aryanhwy: (Default)
This afternoon I was planning to sort through the stuff in my office, try to get rid of some more miscellaneous papers, return library books, make sure everything was clearly labelled what stayed and what goed, find a new home for the plants I inherited from my previous officemate. I confirmed with Joel that the movers would come over to the office some time on the 2nd either before or after packing up the rest of our stuff to do the same there...and found out he hadn't actually made those arrangements. Hmmm, well. I didn't have that much stuff there -- two trips with one of the wheeled suitcases would probably have gotten it all -- just two shelves of books, two boxes of dissertations, four filing cabinet drawers of hanging file folders, and then 2-3 stacks of papers on my desk. Joel suggested that he come out to the office today for a load, and then I'd bring the other load back on the 31st (which would be the earliest I could, since we get back from the US on the 28th). Then it occurred to me...the cafeteria had a sign up saying it would be closed Dec. 22 - Jan. 1. Would my building even be open on the 31st? Quick check with the secretary...nope.

OK, then! Joel came out with the huge wheely bag (the one he swore never to use again after we took it to coronation and back to have a large enough bag to check the sword of state), and one of the smaller wheely bags (the other already being packed with all of my stuff for the US), and we proceeded to fill them, plus the suitcase which was the departmental Christmas gift this year, plus two cardboard boxes I (thankfully) had lying around. And then we called a taxi to get him home, because there was really no other way we'd be able to do it.

I then spent the rest of the afternoon feeding contract documents from Heidelberg into googletranslate so I had at least some sense of what I was signing, and then it was 17:30, I knocked on my supervisor's door (thankfully he was in! He often isn't on Mondays), and told him this was good-bye. He seemed a bit surprised, thinking I'd still be around for a few days, and I told him I was a bit surprised, since I hadn't been planning on this being my last day on campus either, but that's how it turned out. I then dropped the remaining library books off, and walked my last from the Tilburg campus (as an employee at least).

If I had known today was my last day, I would've asked the guy at the sandwich place if he'd make my usual on the special bread instead of the ordinary bread.
aryanhwy: (Default)
Yesterday Martijn had a day off, and Wendy's last day at her old job was last week and her new one doesn't start until the end of the month, so they came down to Tilburg to spend the afternoon with us. First time they've been to our new place! (Though to be fair, we haven't been to Wilnis yet either). We've tried to get together a few times since moving here, but weather and illness have always crept in. Not this time! I took the afternoon off, and they got in around noon, long enough to get to see Gwen for a bit before I took her off to daycare. We hung out at home for awhile so that Joel and Martijn could swap the beers that they've been accumulating for each other, and to taste one of them, before heading out to walk around downtown and show them all the sights of Tilburg (hah). It was a beautiful afternoon -- sunny and around 25, just right for leisurely strolls. We stopped and got lunch on the way, and then went to Cafe Kandinsky, the only ABT pub in Tilburg. We got there about 40 minutes after it opened, and were the only people there. They had a very large selection (though mostly bottled, not so much on tap), which meant we were able to get four very different beers:

beer
Wendy's framboos, Martijn's witbier, my apple beer, Joel's tripel

The pub does beer tastings every Sunday, 8.50EUR for 5 beers. I'm hoping we'll go out and do that at least once before we move. It also has a gorgeous stained glass window:

window

After we finished our beers, we wandered around a bit more and then they headed to the train station, hoping to get home before too late, and then Joel and I walked over to daycare to pick Gwen up. It was such a nice day, and we wanted to continue enjoying it, and we also didn't really have anything on hand for making supper, so we decided to go to a cafe that we always see taking bus 8 home (except we usually only do that when it's raining, and hence not exactly the time that you want to hang around outside). Thinking that we'd probably be going out, either ourselves or with Martijn and Wendy, after getting Gwen, I'd planned ahead and packed an avocado for her, so feeding her that kept her entertained for awhile while we waited for our food (we both got tomato soup and lemon cheesecake, both quite tasty). Letting her stand up against the picnic table was also fun, as was sitting on the sidewalk picking at things, but for some strange reason I kept taking away all the cigarette butts before she could put them in her mouth. I'm no fun.

Once our soup came she started getting squirmy and wriggly and fussy, so Joel held her and entertained her while I ate, and then vice versa:

cafe

Luckily she only started really fussing right as we finished up, and when we got home it was just about bedtime. So it all worked out very well and it was very enjoyable, not the least of which I came back in to work today knowing I had only three days left before the weekend! That's a nice feeling.
aryanhwy: (Default)
Since moving to Tilburg, I've had to bring out and exercise my meager conversational Dutch a lot more than previously. There are two causes; first, English is not as prevalent here as in Amsterdam (for example, I don't think I've interacted with a single non-Dutch person outside of the university), second, Tilburgers are much more inclined to make casual conversation with strangers than Amsterdamers are. I'm getting more comfortable with making this sort of small talk -- it helps that most of the questions are going to be about Gwen and those I can all recognize and answer appropriately -- in part because of the big book of children's rhymes and poems that I've been reading to her. I'm finding that what I'm taking away from reading these rhymes is not a wider vocabulary or a better sense of syntax, but rather something more ephemeral, the rhythm of the language. I'm starting to soak in when all the weird little enclitic particles get used, which often isn't covered by syntax or grammar, and it feels more natural to insert them into my speech. A lot of my baby talk with Gwen is in my halting Dutch, I figure she won't care if I make a mistake!

But anyway, I had an experience this weekend that made me quite proud (prouder, perhaps, than I should be given that I've lived in this country for 6.5 years, and I should know the language better than I do). I'd found a lot of size 62-68-74 clothes on marktplaats and bid 15EUR on it. The lot had more than 40 pieces of clothing, so this was cheaper than I could even get things from the Juttersdok. It's not like Gwen needs a lot more clothing, but she is beginning to outgrow the onesies that we have, and so this was a cheap and convenient way of getting more without having to pay full price for them. A few hours after I bid, my bid was accepted and I made arrangements to come by today between 11 and 12 to pick them up. Gwen had a two hour nap this morning and woke up around 10:40 which was just perfect timing in terms of getting her diaper changed, getting her bundled up and to head out. The exchange of money for clothes didn't take long, nor did it take that much explanation/conversation, but I was able to do the entire process -- from bidding, to arranging pick-up, to actually doing the pick-up -- without, I think, betraying that I'm not a Dutch speaker. It's not just that I relied on a lot of smiling and nodding (a technique which gets you further than you might think), but I knew the right polite-isms to intersperse. So, whoo! In a sense, I'm glad we moved here because it's finally forcing me to get better with Dutch. Even if we move in another year, the practice of having to speak a foreign language in order to get by is good for me.
aryanhwy: (Default)
For a while it looked problematic, because we simply couldn't find a driver for the moving truck. Then I thought to email a new friend in Tilburg and he was both able and willing to come up to Amsterdam, help us load, and drive the truck back down (and then return it to Eindhoven), so that happened yesterday. Since there were 6 living entities to transport and only three seats in the van, I had the fortune of being the one to make the trip by train, with 18 day old baby and 13 year old cat who HATES being in her cat carrier. (Joel and I will both bear scars from yesterday). Luckily, Slinky only yowled on the tram to the metro, but then settled down and was relatively relaxed and quiet for the rest of the 1.5 hour trip. When I let her out, she went straight for the bathroom and crawled behind the washing machine and spent a few hours rather -- rather like when I first brought her home from the humane society, she spent 6 hours sitting on the back of the toilet before venturing out. By night, she was meandering around the ground floor -- seemed pretty relaxed, and came and sat with me a few times while I was pumping/feeding. But while she finally ventured up the stairs for the first time this evening, she hasn't actually made it to the first floor.

Widget thinks that this has all been arranged for his pleasure and joy. He's calmed down now, but last night and much of today, he was dashing from place to place, climbing in nooks and crannies, sitting in an "I'm the king of the world" position all over (first floor hall, stairs, desk in attic, table, boxes, bookcases), except when one of us would walk by and he'd rush over and rub against our legs and purr and purr and purr. It's pretty sweet.

The house is a mess. Lots of things didn't go as planned today -- including the fact that I was so exhausted that I spent most of the day in bed. Gwen was up every 2 hours over night to eat (whereas during the day, she usually sleeps for long enough stretches that she goes 4 hours between feeds. Why oh why can't it be the other way around? I'd love to be able to get 3 hours of sleep straight), and since it takes me ~45 min. to change her/prepare the bottle, feed her, put her back in her basket and then pump 10 min. both sides, that meant about 4.5 hours of sleep for me. This is really hard.

Nursing still continues to be an utter failure. Tomorrow someone from the city pediatrics office is coming by for Gwen's intake appointment, and she will be bringing info about lactation consultants in the city, 'cause I think I need to see one again. I just wish it wasn't so damned expensive. At this point, I'm certainly not saving any money trying to nurse.

The food situation is very frustrating. Of course in a perfect world, we would nurse and we'd be calm and happy and contented. I would wake up at night, pick her up, get settled in a chair, she'd latch on, eat for 20 min., and then we'd all go back to bed. But that's clearly not working; no matter what I do I can't get her to get a good latch. All the tricks I've been told don't work -- I was told to feed her a bit from the bottle to calm her down so that she's not starving when we try, but if I feed her a small amount and then take the bottle away, she starts screaming in frustration. Even if I manage to get her while she's awake and calm, I can't get her to open her mouth wide enough. Even if I do get her to open her mouth wide enough, she just slides off when she tries to latch on; and even if I think she has latched on, she won't even bother trying to suck -- and it's not like there isn't milk already there, while I'm wrestling with her to get into position I'm usually leaking all down my front. Oh, and the sore that I got on the right side when she nommed me so badly on Thursday still is open and I sometimes get a small amount of bloody fluid in my bra shields.

And so I pump, every time she eats, and in a slightly less perfect world than the other, I'd be able to translate what is clearly adequate supply into adequate pumped supply, and I'd be OK with sacrificing an extra half an hour or so of sleep each time I feed her if it meant she was drinking primarily breastmilk from the bottle. But my pumping supply has gone down and down and down; I now get barely 20ml each time, if that.

And so I supplement, I top off whatever I got the previous time I pumped with enough formula to make ~100ml for each feeding, and in an even slightly less perfect world, she'd take this and be happy and would still grow up into a healthy, strong woman. But sometimes I don't even had any breastmilk to add -- I didn't pump in the afternoon yesterday as we packed and moved, last night after one feeding I just couldn't stand it any more I can tell that the formula interacts with her differently than the formula, she spits up quite a bit more. If it's half-formula, half-breastmilk (hah! been days since we had that ratio), then she may spit up a tiny bit, soon after eating, but with any different ratio she spits up quite a bit more and often half an hour to an hour after eating -- i.e., when she's lying in her basket and I've fallen back asleep and so I end up waking up with this filthy spit-up-on baby. I can't recall how many outfit changes we went through last night between this and leaking diapers.

But none of these worlds is the case and hence what we've actually got is a really pretty shitty world.

Oh, and did I mention that I think I have a blocked duct on the left? Which of course is best solved by lots and lots of nursing (which we don't get), or by good pumping sessions (which we don't get), so I've been stuck with hot compresses and massage and while I think it's a bit better than it was this morning, it still hurts.

It's hard to believe it hasn't even been three weeks yet. It feels more like three months.
aryanhwy: (Default)
For both our sanities, we've been striving hard to return to normalcy whenever we can (this is quite often thwarted by the fact that half our things are in a different city, half of the remaining is in boxes, and everything else is not where it's supposed to be). Last Sunday Joel made waffles for breakfast, and he did again today. Last night I made pizza and we watched four episodes of Doctor Who. Luckily Gwen sleeps great in her basket, and is still young enough that loud noises don't wake her up.

We're still having a sort of rough time of things. By Thursday afternoon I simply gave up nursing: The psychological barrier of the anticipation of pain was simply too much, and I couldn't get past it. So I set up another appointment with a lactation consultant (for Saturday), and in the meantime I pumped exclusively and we picked up some formula to supplement. The appointment on Saturday was...sort of useful, sort of not. As with the previous one, when there's an expert pair of hands to guide Gwen to latch on properly, things work just fine. And she was weighed again, weighing in at a whopping 3.47kg (up from 3.15kg a week ago, and the average weight gain is 150g/week), which was reassuring. But I left not entirely sure that I'd be able to transfer any of the skills she suggested into actual application. Joel was more optimistic, he thought he saw things he could do to help me out. But we tried a few times again later that day and it failed and I didn't push the issue.

But! Today we managed twice (only on the left, as the right is still so nommed up that I don't eve want to try, I'm surprised it's taking so long to heal) with only minimal pain/issues, and right now I'll take whatever I can get. The exclusive pumping is hard; it means I'm awake for over an hour each time I get up at night, rather than closer to half an hour. So I hope that eventually we'll get things sorted out and it will work.

Tomorrow we go to the US Embassy to apply her for her US birth certificate and passport, and we finally managed to find someone who can drive a moving truck for us (one of our friends in Tilburg), so we'll be moving on Tuesday.

Tuesday! Two more days and we'll be out of Amsterdam. I try not to think about it because I'm really going to miss it here, and I don't do well with change, and it's going to be hard going from living in Amsterdam! to just living in Tilburg. Luckily, I really like our house there, and I'm looking forward to living in it, and I think the cats will really enjoy it too, so that helps. But no more canal, no more windmill, no more Dappermarkt, no more amazing bacon...tomorrow I really want to get out and get some pictures of me and Gwen in front of each of these places (well, not with the bacon) so that we have some proof that she actually lived in Amsterdam. I feel a bit sad that she'll be able to say "I was born in Amsterdam", but then she'll have to say "but I moved away when I was 18 days old".

Anyway...we almost made it an entire day without having to do laundry (in part because we did three loads yesterday), but then we had our first blow-out diaper necessitating much of my clothes to be washed. Ick.
aryanhwy: (Default)
One thing I'd long planned on (since I was a kid?) was that I knew I wanted a rocking chair when I had a baby. One of the drawbacks of our apartment in Amsterdam was that I simply couldn't see where we would ever find the space to put one in, so I had, unhappily, relegated myself to not having one if we had a kid while living there. But then the Tilburg arrangements came up, and I've got a whole room in which to neatly fit in a rocking chair. Yay!

But then I faced an unexpected obstacle: I couldn't find one. We went to IKEA a few weeks ago, and one of the things on our list was "rocking chair", as I figured we'd reach the chair section, I'd try them all out, pick one, and we'd bring it home. So I was quite surprised that find that IKEA doesn't have rocking chairs -- either actual rocking chairs or gliders. Curious. I asked a friend about this, and he said that he hasn't really seen any new rocking chairs in the Netherlands for 10-15 years or so. Even more curious! Still, they used to be made/bought/used, so I was sure there'd still be some around, and I started keeping my eye out at the 2nd-hand shop I frequent.

When we went to IKEA last weekend, I sat in a bunch of chairs, and found one that was really comfortable, but was a swiveler, not a rocker. So I was faced with the decision to either forgo the rocker in favor of a very-comfortable-but-not-rocking chair, or wait in hopes that I'd eventually find a second hand rocker. That day the decision was easy, as the store we were at happened to be out of that particular type of chair, so I couldn't have bought it even if I wanted it.

Today Joel and mom came back from some errands and said they'd found a rocker. There's a second-hand furniture shop a few blocks from our new place, and it had one rocker and he'd taken a picture of it. It looked work checking out, so we headed over and I tried sitting in it, and, yup, it's a rocking chair that does everything you want a rocker to do, plus a bit more (e.g., is so sensitive to motion that you don't have to rock it by pushing your feet on the floor, you can get it to move just be moving your center core. Very nice when you want to rock without having to put much effort in to it). And it was 140EUR cheaper than the IKEA chair. Hard to beat! The rest of the store was pretty cool tool; lots of tables and chairs, couches, bookcases, and armoires, and most of it in incredibly good condition. We were amazed at the prices too; they have gorgeous wooden armoires that are probably 70-100 years old for ~399EUR; I'd expect to easily pay 10 times that if I wanted something similar new. We've got a feeling it's the sort of place we'll pop into on a regular basis, and if we find something that's just perfect, we may just get it.

So! I have a rocking chair. But still no baby to put in it. Luckily this means that, so far, mom's trip has been scheduled well; she arrived Monday morning and in the meantime has spent quite a bit of time helping Joel with various fixing/building projects--some shelves in the attic, trips to the hardware store, oh, I don't really know what else, because one of the advantages of having her here is that they go off and do this sort of thing and I, e.g., fall asleep on the bed for 2.5 hours in the afternoon. I rather like this approach to home improvements.
aryanhwy: (Default)
The day started off a little rocky (in part because it actually started last night). Today there were interviews scheduled this morning in Tilburg for the two PhD positions in the project I'm employed on, and I'd originally said I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it to the first two, since they were at 9:00 and 10:00, and getting down here from Amsterdam for the 9:00am one would've involved getting up at 6:30am (urk!) which is hard enough for me to do in normal situations, even harder when I'm now in the single digits away from my due date and sleep is so good (Wednesday afternoon Slinky and I napped on the couch for an hour and a half. It was really nice having some undiluted cuddle time with her, we both appreciated it), and even harder given the fact that Joel and I were going to a nursing course from 8:00pm until 10:00pm, which meant getting home around 10:30pm, and then doing some packing to make sure I had a load of things to bring down to Tilburg, and hence no real chance of an early bed time; plus, getting up at 6:30 to be down to Tilburg at 9:30 would not have made me an optimal interviewer, 'cause I'd still be half asleep!

This was unfortunate, since the first candidate being interviewed was one I was particularly interested in and had specific questions for. Somehow, when I got home around 7:00pm last night Joel managed to convince me that I should head down to Tilburg after the nursing course ended, and also that he'd head home, pack a few more things, and then head down himself. (I have kind of reached the point where I'd rather not spend the night apart from him.) So I threw together some basics (e.g., clothes), and had at least one bag of papers/books to take out to the office so my trip wasn't wholly inefficient, and after the course (which we both agreed was extremely helpful; I thought I'd read up quite a bit, but even so found almost all of what the teacher said useful, and of course Joel was not nearly as familiar with this as me, and as she said, the men simply remember different (and more!) things, which is why they are encouraged to come to the course as well) I hopped on the bus headed to Amstel, with an itinerary that would put me into Tilburg around 12:30am. Not ideal but doable.

I wasn't too worried when the train from Amstel to den Bosch was 5 minutes late, because the layover there was 13 minutes (less time to wait on the platform, I figured!), but when the train reached Geldermalsen and stopped, I started getting nervous. Sure enough, we stopped and started and went slow all the way to den Bosch, such that I missed the connection by more than 5 minutes. At this point, I was really, really peeved, and ready to call Joel, tell him, "I know it's not your fault that the trains are late, but you were the one who persuaded me to go down to Tilburg and now I'm stuck in den Bosch until 6am" because as far as I could determine this was the last connection. Thank goodness it turned out there was in fact one last train going to Tilburg half an hour later (which itself was delayed by another 10 minutes); by the time I got into Tilburg all the busses had stopped running, and the irritating things about taxis is that my taxi from Tilburg central station to our house cost more than the train ticket from Amsterdam to Tilburg. But I did get home, and was in bed and asleep by 1:30am. Oh, and I'd gotten a text about 20 min. out of Amstel from Joel saying that he just wasn't going to be able to make the last train out of Amsterdam, and so he unfortunately couldn't come down that night but would come down in the morning. :( But amazingly, I made it through all three interviews on 6.5 hours without feeling the effects too badly, but when I made it back home I then napped for 2.5 hours, which I definitely needed.

In the meantime Joel was anchoring the bookcases to the walls, going out to the hardware store, putting things away, etc. He woke me up when he needed my input on where to space the shelves on the bookcases, and then once they were in I started unpacking boxes of books.

I've noticed this before, particularly two times after our move to Amsterdam, first when our books started arriving in the mail and I could put them onto the built in shelves in the apartment, and second when we picked up a few bookcases from the trash and put them in the bedroom and I filled them, but I really get a significant mental health boost being in a room filled with filled (or partly filled) bookcases. I feel calmer, everything feels more natural and right, and it just makes me feel settled and at home. I'm sitting on the bed now and I can look over at the wall and see the partly filled shelves and go "ahhhhhhh...." The best part is since they are partly filled, I've already got space on hand for when the rest of our books from the US arrive. Makes me very happy.

Still, the new house won't really feel like home until the cats are here. I think they're going to enjoy it a lot -- the shelves, the space, the stairs, the nooks and crannies to explore. I'm really looking forward to it!

oops

Oct. 15th, 2011 10:17 pm
aryanhwy: (Default)
So this morning Joel and I hauled ourselves and what felt like a TON of stuff (he filled one of our huge wheeled suitcases which we haven't used since moving over here; it's big enough that he could crawl into it, zip it up, and be moderately comfortable. He also had another duffel bag full, and I had the smaller wheeled suitcase plus an extra small duffel bag, and we both had our computer bags) down to Tilburg to arrive at our new house around noon. I thought maybe today we'd actually meet the rental agent, but nope, it was just us and the owners. They took us all over the house again, taking a few photos of things that are already damaged so that we don't have any worries about the security deposit when we leave, and also doing things like checking the meters, giving pointers about how various electric and heating-related items work, etc. (The house has some rather...eccentric...wiring in it.) And in general things seem to be very relaxed -- they encouraged us again to pack up any of their decor that we don't want (and the first thing that will go are all of the elephants, all over the house, we kept finding more), said that normal wear and tear on dishes, etc., was no big deal, that they left both beds so we can decide which one we want and then we can just take apart the other one and put it in storage in the attic, and then this way we'll still have the mattress from it that we can put in the cubby hole in the attic, *poof* we have a guest room! And if we wanted to repaper any of the rooms, etc., they were fine with that...anyway, it seems like we will have a very relaxed and informal relationship with them, much like with our landlady in Amsterdam, and this is nice.

Most of what Joel brought were his games, since then we don't have to find boxes for them that are sturdy enough so that they don't get damaged. In order to make sure they don't rattle around we packed in a lot of clothes of mine that I can't currently where, and other random things that we know we don't need in Amsterdam. Since we planned to spend the night tonight, I also tried to think ahead to things that we'd want -- I grabbed all our assorted hotel toiletries, some towels, tea and tea balls, even a roll of toilet paper just in case. I was quite pleased with myself for remember all these things.

After we'd signed the lease and unpacked our things and measured a bunch of bare walls where we hope to put shelves, we decided to head out to IKEA just to look around and get some ideas of options. There isn't one in Tilburg, but there are in both Breda and Eindhoven, and Breda is only like 15 min. away by train, and then another 10 by bus to the store, so that went pretty quickly. I will say, though, that this is the most walking around that I've done in the last few weeks, and by the end of it (and we were only there like two hours), my back and feet and hips were killing me. I was surprised at how few rocking chairs they had; in fact, I only remember seeing one, and I wasn't very impressed with it. I've always wanted a rocking chair if I was going to have a baby, and one of the advantages of moving and having a separate room for the baby was that I'd have space to get one (I just couldn't see where we'd put it in our place in Amsterdam). But I did get something else that I've been longing for for ages -- a sheepskin. It's been years since I first started wanting one, but most places were selling them for 50-75 EUR or $, and I wasn't willing to pay that much for something when I simply wasn't sure how the cats would react -- I'm sure they will both love it, but I was worried that Widget might chew on it. Every time I'd go to IKEA I'd see their sheepskins and lust over them, but could never justify the price. Well, I don't know if my preferences have changed since I was last there (which was only in May!) or if they've gotten cheaper, but they were only 27.50EUR today! So we dug through three bins and found the softest, silkiest one, and I spent the rest of the day hugging it like a security blanket. Oh, so nice. Now I've got it on the floor next to my side of the bed, something wonderful for cold feet to step onto. Yay! Happy [livejournal.com profile] aryanhwy.

But why oops? Well, we came back, decided we were tired (and that the chances of the nearest grocery store being open were low), and ordered Greek delivery. It arrived, and we realized...how are we going to eat this? No plastic silverware provided, because, why would someone need plastic silverware for food being delivered to their home? Because those people had just moved in and even though the house is partially furnished, utensils are not one of the furnishings, and even though I thought this morning 'I should grab two sets of utensils just in case', I forgot to make good on that thought. We managed to find two small sugar spoons for coffee, and we ate with that. :)

Now we're all curled up in bed (and it bodes well for being a comfortable one), and I think we're going to be very happy here. It won't feel like home, though, until we actually bring the cats down. I think they're going to like it here quite a bit.

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