Monday, January 30, 2012

Liars Across the pond...

This pic has nothing to do with post, I just like it!
When someone asks me how the kids are, I always tell the truth. I always say, well my son never sleeps or my daughter lies in the floor screaming every time I ask her to put on her hat. I tell those who ask all about my sleepless nights, endless worries and how I am dangling sleep-deprived from the end of my rope.

And if this person is a parent, most of the time I get "Oh poor you, my son always sleeps," or my daughter "eats everything" and then the look of judgement...The look those Holy-than-thou parents give with a verbal pat on the head - it will be Ok, hang in there.

And then I walk away, head down feeling like the most screwed up parent in the world, who must be doing everything wrong since so-and-so sleeps 14 hours a night and eats a pound of spinach a day.

But last Friday, I was set free! I learned a little secret that has literally changed my life over the weekend: Parents over here often LIE! They don't always tell the truth, or maybe not the entire truth. I had no idea! I thought all parents liked to commiserate with another. I thought we were a club! Well, thanks to the daycare teachers, I know better now: the club is a LIE.

I guess I was looking a bit shabbier than usual when I picked my daughter up on Friday because the teacher asked if I was OK. No I said, I am not OK. My son has serious sleeping problems, blah, blah and I have done everything, even went to the psychologist blah, blah, nothing works. I am dangling.

She put her hand on my arm and asked, what bothers you the most about your son wanting to sleep with you? Is it because of what other people say? Oh my God, I was shocked. What a question! But it didn't take more than a few seconds before I got diarrhea of the mouth and spewed how all other kids are perfectly fine to sleep alone, its just my son, blah, blah and according to so-an-so he should be doing this and according to so-and-so he should be doing that. Yes, I listened to what other parents said, I believed them.

She looked me straight in the eye and said, They are all lying. All kids have problems and over here most parents just lie about them. What liberation! Then she went on to give me examples and how she did her master thesis on children and sleeping and how even her psychologist friends let their kids climb in bed with them, ect.

It took a few seconds for me to choke back the tears of joy. I was not a failure. My kids have problems but so did everyone. I would never compare my kids to anyone else's kids, but I didn't stop to think I shouldn't compare myself, my methods, or techniques to other parents. The daycare angel went on to say how well adjusted my son was and it was normal to have these feelings and I should just give him what he needs. And if this means snuggling with him in bed every night, screw the critics!

I am sure parents in America lie too, but I know the culture and I don't think I would be so naive if I were at home. So the next time, a fellow parent asks me how my kids are doing, I will say to them "Probably the same as your kids...full of problems!"  HAAAA

Friday, January 27, 2012

Nit pickin mama

I received the most horrifying email today. I received an email asking if I would like to be the official nit picker of Luca's pre-school class, or the aka in Holland as "The Luizenmoeder".
 Yes, today "class parents" Chantal and Nadine kindly sent me just the sweetest email introducing themselves,  mothers of Snotty Nose and I Don't Care, blah, blah and then graciously asking for volunteer help. It started off like a sip of Jaegermeister, nice and warm in the beginning with a vomit inducing ending.

Darling Chantal and Nadine just wanted to know if maybe I was interested in helping with parties, sportsday or the most popular volunteer job of class 1/2/C, picking through nappy pre-schooler hair looking for eggs.

Yes, Chantal and Nancy please sign me up for this job! I can't wait! Just in case my kids don't get the Lice, please let me pick through some strange child's crusty scalp so these bugs can crawl up my arm or jump (because you know they can jump up to 6 feet) into my hair. Please, I would love the experience.

First of all, I had to go around all day wondering WTF a "luizenmoeder" did in the class. I thought to myself, did I read this correctly? Litterally translated, it means a Lice Mother. Were they asking me if I was a mother to some lice? Or maybe if i could mother some lice? And I had no one to ask until after work when I was able to ask the daycare teachers. Yep, they needed a nit picker!

So, one could only imagine what was going through my head since I am certifiably psycho paranoid about my kids and/or especially myself, ever hosting these creatures. Not to mention my fear that the "new girl" in the class might be pressured into taking on such a task.

I would love to email back and say "Girls, in America we have nurses that do that sh#t!" But of course, I wouldn't want to give them the impression that I think I am too good for such a job (which I am), or God forbid, that I am a redneck (which of course I am, but still in the closet). I am sorry, I just don't see myself being the Lice Mother and not ending up in an institution. I am already shredding my scalp just writing about it.

Besides my mom used to always say to us growing up: You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose. I think it should apply to Nits too !

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Being a parent of course means making sacrifices. I am reminded everyday when I get dressed and I look down at my cottage cheese thighs and "The scar". But today, I made the ultimate sacrifice when I took my son to the movies and sat through the entire Chipmunks film without screaming, puking or running away.

I would rather five C-sections in a row without an epidural than to ever watch another Chipmunks movie ever again. It only took the first two minutes of the film for my skin to start crawling from the squeaky voices of these glorified animated rats. And to top it off, they werent even squeaking in English. And even though I'm fluent in Dutch, I hardly understood a single word that came out of their little out-of-sync rodent mouths. It was an hour of: squeak, squeak, squeakedy squeak squeak. For me, it was equivalent to an entire day of the teacher scratching her fingernails up and down the blackboard.

And just when I figured out that I could lean back with one ear pressing shut against the seat, my nose began to twitch. No...someone didnt! And then I remembered, I was sitting in a room full of nasty little nose picking, farting, poop machines. Yes someone did. Thank goodness it wasn't my kid. But after the first 30 minutes of gagging I wish it had been...I would have at least changed his diaper or underwear. The parent of the pooper probably knew it would take the rest of the movie to get it cleaned-up. It smelled like one of those, throw- them-into-the-shower accidents.

So I was in H-E-double hockey sticks on earth! My ears hurt, I was annoyed and sitting in a giant toilet bowl gasping for air.

But I looked over at Luca's face in the glow of the theater, I leaned back into my seat and remembered how lucky I was to even be sitting there sharing the moment with him. And then I realized, if it made him happy then I would watch the Chipmunks squeak-out Lady GaGa songs a thousand times...of course next time with ear plugs and vodka shots!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

For the birds...

There has always been a housing shortage in Amsterdam, for as long as I can remember (ok, I have only been here for 9 years so at least 9 years). Now it seems even the birds are having problems finding places to build their houses.

Bird house cluster communities like this one will soon be popping up all over the city. This one in particular has a canal view and the old lady on the first floor no longer has to go down to the canal to throw her bread to the birds. She just opens her window and hand feds them, one-by-one! Wait I think I see a bird just peeking into her window.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pancake Panic...Mama gets stuck!

There is no easy way to tell about my latest life changing experience..I just have to tell it...the Mammography machine swallowed my breast and wouldn't let go this morning.

Let me start from the beginning, hopefully it will help with my PSD. So this morning I go for my dreaded routine mammogram. First of all, I am suppose to go every year but to be honest, I hate it so much it ends up being quite a bit longer. I know, it's terrible and selfish, but nothing scares me more than to see "my girls" made into plastic pancakes (and its a bit painful as well).

I check in at the front desk and the receptionist says to me "Mam, you aren't even 30 why is the doctor asking for the mamo". She makes my day! I smile and tell her I am 38 and she apologizes. Wow, maybe I will come here more often! I then float into the waiting room totally oblivious to what was about the happen.

Finally I am called back into the torture chamber and its show time! I help the poor technician plop my first "girl" onto the griddle. The technician then steps on the pedal of pain and down comes the slab of clear plastic until it squeezes me into a pancake.

She taps some buttons on the machine and then hits the pedal again to raise up the plastic piece of hell. Nothing happens. She taps again. Still it doesn't budge. She slams her foot hard on the pedal. It doesn't even move a centimeter. It's stuck. I'm stuck. My boob is stuck in the mamo machine!

Oh my god, was all I could say. What if the machine decides to work again and continues to clamp down? Is it possible for it to squeeze my breast off? Visions of my breast exploding in the mamo machine race through my head. I have to get it out. I have to do it fast. I try pushing it out with my hands. Ouch! No way, this baby was lodged in there tight. Maybe I have some lotion in my bag or better yet the greasy leave in hair conditioner. I could grease it up good and get her out. In retrospect, thank God my purse was out of my reach.

Meanwhile, the technician was busy hitting buttons and stomping on the pedal until finally she rummages through the shelf above for the user's manual. She sweetly tells me "it was no problem" and that she would find the code in the book to release the clamp.

No problem? Obviously she is blind because there is a problem! I look down again at my poor baby and this time she is pale white. This throws me into hyper panic. She was dying! Forget about any future mammograms, I was gonna be one-breast-less after this day.

I have no idea what the torture technician did, but she taps on the pedal again and the clamp finally moves and in the right direction. I pull my poor girl out and hold her tight. Throbbing a bit and sore but she will be ok. We are reunited!

The tech looks at me with tears in her eyes and she says, "Ok, now the left one".

Monday, January 9, 2012

Where's the Fruity Peebles?

The Dr Oz show just began to air here in Holland for the first time and I finally got a chance to check it out. Besides the show constantly making me want to vomit, I realized how unhealthy the supermarkets can be in America. Here in Holland, unless you have ALOT of money to spend on your groceries and can shop at the higher priced supermarkets and buy the fancy pre-made foods, microwave meals and other American junk food, you pretty much make all meals from scratch with fresh veggies and meat. For my family, its cheaper to eat fresh fruits and veggies than to eat the easy made and American type products here. The only downside is that you have to go to the supermarket either every day or every few days because the products don't stay as fresh here for as long as they do in the states (and my fridge is the size of a high school locker). A great illustration of this is the above photo. This is the cereal section in the cheap supermarket. You can see some American cereals of course. But this is it. This is the selection. So you can imagine why my Baby's Daddy was amazed at the supermarket at Super Wal-Mart when picking out a cereal! The photo to the right is the cereal section of the ridiculously cheap supermarket that we shop at in the ghetto. There you only have maybe 4 types of cereal and that includes cream of wheat (that you have to cook). Sometimes when I am homesick I will go to the American shop and buy a $10 box of Fruity Peebles or Frosted Mini-wheats! And I eat the entire box in 2 days!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nit check!

Nit check! I used to hate these two words growing up in school. The school nurse would take us out of the room, one-by-one and pick through our hair with giant wooden chop sticks checking for little white/yellowish eggs. You could see the horror on  my classmate's faces when the teacher announced a nit check. And it was because we all knew...if you go out and don't come back have the LICE and for the days following, you would be condemned to playing all by yourself on the playground!

I remember each time the nurse would pick through my hair section-by-section, I would hold my breath praying to God she wouldn't find anything that resembled an egg. I was not only terrified of being the class pariah , but mostly of having tiny little bugs crawl through my scalp. Just the thought of it would make me itch! And itch and itch. One time when I was a bit older,  I even used the lice shampoo, just in case. I know, i'm a freak!

So you can imagine my horror when yesterday on the door to my kids daycare classroom, there was the dreaded sign: Lice outbreak in the class!

What! These kids barely have hair, what would a bunch of lice want on an almost bald head? My head immediately began to itch. I couldn't even get through the letter without both my hands frantically scratching the back of my head. I could see other parents beginning to stare at me, probably thinking "Ahhh, there is the source!"

So, I first made a bee-line for my baby girl..behind the ears, check no nits...on the roots underneath...check no nits. Ok, one almost bald child down, one with enough-hair-for-two-people to go.

It reminded me a lot of a showdown in a western...we faced each other...we looked...he wanted to run towards me and give me a gigantic hug...I didn't want him to touch me until I nit checked. Oh God, I thought, I would have to shave off all his pretty thick  hair...tears in my eyes. And I charged first, grabbed him by the shoulders and plundered through his hair like it was a Wal-mart blue light special. nits! For once I was happy that my son is a little Pig Pen and only washed his hair once this week! Not a good nest for a nit! So, we were safe...for now...

But I was in bed all night digging my scalp, scratching and even woke up from a dream that I had nits. I must have been scratching in my sleep as well because brushing my hair was very painful this morning. My god how am I gonna survive the elementary school years? I guess a mother's gotta do what a mother's gotta do...but I would rather change a million oozing stomach virus induced diarrhea diapers than have to pick nits from my kids hair!