Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Inspection scheduled

The home inspector will meet us on Monday, February 5 at 4pm for the home inspection. We will look at the house, the well and the sceptic tank. This is one of the many details to go through in the US before the close and transfer.

In the Netherlands these items are all rolled-up into an appraisal report usually santioned by the mortgage lender. This appraisal is also done in the States, but will only look at the value of the property and doesn't focus on the techinical details of the house.

I'm glad to have Jen, her mom and the realtor as guides on the path to US home-ownership.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

House-hunting update III

I have a house !!!

The offer on 4890 Arlington Road has been accepted today. Hurray !!! Next steps will be to get all the things properly inspected and once that is all good, the bleeding (read: mortgage payments) will begin, but I couldn't be happier. Below you can find some more details on the house...

4890 Arlington Road, Uniontown (Green) OH, 44319
1.362 Acres / 5512 m2

1832 sq ft. / 170 m2 + basement 784 sq ft. / 73 m2
(pictures: click here)

I-77, exit 120, south on Arlington, 2nd house on the right after E Nimisila Road (approx 4 miles / 6 km from the I-77 exit)

Distance from:
Downtown Cleveland: 48 miles
Beachwood: 38 miles

Cleveland International Airport (CLE): 48 miles
Akron Canton Regional Airport (CAK): 5 miles

Mississauga, ON: 306 miles
Niagara Falls: 245 miles

Friday, January 26, 2007

House-hunting update II

After Church Jen and I will be looking at two possible houses on Sunday Jan 28. Last week we had 5 or 6 on our list and after the realtor showed Jen, Angie and Katelyn the houses 2 made the cut that Jen and I will go see.

Here they are, most interesting house first:
- 4890 Arlington Rd, Uniontown
- 1560 Briarwood Way, Uniontown

The first one has plenty of upgraded features, cherry wood cabinets, huge finished basement and hardwood floors on the ground-level. Plus, it has over an acre (> 4000m2) of land.

Keep you posted as always...

Friday, January 19, 2007

House-hunting update

Yesterday I had an appointment with a Mortgage-company in Canton (Stoffer Mortgage) that was recommended by the Prices. He is a very good and down-to-earth guy. He didn't quote me on a maximum amount I could borrow, but on my maximum comfort-level. I like that.

On a personal note: he's an avid fan of Dutch Soccer. Just on that one alone I have to recommend him. Jen also had a conversation with him before (she actually made the appointment) and told me she had a good feeling about him.

With the Soccer-connection it just continues to amaze me how God is raising my comfort-level in this whole process. A few years ago I would have contributed it to fate or luck, but since this isn't the first time things like this happen to me, I believe God has a hand in this.

As an example: when I was looking online for an apartment in Cleveland in the early months of 2003 (before I moved to the States) I was here on a business and house-hunting trip in February. I looked at a few places, but when I got to my current apartment-complex in downtown Cleveland I was greeted by the property manager. Turned out she lived in the Netherlands for a couple of years... Like I said, these kind of things keep happening to me.

So for the sceptics among us... Once might be luck, twice might be chance, three-times might be seen as fate, but when it keeps happening it is obvious to me that there is a Director at work.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

24 is back !!

Season 6 of one of my favorite TV-shows is back with a bang!

This seasons premise: 20 months after last season's shocking season finale, when Jack Bauer was captured by Chinese government agents and taken battered and bloodied to points unknown, a series of horrific terrorist attacks rocks the nation.

You can now order the DVD with the series 6 first 4 episodes from Amazon or just download a single episode. Unfortunately, unlike CBS, you have to pay for these episodes in order to keep the sales of the DVD going. I like that they give you option to see it again, but disapprove of the method. I can only wish Fox will follow the 'Innertube' initiative from CBS.

To prevent having to download them (either from Amazon or other channels) you can catch new episodes every Monday at 9pm on Fox.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New year, new layout

A new year, a new look for The Clog Files. To those who've been keeping up the format might look a bit familiar since Jens blog has the same layout/template. I kinda like it since its not too flashy and keeps the focus on the content. I did update the profile and blog mission a bit plus added a picture I deem precious...

I've also updated my personal website and added a number of photo-galeries to it as well. One of them (My Life in Europe) will be the basis for a day or two of our Netherlands trip in March. I'm really looking forward to that trip and hope it will bring us closer together. Plus, I get to show her off to my family... Don't worry sweetie, they already like you.

Off to grab the info for my appointment with the mortgage-advisor tommorow.

Jen in Ohio

Since this weekend my girlfriend is having her main domicile right here in Ohio. One of our friends is graciously hosting her in their house. Unfortunately, her house is still not sold (click here for a link to the Realtor) so we still appreciate your prayers on that.

On Monday Jen and me celebrated her birthday with a good dinner and a fabulous movie 'The Pursuit of Happyness' with Will Smith and his real-life son. It is actually based on a true story. Check out Chris Gardner on Google for more info and you'll be amazed on his perseverance. It would have been even stronger if the divorce-part could have been resolved, but that is more of a personal beef of us than a comment on the movie and its remarkable story.

It is so nice to have her so close and to drive only 45min to go see her instead of 4 to 4,5 hours. Tomorrow we have various appointments, among others with a mortgage advisor to see if my plans of owning a house are feasible. I hope to move closer to my friends and looking at the area from Munroe Falls south to about US-224 on the east-side of Akron. It is still about 40 minutes to work (only 10 to 15min longer than now), but only 10 to 15 minutes to our friends in Canton.

I will keep you posted.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tracking a passport with visa...

Visa application and approval was pretty standard stuff, except...

... getting my passport and visa physically in hand was not.

After the approval on Tuesday they should sent it within the next 2 business days. That would have been Thursday. However, they already sent it on Monday-afternoon and tried to deliver it (it was registered mail), but since my dads shop was closed that didn't work. Normal procedure is to leave a note saying they will try again tomorrow and if that fails at what post office you can pick it up. However, they never left a note and just dropped it at a post office in Geldrop (where my dads shop is). The result was that we didn't know where my passport was on Friday afternoon... with my flight back home leaving on Saturday.

I first started calling the consulate and got nowhere. Only after I put up my American voice and accent and called the embassy did I get to talk to somebody and found out they already sent it. Next step: getting some info at the parcel company (TNT Express). After two failed attempts, they told me it should be at the post office in Geldrop. So I called the Post office and they told me it wasn't there, but at one of the regional distribution centers of the parcel company. Yeah, right...

Getting a little desperate - and with help from my parents from the shop in Geldrop - and after about 3 hours of tracking we finally found that it was at a different post office in Geldrop.

Finally... and no errors so I could leave on schedule. To compensate things the man upstairs blessed me with smooth sailing at Schiphol and Newark and an upgrade to Business Class on the flight to Cleveland.

Thanks to mom and dad for all their help in calling and tracking down the passport... even if it wasn't in their best interest... ;-)

My Holland trip, part II

The second part of my Holland trip is now complete... sigh... I'm currently waiting on my connecting flight to Cleveland at the Newark Airport.

What all happened the last week... Let's see:

On Tuesday we went to US Consulate (see previous post) and got the L1b visa renewed. On Wednesday I did my prep for the next trip to Holland in March together with Jen. That will be our first major trip together. Very much looking forward to that. So what is the prep? I took pictures of most buildings that played a role in my life.

Took pictures of the Hospital, the first house I lived in with my parents, my kindergarten building (now a gym)and my first elementary school. All of those in Helmond, the city where I was born. Then I took a few pictures in a small village just north of Eindhoven, called 'Son & Breugel', where I lived for 5 years. Again, a picture of the house and the elementary school there. After those 5 years we moved back to Helmond and took pictures of my parents current house, my elementary school, my high school and my community college. Then I moved on to Venlo, where I took a few pictures of my college and the hospital where I got my first full-time job out of college. Final stops where around Maastricht at my house in Gellik and the office on the town-hall square in Maastricht.

On Thursday and Friday I went to work in our Roosendaal office in the south of the Netherlands.

Something else happened on those last two days, but that will be a separate post...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

L1b (Non-Immigrant) Visa approved

Today I went to the US Consulate in Amsterdam to re-apply for my US Non-Immigrant visa. This is the one that was stuck in the damaged Dutch passport after I had to renew my it. This doesn't have any effect on the Immigrant Visa...

After an early morning rise (left at 5.30am) we arrived in Amsterdam a little after 7am, well ahead of the 8am schedule. After a coffee-break I joined the queue at around 8.15am and got into the Consulate a little after 8.30am.

Full airport security to get in, two times through the metal detector and some paperwork pre-check before you get into the building. The building looks more like Fort Knox so the whole process seems a bit surreal.

After paying the necessary fees and waiting for another 30 minutes inside for my (very brief, < 2min.) interview with the vice-consul he informed me that the visa was approved.

Due to biometric data storage the passport with the visa will be send back in 3 days. Nicely in time for my return-flight to the States on Saturday.

Thanks for all the prayers, since the process went smooth and without a single problem. Now that I can get back into the States for sure... See you all next week!!

Greetings from Holland to all of you.

Monday, January 01, 2007

My Holland Trip, part I

I'm having a blast in Holland. Seeing all the family was a bit overdue... Didn't get to see them all in my last trip in May.

Christmas was awesome. Grandma, Mom and me all went to Church and then later that day all the family from my moms side came over. We went to dinner at a restaurant close by and afterwards had them over again at my parents house. So good to catch up and joke in Dutch... Been a while...

I also went to visit my best friend, his wife and new-born son (well, new-born to me. Ramon is 7 months old now).

I also had some quiet days (hey, it is still my vacation...

For New Years we watched some stand-up comedians on TV, all the fireworks (and lots of it this year) and today we visited both sides of the family, both at the remaining grand-parental unit...

A bit more (serious stuff) on the comedians though... Holland was and still is a very tolerant society and that shows in the performances of those comedians. Compared with the US, they can say pretty much everything and they do!! It is unbelievable what is being broadcasted. Not even so much the profanity as well as the blasting and total disrespect of everything (especially religion, including Christianity) and all people but themselves. Wow! Three years living in the States have given me quite a different perspective on what I feel as appropriate and most of them I would not pay to go see or even recommend. Today however I watch a comedian from neighboring Belgium and the contrast couldn't be bigger... Just as funny, but without all the profanity. Still as critical on certain subjects (as stand-up should be), but much more respectful and more family appropriate (well, for European standards that is...).

OK, on to some lighter notes again...Tomorrow I'm off to the US Consulate for a new visa and Wednesday I'm planning a photo-shoot of my life so far, taking pictures of where I was born, went to school, moved to, etc... in preparation of my next trip to Holland in mid-March, but that will be with... JEN !! Yay !!

Thu and Fri I'm working at one of the Dutch offices of Penske and then (if everything works according to plan with the visa) I'm going home to Cleveland again on Saturday.

Will post a bit more next week. Have a great 2007!