Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Running with a baby in Amsterdam

I'm used to seeing all sorts of strange, wheeled conveyances here.  I passed a mattress store the other day and saw a special double bike with a trailer bed attached to it for deliveries.  You know, it didn't phase me at all.  It must mean that I've been here long enough not to be surprised by these sorts of things.
photo from
Years ago during my first visit to the Netherlands, I ran past a woman on a bicycle and did a double take just to confirm that I actually saw her transporting a newborn baby in a car seat on the back of her bike.  All the safety issues popped into my head, and I wondered if it would even be legal to bike with your baby that way in America.  What about the helmet laws?
photo from
There must be twenty (or even more) different ways people transport their kids on bikes here.  If You have to get from A to B, and if it's too far to walk, you have to find a way on your bike.
Two kids?  No problem.  photo from
Two kids?  Kids and a dog and groceries?  Sure.  photo from

I have even embraced--more than embraced, I absolutely love it--bicycle transport with a baby and cycle all over the city with Johanna in a seat on the front of my bike.  All of this is to say that nobody really pays attention to the way kids or goods get transported.  

What, then, is with all the stares I get when I go out with the running stroller?  I have the B.O.B. Ironman.  We brought it back as checked luggage when I was 35 weeks pregnant.  I would have gladly ordered one here, but I couldn't find a retailer.  Running stroller choices here are almost nonexistent.  As comfortable as the Dutch are throwing their kids in a wooden box on the front of their bike, they are not fans of putting their kids in a running stroller.  However, I've seen people jogging with babies in regular strollers, a sight that makes me cringe as I envision those tiny wheels not being able to handle a turn and then tipping the stroller over.

Honestly, I thought it was all in my head that people were staring at us.  But, no, people really do look at us with an expression of confusion or bewilderment...and point.  The pointing is the weirdest, as if to say, "Hey, look at that weirdo mom running with her baby."  Maybe it's because I wear a lot of spandexy type pants?  It's cold, I wear running tights.  Running strollers are incredibly popular in the States (I have been led to believe) and maybe even in other parts of Europe.  Why not here?  I'm still trying to figure it out, but my guess is that it is a combination of limited space and cost.  If you've already invested a lot in an everyday stroller--let me tell you, lots of Amsterdammers own rather expensive, durable strollers--are you prepared to drop even more into a stroller you can only use for running?  For suburban, American families with a garage, a running stoller is no big deal.  I do wonder if running strollers are popular in the U.S. for urban runners.  Our BOB claims some prime real estate in our hallway and does not fit into our tiny car.  If I ever meet any other running moms here, I'll have to ask them how they do it and where they stash their kid during a run.  My guess is that they leave the kids at home with grandma.  I should ask my mother-in-law to retire or just get used to the pointing.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hiatus over?

Honestly, it's just really time for the blog hiatus to be over.  I think I would feel better if I just got back into some form of writing at least once a week.  Are you allowed to come back to a blog after a six-month break?  Would it help if I said that I have been suuuuper busy, even if that has not always been true?

Here is the long and the short of it, which explains why I didn't write a word for so long.  I quit grad school and didn't want to talk about it any more than I already had.  I was then an unemployed, grad school drop-out and feeling kind of crappy about the whole thing even though I was so much happier than when I was in I-don't-want-to-write-my-dissertation-hell, and I didn't really want to discuss it on the interwebs.  I was suffering from some chronic injuries leaving me unable to run or exercise at all, making me sad and feeling gross, which I absolutely did not want to talk about.  All this blahness didn't really put me in the mood to cook creatively or make witty observations about life abroad, which is kind of a problem when those were the mainstays of the blog.

At the start of fall everything finally started coming together, it would seem almost effortlessly, but that would be a lie; there was a lot of effort involved. Still, it was amazing to see all the pieces falling into place.  I have a tentative job offer that I am truly excited about.  (Hello, full-time employment, I'm so excited to be reacquainted with you!)  My injuries, although still present and accounted for, are settling down and giving me a few good, albeit short--so horribly short--runs every week.  And, obviously, fall cooking is in full swing.  My favorite time of year to cook has come once again.  It's a good thing my toddler girl likes roasted vegetables is all I'm saying on the subject right now.

Anyway, time to get back to a bit of cooking and a bit of blogging.