September 2nd, 2015

That Whole Library Ebook Checkout Thing Got Much Better

I don't really like to buy the book group selections, because I so rarely actually like them and thus am unlikely to ever reread them. In order of preference, I'd most like to get them at the previous month's book group discussion, or my home library in town, or super cheap on Amazon used books. I went over to my home library's webpage and was distressed to note that while there were a bunch of copies in the Minuteman Library system, there didn't seem to be one at my town library (never mind it currently being available), which implied a request and wait cycle. But wait! It is available as an ebook, so let's try pressing that button. It says I got it! Now what? Aha, "Get" as a kindle. That sent me to Amazon, where I am perpetually logged in, so it was one more click and then turn off airplane mode on my kindle and boom, satisfaction.


Libraries are Awesome.

NL catch up posting complete (mostly); book reviews next but not right now

I've posted daily entries for the NL trip, but I also did a bunch of reading on the trip (finished the Ilona Andrews Edge series and the latest Kate Daniels book and the last Kitty the Werewolf book by Carrie Vaughn). I'll try to get those reviews on in the next day or so, but today is Wednesday which is T.'s half day and I think he is bored out of his skull waiting for the sitter, but keeps declining everything I suggest for an outing.

Vacationing from August 15-September 1: Why, What Worked, What Didn't

My regular readers have noticed a weird posting pattern lately, as I silently go on vacation and then do a bunch of posts after I come back. If you are wondering, why doesn't she post while on vacation? Yeah, okay, you've failed to appreciate the depths of my paranoia. If you're thinking, but you could lock the post and unlock it when you returned, again, _failed_ to appreciate the depths of my paranoia. When other people post about stuff I do with them on vacation, and it goes public -- even just to their friends -- before I come home, I get all nervous. I recognize this is an issue.

Anyway. I didn't post much of the planning, because of the same paranoia, so here is the summary post of why we did what we did and what we thought of it after (we = me pretending I speak for my husband and kids).

(1) There were a lot of snow days. I _was_ going to do the NL trip after school let out in June and return after July 4th weekend in time for the summer program to start (both kids have summer program on their IEP and if we want to keep getting that summer program, they have to show up and use it). However, last day of school kept moving. I delayed booking the trip until I couldn't stand it any more, at which point the amount of time available after our Cape trip and during June/July were roughly equal and one might change but the other wouldn't. So: August.

(2) Why didn't we move the Cape trip? Because we'd booked it the previous July, IIRC, and we had neighboring camping cabins at Cape Cod Campresort (see earlier trip reports); moving them was no sure thing. Besides -- that's one of the two times during the year we get to see the cousins and my sister so it is inviolate.

(3) Why didn't we skip this year and go next? Because A. is not getting any younger, and I'm a regret minimizer in terms of long term planning -- I didn't want the 2013 trip to be the last time I ever saw A. (not my A. -- the one we were visiting).

What, precisely, did we do? We went to the Cape nominally August 15-22, really August 15-21, but we often leave Friday evening of a Saturday to Saturday stay because we hate driving out Saturday morning it just sucks. That left us about 40 hours total, in which to unpack, do laundry, repack (somewhat differently because car vs plane, didn't need to bring linens, etc.), take the kids to therapeutic riding and get on an evening flight on August 23, returning September 1. That all worked well, altho R. had things he wanted to do around the house and found the limited time frustrating.

We booked business on the way out and coach comfort on the way back. Last time, we did business both ways. We take the Delta nonstop from Logan to Schiphol, red eye out, morning back. If I had my way, we'd leave in the morning either way, and just accept the lost time, but that flight doesn't seem to exist out of Logan. (<-- See, the paranoia is improving; I didn't used to mention business.) Delta's seats on this flight are now true lie flat, so that was way better than last time. Alas, it is still a crazy short flight. Had the June version of the trip worked, we probably would have done a triangle into London, gone up to see more relatives in England, and then hopped from Humberside to Schiphol, and home via Schiphol. And I wouldn't have flown Delta from Logan to London, but that's for another trip. We did comfort plus on the way back because A. _complained about the big seats_ going home in 2013. It's one thing to pay the big bucks for comfort as a once every few years thing, but not if I'm gonna hear temper tantrums about it. Seriously. I _will_ be holding this over her head when she's my age, if I live that long.

Efteling Bosrijk is basically the same, with wifi in the cottages this time (yay!). Easier to book this time, also, but they still are iffy on US addresses and don't ship the documents out so you do have to go to reception to get your keycard and tickets. It's a fantastic experience, easy walk or tram from the cottages to the park, great pool, pizza and other stuff delivered, short ride into town to the AH, good kitchen, etc.

Last time, we rented half a farmhouse in Diever. It was great, but we wanted something a little closer, so we tried De Kuilart. Equally good experience, but with access to a pool. I'd recommend either house if you are looking for a northern Netherlands rental house.

If I had it to do over, I probably would have reserved a spot on the Ameland ferry ahead of time. On the other hand, maybe we would have had bad weather and switched the date. *shrug* Walk on plus taxi was fine. With our own car, we might have gone out to Ballum and had a drink at Hotel Nobel, but Hotel Nobel will probably be there in a few years and we can always have that drink then.

I failed to ask for kids' meals for the kids or an allergy meal for me. I doubt it would have made any difference for the kids. I just packed a massive bag of food and we ate out of it. I probably should have requested a special meal for me. *shrug* It worked out fine, and this way my sodium consumption was probably lower (calories, too, maybe).

We didn't eat out much, and mostly at McD's, which I feel slightly bad about but A. (mine) freaks out when she smells almost any food at all, so it really takes a lot of the fun out of eating out at a nice place. We did a lot of our own food prep, and I ate a ton of veg and fruit. I am _so_ happy I have managed to finally get this habit back. It was one I had down pat when I was single and just traveling with R., but the kids were very disruptive. No matter what I did. But it's back!

Bringing the travel router was probably worth it, even with cottage wifi -- the travel router network was a little faster than the wifi. I bought a Euro power cord for my Anker USB charging block; that worked brilliantly. The ToiletTree oral irrigator (water pik, if you are willing to use a brand name for a different brand) worked so well I'm going to retire the other one and it charged off the Anker block. I brought some plug adapters and they worked great. By keeping my charging bag in my rollaboard carryon (that fits under the seat, no less -- yeah, I shopped long and hard for the Sherpani and it is SO worth it, especially since it stacks on the Zuca which I put in the overhead, and A.'s bag has one of those side things that lets me put it between the two hanging the other way), I was able to keep devices going through the whole flight for both kids, and end the flight with plenty of battery to survive the trip from the airport home.

We got our usual car service to and from the airport; it was great as always. We got BB&L Car Rental at Schiphol (pickup and dropoff in the departures lane; meet in the hallway) and it worked well altho they lost track of the booster request it did not really matter because A. is about tall enough anyway.

What I would do different:

(1) Bring more ChicoBags. It would have marginally helped with the food shopping and taken up very little additional space.
(2) Ordered allergy meal for the plane.
(3) Nailed down the Ameland trip earlier (altho I had a good excuse), and taken the car on the ferry and had bikes reserved for R. and T.
(4) Brought my rain poncho. The kids didn't use theirs, but R. deployed his effectively on wet rides like Pirana. Had I realized how effective being a dork would be, I'd have done it, too, at least on the cold days.
(5) Ordered bikes for length of stay through De Kuilart's bike concession _before_ arriving.
(6) Run the dishwasher BEFORE leaving or leave the housekeeper a note saying she needed to run it. Bad Smell. In her favor, the windows in the whole house are now clean inside and out; she did a lot of deep cleaning.

We've already booked our week at the Cape next year. We're going back to renting a house and we found one _right_ on a bike trail in Falmouth, making the Woods Hole outings bikeable, and swimming in the pond in the park across the street super easy. We may be able to get by with just the one car next year; we'll have to see.

Duolingo, FWIW, in conjunction with two more years of mostly weekly Dutch conversational lessons meant that I was a lot more able to carry on a conversation at least partially in Dutch. If you are trying to learn a language covered by Duolingo, and you aren't using it, I sure hope you have a better reason than "but it's translation oriented", because that thing _works_.

If you are wondering, we did cash for everything that we didn't prepay, except the car rental which took a credit card. And we still have cash left and we're using the cash we got for the first trip. I have no idea what it is about traveling to NL, but we just don't buy very much while we're there.