I (wait for it…)


Yes. The jumping picture was necessary.

You’re looking at Mucosis’ newest “General Lab & Quality Control Technician”! Mucosis is a small, fairly new company that is working to develop vaccines that can be administered through the nose, like a nasal spray, instead of your typical injection. They have one product they are working hard to get to clinical trials by 2016, and my job was created!

Basically, I’ll be taking care of all the general lab things like ordering, shipping, equipment maintenance etc. on top of helping out with the quality control assays to keep things moving towards clinical trials.

This has been much anticipated as I first interviewed for the job during the first week of July. I had a really good feeling about it then, but you just never know. Regardless, I’m excited to say I was offered the job on Wednesday, and while everyone in the States is enjoying their Labor Day holiday, on Monday I’ll be starting my first day of work!

To top off all this excitement we had a celebratory lunch today at a place I’ve been eyeballing since we arrived….

t’ Pannekoekschip!

It’s a ship in the canal where they serve nothing but pancakes.


Seriously, I love pancakes. And these aren’t just any pancakes. They are huge! Shane had a Greek pancake with ground lamb, feta cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes & tzatziki sauce. I went for your standard bacon and banana. Anyone who comes to visit us will absolutely go aboard ‘t Pannekoekschip matey! …that was bad. Sorry.

So, in summary. I am employed! AND I found 5 euro on the ground after we left t’ Pannekoekschip! AND it’s gameday!


Tot ziens!   



Ice Bucket Challenge…and other news

WARNING: it was only going to be a matter of time before science began creeping into this blog. Who know it would be the ice bucket challenge that started it…

The ole’ ice bucket challenge: we’ve seen this thing for weeks now and knew it would be only a matter of time before we would be “nominated”. To be honest, we had hoped being in Europe would allow us to slip through the cracks and not take part. However, I should have known that if any one would draw me into this, it would be my uncle. So, with that being said, I braved the unseasonably cold temperatures and took part. Being that there still isn’t much going on here and Whitney said it was my turn to do a blog post, I figured I’d post on this. Believe it or not, there is a bit of story here that goes far beyond just dumping water on your head. Allow me to elaborate.

The ‘challenge‘:

Unless you have been hiding in cave for the past 2+ months, you have certainly heard about the ALS ice bucket challenge. While a little silly (for lack of a better word), it does have some real potential for doing some real good (more on this in a bit). The ‘challenge’ basically consists of being challenged to dump a bucket of ice water on your head and donating to ALS. Easy enough.

The ‘challenge’ here in the Netherlands:

Let me preface this by saying that it has been quite cold here for the past week or two. Highs have been only in the high 50’s to low 60’s and at night it has been dipping into the 40’s. Add to this the daily occurrence of wind and rain and it results in an August experience that we are not really accustomed to. For a while, we were wondering if it was just simply how things go here, that fall starts much earlier than we are used to. However, a recent news article pointed out that this is the coldest August in the Netherlands in 30 years. Apparently temperatures are normally in the mid 70’s range for this time of year. Whatever the cause, it has been very cold for summertime.

Aside from the weather factor, the ice bucket challenge requires two very key elements: ice and a bucket. We have neither. Now I admit, not having a bucket is not a deal breaker. A large cooking pot worked just fine. However, the ice factor is a little harder to over come. Whereas a large majority of the houses in the United States will have ice makers these days, or at the very least, some ice trays in the freezer, the same cannot be said for The Netherlands. To start, it is VERY rare for your apartment to have a full size refrigerator. Most places have only a small, dorm room size refrigerator. The Dutch do not do large, in bulk shopping (food preservatives are used to a much smaller extent here). Instead, most people go to the grocery store multiple times a week, if not everyday. Thus, there is no need for a large refrigerator. Because of the small refrigerator sizes, freezer space is essentially non-existent. As you can guess, this means no ice. The same is true if you are out at a restaurant and order a drink. Ice in your drink is not common and requesting it is a sure sign of being a ‘foreigner’. So as you can guess, such factors resulted in a bit of a dilemma when it came to me taking part in this challenge. Luckily, Whitney and I are the classic foreigners and were able to find a few, very small ice trays at a local store. So while a little on the wimpy side, my “bucket” was complete with ice.

Beyond the ‘challenge’:

Now obviously the most important part of this whole challenge thing is the fact that it is done to benefit the ALS foundation. From what I’ve read, it has raised millions of dollars for ALS. That’s awesome. However, being that I work in science and research and plan to make a career out of it, I can’t help but to have some reservations. Allow me to explain.

Science is a VERY expensive field. All of the research that you hear about on the news comes at a sizeable cost. Every single pill, vaccine, or treatment that has been “FDA approved” for human use and is prescribed by your doctor has had to go through years of clinical trials and tests. Once again, these trials and tests are not cheap. In some rare cases, researchers do get a small amounts of money to pursue their fields from their appointments with Universities or Medical Centers. However, the vast majority of their research funding comes from applying to grants from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF). The problem is that the pool of money that NIH or NSF has to draw from to fund these potentially life saving trials is getting smaller and smaller with each science budget cut. Scientists and researchers tasked with finding and developing these life saving treatments are continually facing harder and harder economic pressures with less money to go around. Now I know there is an obvious argument to this: “everyone is facing harder times, not just the sciences”. I won’t argue this point. However, I will argue that those bankers and businessmen facing hard times will still be counting on those same drugs/vaccines/treatments that researchers could have developed had their funding not been cut. We all want to find the cure for cancer. However, that comes at a cost. Is it worth investing in? For a more relevant example, look at the current Ebola virus outbreak and the lack of a known treatment for it. The only way to find it is by funding research to study the virus.

Now, with all of that being said, I want to reiterate that I think this ice bucket challenge is fantastic. Again, it has raised millions for ALS. I specifically say “for ALS” because we can’t be sure that this money is actually going to research. Large non-profits like ALS do have fairly sizeable operating costs that they must meet. That’s something that can’t be avoided with such a large organization. At the same time, they also provide services and care for those with ALS. This is fantastic and I think nothing should change here. My concern is that once all of these costs are covered, how much does this leave for research? Is there enough to fund needed studies? It is only through focused, well-funded research that we will ultimately be able to beat such diseases (ALS, cancer, Ebola, etc.). This is where I’d like to see my donation used.

The irony in all of this is that, to my knowledge, there is really no way to directly fund research for a given cause (aside from just having enough money to fund a study yourself). I looked around a bit on the Internet and found a few sites that say they directly fund research, but I’ve never had any experience with them. Perhaps they do what they say? I’m not sure. The only real concrete option lies with changing the way our sciences are funded. Obviously, this gets into the realm of politics and it is not something I want to get into. I’ll just leave it at this: who you vote for and their willingness to fight for science makes a difference.

So, with that I end my rant on science. I did my ice bucket challenge and will donate to ALS. My hope is that if enough people are donating, a sizeable potion of this money will ultimately make it into the hands of researchers that can really work to make a difference in combating such diseases.

In other news:

Things here are still going well. Whitney had a second, follow-up interview with the biotech company she mentioned previously. They called back a few days later to let her know that they will now be contacting references and will call next week to discuss potential contract details. Normally, we would consider this very exciting news. However, here, we are not so sure. This process has now gone on for two months. You would think they could have contacted references a while ago. The way it stands, she has gotten no negative feedback, but they always stop short of offering her a position. Guess we will just wait and see. In the meantime, she has gotten quite good at yoga and keeps the house very clean. Her going back to work is really going to put a damper on my not having to do housework. Maybe we should rethink this…

Until next time,


We’re Still Here !

Sorry for the lack of posts… things have been pretty quiet around here the past couple of weeks.

     A few pieces of news though. I interviewed with a biotech company at the beginning of July, but since July/August are big vacation months I was told not to expect to hear anything until oh… now-ish. Yesterday, I finally heard back and have a 2nd interview next week. While not exactly what I was hoping for (aka: just give me the job already!!) they like me enough to bring me back in so that’s good news! Maybe my next post will be even better news…

     Shane also found out that he won’t be heading to Africa until end of September/beginning of October now. The permits should be approved in the next few days, and then they can start planning definitive dates. Yes, he’s already had his travel shots and is stocked up on malaria pills. No, he won’t be anywhere near the Ebola outbreak.

     Other than that I’ve decided to try my hand at yoga during the day while Shane’s at work (see above). That, and relive the 90’s through 6 seasons of Dawson’s Creek. #TeamPacey! We did go to a potluck hosted by a girl in Shane’s department. Since the department is very diverse we were told to bring something unique to where we are from. I went with a sweet potato casserole, and we were seriously shocked when we found out people here don’t really eat sweet potatoes and didn’t know what a casserole was (“I thought it was literally a roll!”).

     We also had our first visitor! Shane’s M.S. adviser from ECU, Jeff, came for an afternoon visit on Sunday. His daughter is spending the summer in Brussels so the family came to visit her. We spent the afternoon walking around city center and visiting the university.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, all the pictures at one time because I’m too lazy to embed them in the text today.

Tot Ziens!


Oh! And P.S. – Exciting news! We figured out we can get free coffee at the grocery store. Coffee while you shop! Magical. So during my leisurely stroll through the store aisles, sipping my free coffee machine espresso, I came across these “American” pancakes. It was hilarious to me that these are the representation of American pancakes. I suppose after the pizza incident I should stop being surprised.

Happy 2 Monthiversary !


As of today we have officially been here two months! Half of me thinks ‘I can’t believe we’ve been here 2 months!’ and then the other half thinks ‘I can’t believe we’ve ONLY been here 2 months!’. I think it’s safe to say we’re settled, and therefore life has just been… life? I suppose is the best way to describe it. Since July is ‘vakantie’ (vacation) month there is no news on the job front, and since we’re short on disposable income until then there is nothing terribly exciting happening.Here is what we’ve been up to the past couple of weeks…

1 Loving on the cat.

A lot. Shane takes a ‘hands-off’ approach while I just dive right on in for the love. I think she appreciates his way better.

2 Shane started his first round of experiments! 

Good side: He’s really excited about it, and happy to be working in the aquarium again instead of reading papers all day. Bad side: He’s been having to set up fish for trials on Sunday. Good side: He bribes me to help him with free cappuccinos and deluxe hot chocolates at work!

 3 We got our first care package!!

HUGE thank you to Kaitlin, Andrew, Mike, Michelle & Heather for the kind words and entertainment.

4 We’ve been spending some time exploring the city parks. 

There are 2 main parks, but lots of smaller ones scattered throughout. We spent the majority of one particularly hot Saturday lounging in the park and feeding the ducks.

5 We’re on the hunt for our favorite cafe. 

In Pittsburgh, Saturday mornings meant coffee with the Sufrinko’s. We’re keeping the tradition alive… just 6 hours ahead of them. So far our front-runners are De Kostery & Doppio. Not that those names really matter to anyone else reading this.

I think that about sums it up! And #sorryimnotsorry if the next couple of posts are all about cat. She’s our main form of entertainment these days.

Tot Ziens!


Guess who’s back…

…back again! Meatball’s back. Tell a friend!


We didn’t see this one coming. Yesterday was day 12 of Miss Adventure Kitty’s disappearance, and while Shane and I hadn’t given up hope we were definitely coming to terms with the reality that she might not come home. I had already started whining to Shane about how I didn’t want to be a crazy cat lady without a cat. And I’m not sure how many know the story of Heathclifford, my sister’s cat. Long story short he was her best friend, wandered off, and never came home, so Sis and I had been lamenting over the fact that for two girls who love kitties so much we have the worst kitty luck.

Oh, Butters! Forever in our hearts.

I digress… Back to Meat Beazy.

Last night shortly after Shane and I went to bed my Netherlands phone rang. I would just like to point out that I have been self-diagnosed with RGTS (Reverse Grandma Technology Syndrome). AKA: I don’t know how to use this piece of sh*t prepaid phone we bought for over here. Great with iPhones, terrible with basic ones. Anyway, it rang & I made Shane answer it and it turns out it was our neighbor about 4 doors down. She said that they heard a cat in their garden (“It [the cat] is very loud!” … yup. sounds like her!) and brought her inside. Would we want to come down and see if it’s her.


Out the door we go, trying not to get our hopes up too much after the other grey cat incident, but sure enough it was her! She was meowing like crazy, but as soon as Shane picked her up she stopped and she was happy. Turns out, when I put a flyer into their mailbox shortly after she disappeared they kept it, and then when they found this random cat in their garden they knew it was her.

So, she’s HOME!! She seems to be uninjured. Only a little skinny, sneezy (someone has developed some allergies) and a small cut on her face, but overall just fine. A lot of the websites said that at about day 10 cats really start starving and come out to look for home/food so we figure that must have been the case. And since she was about 4 doors down it seems that we had been looking in the right area the whole time.

I think she will be staying away from the windows from now on, and we sure will remember to close them.

Tot ziens!


You call this a pizza?

So Whitney pointed out something to me the other day: our past two blog posts have been rather depressing; a stolen bike and a lost cat. 

If you would just happen to read those two posts, you would think we are not enjoying life in Groningen. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Life is good. So, with that in mind, I’ll keep this post a little more upbeat (see dog photo below…). I’ll just highlight quickly where we stand with the cat.

Just a normal day at the grocery store.

We still haven’t been able to find her. This is despite hanging flyers, putting notes in nearby mailboxes, posting her on every website and database we can find, and searching numerous times a day and night. We have even gone to the extreme of placing her pet carrier, favorite blanket, my shirt, food, and treats outside to see if we can “lure” her in. After leaving all of this out overnight, we were sure that a cat was making use of it. To check, I was able to borrow a webcam from work and we proceeded to hang said camera out the window and film overnight. Ultimately, this meant 3 days of 8+ hours of videos for Whitney to watch while I went to work. The result: Whitney can tell you in depth what all the cats of the neighborhood do during the night. However, still no Meatball. On the plus side, we just ran into our landlord, the owner of the flower shop, and he is going to try to get the mailman to slip flyers into every house along with the mail (and bribe him with free flowers). So who knows, there is still hope!

Now, on to more cheerful (or at least not so depressing) things! As I mentioned previously, we are really enjoying life here in Groningen. Almost daily, I think we both have moments where we have to kind of step back and take in the fact that we are really living in Europe. For the most part, things aren’t that different. Having been here for six weeks now, even those differences start to be commonplace. Hopping on the bike and riding to work, even in rain, is just a given now. If anything, it’s a relaxing end to the day. In fact, biking is so second nature now, Whitney and I rode 6km (a little under 4 miles) each way to attend a cookout with my fellow lab members. I can guarantee that would have never happened in the United States. We would have certainly jumped in a car and made the 5-10 minute drive. Honestly, it wasn’t bad at all. You just ride along, talking as you would in a car, getting a little exercise along the way. As I said in a previous post, why biking is not more common in the United States is quite baffling.

Sitting by the canals, one of our new favorite hobbies.

If you have been following along with the World Cup, you’ll know that The Netherlands team made it pretty far this year. In the previous World Cup (2010), they made it to the final but ultimately lost to Spain.   In 2010, their best player was hurt right before the tournament started and was not 100% for any of the games. This year, he was ready to go so expectations were pretty high. This was one of the things that excited me most about the time that we moved. I think the World Cup is amazing as is, but to be in a country were football/futbol (soccer is American) is king was very exciting. To be in a country that could potentially win it all was even cooler. On days that The Netherlands played, the city went crazy. With each win, the celebrations only got bigger and louder. By the time they had made it to the semifinals, city center had turned into one giant party. There was a large screen set up with 4000-5000 people watching (they capped the number of people allowed in the fenced in area – we didn’t get there early enough to get it) and then each bar/pub put TVs and chairs outside. This meant that the streets were packed with people drinking and cheering along. It was quite a sight to see. On days the team won, people would stay out celebrating until 6-7am. We know this because we saw all of them coming home from the pubs as we were searching for the cat.   Despite all of this, they fell short, losing in the semifinals to Argentina on penalty kicks. They played in the 3rd place game last night, beating Brazil. However, I don’t think anyone here watched. It was an all or nothing kind of year.

Outside of the Dutch team making it pretty far, the World Cup made work pretty fun for me. The research group that I work in is very international and multicultural. I do not exaggerate when I say that we have people from all over the world. Each day at lunch, the conversation always centered on that day’s games as individuals would be pitted against one another. A couple of fellow PhD students are from Germany and made sure to point out to me the fact that the United States and Germany were playing. Of course, it was hard to miss, as I made sure to wear my USA shirt each game day.

Speaking of my work, things are going great! I am still very happy with my decision to pursue a PhD and really enjoy being back in the field of evolution/behavioral biology. It seems my Tanzania trip is moving forward as planned. As I had mentioned previously, I am tagging along with some individuals from Switzerland. At this point, they are finalizing the paperwork and permits and will nail down a date as soon as that is finished. I’ll do another post later with more information about the research and the trip.

Now being that I have spent the majority of this post talking about myself, I feel I should take some time to mention my other half (she gets mad when I say roommate – I can’t figure out why?).

Aside from watching hours of cat videos and feeding the neighborhood cats treats (seriously, she has a string of cats following her is she walks around outside), Whitney has had a couple more job interviews, the last of which seemed to go really well. Unfortunately, July is a big holiday/vacation month here so it seems the people in charge of hiring are out until August. However, we are hopeful this one will work out. From the sounds of it, the interview went about as well as she could have hoped. Our fingers remain crossed! Outside of this possibility, the university provides some ‘partner support’, which will basically allow her to have access to internal job postings. To get access, Whitney will have to meet and interview with some HR reps that work with my group. Of course, the person in charge of this is on holiday until August. Seems the job hunt is on hold for the rest of the month.

So, with all of that, I think I’ll call this post finished. All in all, things are still going great here. We are getting settled more and more each day. I would even venture to guess that things are more or less normal now. We even ordered some pizza the other night and had it delivered. A word of warning though: it’s very true about Americans having everything bigger/larger. Our “medium” pizza turned out to be much less than we expected (aka a personal pizza). There are just some things that we will never adjust to…

“Medium” = SMALL

Until next time,


Talk about bad luck…

When we originally started this blog, it was intended to be a place for us to share our experiences of living in Europe, the highs, along with the lows. Admittedly, I assumed this would be mostly highs, with a random low or two mixed in (I mean, we are living in Europe after all!). However, it seems that low has come along sooner than either of us could have imagined.

This weekend, we lost Meatball. By lost, I mean in the literal sense: we don’t know where she is. Despite the fact that we live on the 3rd floor, she was able to escape out of the window. Heartbroken doesn’t even begin to describe how we feel. Obviously, this is a bit of a story, so I’ll try to fill in the details.

Since we have been here, we have worried about blocking the windows so that she couldn’t fall out. Air conditioning is not a common occurrence here, so opening windows is a must. As such, we have come up with a couple of solutions. For our large, living room window, we cut the existing shade and glued screen in four large squares. Adding Velcro to the bottom of the shade has made the perfect “kitty keeper”. For the bedroom window, we used a metal laundry rack that came with the apartment to block her from escaping. All in all, two solid solutions to keep the cat safe. The one unaccounted for, and ultimately doomed window: the kitchen window.

A bit of backstory to the kitchen window: it is about 4-5 feet off the ground, and it is a small square, perhaps half the size of the two windows I previously mentioned. The window itself does not open all the way, just swings out a bit. Being that we are on the 3rd floor, our windows essentially lead to nothing, just a 30-foot drop straight down to the street below. The one exception is the kitchen window, which has a fairly wide gutter just outside. It is probably 8 inches wide and fairly sturdy (I stood on it, more on that later). This gutter extends about three feet to each side of the window and then ends. Therefore, in our minds, even if Meatball were to get out that window, there is nowhere she could go (again, a large drop to the street).


Bedroom window with make-shift block. It worked perfectly!

Up until this weekend, it has been fairly cool so we haven’t had to open the windows much. This week, however, the temperature finally hit normal summer temps, ~80 degrees, so the windows were open. Both the living room and bedroom windows had their respective blocks in them, and Meatball seemed to be enjoying the fresh air (although obviously not happy with the new higher temperatures – she is certainly a cool weather cat). The kitchen window, which we had only been opening a few inches so as not to temp Meatball, was opened as wide as it would go, about 10-12 inches. Being that July 4th is not celebrated here, Whitney and I decided that there would be no celebrating on Friday night and a movie on the couch would suffice. Long story short, we watched the movie, Whitney went to bed, and I followed an hour or so later. On my way to bed, I made sure to shut the large window in the living room and checked to make sure Whitney had closed the bedroom window. The kitchen window never entered either of our minds. Besides, a gutter leading to nowhere wasn’t much concern. At the most, we figured she would get out there and just lay. This is the same cat that darts back into the house if we try to take her outside.

The next morning, I woke before Whitney and quickly realized that Meatball was not in the bed (she always sleeps in the bed). Assuming it was due to it being hotter, I got up to check all of her regular spots. She was nowhere to be found. Almost immediately, I remembered the kitchen window. When I looked out on the gutter, I found only a small pile of her food that she had vomited up (typical Meatball) and nothing else. Obviously panic set in and we went scrambling to find her.

Fast forward a few hours and we realized that we were in more trouble than we thought. The obvious solution to the missing cat was that she had just gone up on the roof and was sleeping in the sun. Again, we live on the 3rd (and top) floor, so checking the roof was no easy task. The same window Meatball escaped from soon saw me slithering out of it and standing on that same, 8-inch wide gutter. From the gutter to the roof involved a jump up onto the window facing, and then another 4-5 foot climb to the top of the building. Despite all of this, Meatball was nowhere to be found. I even did this climb a second time to double-check. Again, nothing. In the meantime, Whitney found Meatball’s collar on the ground immediately below the window. That means her identification, with contact information, is no longer with her. Talk about bad luck…

We spent the better part of the day yesterday looking for her. To add to our bad luck in this situation, there are literally 10-15 cats in the surrounding streets and houses. Despite the fact that the large majority of them are extremely friendly, only a few have collars/identification. Therefore, a grey and white cat without a collar does not stand out here. We did spot one cat that looked just like Meatball and we chased it for quite a while. Only after cornering it in an alley and having it scratch me and tear holes in my shorts did we realize that it wasn’t her. We haven’t seen that cat since.

Aside from going out to look every 30-40 minutes, we have put up flyers, registered her microchip with the national database (so if she turns up at a vet), posted a missing pet ad online, and emailed pictures to the local animal shelters. On Monday, Whitney is going to take flyers to the nearby vet offices and pet stores. The major problem we have is that we have no idea which direction she could have gone. There are too many bushes, cars, sheds, fenced-in yards, and dark corners to check.   Having fallen so far, we are obviously concerned that she is hurt. Being a cat, we fully expect her just be in hiding. Perhaps she will come out once she heals up a bit? We have no idea. We don’t even know where to look. We have checked everything we can in a large radius around our apartment. We’ve found lots of cats, just not ours.

So to recap: Meatball got out of the kitchen window. We know this because we found her vomit on the gutter and her collar on the ground. Additionally, it seems that she tried to walk along the gutter and then jump to the bedroom window sill. There is maybe about a foot gap between the two surfaces and this window is sealed shut, on the opposite side of the bedroom from the open window she had been enjoying. Therefore, she had never seen it open and only sat on the inside looking out (nearly every morning since she has been here).  The window sills are concrete, narrow, and pointed down at about a 45-degree angle. This morning we found scratch marks on the concrete where she had tried to dig in after jumping. The thought of her trying to catch on is sickening. Seriously, why would she do that?

The SEALED bedroom window that Meatball often enjoyed from the INSIDE.

So that’s where we stand. Meatball is out there somewhere, potentially hurt, and we can’t do anything about it. We’ll continue to go out and check around, hoping we can eventually run across her. Our hope at this point is that she at least remembers where she fell. To help, we have put out food, some articles of our clothes (for scent), and her favorite catnip toy under the window where she fell. We’ve heard stories of cats falling from great heights and surviving for months or even years before being found. We just hope Meatball can be one of those stories…

Come home soon Meatball!

Until next time,



Reeeeunitedd and it feels so gooooooood!

We officially have a Nether-kitty!!

…and yes. That’s her strapped to my bike.

So, let it be known that if you ever decide to move out of the country, and you want to take your pet it’s a pain in the ass. And expensive. And 100% worth it. I’ll start at the beginning…

When we first found out that we were moving we starting looking into what it was going to take to get Meat Beazy (that’s her rap name) over to The Netherlands. From what we could tell, we needed three main things.

1. Microchip

2. Rabies shot at least 21 days prior to her flight

3. Health Certificate signed off by a certified vet within 10 days of her flight.

No big deal right? Wrong. Mostly wrong because apparently there are two types of microchips. One kind is only used in the U.S., and the other is international. Naturally, when I took the cat to the humane society in Pittsburgh unbeknownst to me they gave her the wrong kind of microchip (has to be ISO compatible aka 15 digits, if you’re wondering). The rabies shot comes after the microchip, and we were on our way in plenty of time for her to fly the Friday after us.

I think most everyone knows, but we left Pittsburgh and spent about a month at home with family before we moved. During that time we made an appointment with the local vet for the health certificate, and that’s when I found out the humane society gave her the wrong type of microchip. Not only did the vet have to give her a new one (yep, she has 2), but they had to issue a new rabies shot. This meant she had to wait another 21 days before she was eligible to enter the country. We also found out that her health certificate had to be signed off by the state vet which was new information to us.

Since she couldn’t come with us when we originally planned Meatball got to live with Grandma for a few weeks!

Finally, after my darling mommy ran back and forth between local and state vets, she was on our way to us! Charlotte to Atlanta to Amsterdam.

When she arrived in Amsterdam she went to the “Animal Hotel” and waited for me to pick her up. So, naive me, I’m thinking ‘oh! I’ll train down, find cargo, in and out and on my way back home in 30 min tops’. HAH. No. Finding cargo was the easy part. Luckily, it was only a 10-12 minute walk from the airport terminal/train station. I say luckily because I ended up making that walk 6 times. I show up at cargo, and first, they say “we have a cat here??” uh. You better have a cat here. Once they find her they tell me I have to come back in an hour and a half. The vet has to inspect her before they can release her. So off I go. Back to the terminal to kill some time.

Ok, so BACK to cargo I go. She passes all the vet inspections (and the whole time I’m thinking what’s the point of having the health certificate??). They hand me a stack of papers and tell me I have to go back to the terminal to Customs to get them to sign off. Bring the papers back then I can have her. All in all, I think I probably walked about 4 miles back and forth, and if anyone needs any tips on Schiphol I’ve got ya covered.

After all this I finally got my kitty! A 2 hour train trip and a bike ride later she is here! Poor cat, I did manage to knock her off the back of the bike in my first attempt to strap her down with bungee cords. She was just dangling there off the side of the bike giving me a look like ‘really?’. After a slight adjustment, we biked on home with no problems.

Overall, she seems like she survived just fine. She’s already found all the windows and her cardboard bowl and is resisting my love like usual. And just a heads up, since this was such a fun experience Shane says we’re not moving back to the U.S. until Meatball goes to the big catnip field in the sky… so it might be a while.

Tot Ziens!