Day 272: The King is Coming

I am so happy to be living in Holland right now. The sun is shining again, the weather is warming up, and there is excitement in the air.

We get to be part of something big! Everyone is making plans and preparing for Queens Day and the coronation of (our) new king. It’s strange to say “our”, since even though we are legal residents of the Netherlands, it feels like theirs and not ours. Nevertheless, we get to enjoy and celebrate along with the locals and I am excited.

The stores are filled with orange decorations and paraphernalia everywhere you go. People are sharing ideas of how and where and when to celebrate and telling us what we need to do. On Monday, our school will have celebrations in honor of the new king and the school will be closed on Tuesday to celebrate Queens Day.

Today during our Dutch class, the teacher told us to look out the window and look at what was happening down in the court yard.

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The people had been working on a brick mosaic in the city center honoring the new king. This year the Queen was supposed to come to our city of Amstelveen to celebrate her special day. Instead, the coronation of her son will be happening in Dam square in Amsterdam. Today there were photos of several people vacuuming the Dam Square, preparing for the royal family’s arrival. The buildings are decorated with banners in the colors of the Dutch flag and orange is everywhere. I can’t wait!! The anticipation is building.

I love Holland!

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Day 271: Have You Filled A Bucket Today?

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Have you heard of this book? Charlie’s class read it recently and he came home talking about it and shared it with me. He asked me to play with him and invited me to just come hang out with him. We then played foosball together and laughed and had fun, doing something I didn’t expect to do. I, of course, had 100 other things I “had” to do, yet I stopped to play and was so happy afterwards, mostly because he was happy and also because I had fun sitting on the floor and enjoying my kid. Afterwards he asked if he had filled my bucket? It’s a connection to the story that teaches children the meaning of bucket filling and bucket dipping and encourages positive behavior. I loved that he was thinking of ways to make me happy.

So today we were at his school, and giving our family friend, Darryl, a tour of the school. The kids were excited and proud to show him around. Charlie wanted to show him his classroom door that was decorated with the book cover and mini buckets that each student wrote on and decorated, explaining how they filled someone’s bucket. Charlie wrote about how he filled my bucket by playing my favorite game with me. I love it!

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Darryl said that his son also read the same book and shared that with him. What a small world.

Watching the kids give Darryl a tour and showing him the art displays, music rooms, food tech, design tech, Dutch and humanities classrooms was very touching to me. I love that they were proud of their school and that Christian was taking pictures so he’ll remember it after he leaves one day. They filled my bucket today!

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This picture is a piece of art from outside the Dutch classrooms.

It was very comforting having a friend from home come and take the time to drop in on his way to a business meeting in Delft. We enjoyed making dinner together with the kids and afterwards went for a walk to the park and played until bed time. I love that Darryl was open to just flow with the kids and enjoy just being with our family for a few hours, and played outside until near dusk. Thanks for coming, Darryl and for the British treats! But now you’re making me miss home!

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Life is good!! Have you filled someone’s bucket today?

Day 270: Beautiful Day in Amsterdamse Bos

 

 

Sometimes not having a plan is the best plan of all.

This morning we were up early to get Jeff to the airport by 7:45 am on a Sunday morning!  He has meetings back in the States this week. I wished he could have taken me along, as I’ve felt a bit home sick, and I hate the feeling of him being so far away, even though I’m fine on my own. Jeff and I were commenting how strange it is that the roads from our house to the airport are now second nature. When I first arrived, I was afraid to even get in the car to drive less than a mile to the grocery store. I couldn’t read Dutch, wasn’t used to traffic circles and couldn’t tell what the traffic logos meant. Now, it’s all good and I got him there on time, and back home again without the Navigation system! Oooh….ahhh… just kiddin’.

Charlie had a friend sleep over last night and they had fun eating American pancakes, playing Mine Craft and video games and loved being in their pajamas all morning. I was liking just hanging out too, procrastinating shopping and cleaning as we have a house guest tomorrow night.  Luckily Patti Beth suggested we get out and go for a bike ride since the weather was so nice, otherwise I could have easily wasted the day away being lazy. I’m soooo glad we went out as you’ll see the highlights below from our wonderful, unplanned day.  What I thought would be a short ride, turned into a 6+ hour adventure in the sun!  Life is good, especially with family, friends, and good weather!

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The cherry blossom trees all bloomed since last week and Blossom Park was gorgeous today!

 

The location of the trees is known as Bloesempark (Blossom Park), located in the south-east of the Amsterdamse Bos, between Burgemeester A. Colijnweg and the pond that’s known as De Poel. At the time of planting, each tree was given a name: 200 have Japanese women’s names, while the remainder have Dutch women’s names.

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peaceful

 

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I noticed two trees that had pink blossoms on opposite sides of the park. The rest appeared to have white blossoms.

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white blossoms with lots of people out today enjoying the gorgeous weather

 

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The entrance to the park is over a footbridge that we are standing on. As you walk behind us, there is a large circle with a half wall for you to sit and enjoy the views.

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The boys were playing catch in the circle grass area between all the trees. We saw one woman explaining to her child what my boys were doing, as I don’t think many people play baseball in Holland. There are baseball teams of course, but most children play field hockey and soccer (football). Can you see the ball in the air?

Thanks to Chris and Patti Beth for bring a bag full of sports equipment and snacks to entertain the kids!  After playing catch, the boys ran off to play hide and seek in the bushes. Don’t you love hide and seek?

On the opposite side of the Amsterdamse Bos is a place they call Fun Forest. They have ropes courses for use, however you have to have a reservation to do the serious courses with cables and helmets. Today was so beautiful out, that of course they were fully booked. The kids still had fun playing on this small version that exposed them a bit to what they can look forward to next time when we plan ahead.

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focused and curious

 

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even the big kid liked climbing around and playing!

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This one was crossing with a cookie in her hand!! 😉 They were very hungry as we hadn’t planned on being out so long and lunch was long overdue.

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We ate lunch at De Bosbaan and had a great view of the racing waters. There was a rowing competition going on today.

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After lunch we rode our bikes through the forest again and let the kids play on the workout equipment. Charlie loved playing on the rings and doing flips, and I loved watching the horses go by.

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There is so much to see and do in the forest. This part has an adventure island where the kids can pull themselves across the water to the island and run around and climb and swing and cross bridges and platforms over water. The kids had a blast!

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Look at them all working together! I love this kind of old fashioned fun.

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This windmill is part of the infamous restaurant, the Jonge Dikkert, in Amstelveen which is on our way home as we headed out of the forest. What a gorgeous site.

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Queens Day is coming up and the children of the town are preparing their places on the streets to sell their second hand goods. It’s the one day of the year that people are allowed to have a “garage sale.” They are not allowed otherwise, so this is a big deal! Up and down the road as we rode our bikes, we saw tape and chalk lining areas for upcoming sales! I can’t wait to go see them all!

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The red part of the road is the bike path! How great is that? Where the lady is walking her dog, is for pedestrians and is where the children are claiming their space for Queens Day sales.

After 6 hours of wandering through the city, we finally came home in time to get to the grocery store before it closed. Most stores are closed on Sunday. When I got to the store today, many of the shelves were empty. All the fresh bread was sold and so were all the salad fixings.  Crazy!!  But we were able to make do and find other items to start off the week, fresh!

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This is a picture of the kids checking out Charlie’s class’ art work that we purchased last night at the Art & Wine & Cheese Fair. Charlie was so excited that we won the auction for this piece and was proudly showing his sister the part he created. I LOVE this Mandala piece and all it represents and can’t wait to take it back with us to America!!

A mandala can take many forms, from elaborate Buddhist sand works to the stained glass windows in Catholic cathedrals. Mandala means “circle” in Sanskrit. Typically they are created in the shape of a circle because the circle is a potent and universal symbol of wholeness and eternity.They are also most commonly symmetrical and are used to aide spiritual meditation. These mandalas have a focus on color, shape and pattern to create a sense of symmetry and wholeness. Each student created a piece of the mandala and they were put together to create a whole.

I am truly blessed to be living in Holland right now, soaking up the sun, enjoying my friends and kids and all that is good.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend and get outside!  Namaste.

 

Day 269: SUPing in the Wind and Art, Wine and Cheese Fair

We had a great busy day. The kids don’t have sports this season, so our weekends are free. Free for me to play, and play I did. Jeff and I went for a run together in the morning. He’s a lot faster than me now and has been running more regularly. I am so proud of him.

I brought my new paddle board onto the water today. Jeff helped me find the place and park our car and unload my board. It’s quite large and bulky, and a bit heavy, but actually lighter than my board back home. Too bad the wind was so strong. I did have fun, but it was a struggle to paddle upwind. I was afraid I was going to fall in. Two of the other paddlers did take a dive!! We ended up not doing the tour as planned because it was just too choppy. At least the sun was out!!

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We rushed back afterwards to get ready for an art, wine, and cheese fundraiser. It was a great evening with Jeff and my girlfriends!! Life is good!!

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Day 268: Alkmaar

I don’t know what I liked more, the road trip with my girlfriends filling every seat of my mini-van, or the actual visit to Alkmaar wandering with friends. I think I liked both! Too bad I didn’t get a picture.

We went to see the cheese market and walk around the quaint city, wandering from store to store and street to street, eventually stopping for lunch before heading back to pick up the kids from school. Thousands of visitors from all over the world visit to see the cheese market filled with cheese and hauling cheese carriers. The cheese market has taken place on the Waagplein in Alkmaar since 1593.

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It was very crowded and cold today. We watched a bit of the market happenings, but it was difficult for all 10 of us to see together. We strolled through the Oud Stad part of town and down a side street at lead us to a lunch place that we all enjoyed, called Eets Palais.

After lunch we walked through and around the rest of the city before heading back. There was a lot to see and we all talked about wanting to come back again to Alkmaar. Alkmaar is a quaint town, that is easy to stroll and doesn’t feel overly touristy. There are big churches, several museums, outdoor shopping streets with cute boutiques, canals, and plenty of places to sit outside with a drink and some food. Hopefully next time it will be warmer.

One of the beauties of spring time in Holland is the longer hours of light. We are still waiting for the warmth to come, but for now its still heavy coats. The good news is It’s 9:30 pm and its still light out. Juliana and I went for a brisk, cold and quick walk before dinner and enjoyed the colors of spring. Here are some of the beauties we saw.

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Hope you have a great weekend!
Love, Adriana

Day 267: Simple Days…

Yesterday I talked about the weather because I was tired and couldn’t come up with anything exciting to share. I’m sorry for that! I got my haircut, which was exciting for me, but not really blog worthy. I decided to wander around town and got myself lost and confused and back again. How is that possible? I am horrible with a map and knowing which direction I’m facing, even when I look at the map, however I did find my way (eventually), but walking with uncomfortable shoes that were giving me blisters made the journey a little more challenging. 😉 That was a very long sentence!!

Maybe my chaos was more exciting than the weather report… or maybe not. Oh well, it’s a new day, and the weather kept me mostly inside.

And this morning started off so chaotically! Our littlest one was giving us quite the challenge. He doesn’t do mornings very well and was quite argumentative. Trying to get him into the car on time, is such a chore! We were all so frustrated and I know there needs to be an easier way! While he was at school today, I made him a little checklist with approximate times it should take him to do each task. Tomorrow I’m going to give him his list and a timer and see if he can manage his time better without as many yells and screams from mom, and he can manage his own expectations! The good news is, that he started to prepare for tomorrow today, which never happens! Wish us luck!

I worked out with Jeff and then did some kettle bells. Hopefully I’ll be sore tomorrow.

Today I bought lots of orange paraphernalia to get ready for the last Queen’s Day next week. If you’re looking for good deals on scarves, shirts, jewelry, hair accessories, etc. check out your local Kruidvat store. For those not familiar with Kruidvat, it’s like a small drugstore like Walgreens, that carries drugs, body lotions and potions, and seasonal items.

I bought a present for my tennis coach’s new baby girl. It was fun to pick out a Dutch card and Dutch/English books for his little girl. Playing indoors tennis is still strange to me, but with the heavy winds today, I was happy to be inside.

After I picked up the kids, I had a meeting at school to plan the Grade 8 graduation celebration. My baby is moving on to high school this year and will be getting his driving permit by Christmas next year. That is so strange to me!

Christian was home sick today – he has a bad cough. I thought it was just allergies, but he sounds horrible! I think he might stay home again tomorrow.

He asked me to make him Chicken Pho soup for dinner tonight. When Jeff came home, we all sat around the table together and enjoyed food and conversation. Of course the kids kept getting up and interrupting each other and were excited to share all the highlights from their day. I’m thankful for this chaotic time and appreciate that they are so passionate and excited about their worlds. We say a prayer at dinner time and then take turns sharing and discussing what happened today. Some days conversations go better than others, but I love them no matter what.

I picked up dry cleaning and some school supplies for Juliana. I cleaned out a desk drawer and did a ton of laundry too. Oh, and also helped do some homework and manage discipline with my little trouble maker! One fun thing I did was I tried making lentils in the crockpot. It worked! Juliana and I both loved them.

I chose to share all these details for a reason. The reason is to show that my life is probably not that much different from yours. I deal with kids and shopping and buying presents for friends and celebrating together. I deal with discipline issues, party plans, sick kids and family dinners and homework and all that good stuff! A day in the life… I wouldn’t trade.

We’re all busy in our own ways. And hopefully how you choose to spend your hours is exciting for you and something you enjoy. My days as a housewife and expat, are pretty simple. I just choose to keep searching for fun things to see and do despite the regular work and chores. I hope you do the same. Would love to hear about what a day in your life feels like.

Namaste

Day 266: Still Waiting for Spring

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These pictures were taken from the car window, with an iphone 4, so are a bit fuzzy and not the best framing.

I’m seeing signs of spring and I know the season is almost here. A few of the cherry blossom trees are blooming.  Other trees are starting to show signs of new buds forming. And allergies are exploding!  Poor, Christian.

Today it was sprinkling a bit, but my down, heavy coat has gone into hibernation until next winter, I hope!  Thank, God!! The weather is definitely warmer, and there were only a few grey skies today, sprinkled showers, and a bit of sunshine!  There’s hope!! We sat outside and watched the kids play on the playground after school.  I’m loving the longer hours of daylight hours and want to enjoy the sunshine and warmth and dinner outdoors. I think we’re almost there, although the Friday night paddle through Amsterdam has been cancelled for this week due to bad weather!  The popular Keukenhof tulip gardens haven’t yet bloomed and it looks like they might extend the season into June due to the nature delay. I guess we’ll wait a couple more weeks to visit.   Hurry up, Spring!

– A.

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