Monday, September 29, 2014

Pictures of our New House

Here we are, at our new house.  It's slightly bigger than our first apartment in Barcelona (though with the same lack of storage issues) but slightly smaller than our second apartment.  It's almost the same size as our house in Attleboro only with no closets, basement, attic or garage (so no storage.... seeing a theme here?).

We've gone from house (Attleboro) to apartments (Barcelona) and back to being in a house again. Though it's more of a duplex style type of house - the entire street is lined with them.  Very traditional style housing here in the Netherlands.  Our street only has houses on one side which is really nice.  So we've got views both in the front and in the back of the house.

To the front there is a field where Liam can watch for bunnies.  To the back is our small garden and shed, behind which is a smaller field and some woods.  Not far behind is the highway which we don't love but the house is soundproofed enough that we don't hear much (at least now while there are still leaves on the trees, we'll see come winter).  The kids are not allowed to go beyond the first bike path (there are 2 behind our house) since it will bring them too close to the highway.  But it's incredibly peaceful and quiet overall and the kids love walking along the nature trail.

Just 1/4 mile to the left of our house along the bike path is the water.  This inlet / pond actually leads out to the Baltic Sea.  You can see sailboats on it regularly, many of which likely come from our neighborhood which has it's own marina.  Even coming from the Cape, this is the closest Josh (or I) have lived to the water.  It's absolutely beautiful.

In the other direction there is another bike path that takes us into the Vesting (you saw more about that in another entry about our town), the town center.  Along this path we must ride by fields of sheep.  Not too bad. And we are definitely not in Barcelona any more!  I run along this path most mornings as the loop around the Vesting and back gives me an almost exact 4 mile run.

And in yet another direction you can walk by the marina and down to our beach.  A 5 minute bike ride away.  The beach is nothing to write home about (and yet here I write) but it's still a beach within 5 minutes of our house.  Not too bad.

I'm digressing from the house though.  It's small, it's cute, it's modern and overall it's comfortable and is starting to feel like home.  For the first time, Josh and I are on a separate floor from the kids as there are only 2 bedrooms upstairs.  The room we are using for our bedroom was the family room for the previous family (but they only had one small child) but given it has a door, etc, it works as a bedroom as well.  So the kids and the main bathroom are upstairs (a very steep staircase, very Dutch).  And the modern kitchen, living room, our bedroom and half bath are downstairs.

As with in Barcelona, we are without a dryer.  But we're used to that.  Only it was sunny there 300 days a year.  So we'll see how that goes long term.  But so far it's ok.  And we've got a whole laundry/storage type of room off the entry for shoes, jackets, cleaning supplies and the washing machine.

The kitchen is my favorite room I think.  I actually can't stand the granite as no matter how much I clean it with the appropriate cleaner, it streaks and it's hard to keep clean.  But I love having the island with the breakfast bar.  As do the kids.  When I'm making meals, they are hanging out chatting with me and I love having that time with them.  And we're eating together more often as a result.  New house, new rules.  No more eating in front of the tv no matter how much easier it is to succumb after a long day.  And so far, we're sticking with that rule.

My other favorite thing is the amazing amount of natural light this house gets.  There are skylights where you don't expect them (ask Josh about trying to turn off the lights in the hall his first night) and tons of big windows letting in the light even when the weather is bad.  Actually in not one of these photos was there a light on in the house.

So without further ado... here is our new house!  (still minus pictures on the walls but we'll get there in time).

Aidan on his first morning in the new house before getting ready for school

Master bedroom with a door out to the back yard

The room is quite large with room for all our furniture from the US plus my desk and the former owner's expedit bookcase (which doesn't match but functions nicely for an office bookcase)

Slightly different angle - there are two doors to this room - this one leads towards the stairs and main entrance to the house

And this one goes into the kitchen

Really no cabinets but making do with the space we have (plus our "American" cabinet) but very sleek and modern

That bookcase in the background - yup, that's all our American hoarding ;) 

Our small but functional backyard and by Dutch standards, I'm finding, quite decent sized.

View from outside thru the kitchen and into the living room - nice big open space

Kitchen island

Living room - we didn't bring our American sofas since we already had this one (a la IKEA)

Our non working (but hopefully will be soon if they ever get back to me) fireplace - excited to have a fireplace after 5 years, even if it is gas.

Kids homework table and more bookcases

View from living room to kitchen and outside

Main entry

Laundry room with my "dryer"

Very steep staircase 
(imagine the EMTs having to carry Josh down those stairs when he dislocated his knee!)

Aidan's room complete with his big American bed - he's sooooo happy!

Another view with all his legos on display

Other side of his room - 2 sets of windows in his bedroom and Liam's

Desk and budda bag chair

View out Aidan's window to the back yard

Hallway to Liam's room - door on the left is the bathroom, door on the right is the hot water heater, door next to that is the toilet (yes, separate from shower, very typical Dutch).

Liam's room, again 2 sets of windows to make it very light

We need to get rid of the sofa in Liam's room but haven't found any takers and he doesn't seem to mind it so it's there for now... 

Liam was so excited to have his US furniture and new Star Wars (and Captain America) sheets!

Liam has the only closet upstairs so all of Aidan's shirts also live here - not so convenient but we've dealt with worse in our time in Europe.

View out Liam's window

I took a step outside for some better shots of the area - this is the same view from Liam's room - there are no houses on the opposite side of the street, just a field.

Front of our house - we only have one side (the left), deliniated by the rooftop.

Our side

So that's it... our house.  Anyone who wants to come to visit is always welcome!!  Hope to see you soon in Naarden, the Netherlands!


Welkom bij Naarden (Welcome to Naarden)

Well, we are here.  And as you've seen from my other posts, it's been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for the last month.  But we're on our way and overall feeling pretty settled given the circumstances.  I do think having lived abroad before is helping, significantly.  It also helps that most people here speak English.  If only we'd had that in Barcelona.  Although, I don't think I would have changed a thing about the experience in Barcelona either.

Now that we are getting settled a little bit, I thought I'd share a little bit about the town we've moved to, Naarden.  In Spain, we lived right in the city of Barcelona which was a great experience.  Neither Josh nor I had ever lived in a city proper and we loved it more than we had ever expected.  And the kids took to it quite well too.

However, given that their new school is about 30 minutes from Amsterdam and there is no school bus, we decided that the time had come to move back to suburban life.  We weren't 100% sold on it given that we really enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the city and walking everywhere, we also thought it would be good for the boys to have a yard and grass again.

And so when we started our house hunt, we focused entirely outside of Amsterdam, primarily in the Almere area which is where the school is located.  But we found we didn't love Almere as much as we had hoped, or at least we didn't fall in love with any of the neighborhoods that we were shown or the houses.  But when we got to Naarden, there was just something special about it.  It's cute, it's quaint, it's upscale and the neighborhood we looked in seemed perfect to us.

While the house we are in is slightly small... actually the size itself is fine, it's lack of storage (typical European which we are used to but still not crazy about)... anyways, while it's on the smaller side, we really really love our neighborhood and this cute little town.  There will be pictures of the house in a later entry once I've got pictures on the walls, etc to make it look like home, but for now I thought I'd share a little bit about the town we've moved to.

The town of Naarden (map here) is adorable.  The center, or Vesting, is a star fort complete with fortified walls and a moat - on the map you can actually see the outline of the star, it's pretty cool.  Yes, a genuine moat.  I actually run around the vesting almost every day and it's the most tranquil place you can imagine to start your day.  On my way to get to the Vesting though, I must run along some fields complete with sheep and cows.  With bike paths all around, this is an easy trip with no cars nearby - just beautiful fields filled with farm life.  It's strange not having to jump out of the way of cars when running or sidewalks filled with people!

Along the route of the Vesting, there is a petting zoo type of area where the kids can feed chicken, sheep and goats.  We can also buy fresh eggs if we are so inclined.

Truly my favorite view as I run each morning...

Biking thru the field on the way to the Vesting (you can kind of see the top of the church in the distance) - ignore my handlebars in the picture, it was a shot on the go ;).  This is actually a bike path - don't be confused by the width of the pavement... bikes and people only!

Liam and his buddies the sheep :)

Trying to get close to the sheep only there is a canal behind the tall grass... 

Originally founded in around 900 AD, Naarden became an official town around the year 1300.  The original city was located even closer to the coast than it is today but was mostly destroyed by a war as well as water (literally the land has been swallowed up by the sea) in the mid 1300s.  The town as we know it today was built in the mid 1300s.  The Great Church (as you'll see in a lot of my pictures just because it's so photogenic) was built in the late 1300s.  The Church is considered to be gothic in design.

So that's our little town in a nutshell.  But pictures are what really sells it...