Tuesday, July 31, 2007


No those are not really sharks. LOL Several mornings I would walk the dogs at the beach on the Bay at Cape May and on my last morning, there were a group of Dolphins playing in the water very close to shore. It is fun to watch them.

This was also the first time that I realized that my dogs like the water. The first few years they would run from the water if we got too close. This year, Johnny (the black one) decided to pull me down to the water and he walked in up to his belly and sat down and cooled off. Tex followed close behind once he saw it was ok. LOL

I hope next year Petra will be walking along the sandy beach with me.

Practical information

Still not sure if I should do this, but seen how much work we had to do to get this info, I think it might be good to put it here.
Coming out of a very long relationship, I am not alone. With me comes my 12 year old son.
So far everything went fine, but with travel plans comes the realization that taking a minor over the border isn't easy when his parents are divorced.
Totally understandable, the other parent needs to know where the kid is and off course needs to know if it will return.
This results in a lot of paperwork when the other parent gives permission and trusts the other parent to return with the kid. I can imagine this can and will be used, abused in a situation where one or both parents have no reason to trust the other.

Anyway, if permission is there, both parents need to be at the city hall, with the kid, to apply for a passport. At the same time it is wise to have some sort of statement in which the other parent gives permission for the child to leave the country. This paper can also be legalized at the same moment at city hall.
This isn't all, it is also a good idea to have a birth certificate or some other paper that shows you are the parent of the kid.

From what I understand it is very important to have this done in the proper way, otherwise you can get into a lot of trouble.
It is a hassle, but needs to be done to protect the child.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Planning visits

We are having a lot of fun at the moment with planning visits. Right now it looks like there will be 2 more visits this year. Christmas is set and will be great. We normally have several family get togethers around that time, Jack will enjoy that and they will get to know him better.
It is a good sign they are already asking when he is coming back.
Oh, I already know where to set up the Christmas tree...

But before that visit we hope to get together also and it looks like it is working out. Most bumps in the road for that are already gone. One of them was taken care of almost completely this morning. I found someone that wants to take care of my dogs almost the complete time and it is someone I trust completely with them.
Just have to see if my sister is willing to take care of all three for 2 days until she can take Isa and Tom.

Looks like it all is coming together now and if that is right, than we can start counting down towards October.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Home From the Shore

I am home and really happy to be back and able to communicate with Petra in our usual way.

I love the beach and always go to a place called Cape May, New jersey. I love it there and can't wait to show Petra how special it is. It was a little difficult going away again right after I came back from visiting Petra but I had this week booked since last year so it was the only time to go. Besides, my neighbors usually come down for the week also and it is always nice to get together at the beach for a few days.

We did come home one day early though so it was great to be able to call Petra and tell her I was home and back to our normal routine.

Petra and I are busy planning visits and hopefully all will work out as we intend. One part is for sure. I have my flight booked for the Christmas holiday to be back in the Netherlands. I can't wait. Spending the last several years alone at Christmas time has not been much fun for me. I think this is going to be very special this year. Being with the person that I want to be with will make this the best holiday I can remember since I was a little kid.

And no Petra, you did not scare me away. LOL I was going nuts being away from the computer so we could say hi to each other whenever we felt like it. It is amazing how much you miss it and notice it when it is not available to you.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

One more day

to go before Jacks vacation has come to an end.
I am sure he will start updating really soon after he comes home, but for now, you have to deal with me for one more day.

Actually, I haven't really been in the mood to post.
There are a few things happening that don't belong on the Internet, but are stressing me out really bad.
I have been able to talk about them with Jack, which helps, but there isn't much he can do or even that I want him to do. But to have him listening, as are some other friends, that really helps.

On a happier note...went to Groningen today and I think that route will always have happy memories for me.
Hmm, waiting at the bus stop and being so occupied with each other that we almost missed the bus. LOL, the bus driver had a lot of fun over it and got to tease us a little.
Still smiling here, we had so much fun.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

My fault?

It must be, must have worn him out or scared him off.
Saturday morning Jack left for a vacation at the beach, with the dogs.
So short after his visit to me. Makes you wonder, doesn't it...

Anyway, he is computerless, which means we don't have as much contact as we are used to.
Which makes me realize how much contact we do have during the day.
We start every morning with a short chat, wishing good morning and talking about our plans for the day. Usually I try to have a picture of some kind to start the day off with. The rest of the day we send short messages but if work allows, sometimes have long conversations over the Internet.
And at night we talk over the phone, these calls can turn into really long ones.
We do try to keep an eye on that these days. The time difference is 6 hours, so by the time he can call it is close to midnight here.
And I do have to get up in the morning.

But to make a long story short, I miss our contact during the day and our calls during the night.
But than, maybe it is my own fault and maybe I 'did' wear him out LOL

Friday, July 20, 2007

My turn

LOL, knew Jack loves to talk, but sometimes it is hard to get a word in between.
(just joking Jack)
But it is fun to read how he enjoyed himself while he stayed over here.
Have to put one thing in its place though, the houses in his last post are in a higher range than than a lot of people can afford.

There is something that I have to get of my chest.
Something I am not proud of, but it has to be said.
People from the US are much more polite than we Dutch are over here.
I had noticed it on the boards I visit, but even in normal day life I noticed how normal it was for Jack to say 'Thank you'.
I think over here it is something we lost a long time ago, these days we take everything for granted.
This, I can't blame on my parents, we had little to nothing at home, my Dad worked really hard, so we were grateful for everything we got.
Still, we were never taught to say 'thank you'.
Is it our pride?
I don't know, but during the time Jack stayed here I felt like a bumpkin (had to look this word up, not sure if it is right)

We have a saying over here, 'wie goed doet, goed ontmoet' and I think that is part why Jack liked it over here so much, he was friendly and polite, so people were the same.

Maybe there is a small lesson to be learned here...

and oops, almost forgot:
Jack, thank you for a wonderful time.

Living Like A Local.

One of the best parts of this trip was, staying with Petra, I was able to live for a few days as a local citizen would. I really dislike tourist hotels and staying in the parts of an area that are designed strictly for tourists.
I have not been much of a world traveler up to this point in my life. The trips I have made I have always had the desire to find somewhere to stay that is not aimed at the tourist but rather a place that I could try and fit into the local culture as much as possible. To my surprise, I have found that there are usually accomodations available if you look that allow you to feel more like a local.
To me at least, I love the idea of walking into the local bakery or tavern or visiting the local restored church and communicating with the average citizen, not some tour guide. LOL
I was curious to see what life in a small village of the Netherlands would be like. I have to say that within a couple of hours after being there, I felt completely at home. The people were wonderful and I suppose a bit curious of me as well. The town was what I think anyone who likes small town life would be very envious of. It was very tidy and neat and it was nice to see how much work people put into gardening.
These are some typical homes and streets of the village of Roden. I can't wait to go back and run into some of the people that I had the chance to talk with on the streets and in the shops. Maybe by then I can at least say something worthwhile in Dutch.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Petra and I met through our love of Sighthounds. She has three and I have two and we will always have several doggies around I am sure. LOL
Besides getting together with Petra, I was anxious to meet her dogs. They are so nice and I think I made three new friends in a hurry. There is something special about sitting down on the couch and having a buddy jump up and lay down next to you and put their head on your lap.
Walking the dogs several times a day is part of the routine of having them. I feel lucky in that just a short distance from my house is a nice golf course that I can walk my boys in a peaceful setting.
Well, these pictures show the area that Petra walks her crew and it is a beautiful walk. Living on the edge of the village gives them the opportunity with just a few steps from the house to enter the gorgeous countryside. Towards the end of the walk is an animal park that most of the villages maintain for the peoples enjoyment and it was great to walk past the deer, goats, chickens and peacocks before we got back home.
Somehow I think I like the idea of hearing the goats calling more than I like the golfers shouting to me to look out for their golf balls flying at me. LOL

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Biking Heaven

There are a hundred subjects that I want to give my impressions of about the trip but I will start with how great it was to be part of a society that uses the bike as part of everyday life.
The first thing you realize is how important bike transportation is and how well maintained the bike paths are.
In the villages there are paths that parallel the roadways and as you can see, they are well lit and in perfect condition.
Even when you leave the villages and get out into the countryside the trails are well marked with direction signs and most of them are concrete. Even when you leave the main routes and get into the wilderness, the paths are everywhere for you to ride among the trees and enjoy the sights.
Something that I was totally not expecting was when we got off the bus in the city of Groningen and I walked out of the station onto a plaza. We have parking garages everywhere for our cars but they have bike parking and to see this sight of hundreds of bikes parked was amazing. LOL

Poll added

On the right side

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Think it is time for a few pictures of what we have done.
For some people this may be very boring, but Jack and I found eachother, amongst other things, in our love for history and old buildings.

Groningen is a not too big city in the North of the Netherlands that I lived in for 7 years and before that I went to school there. But what I didn't do in all those years, was acting like a tourist.
It was great fun, I rediscovered the city through Jacks eyes.

Not just that, he made me do things I never did before, like stepping into a gallery.
Doing that seemed so natural to him, that I was looking at pictures with him before I knew it.
We also discovered a jigsawpuzzle shop. There we kept saying awe and ahhh when we found an even bigger puzzle. I think the largest was about 80.000 pieces, but there may have been a bigger one.
Another shop that got Jacks interest was a bike shop, I knew it is one of the best we have in the city, so I asked if he wanted to go in.
LOL, talk about showing a kid around in a candy store.
Fun part was a young man working there, obviously very interested in why this American was having so much fun in the shop.
When those two started talking they totally lost me, but it was great to see.

But overall, I loved showing Jack the old buildings the most.
Soooo, I guess I better show some pics now.

Let me see, Jack is going to hit me with the newspaper for this one, but here he is in front of the beautiful old railwaystation of Groningen.

And a part of the beautifully restored inside

Part of the University of Groningen.

And two pictures from the inside of the Martini Church. We were lucky to come in when someone was still playing the organ. And last a picture of the beautiful Prinsentuin. The prince garden

Monday, July 16, 2007

More Pictures

I think I better post some of the pictures I want before everyone is scared away after looking at the pictures of me. You are right Petra........you better start running. LOL

One of the things I really enjoy is looking at Petra's pictures and I told her that I really wanted to see how she captures images that I totally don't see. It is a real talent in my opinion to look at a broad canvas and find the image that makes a good photograph.

For fun I thought I would post my pictures of Petra taking pictures and what it was that she captured at that moment.

I am convinced that I will never be able to take good photographs. I am just happy that one of us can and that I can enjoy them.
As you can see, I have no idea how to get pictures on here. LOL

Sunday, July 15, 2007


some of the old posts have pictures now.

Think I better start running now seen the fact I posted some pics of Jack...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I Made It

I am home Petra. After about 16 hours of travel today, much of it sitting in airports, I arrived home at about 10 pm which is 4 am on my body clock right now. My arms are hurting from carrying around an extra 50 pounds of cheese that I brought home with me. LOL.

I look forward to updating the blog on my feelings about this trip but one thing is absolutely certain. I can't wait to plan the next step of this journey to make this relationship one that hopefully will be permanant.

I have the same feeling Petra. This is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

On his way home

As I write this, Jack is on his way home.
After, what I feel was a wonderfull day with my family, we had to get up early to get to the airport.
It was hard saying goodbye, we had such a wonderful time together and neither one of us wanted it to end.
What more can I say than, this is one of the best things that ever
happened to me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Too Busy to Update.

Sorry but we have been so busy and having such a great time that neither of us has updated our blog. Every evening we say that one of us needs to get on here and post but then we start doing something else and it is too late. I am in hopes that Petra will post some pictures here soon.

Where can I begin? The weather since that first full day here of rain has been really good. Some rain, but not nearly enough to ruin our plans. And not that we have had plans that would be what the typical american tourist would schedule. We both felt from the beginning that while I wanted Petra to show me this area that she lives in and the sights that would be new to me, we also felt it was very important to just let the day happen. We wanted to spend much of the day as two normal people would, doing normal everyday stuff together. In the afternoons we have done some really fun things that have given me a real flavor of the Netherlands.

We've walked through Groningen and taken a boat ride through the canals. It is a small city of about 170,000 people and a major University town so it was full of energy and history at the same time. If my feet wouldn't have worn out I would still be looking down every street and around every turn. It is a beautiful city yet very managable to see on foot and as with every other experience I have had here so far, the people are just wonderful.
There is one thing I think that the European cities and towns have that I wish we had in the US. They all have "plaza''s or square's that are usually a gathering place for people. Within the plaza's you usually will find several outdoor cafes or taverns and all other
kinds of shops that draw people into the center of town. Usually no cars or if any it is very restricted as to where. The rest of the space is for the people, either on foot or possibly on bikes. People sit and talk. Entire families can be seen out together. Couples can be holding hands and being romantic. It almost forces everyone to slow down and relax and enjoy the moment that you are there. I sure wish that was part of our culture in the US.

Sunday was an amazing day for me. We spent the morning as a normal couple would. Coffee, breakfast, walking the dogs, other normal daily routines. Then Petra said it might be nice to get on the bike and take a little ride around the area that she lives. This is mecca for anyone who likes to ride a bike. The bikepath system and the signage and maintenance of the trails are beyond anything you could imagine without seeing for yourself. It is also so flat that even if you are not an experienced cyclist, it would not be difficult to get the hang of it and feel pretty comfortable in a hurry.
I am running out of space here for tonight but just let me say that the ride was incredible. We found so many historic buildings, some dating back to the 12th century, an incredible windmill that I hope Petra can get a picture of on here and so many natural areas that were just great to park the bike and walk through containing all kinds of wildlife. I don´t think I can remember when I ever felt so relaxed as taking that bike ride. I could have gone on and on.

Going to stop for now. Having so much fun and as I said before, being together is even far beyond what I think we hoped for.

Whoever is reading our blog, thank you. Our journey has truely started and I don´t see it ever ending.

Friday, July 6, 2007

I have arrived.

Today, Friday, was the first full day being here in the Netherlands with Petra. I love it so far. Yesterday was pretty full of travel and just getting adjusted to the time change. Today, although the weather has been miserable, I have had a lot of fun. I volunteered to go into town alone to do an errand and get a rented bicycle to use during my time here. That was fun. I stopped into a couple different shops and talked with the people there. They were so nice and helpful.

Being a typical man, after I got the bicycle I decided I knew another way back to Petra's house, other than the directions she gave me. Well after riding around in circles for about 1/2 hour for a ride that should be about 5 minutes, I decided to ask someone on the steet for directions. She was so nice that she went inside to get a map of the streets to show me. Petra got a pretty good laugh out of that.

After we walked the dogs in the early afternoon we rode our bikes into town to go to the grocery store and buy some wine. As Petra said to me on the way home....I got a good taste of riding a bike in the Netherlands in typical Dutch weather. It was absolutely miserable. Hard rain, wind, cold temperatures for this time of year. Although I would be sick of that weather pretty quick, I have to say, I really enjoyed the experience. It was great to see people using bicycles to go about their everyday activities. I am simply amazed at how good they are at using a bike. I could not believe that Petra rode through traffic in miserable wind and rain with the amount of groceries we bought and carried home totally on her bike. I think she was afraid I may not be used to the balancing act you have to do to stay upright. I won't go into details of what all she had packed on her bike but I will say we had a case of wine to go with the food items. LOL

There is one thing that is very nice that I have noticed so far. Something that used to be very common in the states but is hard to find anymore. The villages all seem to have a very vibrant and active shopping area in the center of the town. Petra and I walked all through the shops and cafes that are in the center of the village Roden. It was great to see people downtown shopping and not all at some huge mall or megacomplex on the outside of town.

The Netherlands is known for many things, one of the most famous is good cheese. Petra took me into a cheese shop and after several purchases later and Petra telling me....no more, LOL, we moved on to other spots in the village. I couldn't help it. The person let me sample several Dutch cheeses that I would have a hard time getting in the states and I just had to bring some of each back with us. I hope we ride the bike a lot so I don't gain a ton f weight after sampling all of the news foods.

I can't wait for all the other things we do. We have things planned but we also have time that nothing is planned but normal everyday life. I like it both ways. One thing is for sure. Speaking for myself, what I had hoped and what I felt it would be like getting together has been all of that and much much more.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

bad weather

Dulles Airport has terrible weather, thunderstorms and hail.
I really would want to go asleep with the idea he is on his way.
But this looks bad
More than 1,5 hour delay already.
I am going to bed, get 2 hours sleep I hope.
Will leave the pc on and will check first thing I wake up

30 minutes

If all goes as planned it is 30 minutes now before Jacks plane leaves.

Just before he left the house we talked for a few and laughed about the idea that the next time we talk, it will be in person.
Still can't believe it. It was extra hard putting the phone down this time.
Yesterday I told him I was scared of flying, that wasn't exactly right. I will get on a plane if needed. But I am very nervous when others that I know and care about, are on a plane. These days there is a risk and with the recent events in England... Made me really nervous.

Jack, an apple pie is baking in my oven at this moment and it has your name on it.
Have a save trip.
See you tomorrow morning.

I'll Have a Heineken Please

This will be my last post from the states. Next time I sit down at the computer I may be eating some gouda cheese and drinking a heineken, LOL

The time has finally arrived. I am really excited and I sure hope that the moment we meet at the airport goes smooth. I just have thoughts of tripping or doing something that makes my first impression foolish looking.

Petra.......I have been dreaming of this day. We are going to have a wonderful start to our journey. See you in a bit.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


With one full day and two nights to go before I am going to the airport to meet Jack, I am starting to feel nervous.
The house is clean, but I am cleaning things for the second time.
Not that it will help, with 3 dogs the hair will be flying everywhere, but still.
I need to do something.
Constantly checking the train to see if nothing goes wrong there and constantly checking up on things making sure everything is in its place.

And in the meantime thinking of poor Jack, who is spending his afternoon in the dentists chair.
Think he has the worst deal here.

Wish it were Thursday.

Are We Almost There Yet?

In a little over 24 hours I will be getting my things together to go to the airport. Wow, this is exciting.

What do you think the chances will be that I can sleep on the trans-atlantic flight? Probably pretty slim. I have the feeling that I am going to be very anxious on the plane. Not because I am afraid to fly but because I want to get there as soon as possible and start our time together. It will be the same as 1 o'clock in the morning for me when we land in Amsterdam at 7 am their time. That is why I hope I can at least get a couple of hours of sleep.

I have had the pleasure of meeting two of Petra's sisters and a close friend on msn. I'll try and assure everyone that I am an ok guy and hopefully will become good friends with all.

And yes Petra, that means you have to get on that big bird and head west.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Only 3 days left

And suddenly my house turns into a mess.
How on earth did that happen? Have a feeling I am constantly cleaning and picking up things.
LOL, it doesn't help that I took the sowing machine from its hiding place.
To my surprise, it still worked.
Also my shopping list gets longer and longer.
Do hope I remember how to bake apple pie, it has been years since I baked one.

By now Jack did meet two of my sisters on MSN and I hope it took away some of the fear that no one would understand him or wouldn't want to meet him. LOL, he still has to work hard though to get the sign of approval from my sisters.
At the least, one has to be child proof to survive a birthday over here.
Between us 4 girls, we have 8 kids and 8 kids can make a lot of noise.
For the rest, they don't bite, they are just curious.

Hmm, if I want to meet your neighbours, does that mean I have to get on that plane also?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Family and Friends.

I am looking forward very much to meeting Petra's family. From the conversations we have had, Petra has a family that stays in touch and does many things together such as celebrating birthdays etc. I really like that. I have very little family left. My older sister and I are very close but she lives several hours away and has 3 children and 3 grandchildren so she is busy having fun with her own family. My older brother lives about 3 hours away but unfortunately we have drifted apart and find very little in common anymore to keep in touch about.

The closest thing I have to a real family are my neighbors, Kate and Sherry. They have become such good friends to me over the past few years and treat me with the care that you would expect of a family member. One thing that has been so nice is that they are so excited for the both of us and this journey we are starting together. I have the feeling that Petra is going to like them very much and that Kate and Sherry will be very good friends of ours forever.

The Weather

I should be cleaning the house so that when my son and the neighbors come in to take care of the dogs while I am gone, they won't know what a terrible mess things are usually in. But the weather here is so perfect today that I don't want to waste it. It is one of those days that you wish you could put in a bottle to save and use whenever you like. It is about 70 degrees (21c), not a cloud to be seen anywhere, hardly any humidity so the air looks and smells so clean. You can see as far as the eyes will let you without any haze to stop the views.

The weather forecast for the Netherlands looks pretty good so far for the days I am there. Let's hope it stays that way.

I am feeling the same way Petra. These last few days are starting to go very slow. That is why I really should get back to the cleaning so I can keep busy and make the time seem like it is going faster. I can't imagine what Wednesday is going to feel like. I don't board the plane until 3 pm. I will be going nuts until that time.