Another bike fall, a robotic mop, and doing the uncoolest thing ever to my son – settling into Amsterdam

While still bruised from the falls from last week, those bruises have gotten new bruises owing to another fall. I wasn’t even riding, which is the worst part. I was cruising the ‘burb around 10pm with my son Max (it’s good practice for me), had paused to chat to him, and as I was getting going again, I fell over before liftoff, this time grazing my elbow quite badly too. I had a moment of “I’m never riding a bike again”, but then I remembered that getting around without a car AND a bike takes a bit longer, and as terrifying as it is, I quite enjoy riding around.

The day after my fall, I got back on the bike (literally and emotionally), and drove through peak-hour traffic (kinda) to a tram station. My husband and son generally lead, and I follow slowly behind them. I got confused and thought they were at another tram station, so I rode on and on, and realised I’d gone further than them. A quick phone chat to the husband, and I was back on my chariot, trying to find them at their stop, which I did. I honestly felt like I had won the Grand Prix, except with self navigation. Small big victories for me.

Since I’m now a bit obsessed with cleaning, this week could be considered a cleaning win. Firstly, I found an incredible-smelling fabric softener. Then, irritated with all the dust in our apartment (I generally have to wipe surfaces every 2-3 days), I decided to give the Swiffer Duster a shot. It traps the dust, instead of “shoo’ing” it way, and next to our cordless vacuum cleaner, it’s my favourite item. I don’t need to get up on a chair and clean the tops of cupboards and other high surfaces – the Swiffer does it all. Interestingly and unbeknownst to me at the time, when I was doing my online shopping just before we emigrated, I popped some duster refills into my cart, thinking they were dusting cloths. So now I have extras – woohoo! I realise there’s now a fine line between crazy cleaning lady and lady who loves cleaning).

We also got a Bravaa, a robotic mop that I’m still undecided about. It’s the sister of the Roomba vacuum cleaner, which is next on my list for hard-to-reach-with-our-regular-vacuum spaces, We’re still getting to know our robotic pal, and while I see dust/dirt on the cloth after its completed a cycle, I’m not yet convinced that it does a better job than a manual mop job with water and soap (the Bravaa just uses water). But I’m NOT giving up on this little guy yet.


My son started school too, and he bravely went off on his first day, while I bravely held in the tears, and then let them flow as soon as I turned the corner after dropping him. The school seems to be integrating him well into Dutch, and translating necessary things into English. He sits in a cluster with Dutch-speaking kids who speak English too, and from what I can gather, they are helping to translate things for him.

I never really knew what my son got up to at school in South Africa as he wasn’t always communicative, even though I know all the correct leading questions to get kids to communicate after a school day. Despite my experience as a journalist, it’s still hard to get all the intel, but he seems happy and taking everything in his stride. He walks to and from school most days – we live about 200m away, if that. We are so close in fact and so well positioned, that I can see the schoolyard from my bedroom. So what is a good Jewish mother to do on his first day at a new school in a new language? Watch him from our room during breaktime, of course.

In fairness to me, I was sorting out washing for a few minutes, and then happened to see kids on break – I swear this is the truth. I went up to the window, and spotted my little dude, alone at first, which prompted a slew of tears. Then he was talking to a kid, and seemed to look up at the window – I wasn’t wearing my glasses, so I wasn’t sure. In order to be sure, I stuck my head out the window, and started waving to him. He didn’t wave back, so I assumed he hadn’t seen me. Then it seemed that he looked up again, and so I waved again, to no response. “Ah well,” I thought. “Better luck next time”.

That afternoon, when Max got home, he asked me please to never spy on him again. Spy? Me? I was just gently checking in on him. And that wave? What on earth was I thinking? This was hands-down the most cringy and embarrassing thing I’ve ever done to my son, and my notion of me being a semi-cool mom has now been flipped on its side. Poor dude. He’s now so worried that I’m going to casually “check in” on him, he Whatsapps me just as break starts, kindly asking me NOT to spy (such a negative word, this) on him. As if I ever would. Oh wait…

He seems happy heading off each morning, but my mom heart is still in a knot worrying about how he’s getting on, and if he’s alone at breaktime by choice or by “necessity”.

Max’s class went on an outing to a garden, and picked some veggies, which he made for supper. Spot the windmill in the background!

We hoped for our sanity and work productivity that Rebecca would also start school last week, but she’s only starting this week. She had a short trial run on Friday, and happily went off, and settled in well. She stayed for two hours, and this was the first time since March that I have been in our home without her. Five months!!!! We have also been with her continuously since arriving in the middle of July as we’ve have had no playdates, visits, babysitting etc. The silence was deafening, and it was at once comfortable and sad. I kinda missed her. The lockdown has made us very close, but this mom needs to work and to not pretend I’m in awe each time she sees and aeroplane outside (“Looooook, another aeroplaaaaane!“)

I think she will settle well, and will adore the company and the crafts. I know she is in good nurturing hands, and she’ll also have three half-days of integration at her next class, which she moves over fully to on September 15, when she turns four.

Other than this, we seem to be finding routine. Weekly plastic bottle recycling at the shops, Tuesday-night box offloads at the bins for special collection, nightly plant watering according to my app, and Saturday outings to museums or other places of interest. There are weekly linen changes, almost daily deliveries from Bol (like Takealot on steroids) of things we still need, and bi-weekly supermarket deliveries of bulk items such as milk and loo paper that we don’t feel like shlepping ourselves. There are daily visits to the park after work, and we’re discovering more and more of these. Within around 1km of our apartment, there are about eight parks – one huge one (Amstelpark), and many other little ones, some of which are tucked away.

There is still some admin to sort out – converting our drivers’ licences to Dutch ones, and finding things like life insurance and good savings/investment plans here.

Something I’ve experienced a lot the past week is the different seasons in one day. For example, the other evening I walked to the shop and it was fairly hot. I walked out after about 20 minutes, and it was raining hard. The weather shifts all the time, and we’re learning to take umbrellas, sweatshirts and raincoats when we go out.

On Saturday, we rode to a tram station about 1.5km away. The weather was a bit overcast, and mid-cycle, it started pouring with rain. I was wearing my new raincoat (Rains has brilliant ones – thanks to Sherianne for the recommendation), but my pants got soaked as my coat didn’t cover them. The kids handled it well, which I think was very Dutch. The Dutch just get on with life, whatever the weather. And this is what we try – ride through the storms bravely, protect ourselves from the elements, and enjoy the sun while it’s there.

Yours in raindrops and bruises,

We visited the Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh’s famous sunflowers

Sunset from our apartment – the sun is going down earlier and earlier

Out and about in De Pijp

Us out and about in De Pijp. Still holding out for a date night one of these nights. It’s *only* been five months! Sigh.

After lunch in Westergasfabriek

Sunflowers on my run – these always bring a smile to my face


Feature image: Shutterstock

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    31 August 2020 at 2:01 pm

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  • Marcia (OrganisingQueen)

    26 August 2020 at 12:48 pm

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