On Sunday, we left Amsterdam and made our way to Eindhoven – our home for the next week!
Instead of taking a more direct route, however, we went a bit out of the way to visit a few more areas. I really wanted to visit the iconic Dutch windmills and found that just south of Rotterdam, in Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage site! However, since we would be passing through Rotterdam already, we stopped at the Markthal (Market Hall). It’s an incredible building with a massive atrium where merchants sell local foods mostly. There is also a small Asian market inside. We had a small sushi lunch after we had picked up some delicious stroopwafel. A stroopwafel is two very thin waffles with caramel between them.
We next took a quick photo of the Kubuswoningen (Cube Houses) which were practically next door. These were created in the 70’s and have a very unique design and structure to them. Having seen both items, we made our way to the windmills while passing by the large Erasmusbrug (bridge) and De Rotterdam. It then started to rain and was raining pretty good by the time we arrived at the windmills. After packing you up securely in your carrier, then under my coat, we took a few quick photos of the windmills and then had a coffee in the gift shop. We decided to buy tickets for a boat that drove along the canal which was flanked by many windmills for a closer look without needing to brave the rain and wind! Hopefully we will be able to return sometime to tour them better!
Once we left the windmills, I took a nap in the backseat while we drove to Philips in Best so your Baba could see where it was for the drive on Monday. We then drove to a nearby shopping mall where we had to buy a dress shirt for Baba and some needed supplies since our bag still hadn’t made it! It is challenging buying the necessities when you don’t even know the language! For instance, I had to Google some text on the formula to make sure I was actually making it right. I also found (later) that what we had thought was shaving gel was actually just face wash – oops! No wonder it wasn’t helping on shaving!
Once we got to the hotel, we checked in and had dinner with two of Baba’s colleagues at the hotel restaurant. Finally, we went to our room to finish up the evening. Gladly, we learned that the luggage had made its way to Amsterdam and would likely be delivered to our hotel on Monday!
What a day! The rest of the week we will be taking much more easy. Baba will be working so you and I will go out for lunch and short walks, but otherwise we will chill in the room and I will work in the afternoon. 2-6 pm in Netherlands is 8-12 am in Ohio thanks to a six hour time difference!
Yesterday we arrived at the airport and ended up finding that our luggage was lost! Hopefully it will arrive today, but in the meantime we drove to our hotel to get started. Yes, Baba is driving for the first time in Europe! It’s a great thing he learned how to drive manual – most of the cars are manual transmission here. Once we checked in, we opted to take the train to Amsterdam instead of driving. After a short 20 minute ride, we arrived at Amsterdam Centraal – a major public transit hub. It is also a huge tourist area as we quickly discovered!
Upon leaving the station, we were greeted by beautiful views of Amsterdam. One thing that really struck me is the sheer number of bicycles. It is astonishing how many people ride bikes everywhere. Also, the marijuana. Wow – lots of marijuana here!
We made our way through the winding streets and swaths of people to the National Monument. This is a public square filed with even more people and almost as many pigeons! Next we went to Pott Change to convert some currency into Euros (€). While there are many places that will do this, my research showed Pott Change to have one of the best conversion rates. The quoted rate was drastically more favorable to us than in any of the airports by a lot.
To really see the many many canals in Amsterdam, we took a ride on the Lovers Canal Cruise. There are many options with varying prices. Some let you on and off over a 24 hour time period while some just make a loop. Ours made a loop and provided snippets of history re-recorded. Our cruise was just over an hour long as well. We passed by Anne Wright’s house, history related to Rembrandt, and buildings with historic significance. A prominent item were the many boathouses. It was stated that new ones aren’t allowed, but the current ones have a vast range of shapes and styles.
Before we went to have dinner, we found the red light district. While we obviously didn’t go into any shops, it was a very vibrant and interesting area! Finally, we searched for where to eat. I prevailed and we ate at Pancakes Amsterdam. These aren’t your American pancakes though (however those are on the menu if desired). Mine was a large thin pancake with grilled chicken, cucumber, and tomatoes embedded. It was quite delicious!
We wrapped up the evening by taking a train back from Amsterdam Centraal to Hoofddorp. It was a short walk from there back to our hotel for the evening. We made several calls but made no progress in determining the status of our missing luggage. Hopefully we will see it soon!
More coming soon when I talk about our journey on Sunday!
Today I will share what I hope to be the first of many product reviews. These are my takes on items I’ve found useful. In some cases I’ll review items I have also felt were worthless!
Today’s review is for the Boon Grass drying rack and the Boon Twig*.
The Boon Grass, pictured above, is simply two pieces of molded plastic. The base is a white item which the ‘grass’ sits in. The green part is made of a firm plastic and does not have give, unlike what it may appear in the photo. Both parts should be periodically washed in warm water for sanitary reasons.
Zhengbin had purchased this item although I wasn’t too sure of it. However, we have now used in religiously for over two weeks. I can’t think of a better way to dry all of the bottle parts! Because everything is raised, everything dries consistently and quickly while also looking stylish.
I was so pleased with the Grass, I purchased the Boon Twig (sticking up in the photo with the nipples hanging off) as well. It helps all the random parts dry better and manages the available space more efficiently! Total, both the Grass and Twig can be had for around $20 – a good deal for something practical yet cute!
*Note: by visiting Amazon and purchasing the product, this site will receive a small commission from Amazon. This does not influence my opinion of the product being reviewed.
Kaili, you are already on your way to experiencing all this world has to offer – and you don’t even realize it yet!
Yesterday was a big day when Baba, Daddy, and you traveled from home, to Toronto Canada, and finally to Amsterdam Netherlands! Actually, it was your second time visiting Toronto – you were also there May 21, 2016 when you were -9 months old! Just over six weeks old and you’ve already had two flights and visited two countries!
We had help from some fantastic ticket counter staff at both Air Canada and Jet Airways to resolve the fact that we did not have an infant ticket. Air Canada moved us in the plane and even gave us an additional seat to where we were able to strap in the car seat! Amazingly you slept the entire flight not even noticing we had even moved! During the flight your Baba was even able to get some time in reading his UDI regulations – that’s some riveting reading.
The Jet Airways ticketing staff of Vivian and Samiya. They worked for about an hour and then rushed us through to security to ensure we made the second flight. Vivian was visibly excited when she finally got their system to issue us a ticket too! The crew on the flight were all very kind and accommodating – we were able to get a bassinet for you so you had a large spot of your own! Everyone was fawning over you and of course – commenting how cute and well behaved you were. We sat next to a wonderful couple from Sri Lanka who live in Toronto – fantastic people to chat with and learn about each other!
You did infinitely better at flying than I thought possible! Keep it up for the next several decades. 🙂
Until next time,
Today, our girl turns one month old! It is amazing that it has already been one month, but here we are! At times it seems like years have gone by, then other times it has only been a few days.
You have grown a lot as well! You are now able to hold your head up more if you’re on our chest being burped. As well, you are definitely checking out the world more and looking at what is going on. Physically, we estimate you to now be just over seven pounds. I also think you are longer now as you seem taller in your car seat.
The next month should be another interesting experience as we all continue to grow as a family. We can’t wait to see how much more you grow and develop on your journey to a strong young lady!
Today is the day you were expected to be born – Monday, February 6th, 2017. However, you decided that you just couldn’t wait to meet us, so you opted to join the world three weeks ago instead.
When your American grandparents were over last week, Grandma would mention how you weren’t really born yet! Well, today’s the day so now you’ll have to start pulling your weight around the house. 🙂
In the past three weeks, you’ve gone from a great birth by our surrogate, to a quick hospital discharge, to a pretty smooth long drive home, to where you are now! You’re now eating on a more regular basis and starting to look around at the world more too. I also think that you have gained some good weight. We think that as of Friday you likely are 6.8 lbs which would be a one pound gain from your birth weight.
Keep up being a great little girl, Kaili!
Another week, another post, but this time with some interesting and odd topics. You, Kaili, are now 2.5 weeks old and are learning how to be a better tiny human in this world. You’ve lost pretty much all of your yellow jaundice coloring since you’ve pooed many times in the past week. We also have learned more about you – how you sleep, how to train you better, and what you are needing.
But, let’s get to the two topics indicated in the post topic – pacifiers and poo! We had received a few sample pacifiers from Nuk, but we’ve found that you instead very heavily prefer the JollyPop pacifier (shown above). The Mayo Clinic had given us several of these and they are certainly the best way to keep you happy between feedings when you are being especially fussy. We’ve found that the Nuk is just too rigid and doesn’t have any give – traits you seem to really enjoy in a pacifier!
For poo, we are happy that you have been pretty regular by going at least once a day or more. A regular baby is a happy and healthy baby!
We are also finding that you are already working on your muscle control! Yesterday you seemed to have a short time of some good neck control by moving your head around a pretty good amount without any support!
Keep it up, little one!
It has now been one week since your birth, Kaili. Your baba and I are working in shifts to feed you every two hours, and I thought I’d share some musings while holding you between two especially-late rounds.
I’ve watched you sleep for a week’s worth of naps now and I wonder – what do you dream about? I can watch your eyes move about and your face contort with whatever dreams you may be having, but I wonder what the topics could be at such a very young age. Are you dreaming of being back in the warm watery environment you were in a week ago – being cared for by our wonderful surrogate and her family for the previous nine months? Are you already dreaming of the future you could have with your two dads? It is an interesting thing to contemplate.
I’m also thinking about sleep, or the lack thereof, that I am getting. I should be sleeping between feedings right now but instead I just can’t put you down nor keep myself from looking at you. Sure, I’ll zonk out after I put you to sleep after the next feeding, but I’ll be back up again before you – or I – know it to care for you again. It’s all worth it though to keep you well fed and healthy at this – the start of your life.
Well, another feeding and diaper change is coming up in 10 minutes. I’ll have to wake you from your peaceful slumber. This post started with a photo of you from just before I started writing, so it’s fitting for me to add another of you from just now as well at the end.
Kaili was born on January 16, 2017 at 7:50 PM central. She was born in Rochester, MN and weighed 5 pounds, 13 ounces and was 19.25 inches long.
Kaili was born in the Chinese Year of the Monkey. The Year of the Monkey for 2016 ends on January 27, 2017 in the Gregorian calendar with the Year of the Rooster starting on January 28th, 2017 – the beginning of the Chinese New Year!
Kaili’s name holds special meaning and ties to both of us – her Daddies. Her full name is Kaili Marie Xu. The name Kaili, in Chinese, is 凯丽. The first character, 凯, is the same as the first character of Keith’s Chinese name – 凯斯. Kaili’s middle name, Marie, is also a tie to Keith as it is Keith’s Mom’s middle name as well. The last name, Xu – 徐 – carries on the Xu name from Zhengbin!
Kaili had a lot of help coming into this world. We obtained the help of IARC to start a surrogacy program. Eventually we were matched with a fantastic surrogate and learned more about her and her family while they learned about us. We all traveled to Toronto, Canada nine months ago where things really got going with the help of Dr. Librach and the Create Fertility Centre! After nine months together, we feel ever closer with our surrogate and her family. We were able to arrive several days before the birth to spend time with their family as well!
We look forward to our wonderful future together with our new daughter and the many joys and learning experiences we will all share together!
Welcome to the site for the newest addition to the McDermott/Xu family, Kaili Marie Xu!
Kaili was born today, January 16th, 2017 at 7:50 PM Central time. She is 5 pounds, 13 ounces, 19.25 inches long and is doing well!
We couldn’t have been able to welcome our little girl into this world without the wonderful help of our fantastic surrogate. Our surrogate and her family have given our baby a loving environment to grow in for the past nine months!
For reference, Kaili’s name is pronounced the same as you would say “Kylie.”
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available and check our her Dads’ websites – KeithMcD.com and JustinXu.com.