Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Baby It's Cold Outside!

  Baby It's Cold Outside

  According to, it’s 42 degrees outside in Leiden, The Netherlands, but “feels like 34 degrees”. I have ‘my favorites’ on the weather center’s website to show the temperatures in Leiden, Plano, and Denver (where my sister lives - just for fun) simultaneously at the top of the page. Currently, it’s 79 degrees in Plano, Texas. And it’s 6:00 a.m. there right now. I sigh and shut the computer and look out the window into our small, but quaintly landscaped backyard. The leaves on the trees are finally starting to grow after months and months of blooming. This has been the longest spring I have ever seen. The sky is gray, a continuation of gray from the past 3 days. It’s drizzling. It may feel like 34 degrees, but I feel like this drizzle could turn to snow any minute now. Of course, this Texan knows little about cold, wet, climates. I almost wish it would turn to snow. If it has to be this cold and this wet, it might as well be pretty. I woke up this morning, well, my final wake up – my 6 month-old has been having trouble sleeping. And as any parent of a 6-month old, you know that means you could possibly be up anywhere from 1 to 7 times (or more, if they’re motivated!) in the middle of the night as well. But alas, I digress. I woke up this morning knowing that I was not going to leave the house today. I have been a stay-at-home mom for 13 weeks now, which, not surprisingly, corresponds with the exact number of weeks we have lived in Leiden, The Netherlands. I have a Masters in Accountancy. I sat for AND passed the CPA exam. I have 4 ½ years of public accounting experience. I’ve been to 6 continents. I’ve hiked through jungles and swam through caves in Belize with a flashlight on my head. I had an 11-hour layover in Paris by myself, climbed the Eiffel Tower in the French drizzle, lit a candle at the Notre Dame, and high-tailed it back to Charles De Gaulle in time to catch my flight to Ethiopia. I am a capable and motivated woman. I fiercely love my husband, children, and dogs. But today, I am not leaving the house under these conditions. I simply, refuse, and I knew that, the moment I woke up.
So, in celebration of the record-breaking, coldest-I’ve-ever-been-in-April-wintry-mix we have looming outside our windows, my 2-year old daughter and I watched Charlie Brown Christmas this morning. She goes down for her nap, and now I have my favorite Christmas CD playing in the kitchen. It was a gift for, well, Christmas from my college roommate. A mix CD of all her favorite Christmas songs and I’ve played it more times than I should probably admit, since we landed at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on January 21st.
I’m cleaning bottles when “ Baby It's Cold Outside” kicks off the CD. I couldn’t agree more. Well, honey, as I’ve learned, in order to stay warm, you need to wear tights under your jeans at all times and a jacket so thick that feel like you're wearing a freakin’ comforter. Top it off with a hat, scarf, gloves, and weatherproof boots tall and wide enough to go over your tights, and skinny jeans – and you’ll be warm enough to walk home in any weather! Stay if you’d like and fall for his advances, or get yourself a new wardrobe.
I put the bottles in the microwave to sterilize and Silent Night starts playing. I wearily eye my 6-month old as he plays in his exersaucer on the other side of the kitchen. Don’t I wish. I’ve already spent an hour today trying to figure out how to find/import Enfamil Gentlease formula into The Netherlands (you can’t). And trying to research (again!) if the major Dutch brands of formula have types of formula for fussiness or gas, with the help of Google Chrome automatic translate function. He’s so hungry all the time and spits up a lot. We first tried the hongerige baby (hungry baby) formula. But that did not sit well with him. So, we went back to normal and he started spitting up constantly. So, then we tried the anti-regurgitation formula – which was basically the consistency of gak or mud – which resulted in a lovely evening of a record-breaking 8 times waking up during the night. The other problem is, that the Dutch are so-anti-formula and pro-nursing, that they aren’t even allowed to advertise formula for babies under 6 months old. No information available. So, after an hour of searching, all I found, much to my dismay, no formulas for anti-gas or fussiness or colic, just formula for food allergies, which I don’t think, is quite the solution. Who knows? I don’t miss A LOT of things about America. . . but Enfamil Gentlease would be on the top of the list, followed quickly by good Mexican food that I don’t cook myself.
I start to prepare my daughter’s snack for when she wakes up from her nap. A beautiful, lovely song by Sara Bareilles is next on the rotation. “Winter Song” rings through the car stereo that’s been implanted into my kitchen cabinets. The owners of the house remodeled a few years back and updated the kitchen with a car stereo and speakers. It apparently was a less expensive way of putting a stereo in the kitchen. The Dutch are very economical like that. Either way, I like it; although, the CD player gets so hot, I fear for the life of my CDs when I play them. Anyway, as I was saying, Sara's delicate voice resonates my fragile and fatigued soul – “This is my winter song to you. The storm is coming soon. It rolls in from the sea.” (We are about 10 minutes from the beach, so yes, the storms are always coming!). Then her sweet, angelic voice continues, “This is my winter song. December never felt so wrong. (okay, I admit, I thought she said December never felt so long until I looked up the lyrics. Freudian slip – but it works. I’m feeling December in April, either way), she continues, “You’re not where you belong” (debatable). I’m smiling and mesmerized by the melody. It’s just gorgeous.
I shake myself from my daze. My daughter is crying upstairs. I run up the 18 super-steep stairs to the 2nd level. (Although the Dutch call the bottom floor, floor zero, and the next floor the 1st floor, etc. Potentially very confusing when the movers are here delivering your furniture and you have 3 floors total. . . .) I bring her downstairs and now I’m sashaying around the tiled floor to "Pennies from Heaven", much to the delight of my 6-month old son and Border Collie, Dash. Dash has grabbed his pink dragon (imported from the US and honestly, I’m not sure how much longer it’s going to last – similar to the kids clothes) and is hopping around happily. Tyler, my German-Shepard mixed dog is preoccupied with guarding my daughter during snack time in the dining room. I can’t help but picture Buddy The Elf when this song plays. He’s excitedly discovering a new world and then spins himself silly through a rotating door until he vomits into a trash can. Buddy and I have more in common than I originally thought. Hum.
A host of other Christmas classics accompany my daughter and I through our ‘cooking time’ where today, we bake a Spice Cake. I had originally planned to bake chocolate chip cookies (apparently, non-existent in this country, and I’ve been craving them for months!) but I’m out of butter. Well, they don’t really have butter sticks here, either. But anyway, we don’t have any butter, and, as stated before, I refuse to walk to the store today with two kids in the double stroller, and consistent with our Christmas theme, making the house smell like cinnamon sufficed, anyway. . .
I smiled deeply as I showed my daughter how to set the table for dinner while the final song of the CD played. My heart filled with gratitude and memories as Auld Lang Syne accompanied us during the most mundane of chores. “Should old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne!” . . When dreams they seem so far away, Your soul can feel so low. But love is never far away; Your heart won't be alone. . . Let’s make a world where people care, A world that knows no fear, Where we can open up our hearts, And hold each other dear.” Although I’m literally a half a world away from nearly everyone I’ve known and loved, I know love transcends all time and borders. I’m so excited for our opportunities in The Netherlands. Celebrating Christmas in April may be crazy, but the messages hold true throughout the year and why not? It “feels like 34 degrees”. What else are you supposed to do with that information? =)


  1. YAY!!! Lovely post, and so much more vivid than an email :-) Love it.

  2. I hate to tell you this, but we had reasons to leave The Netherlands. One of them was the climate. The heating season is when the 'R' is in the month (SeptembeR - ApRil). Sometimes temp. stay stuck in the 60's all summer, but maybe with global warming you get a few warm days (70's maybe 80's). In general June can be the best month. Things change, when Kittie and Vincent were baby's it was all formula, breast feeding was bad.