Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Still jogging!

It's hard to believe, but I have kept up with jogging!!!  Rounding off my 4th month of jogging I feel I might be getting the hang of it, because the first few months sure didn't go as planned.  One thing was for sure, I knew I wanted to do it and I was going to figure it out no matter what I had to go through.  It seems so silly, it should just come naturally but it didn't for me.

In the beginning (ok, couple of months) I experienced extreme leg pains, to the point it was even affecting me when not jogging.  I read every article I could find and they all seemed to provide different information.  But after a while I saw the same pattern, shoes, terrain, and stance.  Well, shoes (Asics Trail Tambora 3) were taken care of for my birthday, and as far as terrain, I do my best to jog in woods, asphalt, or stone paths versus the sidewalk.  But this wasn't enough.

I turned to my stepdad who is an avid jogger and he said I needed to think about compression, wrapping my legs to help with the pain.  Well, I unfortunately don't have time to wrap my legs, see, I squeeze jogging into my schedule twice a week and it can't take up anymore time than it already does.  Then I remembered when researching shin splints and tibia pains, they kept mentioning compression socks or sleeves.  They're expensive but luckily I received an Amazon gift certificate for my birthday and I knew just what to buy.  Being that I order from the UK and have it shipped to The Netherlands you can't always get the exact item you want, so I ended up with men's compression socks - but hey they still do the job.  I love them, from the moment I put them on I knew they were going to help.  Too bad it takes 5 minutes to get them on, they are soooo tight, probably could have gone with the next size up.  Besides the socks I ordered support soles for my shoes but after a couple uses took them out and never thought about them again.  (BTW, I use 2XU Men's Compression Performance Run Socks.)

Now that the socks were helping I felt I could start making progress.  Yet still I was experiencing pain while jogging, and I knew this just wasn't how it was supposed to be.  But who is supposed to teach someone that doesn't want to spend the money for a trainer, I'm a beginner and didn't want to invest anymore money than I already had.  I went back to the articles I had read about stance and thought I should just try something different, even if it was for one session.  For some reason it was pounded into my head to jog heel to toe, maybe that's because it's how we walk.  So when these articles said to land on the middle of my foot or even my toe, I thought they were crazy.  But I tried it.  Instant relief, wow!!!  After this point I had already been jogging with injuries, so it took a while for the pain to go away and the muscles to properly start building.  I used to ask everyone, why do I only feel it in my calves and lower legs when I jog, and no one could answer me.  Now that I land midfoot instead of on my heel, I can feel my thighs and abs working, yes!

It's been a couple weeks since I adjusted my stance and I finally feel I am making progress.  The only other thing I had to work on was my playlist.  I had been using a couch to 5K program but since I don't have the time to jog 3 times a week it wasn't working, plus the music sucked and didn't motivate me at all.  I decided I needed my own music but since I still walk & jog in intervals I couldn't just let the music play on, I wanted it to change per activity like the program I had used.  So I searched out an MP3 cutter, and now adjust the songs to the amount of time I want to jog or walk.  It's simple, fast peppy songs mean jog, and slow songs mean walk, I even added a warm up & cool down.  It's been really motivating.  And as I improve I adjust the length of the songs, I trim off walking time and build up jogging time.  I hope to one day be able to jog for at least 20 minutes straight (have to set small goals and be realistic).

Needless to say, I enjoy jogging and pushing myself.  Telling my body to just hold out and keep running because the song will eventually end, ha-ha!  (I'm only up to 3 minutes at a time.)  And besides everything I mentioned above, I still tote my dog along for company and use Endomondo to track my results.

Any of you have any jogging tricks to share?

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wishful Thinking

About a thousand times in my blog I've mentioned that our apartment in the center of (downtown) Eindhoven has been for sale for roughly 3 yrs.  I try my best not to get my hopes up (see we want to move, we don't have to move - which affects the asking price) but occasionally I let my mind wander.  What kind of house would I want if it was even a possibility?  Using Funda (a housing website) I look around at our options and try to decide what suites us best.  I generally lean toward the older homes from the '30s, they seem to have a lot of character on the outside.  But knowing myself I would want to gut the inside and make it completely modern.  Once in a while I look at the newer houses, but the "modern" way of building here in The Netherlands seems to lack charm.  Being that we've lived in the busy part of town for around 9 yrs, it makes us start to think a quiet neighborhood isn't for us, which means a townhouse in the city.  What happened when that crossed my mind, the worst... I started daydreaming about how I would decorate it!  Ahh, that's sooo not like me.  But what did I end up with... love these terms... rustic industrial chic.  Curious as to what that looks like, thanks to Pinterest I already have lots of great ideas.  I must admit it's awfully neutral for someone who loves bright colors, but I figure I could add pops of color here and there.  Now just to get a house, and the money to afford such unique quality furnishings & finishing's!


Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nature Helps

My head has been swirling lately, and to be honest the creativity has been temporarily sucked out of me.  Why?  My kindergartner (group 1) is having a hard time adjusting to full school days at her new school.  There are a lot of tears and stomach aches, and I don't mean just her.

As my husband took her to school this morning (trying anything to help), I wanted to just stay inside in my pajamas and give into the sadness.  But we all know that's not the answer.  So I turned to nature, it's beautiful, calming, refreshing, and above all it makes my dog happy.  And it's nice to see someone in the house happy. 

We went for a wonderfully long morning walk through farm land here in the middle of Eindhoven.  And I thought I'd share some of the pics I snapped along the way.

And if any of you have any tips on dealing with children & school separation anxiety please leave a comment!




Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Irrland - Germany

This summer we had a weekend of fun family activities in Germany.  Besides Movie Park we also visited Irrland.  It's a huge park, I mean massive!  There's everything from swimming pools & slides to mazes & bouncy houses.  And it only costs €5 per person!!!  There is no way to truly experience the park in one day, but due to the low entry fee and the fact it's actually not so far from Eindhoven we'll definitely return.

We set up shop in Irrland North, in a centralized spot so the kids could find us.  Since there is limited food in the park we brought out own.  Almost every table includes a bbq grill, so we were sure to stop off at the grocery store on the way.  We made a day of it, eating, drinking, and playing at our leisure. 

Things to keep in mind, again the place is huge.  Be sure to rent a wagon to load all of your items in because you can't just pop back to the car.  And the walk from one section to the other is quite long.  Like I said, bring your own food.  You can buy drinks there but if you've already packed food you might want to pack drinks also.  There is tons there to rent, from little boats to bikes, so be sure to bring cash.  Don't forget your towels & bathing suits, because someone is bound to go in the water.  And bring sunscreen too, well, that's if you're going in the summer.  Most of the park is out in the open, and nobody wants to go home sun burnt.  Get a map on your way in because finding your way around at first can be overwhelming.  There are plenty of bathrooms, loads of parking, and endless activities.  There are also two towns close by if you do happen to forget any supplies.  Also, if you visit their website there is a great virtual map, my daughter loved looking through it before our trip.

We highly recommend a day (or two) at Irrland!  (FYI - it's also great for b-day parties.)

(Wish I had some original pics from the park but they're all full of family & friends, and I doubt they want their pics plastered on my blog!)

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Movie Park Germany

During the summer we like to make a trip over to Germany and spend a day at Movie Park.  It has fairly reasonable prices, and there is generally some kind of coupon or discount if you look for it.

Besides the decent prices there is plenty for the adults and adventurous kids.  There are at least 7 fast rides including roller coasters that even the little ones can go on.  Our daughter went on her 1st intense roller coaster at Movie Park when she was 3!  (She's a bit of an adrenaline junky... she went on Space Mountain at Disney when she was 4!)

Our daughters favorite part of the entire park is Nick Land of course and the Dora log flume is top of her list.  For the less adventurous kids there are slower rides, two playgrounds, and a handful of shows.  The parade is on the weak side, but the character show & stunt show are worth it.  And of course there is plenty of yummy treats along the way.

For the adults there are 3 large roller coasters and 4 other intense rides.  And for the entire family a couple 3D/4D rides.  My favorite ride is definitely the Van Helsing rollercoaster, it's fast & partially in the dark so you never know which direction you'll go!

The park tries to convince you to return for a 2nd day, but I feel you really can do everything in 1 day if you're willing to buy a Speedy Pass.  Instead of waiting 1 hour per ride, you can whip through the park not missing a thing.  We highly recommend the Speedy Pass, we've tried both Silver & Gold... you just have to read the details and decide which one works for you.

This time at the park my husband convinced me to go on one of these trampolines that soars you high in the air thanks to harnesses.  He would have done it himself but he weighed too much, see it's actually for kids but I met the weight requirements and convinced them to let me on.  And to be honest, wow, it's a little scarier than you imagine.  I pictured Cirque Soleil, and instead I flew around uncontrollably for a while.  Then went I attempted front flips, I ended up just screaming and wimping out halfway through.  But then I built up the nerve and finally did a back flip!  Once you get the feel of it the back flips are pretty easy.  (You can use your arms to pull yourself up & over.)  I would do it again, and definitely recommend it to the older kids!

So if you're ever in the area and looking for a fun summer day out, head over to Movie Park Germany!  (Only say summer because of the fun water rides, not something you want to miss out on because of the winter cold.)

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Changes, Changes

I promise I'll fill you in on our great summer, but I figured the best thing to do would be getting content on my blog again!  What's going on in my part of the world right now... well, we're on to a new phase.  Changes, changes...

See, for the last couple of years my daughter has attended Dutch schools.  Which re-immersed me into full-on Dutch culture.  As an expat your involvement with your surrounding culture can fluctuate, especially depending on who you associate yourself with.  Obviously if your kid attends a local school, well, you end up spending a lot of time with the locals.  As much as I love the Dutch or feel integrated, there are still moments when you remember you're foreign.  Even though Dutch & Americans look similar there are still underlying differences.  Besides the way I dress or my accent, interests also vary.  Standing at the Dutch school being one of the few foreigners was hard sometimes.  They don't mean to exclude you, which makes you have to work twice as hard at being outgoing and making friends.  They don't mean to stare or not quite understand what you're saying, hey Dutch is a hard language.  Needless to say it happens, and it can play with someones confidence.  All the while as a parent you're trying to keep your head up for your kid, be strong, and not show that you also feel anxious... telling them it's ok if the kids don't want to play or they're not being left out we just have different priorities.  I think both my daughter & I were looking forward to the summer.  A nice break to just be who we are for a while, Americans living in The Netherlands, living a mixed cultured life.

Since our daughter was born we knew we wanted to put her into the international school here.  My husband attended there, and many of his friends also.  The education level seems higher, it's in English, and it exposes the kids to the world we know - a world full of different cultures.  I think my daughter & I both took a breath of relief knowing we could speak English, finally being able to express ourselves as who we are.  (Your true personality doesn't always shine through when you're trying to communicate in a 2nd language, unless you're extremely fluent... often my sarcasm was confusing for the Dutch because they didn't realize I was joking, oops.  And as for my American husband, he's been dealing with this for over 25 yrs, it doesn't phase him at all.)

But then the 1st day of school came, and to be honest, it's a whole new set of challenges.  My daughter said it was hard to talk to the kids in class because they don't speak English.  All I could tell her was that they will learn, and never to forget how she felt at school trying to communicate in Dutch.  The school is beautiful and will offer many new opportunities for all of us, but as I stood there waving her off it truly sunk in that we're starting over again.  Very few faces we recognize, and with such a mix of cultures it was as if we were no longer in Eindhoven, wow there are a lot of foreigners in the area!  So now that we no longer stick out, except in the fact we've lived here so long and speak Dutch, it's now time to find out what international life is all about.  What was important to the kids & parents at her school last year is completely different this year. 

Being day 2 of this new phase, I'm not really sure what it will bring.  All I know is we're going to do our best to mix our Dutch life & our international life.  Not losing old friends, and definitely making new friends.  Being careful not to immerse ourselves so much in this new international life that we forget we're still in The Netherlands, and it's their country, and we need to be sensitive to that.  So much is swirling through my head, I've had trouble sleeping.  Despite all of the major changes throughout my life, I don't actually handle change well.  All I can do is what I've always done... chin up, smile on my face, and sign up for everything to get the best involvement.  Wish us luck!

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Monday, August 18, 2014

Coming Soon!

I know I recently promised more posts... and they're coming soon!

Keep an eye out for the following posts about our summer!


If I don't get to blogging this week, next week school starts and I should be getting back to a more fixed routine!

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Primark - Eindhoven

So back in November the largest Primark in the Benelux opened in Eindhoven.  To be honest, I had never heard of Primark until then.  Turns out its a British/Irish clothing retailer that sells clothes and what not at ridiculously low prices.  Seems like a great store for a frugal shopper like myself, except I hated the hype behind it all and refused to step foot inside until last week.  From the day it opened it has been insanely busy.  During the opening there were lines up and down the street.  Weeks later there was security letting people in and out to help control the chaos.  And last week, over 6 months after the opening it was still packed!

If it wasn't for wanting an outfit for a theme park and not wanting to pay more than €10 I probably never would have gone into the department store.  See theoretically I didn't need an outfit for the theme park, but I knew the year before walking around in wet jean shorts after the log flume wasn't the most pleasant experience.  My main goal was a pair of board shorts or even thin shorts that would quickly dry, and luckily I found them within 5 minutes of being in the store.  Good thing, because the chaos around us was starting to get to me.  I don't mind a crowd, but swarms of mostly women frantically going through racks and stacks of clothes is more than anyone can take.  Being that the store was new to me and the sizing was based on UK sizes, I decided I should try on the shorts so that I wouldn't have to return to the store.  We fought our way to the back and my mouth fell open when I saw the line for the changing room looping around the jeans section.  It was 11am on a Wednesday!  O.k., there went trying it on, I was going to have to hope for the best and return them if needed.  When we reached the cash register I saw the line was nearly as long as for the changing rooms.  But there were at least 10 registers open, so there was hope.  (It's so busy they even have digital boards to let you know which register is open, never seen this at a department store!)  Once outside the store we took a breath of relief and both swore we would never go back.

That was until I realized the only shirt I had to match the shorts was white, and I wasn't looking for a wet t-shirt contest at the theme park.  Oh no, this meant we were going to have to go back!  So on a Thursday at 2:30pm we returned, and it was still packed.  Almost hard to believe!

Needless to say we survived.  Found shorts for €4 and a t-shirt for €3!  Was it worth the stress and chaos... I think so.  Will I go back... damn, probably.  With prices like that I am starting to understand why all around the center of Eindhoven I see people carrying the brown paper Primark bags!

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica