Happy One Year Blogging Anniversary!

Here I Am, 365 days later… still writing!

Today it has been one year since I began writing every day. I never knew I would enjoy it as much as I do and never, ever thought of myself as a writer.

My passion is connecting people, finding things we have in common, supporting one another, finding joy every day, loving my family and friends, and creating communities.

Thank you for reading and for sharing your comments, private messages, stories and connections along the way and creating bonds of friendship and community.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

I am blessed.

Namaste.

Day 242: The Red Light District?

There are no photos or videos to share today, except this one:

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I am in photo hell! I’ve taken way too many pictures (is that possible?) and haven’t edited or deleted many either and now everything is full. I’m out of disk space. My iPhoto library won’t take any more content and I have photos stored in a flat file structure and am trying to integrate them all to have them make sense and its taking hours and hours and hours! How did I get here and do you feel my pain? Do you have an easy solution? Please?!?

So while I was sitting here for hours all day and night with Jeff helping me to move, edit, delete and back up files, Charlie decided to sit next to me and look at YouTube videos for things to do together in Amsterdam tomorrow. I was happy that he was sitting near me and found something to do besides making noise and jumping up and down. All was good. The video was playing in the background and I was listening and multitasking, feeling proud that he searched and found a video with a list of exciting things to see and do in the heart of the city until I heard, “number 9. the red light district. just don’t take pictures of the ladies in the windows otherwise they may throw your camera in the canal.” I jumped away from my busy-ness and as I looked at what he was seeing, I saw flashes of red lights appear. Oh no! I grabbed the iPod out of his hands and turned off the video before he saw anymore. He was surprised and didn’t understand and said he hated when that happened. I’m pretty open with my kids but really don’t want them seeing that or even asking questions about it at the kitchen table. Yikes!

Back to the photo conundrum – taking pictures is to help us capture our memories from the past and that’s all great, but what happens when you’re trying to manage your past and package it into nice little receipts packaged into nice little albums with copies ready just in case you lose your package, but in the process you lose the present because you’re so busy remembering the past? What a dilemma. I struggle with that concept, but know I want to be able to look back one day to remember and share the journeys we have taken, explored and enjoyed.

I guess I have to borrow from the present, to pay to remember the past, so I can have the future benefit of being able to share our history. Huh. That’s weird. Boy, I’m exhausted now.

Day 241: Really Cold Weather & SUP Dreams

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It’s cold and windy in Holland and I’m over it. Even with my long down coat, wool socks, jeans and accessories, I am still freezing and uncomfortable. I know they say there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad dressers, but that statement doesn’t work for me. I don’t know why it feels colder now than it did with snow on the ground. Is it because of the humidity and the wind? Why is it so cold? Please warm up… I like it a bit warmer, thank you!

I spent the day mostly indoors, up at the crack of dawn, for no real reason except that I keep waking up early! What is this insomnia business as I get older?

I have been working all day on trying to organize my digital photos and clean up some old emails with attachments. My iPhoto library is full and I’m out of disk space on my computer so I’m trying to figure it all out and it isn’t easy!! Wish me (Jeff) luck! The best part was seeing old pictures of friends from home and the first few weeks of living in Holland. We’ve experienced so much and are so thankful!

The kids had birthday parties this afternoon. Charlie went to a bowling party

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Juliana went on a scavenger hunt with a team of friends at the Amstelveen mall, after taking a tram ride together. She had so much fun and is growing up so fast. The highlight from her scavenger hunt was finding pre-colored Easter eggs at Hema (kind of like Target!). She had never seen anything like it before.

Jeff and I went to run errands and on the way back he drove me through more parts of Ouderkerk, my favorite city in Holland. I wished we would have chosen to live there, but we didn’t really know about it when we were looking for housing. We did look at houses on the Amstel, but none were quite right for us. The house we chose is perfect for us. We picked a house with lots of natural light, a huge open kitchen with an American sized refrigerator and oven, and a great room with a view into a small back yard and a beautiful open view of a canal out front. It is perfect for our lifestyle with a place to park right outside our front door. I love that the Ouderkerk is nearby. What I love about this city includes the wide river, prominent church steeples, bakeries, ice cream shop, store fronts and restaurants with outdoor seating right on the water. It has a small town feel which I love.

Today I searched for places where I could park my car, lift my board off the racks and walk a short distance to launch. I found it! Now I just have to wait for the weather to warm up. Any day now… I hope.

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

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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 (http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/1882/here-i-am) 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:

TOP 25 WAYS TO ENJOY AMSTERDAM AND IT’S SURROUNDING CITIES

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. http://www.blueboat.nl/imdex_en.html

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: http://www.collectiesix.nl/index.php/en/visit-collection-six

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. http://www.boerderijmeerzicht.nl

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! http://www.zuiderzeemuseum.nl/

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. http://www.claramaria.nl/?lang=en

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. http://www.keukenhof.nl/

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. http://www.snowplanet.nl/

8. Wander the quaint streets in Haarlem and maybe stop by the Corrie Ten Boom house and learn about the Hiding Place. http://www.corrietenboom.com/

9. Try enjoying a traditional Indonesian rice table at Sampurna in the Flower Market part of Amsterdam. http://www.sampurna.com/

10. Take the kids and enjoy being a kid yourself while exploring hands on science at the Nemo – science museum. Nemo http://www.e-nemo.nl/

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. http://www.mm-sup.com/

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. http://www.albertcuypmarkt.nl/ac_english.html

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. http://www.kinderkookkafe.nl/

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. http://www.wijkaanzee.info/

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. http://www.blue-amsterdam.nl/

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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museumplein

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 http://www.museumkaart.nl/

21. Another fishing village to enjoy with old shops, photo booths, and souvenier shops is Volendam. http://www.vvv-volendam.nl/nl/welcome/

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. http://www.iamsterdam.com/en-GB/experience/about-amsterdam/areas/featured-areas/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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verzetsmuseum

25. And no visit to Amsterdam would be complete without a visit to the Anne Frank house. http://www.annefrank.org/

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

Love,
Adriana

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

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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: http://www.codart.nl/news/755/
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“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.”

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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?

Namaste

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.

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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.

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Random mitten art in the Joordan.

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Old man and his cat

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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.

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

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

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Bike fishing.

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Friends departing on their bikes, waving as they go.

Tot ziens!

Day 237: Paths and Hives

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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.

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Where will our paths lead?

Namaste.