Day 240: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things… Holland


This weekend it will be one year since I began blogging. I’ve written every day since I began, without missing a day or making an excuse why not to write. Some days it’s been after midnight when I’ve finally posted my daily entry. Some times I fall asleep mid sentence and some nights I wake up and my post has posted magically on it’s own before I actually intended to send it, spelling errors and incoherent sentences and all. I’ve become passionate about writing and I’ve come to enjoy the practice of reflecting at the end of the day. I think it has helped me to be aware of living in the moment and being present because I know that I’ll want to have something meaningful to share when the day is done, and knowing that I “have” to share, kind of inspires me to LIVE IT UP. And hopefully you’re doing the same thing where you are on your yellow brick road, even if you’re not writing and sharing about it. How are you living the best life you can at this very moment?

Live it Up!
Live it Up!

I found an expat blog community today ( and shared my blog with the Netherlands community, hoping that maybe my journey might help or inspire another family that sets out to do what we’re doing. They asked for contest submissions where you shared your top list about the country you write about. I spent this evening reflecting on a few of the many things and places I’ve loved so far while living in my new country. Here is the list:


Come share Amsterdam with me – there is so much to see and love and spring is just around the corner. These are a few of my favorite things in no particular order.

1. Take a canal boat ride and explore the 400 years of canals. The Blue Boat Company is my favorite.

2. Visit the House of Six – a private museum shared by the Six family featuring Jan Six’ friendship with Rembrandt. Make an online reservation here:

3. Bike ride through the Amsterdamsebos – and enjoy dogs playing, people running, rent a boat, play with the goats on the farm and eat a pancake with melted cheese and bacon at the Boerderij Meerzicht.

4. Take a step back in time and visit the Zuiderzee where you can experience what life might have been like in the olden days. Walk through the fishing village, and cheese shops, discover what a gaper is, make a clog boat, sample cheese, make your own rope and more!

5. Make a friend with a farmer and learn how wooden clogs are made and sample cheese made daily on the farm. The farmer is playful and gives hands on tours and involves his guests to make it a meaningful experience.

6. Wonder at the beauty and magic of the Keukenhof gardens. Spring time is supposedly magical with tulips carpeting the fields. At Christmas time, the gardens are transformed into a Christmas Market.

7. Want to learn how to ski? Try indoor skiing with a private instructor for an hour or two at Snow Planet. Kids can ski and parents can sit behind the glass and watch and drink a coffee and have something to eat.

8. Wander the quaint streets in Haarlem and maybe stop by the Corrie Ten Boom house and learn about the Hiding Place.

9. Try enjoying a traditional Indonesian rice table at Sampurna in the Flower Market part of Amsterdam.

10. Take the kids and enjoy being a kid yourself while exploring hands on science at the Nemo – science museum. Nemo

11. If you’re lucky enough to be in town at the beginning of December, be sure to be present to see Sinterklass arrive by boat and the parade afterwards celebrating his arrival.

12. Ride your bike along the Amstel and enjoy sites of beautiful houses, row boats, windmills, and fields with cows.

13. Try standup paddling through the canals of Amsterdam for an upfront and different perspective of the city.

14. Visit a Friday market in Amstelveen where you can buy fresh meats, fish, cheese and rub elbows with the locals.

15. Stroll through the Albert Cuyp Street market – and enjoy fresh squeezed juices, flea market stands and fresh frites.

16. Wander through Vondelpark and if you have small kids, stop by the Kinderkookkafe where kids can make their own food and have it cooked just the way they like it. You can rent bikes, roller blade, leisurely walk or run, people watch, sit for a leisurely lunch or play in a park.

17. Catch some sunshine when the weather warms up at the beach at the sea at Wijk aan Zee. We loved walking up and down the strand, looking for odd shaped shells, watching the birds dance in the sky and playing on the trampolines at one of the little beach front play areas.

18. Give yourself a rest while strolling around the city and have a drink and a snack while enjoying 360 degree rooftop view of Amsterdam from Blue.

19. Be a kid again and play with our without kids on the big rope swing in in Museumplein and take pictures on the I Amsterdam sign.

20. Art, art, everywhere! Get yourself a museum card and pop into the Hermitage, Van Gogh, Rijksmuseum for an hour or two or three. With a museum card, you feel like you can visit for a short while or a long while

21. Another fishing village to enjoy with old shops, photo booths, and souvenier shops is Volendam.

22. Watch the weather change hourly some days – sun, rain, clouds, snow, hail, and back again. And if the sun is out, all the Dutch locals are outside too, enjoying a pint of beer and maybe some bitterballen. There are lots of bars and outside tables to choose from in the Leidseplein.

23. I love visiting the quaint towns and villages outside of Amsterdam like Naarden, Gouda and Delft, and Den Bosch, especially on the days when they have their street markets.

24. Visit the Dutch resistance museum that tells the history of the Dutch people during World War Two.

25. And no visit to Amsterdam would be complete without a visit to the Anne Frank house.

Hope you enjoy Holland as much as I do and get a chance to slow down and enjoy life with the locals.


Day 239: Amsterdam – The House of Six

Feb 2014  – This has been one of my most visited pages. I hope that after you’ve visited, you might share your comments with me about what you liked and took away from your visit.  All the best – Adriana


Today Jen organized a group of us to visit a private art collection in Amsterdam at the House of Six on the Amstel river next to the Herengracht. Thanks Jen for inviting me!

To learn more about this historic art collection, visit this website:

“The Six collection has its origins in the 17th century. Jan Six (1618-1700) a well-to-do magistrate and burgomaster was an avid collector and patron of the arts. His friendship with Rembrandt and Vondel has been well documented. The collection was further enriched by intermarriages. Six married Margaretha Tulp, daughter of Nicolaas Tulp in 1655, who brought many family heirlooms to the collection. Other families that are now represented in the collection thanks to marriages are the Hop, the Van Winter, the Teding van Berkhout and the Bosch Reitz family.

The collection has been handed down generations to the direct descendant of the first Jan Six, Jan Six (X) van Hillegom. It is a family collection of unprecedented wealth. The absolute highlight of the collection is Rembrandt’s Portrait of Jan Six, but the rest of the collection is of equally impressive quality.”


No photos were allowed, so I purchased this book after the tour was completed, as I was fascinated and my imagination was piqued. There were several reasons why I appreciated this exhibit.

First, it was a private, small tour in a private home where Jan Six the Tenth (X) still lives. While we were waiting for our tour guide, a gentleman walked in and peeked in our sitting room. I was curious who he was and smiled at him, while he made small talk and then introduced himself as Jan Six! This did it for me. To be in this man’s home, where he came downstairs and connected with us for a brief moment, when he didn’t have to, made the art and the history and the story of the paintings and art collection come to life. I paid attention to as many details as possible and was imagining being the 10th descendant of this famous and wealthy family. I wanted to know more and I was so glad he provided a human touch to this exhibit.

Every room in the house was ornately decorated. One room had leather art covering the walls. One wall had a complete canvas of a man on a horse filling up the entire space. There was a a story connected to every piece and because the art was presented this way, I could stay focused and engaged.

The greenhouse, the gardens and the home itself were just as interesting to me as the art exhibit. I loved learning about the family and their relationships in society. I definitely recommend setting up your own private tour when you visit Amsterdam.

20130321-221219.jpgAt the end of the tour, Jan Six signed my book and dated it even too. I was so impressed. He insisted that we sign the guest book too, and mentioned that they had over 20 volumes dating back to the 1800s, and we were now part of the family history.

I asked him why he opened his home up and he said that no one who owned such a vast collection of art like he had should keep it to himself and not share it. By sharing it with the public, he is also able to avoid paying an inheritance tax to the Dutch government as part of an agreement. We also learned that his son, Jan Six the XI, is a private art dealer. What a lucky kid to grow up with a Rembrandt of his namesake in his house and to be able to appreciate art everyday, being surrounded by such famous pieces and having it as part of his legacy. He also studied to become an expert in his field.

I wonder what my kids will be someday… what are they surrounded by that they love? Who are their mentors? Hmm… more thoughts.  It’s fun to be part of their journey and to one day see what they become. Such a mystery, isn’t it?


Day 238: AmsteRandom

It is so cold today and to think that tomorrow is the first day of spring is crazy. I’ve somewhat adjusted to the cold, but being outside in it for several hours was just nuts! My hands and feet hurt from being numb and frozen. I’m just saying…

I’m happily riding the warm bus back to pick up the kids from school.

View of Olympic Stadium from the 170 bus.

The good part of wandering in the cold was being with friends, getting some exercise and seeing new random places in Amsterdam. I love this city almost as much as San Francisco.

Random mitten art in the Joordan.

Old man and his cat

In the Leidseplein, where the ice rink used to be, they are setting up the outdoor tables anticipating and wishing for warm spring weather and customers.

Building was taken over by squatters in the 1970s. The snake represents the squatters.

One of the smallest canal houses in Amsterdam is the middle red one.

Bike fishing.

Friends departing on their bikes, waving as they go.

Tot ziens!

Day 237: Paths and Hives


Love this imagery of a hive and a path

I think when we have our own home again, I’ll have to put in a yellow brick path that leads up to our front door. Because Christina was right – I found my yellow brick road that leads to our home, wherever we are together. I just had to move to Holland to figure that out. I Am Content.

I love the imagery of the path alongside the hive pattern. I also kind of like that the path is messy and dirty, although I don’t like the cigarette butt thrown on the way. The hive represents communities to me and I think that we build and shape our interconnected communities based on the paths we choose. I Am thankful for family and the friends I meet and make and share time with along the way – at home, overseas, online and in thought.


Where will our paths lead?



Day 236: Celebration of Life

Today one of my blogging friends wrote about her mother’s celebration of life that is happening this weekend. Her beloved mom died this week and we all felt her pain. We also learned so much about the art of living and appreciating what you have, even in the darkest light, as her mom struggled and fought cancer and in the end peacefully and gracefully surrendered to her calling. This family rallied like no other, and came together to love one another and to support each other through the process, enjoying the gift of unexpected, unplanned time together with sisters and cousins, nieces and nephews, and being thankful for their wonderful mama.

Through their story and journey, I continue to learn and value living in the moment and accepting what is. We might think we have a plan, but really it’s not our own. What we have to do is continually be present, live in the moment while looking forward, loving ourselves and one another, and adapt to what comes our way, with grace.

Life is a mystery…and I’m going to keep on living it up…celebrating life every damn day!

Three people shared this quote with me today at different times… And my daughter took the liberty to make this image my wallpaper on my iPad. It wasn’t my plan, but I guess I’ll accept it with grace.

Namaste… How are you celebrating today?

Day 235: The Amstel River – aka Where I Plan to SUP

We had the laziest day today. The leprechaun trap didn’t quite catch us a leprechaun, but he did leave Charlie some Euros, and made quite a mess of our house!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and wishing you the luck of the Irish!

I love this picture of our littlest traveler, for several reasons. First of all, he still believes in Leprechaun’s and built a trap! Secondly, when we decided to move overseas, we promised Charlie that he could collect soccer jerseys from the places we visited to help him accept the change in his stable living environment. He picked this outfit out last week in Istanbul at the Grand Bazaar and insisted that we stop and get it, waiting for the shop keeper to find just the right one in his size(which I think he obtained by buying it from another vendor for 25 Lira and turning around and selling it to us for 50!). Next to Charlie is a travel book for Dubai. One of our goals moving to Holland was to show the kids as much of the world as possible. They have become pretty good at packing, navigating airports, late night arrivals and early morning departures. Dubai is next on our list and today we were doing some research. They are excited to see the watermarks and aquariums, and to eat American food like Panda Express. I was especially keen on finding a place to paddle board in the sunshine! I actually found a place and it is my dream to paddle on the ocean and find someone else riding a camel on the shore at the same time and snap a picture! I think it’s possible… We’ll see!

Back to our lazy day…while dreaming of warm weather and paddle boarding, I heard about some lakes in Aalsmeer. We all decided to hop in the car and drive around for awhile to see what we could find. What I learned is how small the little neighborhoods are and how they’re so easily connected. We found the lake which is quite large and was choppy from the wind. I wasn’t planning on paddling today as the weather was wet and freezing! Se also saw all the flower distributors. Aalsmeer is known for their flower auction and is also known as the flower capital of the world! Right in our backyard! I want to go see a morning auction before we move back to the States. It sounds really fascinating and highly automated.

But what I loved rediscovering the most today, was the curvy back side of the Amstel river that leads away from Amsterdam and Ouderkerk. The Amstel river and its banks are my favorite parts of Holland and I can’t wait to launch my board there in the next couple of weeks when it’s spring time! Here are some pictures of her beauty, despite the grey skies!






Day 234: Celebrations

We celebrated Juliana’s birthday today by having 22 girls over for two hours. Luckily there wasn’t any drama and I think they all had fun. We asked every girl to bring a gift for under 10 euros. Then we did a white elephant style gift exchange where they all brought gifts and could steal from each other or pick a new gift, until all the gifts were unwrapped. A gift could only be transferred three times and then it had a permanent owner. Some of the popular gifts include OPI nail polish, a disco lamp, glass jars with candy and a polka dotted wallet. At first the girls were very hesitant to steal, not wanting to make each other mad. But once they got into it, the laughter and screaming and stealing got very exciting.

We had a photo booth set up with props to change into, and took pictures of all the guests with Juliana. We then projected the pictures onto Apple TV so everyone could see themselves during the party. At one point, our little rascal Charlie decided to high jack the Apple TV and projected his iPod music and Shut Up app onto the tv. I thought this was hilarious, but Juliana didn’t find it very funny.

We made and served April’s chocolate cake ad frosting and it was so deliciously moist and yummy!


We sang happy birthday in three languages – English, Dutch and Chinese. One party guest is moving to Japan in a couple weeks. Two others are moving back to the states at the end of school. Everyone has a unique story and it was so fun to see all these girls together.

Before everyone left, the girls all did the Haarlem Shake and we took a group photo. And after they went home, we cleaned up again and I made the kids one of their favorite dinners – a chicken and veggie noodle stir fry dish. Jeff and I then headed out for some adult conversation with two other couples to celebrate a birthday. I love birthdays and celebrating loved ones. Tonight we went around the table and did a roast to the party guest! He said it was like having a live obituary. I think everyone should know how they are loved and admired while they are alive, even if it does feel a bit weird. Why should we be afraid of compliments? When its your turn, soak in all the acknowledgements and praise and celebrate wonderful you!


Day 233: Namaste – Follow Your Yellow Brick Road

When I close my posts with Namaste – it’s a way for me to close, like saying goodbye, or Amen, or thanking you for reading and sharing our journey together. It’s a way for me to say my soul recognizes your soul and we are connected, so I thank you.


This paper is posted on the door at my yoga studio in Amstelveen. I loved seeing it today and remembering what it means and wanted to share it with you.

We are all following our own yellow brick road, dreaming our own dreams of happiness and success and finding our way. I love hearing your stories of how you’re living your best life! Kimmy followed her YBR on a flight to Boston, celebrating spring break meeting a new friend. Tricia found her way to nursing school and is on her way to a new profession. Apryl is creating a program for youth fitness to help fight obesity and is being recognized by the US government for her thought leadership. Jessica is building an amazing and profitable company to support women entrepreneurs. Danielle is a working mom with a stay at home husband living abroad. Barbara loves to ski and plans regular trips away with her husband and girlfriends and just glows. All of these women are living their dreams and are creating happiness. Y’all inspire me and I am so proud of you. And these are just a handful of stories… What does your YBR look like?

We all have the ability to create love, truth, light and peace and I’m inspired by all of you who continue down your path, despite the struggles, to make this world a better place.


Day 232: Headaches and Dry Needling?!

I had the strangest experience today. I’ve been having constant daily headaches, and the pain has been getting worse each day. They feel like tension, pulsating headaches stemming from the back of my neck and into my head and behind my right eye. So I decided to try to find a sports massage therapist to help with deep tissue massage to loosen up whatever is tugging so tightly on my muscles and causing me pain.

I went to this place based on a recommendation. I showed up to an empty room, with no receptionist and no one to be seen. I heard talking behind closed doors, so I waited 10 minutes for the woman to come out. When I finally went in, we exchanged courtesies, she wrote down my information on a piece of paper and asked me about why I was there. I told her about my symptoms, she showed me some anatomy drawings that highlighted my pain areas, told me she could help and then told me she also does dry needling and recommended this for me. Huh?

You can google it, but basically it’s like acupuncture that penetrates deeper into the muscles so that your muscles twitch and release their tension pretty immediately. Side effects include slight bruising and possible stiffness for a day or two or three. As I’m feeling adventurous these days, I decided to try it, which is strange to me because I usually would want to do research before trying something new. Afterwards I looked it up, and its not yet legal in California but is widely used in Europe and South Africa. I’ll let you know if it works. I do sense an ability to move my neck to the right further than I could before, so I’m hoping for success. She just did a couple spots to start, to see how my body responds and I’m supposed to go back next week to continue treatment.

I told her I still wanted the massage, but she told me she was out of time because she only booked a half hour appointment. We had different expectations, but she said she would ask her colleague to continue and give me a massage, but she first had to finish her lunch.

This is such a strange concept to me. Here I am, in their office awaiting and expecting service, yet they were all busy. I don’t get that. I have gotten used to the Dutch ways and I still needed a massage, so I said no worries, I’ll wait. So I sat at a table in front of the kitchen/bar area of this place, while the colleague crunched her crackers with cheese and pickles as slowly and loudly as possible for what felt like an hour. After 10 minutes of patiently waiting, I started to get antsy. I had to pick up the kids in an hour and I didn’t know how long she wold take for my massage. So I asked politely, how long do you plan on giving me a massage. She told me she was almost done with her lunch, that she was on her last cracker and that it would last 20 minutes. I wanted to walk out but the escalation of commitment was too high and I really needed some therapy. I should have left though. Trust your gut is all I can say.

I followed her into her massage room, and she started cleaning off her desk. She was not very professional and did not offer me any form of privacy. I kept waiting for the deep tissue massage to come, but it never happened. There were some repetitive strokes, and a few deep stretches but nothing near the trigger points. And then she was done before it felt like she even started. I was so disappointed. My expectations were a bit different than hers I guess!

So does anyone know of a good deep tissue masseuse in the Amsterdam area? Or maybe California? 🙂

I decided afterwards to do some retail therapy instead with Juliana to get ready for her belated birthday party this weekend. I loved how the mall was decorated with spring flowers, even though winter is lingering a bit longer this season. The fresh scents made me smile despite the cold winter air.





Day 231: 13-3-13 Wanderlust Wednesday

Snow day and Sun day. Wanderlust fun day.

Woke up to snow this morning.

People like to talk about weather no matter what the condition. It’s something we all share.

Snow day and sun day all in one.

We brought our car in for servicing today. there were huge fluffy snowflakes falling but my camera couldn’t capture them. The customer service at the Honda dealer was excellent. It’s so nice to go in and out without a ton of fan fare. We had to sign one paper to get a loaner car and pay 30 euros for the rental. I am content and enjoyed testing out a hybrid car.

Afterwards, I went up to A’dam with Jeff this morning to help my friend in the States to get an official copy of her marriage certificate form the Amsterdam city hall, so that she could quickly renew her passport. It was an adventure trying to find a new place, but was easy too. The customer service was quick and polite and efficient and I was impressed. Basically you walk in, tell them what you’re there for and they give you a number. No appointment is necessary. They have an electronic monitoring system that calls out your number when the next attendant is ready to serve you. I think it took me 10 minutes to present my papers and walk out with a paid, signed, official document. I am impressed.

Having two tasks done early in the morning opened up my day to explore. First stop was the marketplace on Waterloo plein. I said goodbye to Jeff and wandered around the stalls, enjoying the swap meet vendors and their wares.


What a beautiful place for a swap meet!

It was an absolutely gorgeous day in the city! I wandered around snapping pictures and then wandered into the Hermitage Museum for awhile. Here are a few more pictures… Check out the sky and the light!! It was clear and crisp and cold, and I loved it!






The Hermitage Museum – flowers and courtyard outside the entrance.





And some beautiful thoughts from the Vincent Van Gogh museum walls…

“To give direction to our lives, we all have to make choices.”

“Practice makes perfect.”

“Getting better must come through doing it and through trying.”

Van Gogh was a master but never saw himself as that. He always felt like he was practicing and studying and learning. I like that idea and can relate that thinking to parenting. Aren’t we always practicing and studying and learning by doing? Hopefully we continue to get better and better.

Namaste. Hope you had a good day! -A.