Rats

We finally got rats! Three of them! We got them two week ago on Thurday.  I’ve been trying to take good pictures to show you, but it’s hard to get baby rats to pose nicely, so please forgive the quality. I did my best.

Now I’m proud to introduce you to:

Rose.

Rose

Izzy

Izzy

and

Ziva

Ziva

So far having pet rats has been fantastic. They’re pretty low maintenance. They groom themselves just as much as cats, they play with each other, their favorite toys are us, we really just have to make sure they have food and clean out their cage weekly. For those of you who are thinking that rats are gross, let me inform you that they are not. They’re very soft, even their tails, which are not creepy. They’re super friendly, they like to sit on shoulders, and Ziva even fell asleep in the hood of my sweatshirt last week. It was cute. They love to climb, but now that they’re getting bigger and braver they’re learning how to climb into the bookcase next to their cage. It’s time to move furniture. They do not bite, they have a ton of energy and they are working on liter training. Yes, you can liter train rats!

Our 3 rats are sisters. They play together like sisters, and they fight like sisters. I’ve heard that the only time rats squeak is when they are scared or hurt, but our squeak all the time when they’re fighting. At first I was worried that they were hurting each other, but nobody’s been cut or bitten, so it must just be sibling rivalry. Another thing I learned about rats is not to wear jewelry when playing with them. They like shiny things and have tried to steal my earrings, watch, bracelets, buttons and rings multiple times. But they’re sweet pets, they haven’t hurt me or successfully stolen my shiny things, so I can forgive them.

There are my 3 ladies all snugged up in the tube together.

There are my 3 ladies all snugged up in the tube together

Sjouke & Izzy

Sjouke & Izzy

Me & Ziva (Rose wasn't interested in having her picture taken.

Me & Ziva (Rose wasn’t interested in having her picture taken)

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Look! I Got Pretty Furniture!

As promised, I took pictures of the new furniture that’s come in since we moved.

The Kitchen - Not much new I think, but I love it so I took a picture of it.

The Kitchen – Not much new I think, but I love it so I took a picture of it.

Laundry Room - New wash machine...sorry about the mess.

Laundry Room – New Wash Machine. “Laundry Today or Naked Tomorrow”

Dining Room - New corner shelves, place mats, centerpiece and retro tin coffee signs.

Dining Room – New corner shelves, place mats, centerpiece and retro tin coffee signs.

Living Room - New couch, coffee table, matching end table.

Living Room – New couch, coffee table, matching end table.

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Also a new bookshelf and rat cage full of toys, but still no rats.

Another view of the living room

Another view of the living room

The new bookcase and our new-second-hand chest.

The new bookcase and our new-second-hand chest.

Full of treasure...well games, puzzles and assorted nerf guns.

Full of treasure…well games, puzzles and assorted nerf guns.

Hallway complete with wooden floor...well most of a floor, I conveniently cropped out the unfinished bit.

Hallway complete with wooden floor…well most of a floor, I conveniently cropped out the unfinished bit.

Bathroom - We finally have a shower door!

Bathroom – We finally have a shower door!

Guest bedroom complete with 2 one-person beds that can be connected into 1 two-person bed.

Guest bedroom complete with 2 one-person beds that can be connected into 1 two-person bed.

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Back From Hiatus / What I Did This Summer

It’s midterms and fall vacation time for students, and as a student of life, I guess I should turn in my “What I Did This Summer” report before it’s any later. I’m back from an unplanned hiatus. There was really no reason for it except that I didn’t feel like much was happening here worth sharing. But now I have enough small things collected to justify a blog post. Therefore, in the spirit of fun, I compiled an alphabetical list of 26 random things that I did, which I titled:

What I Did This Summer

by Abby

All in Dutch – My Dutch is getting a lot better. I had a mini phone interview with a temp agency on the phone the other day, did it all in Dutch. Later that day Sjouke’s work called me (I have his old cell phone) asking for his work phone number, did that all in Dutch as well. A big highlight of trying to be bilingual happened a few weeks ago when I told Google to translate a web page for me. I read through the entire thing before realizing that it didn’t translate. I can do pretty much anything all in Dutch now!

British – Our buddy from London, Chris, came to visit us for a week. That was fun. He drove his 30 year old Mini here. A drive that normally takes 3 hours took 6. That was not so fun.

C.S.I. – I have developed a weekend routine of watching a double episode of Crime Scene Investigation every Saturday and Sunday night accompanied by a glass of wine and pretzels/chocolate/ice cream/chips/I’m really not picky. I also catch a double episode of Bones on Sunday nights and NCIS on weekdays after dinner. Dishes can wait until commercials!

Deep Fryer – Our grocery store has a saving stamps program and we finally had enough full stamp books to trade in for a deep fryer. Now we make french fries and deep fried snacks every Sunday night.

Exploring – I’ve been biking a lot more and I can now successfully navigate myself to several nearby towns. It’s nice to be able to go to the stores and the train station whenever I want to…or whenever I have some spending money.

Fishing – I can’t remember how many times we went fishing while the weather was nice. I’m not afraid to bait my own hook with maggots anymore!

German – My friend David suggested that I check out Duolingo since he spent his summer learning German through this free online language courses site. I took his advice and am now enrolled in Dutch to brush up my skills, German because I think it’s useful, and Irish because I’m crazy and I like learning languages. Plus did I mention that it’s free?

Hockey – Ice hockey season has started once again. Last week we went to our first home game. I have my own season pass this year with my name on it. I feel pretty special about that.

IKEA – I built my very first piece of IKEA furniture all by myself and now we have a lovely bookcase to match our TV stand.

Job Searching – I check all of my favorite job search websites at least once a day and I’ve been applying to as many as I can, but still nothing has worked out beyond an interview. At least I know that I am putting in the effort and in the mean time, I’m keeping the house clean and I have time for little projects. It can be discouraging, but being upset about it doesn’t make it go any faster, now does it?

Knitting – I need to start knitting again. I haven’t knit a single thing all summer!

Lasagna – It’s a running joke in my family that we have a curse, neither of my parents has been successful at making lasagna. I decided that it can’t be THAT difficult, so I tried my hand at it, and it was good! My second variation with fresh zucchini, peppers and onions was even better!

Meeting people – Last week I decided that I needed to get out and meet some new people, so I attended a coffee meeting put on by a group called Connect Intl. They’re a relocation service that also does events for expats. I met a bunch of other expats in Groningen and it was really nice to get out and talk to people who are in the same situation that I am.

New furniture – We bought a new couch that matches the old one, so now we have a nice living room set. We also put up a lot of new shelves, furnished our guest room with two new beds, bought a matching coffee table and end table for the living room and a sweet old chest.

Orchids – Annemieke got me a pair of orchids shortly after we moved and I’ve been trying my hardest with them since. I did my research, trimmed off the stems after all the flowers fell off, and then they seemed to be dormant. I thought to myself “I just need a sign that I didn’t kill them!” Low and behold, the very next day I noticed 2 new stems sprouting on one of them. Apparently I’m doing something right!

Parents – My parents came to visit me for a week! It was fantastic to seem them after 10 months and for them to get a chance to see our house and where I’ve been running off on my vacations since I met this nice Dutch guy while studying abroad.

Quite Interesting – I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of great BBC shows growing up in America. I only got BBC at home 2 or 3 years ago, and that was BBC America. Now, thanks to the power of youtube, I’m catching up on what I’ve missed! I’m enjoying many episodes of Q.I., Nevermind the Buzzcocks and Mock the Week.

Rats – We’ve been preparing for pet rats and even had a pair reserved from a nearby rattery, but unfortunately that nest isn’t going to happen anymore, so now we’re waiting for a nest from a different rattery. The cage is so full of toys, now we just need some animals.

Steampunk – A wonderful fantasy idea of what the past would look like if the future happened sooner, we attended several steampunk/fantasy/renaissance faires this summer. Now our winter project will be to put together costumes for next summer’s faires.

Tim & Phill Talk About Games – I discovered this fantastic podcast/vodcast duo, Tim & Phill, from Australia. They do some pretty awesome game reviews, they’ve been super helpful when I’ve had gaming problems, and I even won a copy of a game called Transistor from them. If you’re a gamer, you really should check them out for yourself here or on facebook or on youtube.

Unclog – Warning: This letter contains gross events. We had a crappy experience this summer, pun fully intended. The drain in our laundry room kept overflowing. At first we assumed it was because of the rain. Then I pointed out that it smelled like sewage. After several fun evening of mopping water back into the drain, we finally made the connection that it floods when the bathtub drains. Well that’s not good. It was a clog in our pipes, and what a clog! I am so glad that Sjouke took the plunge and fixed the problem.

Vectra- I tagged along with Sjouke to a few Vectra/Opel (car) meets and even an old timer car and tractor show. One meet was on the opposite end of the Netherlands in Sevenum (Limburg) which turned out to be a long, but fun day trip. And I learned that there is a city in Limburg called “America”. Go figure.

Wood – We finished laying the laminate floor upstairs and we nearly finished the downstairs wood floor. We also put up molding in the bathroom and acquired a new shower door, although it’s glass, not wood, but it works for this letter too.

Xbox – Inspired by my friend Amber, I finally got an Xbox 360 and this summer I’ve been really enjoying it. Not that I’m trying to plug Xbox as a suitable alternative for PC gaming, but there are very few other things I can make out of ‘X’ without being annoying.

Yummy – Really, I’m down to the end of the alphabet here, I’m getting desperate. I ate a lot of yummy food since I last posted. Some home cooked meals, and some delicious meals at our favorite restaurants: China Garden, a delicious wok restaurant and Vishandel Sterkenburg, a place right on the Wadden Sea that serves fresh fish. I had plans to take my parents there for a fun afternoon of walking on the dijk and eating fish by the sea, but it burned down, just a week after we were there with our British buddy. Only the kitchen though, the restaurant part is fine, but it’s still upsetting.

Zoo Tycoon – I’ve been super addicted to playing zoo tycoon this summer.

Yay! I finished a list of 26 random things I’ve been up to since you last heard from me! I hope you enjoyed it!

America, Limburg. It really exists.

America, Limburg. It really exists.

Keep an eye out for new house pictures this weekend. I’ll do a “Look! I got pretty furniture!” update. And now that I’m getting back into the spirit of blogging about my life and experiences, please let me know if there’s anything you would like to read about or pictures you would like to see!

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House – All Moved in

Hello world! Big update! We moved into our house last week. Everything went very smoothly and as of this past Friday, we are out of the internet desert and connected with the world again. Now that we’ve lived here for a week, I have some lovely pictures to show you the finished (or mostly finished) rooms.

 

Upstairs bathroom. The only thing missing is the trim on the ceiling and doors around the shower.

Upstairs bathroom. The only thing missing is the trim on the ceiling and doors around the shower.

The finished bath, including my rubber ducky collection.

The finished bath, including my rubber ducky collection.

Bathroom sink, 2 faucets, one large basin, 2 drawers, one large mirror and a cool tile design.

Bathroom sink, 2 faucets, one large basin, 2 drawers, one large mirror and a cool tile design.

Kitchen! Honestly this has been finished for a while, but now it looks like it's being used.

Kitchen! Honestly this has been finished for a while, but now it looks like it’s being used.

Turning slowly towards the dining room so you can get a feel for how the room is laid out.

Turning slowly towards the dining room so you can get a feel for how the room is laid out.

Radio cabinet, waste bin and step stool because I'm too short to reach the top shelves in the cupboards.

Radio cabinet, waste bin and step stool because I’m too short to reach the top shelves in the cupboards.

Dining room! Including lovely flower arrangement from the Hansmas :)

Dining room! Including lovely flower arrangement from the Hansmas 🙂

Living room view from the kitchen side towards the road.

Living room view from the kitchen side towards the road.

Living room view from the road towards the kitchen.

Living room view from the road towards the kitchen.

I decorated for the world cup :)

I decorated for the world cup 🙂

And because my awesome grandparents requested it, this is what the front of our house looks like.


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And just for Grandpa, here’s the best picture of Sjouke’s car from the last Vectra meeting.

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One more thing! If you want to read my interview about expat life, it has been published on Expats blog.

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House Update -SO CLOSE!

The next update will be the moving in update. You’ll just have to wait in suspense until the house is finished to see how it turned out, but until then, I have a few pictures.

 

Back yard weeded? Check.

Back yard weeded? Check.

Bathroom tiles are coming along swimmingly.

Bathroom tiles are coming along swimmingly.

Adorable lawn ornament and blossoming rose bush.

Adorable lawn ornament and blossoming rose bush.

 

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Ask Abby

I’ve collected a few questions about my expat life in the Netherlands from readers and here are my public answers:

What do you miss most about living in the states?? (There must be something. 😉 )

The correct answer here would be all of my friends and family 🙂 While this is true, it’s a little obvious. Food is another thing I miss, namely pizza. Pizza here is horrible. So much so that I haven’t had any in the 5 months that I’ve lived here. I also miss stores being open late. Gone are the days of wanting something ridiculous at 9 o’clock at night and being able to run to Meijer to get it. Also Twizzlers. Of all things, I haven’t been able to find my beloved twizzies.

Do you have fast food like McDonalds, Subway Burger, King, etc.? If so are they more expensive than in the states?  Do you ever go?

Yes, we do have fast food here. McDonalds, Burger King, Subway and even KFC (although I’m not sure any Dutch person really knows what KFC stands for). It is more expensive than in the states. A happy meal here will cost you nearly 4 euro, that’s about $5.50. That’s really the only fast food price I know off the the top of my head, and only because I had a coupon for it 😛 We never go out for fast food.

I saw on Facebook that you are now a resident. Does that mean you can now be employed?

Yes, it does. I can have a job, a bank account, all that jazz. I’m busy with applications, but job searching is always a difficult chore. Doubly so in a second language. I’m looking for something where I can speak English and it will be an asset, not a hindrance, and while there are jobs like that out there, it’s still tough.

How are birthdays celebrated where you are?

Disclaimer: I’m a little cynical about this one. I’m not a big fan of celebrating my own birthday. That being said, birthdays here are a big social event. Everyone comes over and congratulates you on your birthday. They also congratulate your family and significant other (as if my boyfriend had anything to do with it, but he gets congratulations as well). At all times of the day people stop by and you are expected to serve them cake, snacks, coffee, alcohol, the whole works. It isn’t all that bad though, my birthday turned out quite nice. I only had visitors in the afternoon, and one after dinner and we had quite a lovely time. Also gifts on birthdays works the same here as it does in America.

I hope this has been interesting and informative. If you would like me to write on any specific topic let me know!

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House Update -Koningsdag (King’s Day)

Here’s a quick little update from our work on Koningsdag. Also a bit of a cultural lesson. This was the first king’s day celebrated in the Netherlands. Previously Queen’s day was celebrated to honor the birthday of the queen. It took place on April 30, which was actually the birthday of Queen Juliana, who visited Calvin College in 1952, 60 years before I graduated from Calvin with a bachelors degree in Dutch. Last year on Queen’s Day, Queen Beatrix abdicated and the Netherlands welcomed it’s first king since 1890. Now you know 🙂

Tiling is finished in the downstairs toilet. Still needs the sink put in.

Tiling is finished in the downstairs toilet. Still needs the sink put in.

 

Floor in the computer nook is in.

Floor in the computer nook is in.

Just a nice shot of the kitchen, because I love it :)

Just a nice shot of the kitchen, because I love it 🙂

Flags flying to celebrate Koningsdag.

Flags flying to celebrate Koningsdag.

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