Wednesday, May 25, 2011


An "avondvierdaagse" is a massive event that is organized by practically every city in Holland. It was started in 1940, and except for WWII, has been held every year ever since. Masses of people join together, and walk for 4 days in 1 week. The distance depends on the skill level of the walker. Most elementary kids walk 5km each day, some older kids 10km.

As a kid I remember walking and singing along the way. It was always hard, but more importantly, it was fun. Fun to walk with friends, eat treats, and sing. I haven't seen the medaillions I earned in years, but trust myself to never have thrown them out. It's a big accomplishment.

My kids were a little apprehensive at first, and even after the first day, they complained about being tired and wondering why I would have said it would be fun. I reminded them of all the smiles I saw on their faces along the way, and the friendships they strengthened. The second day was a bit easier on everyone. The kids even thought the walk was shorter. At the end of the 2nd day I found out that 1 day can be skipped, without loosing the reward.

Although I probably should have made a lesson about doing everything you can, I opted to stay home and rest on the couch. Work is seriously cutting into my napping time, and my body is exhausted. It turns out 6.5 hours of sleep per night is not enough for my body. On top of that I've been battling with crazy allergies, and the allergy pills don't seem to help one bit.

Today is the last day, and also a very busy day at work. Today is the official opening of the new location of the CJG. It's a child-centered business, so there will be face painting, jumphouse, DJ, and a rap competition. Since it's after school time, I will pick up the kids, and bring them to the opening. Right after that we have to go to the final walk for the avondvierdaagse, so it won't be until late tonight that I'll be able to pack and clean for our trip to Milan. That a whole other story!
Decorating Shirts with their school's name
Crazy fun during the break
Coco and I should get a medallion too!
Sterling's hoodie was the perfect hangout spot for Coco.
Although, it did mean Sterling constantly has a swarm of kids around him
The last day was the first day it rained. And the first day Ginger fell flat on her face.
I'm so proud of my kids' accomplishment finishing their first Avondvierdaagse

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Informational flyers

These first 2 days of work have taught me to take my boss seriously when he warns me there will be "down times". The center for Youth and Family is a fairly new organization, and just moved to their new location. These 2 facts combined, cause for a very quiet building. 6 organizations combined make this one organization. 3 of those will be in our building. For right now there are maybe 7 employees at the building. And no visitors. And I don't have my computer yet. Or a phone. Or any office supplies or trash can. So the past 2 days have been spent reading any and all informational materials that are available in the waiting room. I've learned where I can go with issues about raising kids, services for problem groups, and information I'd rather not talk about on my blog.

Today I thought I would be smart and bring my own computer, which didn't help much since I didn't have internet. I did try to play a game of chess with my computer, but seeing that I have absolutely NO idea what the rules are, that didn't really work out. Towards the end of the afternoon, the lady from the vaccinations place asked me if I'd mind making them coffee every day. After expressing my lack in experience in such matters, I told her I'd be happy to. Anything beats nothing.

But don't get me wrong. I think I'll enjoy my job. I think I'll be able to keep busy once I have a computer and phone. And I'll start bringing some backup options for those times when I truly don't have a thing to do. The hours are perfect. And the other employees are nice enough. Did I mention they are all 50-60 year old ladies? I fit right in!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Working mother

Technically I need to change the title of my blog. That's right, I'm officially not a "non-working mother" anymore. I have several reasons getting a job. First, I have been feeling lazy, and like I'm wasting my brain, abilities, and education. All the kids are at school, and I honestly don't have much to do during the day (sure I could clean more, but who wants to do that?) Joe's school costs a fortune, and any contribution I can make, might make a difference in the end. And my resume has a big 9 year gaping hole in it, and this will make it easier to get jobs in the future.

The job is for 27.5 hours a week, working 5 days a week. My working hours mostly overlap school hours, with the exception of Wednesday afternoons, when the kids have half days at school. I'm excited, a little bit nervous, but mostly glad to be able to contribute in a financial way. The title is "balimedewerkster", which just means front desk person. I'll greet visitors, direct them to different departments and answer simple questions. This is a new function, and is only guaranteed for 6 months, so I'll have to prove that I'm indispensable. I'll have to work independently, and find myself extra work. Which is great, because there's nothing worse than twiddling your thumbs for 5.5 hour stretches.

My first day is Monday, so until then I'm trying to enjoy the free time I have left.

I start Monday!

Monday, May 9, 2011


Ever since Justin was taken away (by a nice lady), I have been missing him. I never thought of myself of a dog person until Justin. For the past few weeks I have been thinking about getting a new dog. But this one would have to be an inside dog. And therefore smaller, much smaller. While visiting Carla, I fell in love with her Chihuahua Cloé. Just as most people, I had prejudices on Chihuahuas. There not really dogs. They just wear silly clothes, and hang out in purses. They shiver all day long. And any others that come to your mind. But after getting to know Cloé, I realized Chihuahua's are just as much dogs as Anatolian Shepherds. Just in a smaller format. And they can be trained to run along a bike. And go naked like all dogs should (except maybe in the winter when she might freeze to death without a coat).

So I hunted the internet for suitable puppies. So many of the "Chihuahuas" actually were mixed breeds, or had ugly coloring. Coco stood out for me. She has unique coloring, and only 2 brothers (a small nest usually means a small momma). We made the hour drive, in a car without A/C on the warmest day of the year. The previous owner grabbed her, less than gently, from the playpen, and she just wanted to hide in a corner. Although I was worried about getting a super calm and scared puppy, I saw her potential.
A few hours after coming home, she suddenly switched from a calm and scared puppy, to a playful, funny, and loving puppy. She is so quick! And loves to play with little rubber cat toys. Everything is XXS sized. Her food, and her poop. Having a puppy does take some getting used to, especially with the waking during the night, constant need for eagle eyes (to see when she might need to go potty), and absurd amount of attention from complete strangers. We have lived in Holland for 4 months, but I've met more people the past 2 days than the previous months combined.

The weather was amazing, so Sunday afternoon we joined the masses on a bike ride to the local recreational lake, for Coco's first outing

Friday, May 6, 2011


Soest is located in the middle of Holland, close to Amersfoort. But somehow, there's a large dune right smack in the middle of a forest. And that happens to be right next to Evelien's house
This next photo is taken less than 1/2 mile from the previous ones. This area might just be the perfect place to live in Holland, with the benefits of woods and beach!
We have really enjoyed our museum cards so far. I can't even remember all the museums we have visited, and recommend it for everyone. Today's visit: Dutch Railroad museum.
This wasn't one of those boring museums with cold galleries, but almost Disney like, including a ride and this walk-through village from 200 years ago.
Of course the highlight for the kids is always the playground.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More friends

The nice thing about spending 2 full days with Carla, was that we didn't have to cram our catch-up conversations into a few hours. And the kids really got to know her kids. And I seriously got behind on sleep. LOL After staying up until 3am, we thought it would be wise not to spend all day on our feet. Instead we puttered around at the house, and I got treated to a facial. Carla owns her own beauty salon, and lovingly treated my face. Now I have 2 full eyebrows, instead of 2 halfs (colored) and during the mask I even briefly dozed off.
The busy schedule continued, and we headed to Jannicke's house. I am seriously sooo grateful for everybody's hospitality. It was Bevrijdingsdag (liberation day), and we commemorated the dead by joining all of Holland in 2 minutes of silence. We then watched a very touching movie, The boy in the striped pyjamas, and actually got to bed at a reasonable hour.Because of Bevrijdingsdag, Apeldoorn had a fair, so we thought it would be fun to take the kids. Unfortunately it was still closed. Who would have thought that no one wanted to go on rides at 10 in the morning? Since the fair didn't work out, the kids insisted on going swimming, even though the water was still frigid. My kids are hearty!
This afternoon we visited my Opa, where I enjoyed showing him this months pictures.
After driving to Soest, where my other friend, Evelien lives, I feel like a tornado has hit me. I'm tired, and tired, and more tired. But I wouldn't have done it any other way. The kids are having fun, I enjoy seeing long-time friends, and the vacation is almost over. Now I just need a vacation to recover from this vacation.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


After the Openluchtmuseum, we headed for my friend Carla's house. Carla and I have been friends since I first came into Young Women in 1992. We have done many fun things together, cried over ex boyfriends, traveled to fun places by train, and of course gotten into general trouble. But now that we're both grown up and responsible with families of our own, we still like to get together and relive the good ol' times, and create new memories.

On Tuesday we went to the Apenheul, which is a zoo with only monkeys. Not only are there dozens of different kinds of monkeys, but several of them roam free among the tourists. And the park has invisible bounderies of where they can and can't go.
Carla has a really sweet little Chihuahua dog. I've been thinking about getting a dog for our family, but have been turned off by the idea of long walks, bags of dog food, hairy floors, and vet bills. I also want a dog that can walk next to my bike, so they can get their exercise in, while I take the kids to school. Unbelievably Carla's Chihuahua can keep up with her bike. And they are small, and don't smell bad, don't shed, and are easy to take with you, or find babysitters for. I haven't decided whether I want to get a dog, but I'm sold on the idea of a chihuahua if we do decide to.


The Dutch vacation schedule is quite different from any of the US ones I've experienced. The Dutch like to spread out their vacation time, in order to have a relatively short summer break of 6 weeks. This is a sanity saver for me. Those 3 long summer months in the US just about brake my spirit. Of course the school year is still about the same length, so vacation gets spread out. The kids had a week off in March, and another 2 weeks right now. Last week we recovered from my Hamburg trip, and this week we are visiting some of my old friends. I spent my teenage years in the Apeldoorn area, so naturally my friends live around here. Even though Apeldoorn is only about 70 miles from Zoetermeer, for Dutch standards it's on the other side of the country (super high gas prices don't help that perception). With our Museum cards, we visited the National Openluchtmuseum (open air museum). It's several acres of land with almost 100 buildings. Different types of farms for different regions in Holland, several windmills, buildings with information on crafts such as weaving, cheese making, laundry, etc. All sorts on information on how things used to be done. We spent all day there, and still only managed to see less than half.
There's a Dutch nursery song that goes
Twee emmertjes water halen (get 2 buckets of water)
Twee emmertjes pompen (pump 2 buckets)
De meisjes op de klompen (girl in wooden shoes)
Meisjes op hun houten been (girls on their wooden leg)
Je mag niet door mijn straatje heen (you can't go through my street)

All that's missing are the klompen
How long do you think Winter would do laundry this way, with a smile on her face, if that's the only way of doing laundry?
Ginger got to help the farmer to feed the animals, plant bean seeds, and pet brand new lambs. She was so at home, and it made me miss our own farm
Winter picked this peat moss house as the house she would pick out off all the different farms in the museum.
The first time I've ever seen the under side of a tram

pulling our little boat across the pond
This bike was surprisingly hard to ride, since the pedals are connected to the wheel
The kids made their own ropes in the old fashioned way
Although this museum is far from our house, I'd love to come back and see the rest of it some day!

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