The Dutch language is very difficult but he is trying hard”.  It was very disheartening to think he is just playing all day and not really learning much. Unfortunately the school cannot give him the help that he needs. So we have hired a tutor who is great but very expensive. It’s a big investment for a language that after we move he may never use again. If it were French or Spanish that would be something else because those languages are used around the world. And in the long run English is the language that will prove most useful throughout his life and therefore should be his strongest language. So it looks like Connor is international school bound. He is not happy about it. Even though he said the other kids are mean to him he says they are his friends and he doesn’t want to have to start all over and make all new friends again. Poor little guy. I know he will be ok but man is it hard as a parent to watch your little one go through such a difficult time. And as you can imagine he is acting out at home which doesn’t make this any easier on mom.

We looked at one international school this morning and will hopefully look at another by the end of the week. Wish us luck & courage. We need it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My darling Jessica

This post is for the adult you. When you are a mother and you look back at yourself in the blog books this one will show you how funny you look having a tantrum. You are a spicy little baby. 
You are very quick to throw yourself on the floor and scream at the top of you lungs and just as quick to stop and start to laugh. You are my fiery Italian baby.

And someday you will have a daughter just like you. HA! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bedtime stories with Grandma

Grandma thank you for reading Connor his bedtime stories.
We love you and miss you.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

More pictures from October

Connor the Lego man.  He reads/studies his Lego instructions in bed most night.

Here he is in school.

Two girls came in and did a little musical performance/skit. It was very cute to see all the children just light up when they became part of the performance and got to use the instruments too.

He is trying more and more to integrate his Dutch words at home.

We are so proud of you Connor! Keep up the good work.

After school Connor's buddy Toots came over to build Legos. It was amazing how these two communicated. Toots would speak some Dutch and a little bit of English and Connor would speak some English and a little bit of Dutch. Pretty impressive for two 5 year olds.

Jess is getting pretty good at communicating her wants. The other day she demanded an apple which I did not thing she would be able to eat but low and behold, she did. She ate about 1/3 of the apple before she went back to emptying her cupboard. 

She has lots of teeth and one molar. I have yet to get an actual picture of her teeth but she is sure good at using that one molar. Who knew she could eat an apple.

Asleep in the car after a long day of looking at art in the Hague. And yes she is very attached to her binky. I dread the day we try to get rid of it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pictures from October

Here are random iphone pictures from October.

 Jessica pretty much stands up during most baths. Here she is trying to turn on the bubbles. 

Even when brushing her teeth and cleaning her ear . .  . still standing. 

That is not a sad face it's the I'm making bubble noises face. LOL

We went to Muiderslot Castle to see the cool medieval knights armor. 

It was a small but cool castle with a moat and everything.

My little knight. 

 Connor and Jess at the park. As you can tell from the lack of jackets it was a beautiful day.

We went to the zoo and that is Connor climbing across a rope bridge over a brown bear. You heard me a bear!!! Think about it some zoo designer was like I have a great idea. We will have the children dangle over the bear enclosure. They'll love it and maybe it will save us money on bear food. HA 

 Jess is finally interested in the animals.

Ah fall.

Connor riding the go carts by himself. Big boy.

I love love this picture of Jess. I think it really shows her personality. Just happy, happy to be alive, she  really is a joyous child.

Connor and I were both impressed with the prehistoric looking rinos.

and we loved dino land.

We had a playdate at Tafelberg with my friend Sandra and her children. We had a lovely lunch while the children ran around with sheep and played football (soccer) and Jessy practiced her walking. Then we all walked up "Tafelberg" or table mountain (which is really a hill).

Connor loved the Nemo science center. I know all kids love science but I really think Connor is going to be a science and math guy. He just seems very happy when given the opportunity to do either. And it is very exciting as a parent to see his responses when he makes those connections.