Around 6 months ago I wrote about a hat I purchased to get me through the winter, but I also mentioned my hopes for a summer cap. Well, thanks to my b-day the wish was granted... not only did I get one military cadet cap but my mom bought me two! I was pretty set on the pink hat, but I of course sent multiple suggestions so I wasn't actually sure what would end up in my b-day package from The States. I was of course immediately over the moon with the pink hat, and it's come as quite a surprise but I'm wearing the beige conductor hat equally as much. Being that it's not a neon color it actually goes with more summer outfits, should have known, thanks for thinking ahead Mom! Either way, I am enjoying both caps. They're great for... the hot summer days when I just don't feel like putting on the make-up I know will melt off in minutes... when I need to run an errand but just haven't had time to wash my hair yet... sprucing up an outfit for a festival or a day outside... or even for trips to the pool when my hair is pulled into a messy ponytail! Obviously I'm getting a lot of use out of them. And wearing hats has seemed to rub off on the family, instead of toting sunglasses around I've noticed the tot and hubby also packing hats for sunny day trips.
Being that I'm from The States, you could even narrow it down to The South, I of course had to get the hats in shape before wearing them. This meant bending the bill, can't stand a flat bill! It was pretty simple, I put a tennis ball under the bill, wrapped a rubber band around it, and let it sit over night. Voilà, the next day the bills were rounded (I'm even considering a round two).
I don't see many Dutch women in hats unless they're exercising, where I come from in FL hats were pretty common, what about in your area?
Have you ever had to use a public kids toilet? A visit to the city pool reminded me of the torturous experience. I've mentioned before my tot attends swimming class, well, next to the pool is a small bathroom for those kids who just can't wait until the end of class to go to the larger restrooms. Since my tot is almost 4yrs old her class is the last of the morning, so you can only imagine what the single toilet bathroom smells like after the 3 classes prior to ours. Out of desperation I was forced to use it also! Normally we would have gone on to the larger restrooms but it was the last day of class and some kids were graduating. This means treats and congratulations, there was no way my tot was going to miss that so I could walk the distance to the larger restrooms. I knew I had no choice, I was going to have to suffer through it. The first thing you're hit with is the pungent smell of all the kids who missed the toilet or didn't flush properly. There were puddles of pool water and pee surrounding it on the tiled floor. Then there's the size, it's a child's toilet, it's super small and barely off the ground. And to top it off there is no toilet seat... who's idea was that, did they do it for the boys? Of course we all know how difficult it is to get a wet bathing suit on and off so our visit to this foul toilet lasted much longer than I would have liked. In the end we all survived of course, but it's definitely an experience I would not like to repeat.
One of the first posts I ever wrote on this blog was about my scooter... then I told you about the time someone tried to steal it... and now I'm writing to tell you we sold it. (sad face) Sold it, gave it away, were ripped off, I'm not really sure how to word it. After someone tried to steal the scooter, we were bummed, and not exactly in the mood to pay for the repairs (and of course some how the damage didn't fall under insurance). But when summer rolled around we decided to go ahead, do minor repairs, and then get rid of it. The minor repairs were necessary to sell it, but those repairs turned out to cost €95. In order to actually get the scooter running properly they wanted and additional €240. There was no way we were going to pay that just to sell it, we left the scooter at the shop for a couple weeks while we debated what to do. My husband was ready to give up, he said we should just give the scooter to the shop (they resell 2nd hand scooters) and call it even. We'd make nothing and lose nothing. This was hard to accept (we paid a lot for the scooter) so I went in search for an alternative. I came across what I thought was a great website/service, ikwilvanmijnscooteraf.nl (Wow, was I wrong!)
This company helps you sell your scooters to dealers/garages instead of privately, they promised us €150 for the old beat-up scooter. It wasn't much, but it would cover our costs and we'd make a little profit. We picked up our scooter from the shop and anxiously awaited for the appointment the middleman had arranged. Unfortunately, everything after that went wrong. Turned out we didn't have part of the registration we needed, which costs us an extra €35 and on top of that it was really difficult to get a hold of the buyer (Garage Schneider from Schiedam). According to the contract with the middleman we had to make an appointment within 2 days with the buyer and we were also required to follow through with the sale, a breach of contract would cost us €300. Of course I started growing nervous when it was difficult to make the appointment, I didn't want to break the contract. Eventually the documents were in order and the garage was on its way to pay cash for the scooter. But when they finally turned up, they claimed the scooter was in worse condition than the middleman had described and they were only willing to give me €50 instead of €150. This left us with no option, if we decided not to sell it would be a breach of contract, so basically they ripped us off. Both companies only profited, it inevitably costs us €80. We would have been better off just calling it even with the first shop. Of course I filed a complaint at ikwilvanmijnscooteraf.nl they put us in a horrible situation, and you know what, they never even bothered to respond to the complaint! I would never recommend either company to anyone, they willingly set us up and didn't follow through with their promises. I was sick to my stomach by the end of it, but at least the scooter is out of the way and we no longer have to pay insurance on something we're not even using.
A popular thing to do in The Netherlands is to visit the "Kermis" (aka Carnival or Fair) when it rolls in to town. Luckily for me, there's a "kermis" one town over every year at my birthday. For some reason quite a few years ago I started the tradition of a b-day bbq followed up by a visit to "kermis". It must have been because of my nieces or the fact years ago we lived in the center of Best and they literally built the "kermis" around our apartment. Once our own kid came along it made the "kermis" even more special. We love watching her face as she gazes up at the large carni-rides or is overwhelmed by the endless lights, music, & food. This year was one of the first years she was old enough to actually go on multiple rides; and we can only expect even more next year. If she had her way we would have taken her on all of the roller coasters instead of the tea cups and massive slide. In order to keep her distracted we kept her busy with all of the games. Who knows how much we all spent but eventually we won her a jump rope, slinky, & toy guitar, she was over the moon. I'm sure all of you have been to a carnival or fair, so I thought you might be curious what they look like here. To be honest not much different, except they are often held in the center of town. I'm used to where I grew up and we had the Strawberry Festival, it was huge and on a lot of land in a town called Plant City. (Everything in The States seems to be bigger, there's just more land & space to work with.) The "kermis" here doesn't have cattle competitions or country music concerts like my part of the woods in Florida. But I wouldn't say I actually miss that, ha-ha! Like most fairs, you have cotton candy, baked goods, and of course rides & games. One thing I missed out on this year was the fun house & house of mirrors, I've loved those since I was a kid. Maybe next year when our nieces can join! And yes, my Wordless Wednesday was a pic of amazing waffles served at "kermis"!!! (Funnily enough, I've never been to the huge "kermis" here in Eindhoven.)
About a month ago we decided to buy tickets for Bospop (a classic rock festival in Weert). In the mean time we've been quite busy, and questioned if we were even going to be able to go. Sometimes planning too far ahead can actually work against you! I'm not exactly sure who decided it was a good idea to go to a music festival the day the husbands returned home from a business trip in The States but it happened. Surprisingly enough the men actually lasted until late into the night, probably thanks to an afternoon nap & Red Bull (long live energy drinks). We didn't arrive until late in the afternoon, which turned out to be a good idea... we didn't get baked by the sun in the open field all day and we were able to stay almost until the very end. Bospop had two stages set up, a large stage for the bigger acts and a tented stage for all the acts in between. It was actually funny watching the people rush back and forth. When we first arrived we did the usual wandering around, people watching, scooping out the event, hitting up the beer & food stands. But eventually we sent up camp, we were close to the bathrooms and trash cans (convenient), we could see the main stage, and yet we were out of the way and not constantly being stepped on. Luckily we brought two small towels, just enough for 4 butts, but usually there was always 1-2 people standing. One of the most memorable acts was Amy MacDonald. I only knew one of her songs but I must say I enjoyed her entire set, imagine Mumford & Sons just with a female lead. I love it when artists can perform live as well as they do in the studio. During her set a woman decided to pass out next to us, my husband & I were totally freaked. The paramedics laid her on the ground, then eventually took her away, we had to turn our backs, we didn't like watching someones grandma laid out in a sundress flashing the crowd. Once she was gone we let out a breath of relief and focused back on the performance. Then she came back, what! Who passes out then returns for more! Other large acts were Roger Hodgson & Band and the night rounded off with Crosby, Stills, & Nash. In between we were able to enjoy a popular Dutch act (Rowwen Heze), it's popular because the Dutch goes crazy and throw beer around during the performance. When I first heard about it I seriously doubted we would participate, but of course as the night went on and a couple more drinks later, we were ready for the craziness. Another funny thing was we ordered a pizza, sounds quite simple but apparently everyone was ordering just slices, you should have seen their faces when we said we wanted an entire pizza. Then the trek from the pizza stand back to the men was also a feat. Try stepping through hundreds of feet and blankets while getting hooted at from the crowd. When we finally arrived with the pizza our husbands asked, "and where's the beer?" Typical, ha-ha! Luckily at the end of the night our friends sister picked us up, this saved us a bus ride, train ride, and a walk home, thanks!!! And to top it off the only thing we lost were the towels, I think at the end of the night we decided the old towels weren't worth it. It was a relaxed music festival, thanks to the crowd... we'd definitely party with classic rockers again!
Well, in the spirit of my birthday, I'm writing about another great b-day present. (There will be more of these to come.) A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I was on the look out for a rain coat. Well, I finally made a decision and when my b-day rolled around I crossed my fingers and suggested it as a b-day gift from the in-laws. I found the hooded coat to be quite expensive, so since I'm frugal (do I mention this in every post?) I did my research until I found the same coat on sale. The sale wasn't great but it was still less than buying it direct from Happy Rainy Days. After suggesting it as a present I didn't really hear anymore about it, so when my b-day celebration rolled around I was ecstatic to see the box sitting in the eat-in kitchen. I patiently waited until they handed it over, but once they did I ripped the box open, yanked the coat out, and immediately put it on. (Despite breaking out into a sweat). It's awesome... it fits great, it looks great, and I can't wait to use it. Now I fully understand my b-day falls in the summer and a rain coat isn't actually practical until the weather cools off again, but at least I have it. As of now it's hanging on the coat rack waiting for the first cool rain of autumn. Since I live in a country known for rain and cool weather I should get a lot of use out of it. As always I snapped a pic (don't usually take reflection pics).
I didn't ask for the coat I showed you in a previous post, Happy Rainy Days has so many patterns and designs I searched until I found one that suited me. It was hard to choose between the pink & white or black & white, but you see which one I obviously went with. I'll be sure to write a post once I actually use it! Thanks in-laws, you're great!!!
It's taken a lot to hold on to this post... my husband bought me a new car! My birthday was yesterday and since we picked up the car about a week and a half ago it falls into the category of b-day present (as well as anniversary & Christmas, ha-ha)! It's a typical small European city car with just the right amount of space for me, my tot, & our dog (and of course my husband if he wants to join). Since our daughter will be starting school a good distance from our house shortly after the summer we didn't really have an option but to buy a car. We've definitely talked about it for a while and started saving up once I passed the exam for my Dutch driving license. I haven't owned a car since I left The States 10-11 yrs ago (luckily my husband always did). And this is my first new car, it still smells new!!! One thing I had to adjust to was the stick shift, see here in Europe manual cars cost around €4,000-5,000 less than an automatic so it was obvious what we were going to buy. I haven't driven a stick shift since my driving lessons & exam, I actually never intended to do it again. So I was a little rusty after 1 1/2 yrs. Since owning the car, I've had my share of squealing out at lights, stalling multiple times at intersections, bumping down the road, and of course I don't accelerate fast yet so everyone drives around me. But I'll get there... I have all summer to practice before I have to start parallel parking the manual car outside of the school. We've been extremely busy since picking up the car and I haven't had a chance to really personalize it yet. I have added a kick mat to the back of the passenger seat, that way my tots dirty shoes don't destroy the seat. And I've ordered a special mat for the dog, hopefully sparing the backseat after dirty runs through the woods. Can't wait to clock some more kilometers, thanks for my car hubby!
Considering I finally figured out the bus card and started receiving discounts, I think we'll occasionally leave the car parked and take public transport instead. Most likely not this month though, ha-ha!
And the saga continues, ha-ha! More like, and the waste of money continues! After realizing my bus card was in the negative I knew I needed to reload it in preparation for the next bus trip. I went online, signed into my account and explored my options. There was a great deal that for just €10.90 I could get a 40% discount on my trips (most of our trips fall into the qualifications for the discount). With excitement I ordered and paid. Then as I closed the order I noticed the amount didn't just appear on the card, I was actually going to have to take my card to a machine in order to load my order. What! Again another hassle pertaining to the bus card. Later that night it crossed my mind that possibly the order I placed was purely to receive the discount and not actually put a usable balance on my card. I crossed my fingers. But unfortunately the next day when I went to load the card I found out the money I had spent was only to apply for the discount, I still had a negative balance on my card. I tried to collect myself, like I said, I despise wasting money... and now on top of it, I was going to have to tell my husband that my brilliant plan to save money was actually costing 3 times more than I expected. Since I was already at the machine I finally went ahead and put actual money on the account. And of course they immediately deducted what I owed. I'm hoping that with the discounts I applied for the balance will last a long time. Of course after all this effort and investment we're going to have to ride the bus more often to make it worth our while. Starting next week I should have a working card, I now know how to use it, and I can actually monitor the expenses properly. I'm really curious what an actual round trip will costs, because up until this point something has gone wrong on both round-trips. Up until this point two trips to swimming class have cost around €37!!! And I used to walk for free (and exercised along the way)!
While on the topic of buses, I've noticed something else. The drivers in the early morning are very nice and the ones in the late morning have panned out to be quite unfriendly. One even snapped at me in front of my 3 yr old! He claimed we didn't press the button for our stop and that we just stood up expecting him to stop. I know my tot pressed the button, and I pressed it after her for certainty, so we weren't the crazy ones. And even if the button didn't work there was no need for the attitude, I'm not some punk kid giving him a hard time. I'm often shocked at how rude people can be in front of a child, tisk-tisk!
Well, I'm sure our bus trip next week will deliver some kind of story, so I'll do my best to follow up on it!