Monday, March 7, 2011

Burgers Zoo

The Netherlands has many zoo's scattered through out it's little country but one of the zoo's I really enjoy visiting (and I am not far from) is Burgers zoo in Arnhem.  This past weekend we packed up the kids and met a few other of my expat friends and we had a wonderful day at the zoo.
Here are a few (I use that word lightly) pictures I will share with you:

And really, you do not want to know what this chimp was eating.  My friend Tammy (who I know will blog about it) caught the whole action of him catching it before hand.  Yuck - I guess his diet is so yummy that he feels it's good enough to give it a go a second time! I wasn't able to get the before picture as my card was full and had to change cards, I took around 600 pictures at the zoo and have had much difficulty trying to dwindle it down to 126 pictures.  Choosing only 10 pictures for my blog was one of the most difficult things I have had to endure in a long time!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Red Bull Crashed Ice in Valkenburg

I just had one of the best weekends I have had in a long time.  There is no place I love more in the Netherlands than the province of Limburg with their rolling hills, open land, beautiful scenery and houses that seem to come out of a fairy tale book.

A month ago I saw a commercial on the television for some Red Bull crashed Ice event.  I have never heard of this before but it looked so extreme and so Canadian!  I told my husband right away to book a hotel because we are going to have a weekend away and see this event.

We arrived at our hotel in Schin op Geul and was greeted by the sweetest couple who own/run the hotel.  I fell in love with their darling Limburgs accent - how could you ever get mad at someone with such a sweet accent? We quickly found our room and I noticed right away a lady bug was on the window sill.  I joked with my husband that a lady bug inside is a sign of good luck, but then I noticed another, and another and another. I quickly realized we had an infestation of lady bugs.  I guess we were being blessed with a lot of luck! I mentioned it to the hotel keepers and they were very accommodating to change our room to an equally nice but bugless room.

After a bite to eat at a local pub we quickly made our way over to the train station for our 2 minute train ride into Valkenburg. The train was packed with other excited crashed ice supporters and while we tried to squeeze in I tried to control my claustrophobia.

The event took place on top of a big hill (or most Dutch would consider a mountain) in Valkenburg, and we had to climb that hill.  The climb was torturous! It was apparently only a 12% inclination but it felt much more and we were trying to go as fast as we could because they had already announced that once it was full they were not letting anyone else in. I think the walk up the hill was to ween out the weak!

Once the gate opened up we ran in for the best spot we could find... right after one of the big jumps!  A perfect photo opportunity spot.  These men were moving at access speeds of 70km/h so you can imagine how difficult it was to take pictures in the dark but I think we managed fine.

 Above: Scott Coxall (Canadian) lost his helmet in the beginning of this race but luckily was not disqualified.
Final standing was: 
                    1st Arttu Pihlainen (Finland)
                    2nd Scott Croxall (Canadian)
                    3rd Kyle Croxall (Canaidan)

This video was taken by someone just behind us.  I was the one with the Canadian flag (of course).  My friends and family who were watching it live at home were also able to spot me as the only one waving my Canadian flag in the mass of people.

Here are some highlights of the race

I hope this comes back again next year! I certainly recommend this for anybody!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Butter ham (Boterham)

Boterham is Dutch for sandwhich and they love their boterhammen.  Variations of open and closed faced sandwhiches are often the Dutch's choices for breakfast and lunch. 

Favourites include:

Chocolate, fruit or licorice flavoured sprinkles on an open faced sandwich.

Beschuit - a very airy dry piece of toast good to put any topping on.  If a baby is born, traditionally beschuit with little coloured balls (muisjes) flavoured as licorice are served to the guests that come see the new baby.  Pink muisjes for a girl and blue for a boy of course.  
Tosti - is actually nothing more than a grilled cheese or panini.  Many variations of this can be found - cheese with any type of meat, spices, tomato, brie, nuts, pineapple.  If it can be thought up, it has been served here in the Netherlands.  These are a favourite in my household and regularly seen at lunch time. 

Most restaurants/cafe's serve messy looking, often open faced sandwiches that are almost always delicious!  These sandwiches are not made to be eaten between your fingers.  First off: you WILL make a mess Secondly: People seem to look at you oddly as you try to balance one between your thumbs and fingers and watch its contents fall down the front of your shirt (yes I speak from experience).  These sandwiches are served with a fork and sharp knife.  I believe it may be a code of conduct thing that you are supposed to eat a sandwich with a fork and knife. I still can't resist to pick them up between my fingers and thumb if they aren't too messy. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Marvel Madness

This weekend was the weekend.... yes THE WEEKEND that all wives alike only pray never happens to them.  It was THE WEEKEND that the mother-in-law evicts the boxes of comic magazines and those boxes of comic magazines have no choice (according to husband) but to move in with  *gulp* us. WHY DEAR LORD WHY??  

 Those boxes quickly turned into big bags for transportation reasons (and easier access for husband I am sure).  They were put no other place but on MY bed and there he sat like a child going through his old comics only hoping his daughters would have the same enthusiasm as he shared.

 Some of the comics I only knew of because of living here so long.

 Some comics are internationally known

 Other comics I have never heard of in my life!

I have no idea if there are any of value in the collection.  Most of the comics were very well used so I doubt there will be.  Most of them were from the 1980's and early 1990's. 

The old music magazines were fun to look at until they made me realize how old I am.  I may not have been buying these same magazines but I would have been buying magazines in Canada in the year 1991 and a lot of the same artists would have been featured.  *sigh* How do I convince my 13 year old that our music was also once cool? 

It wasn't hard to amuse my 5 year old daughter when she found a toy catalogue from 1991.  Even I had to take a torturing peak at this.  Yes this made me feel even older than the 'top of the pop' books did.

  "Mommy Mommy LOOOOOK They had Etcha Sketch in your days too"!  In "My days" like it's a completely different era or something.  My gosh it's not that long ago - at least it doesn't feel THAT long ago... Oh who the hell am I kidding?? ummm quick save "It was from papa's days not mine darling".  That should do it!

Remember these jewels?   I barely do... you know... with my age comes memory loss ...

hmmm wonder if my mom still has my old Nintendo and games.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's a bikers country

Netherlands is a 'fietsers' /bikers country.   The roads are often very small and often the city centres are closed off to motorized vehicles.   You will see mothers biking daily with a child on the back of their bike, a child on the front of the bike (more than one child if they have a bakfiets ) and a child biking beside them.  Even when it snows and the roads are slippery than an ice rink, it doesn't slow them down.  I am hoping it is something in just being Dutch that keeps them safely on the bike while going over these black iced ridden roads with out wiping out. Now that I have my Dutch citizenship I am looking forward to staying on my bike when hitting a patch of ice or being hit by a gust of wind, for some reason I am blaming my cursed clumsiness for a life of many more falls to come.  I am still having bad side effects from a bad fall in September from being knocked over by the wind... yes the wind. You would think I knew how to bike.  I had my youngest daughter on my bike and luckily she was unharmed, I unfortunately suffered a concussion.    Yesterday I hit a patch of ice that has luckily only left me with a black and blue knee.  I am seriously starting to consider trading my bike in for some snow shoes! How these Dutchies do it with out a helmet nor a care in the world is beyond me. 

There is said to be more bikes in the Netherlands then there are people and there are more than 750,000 bikes stolen a year.  The Dutch learn at a very young age the importance of keeping their bike safely locked up. 

I'm officially a CanDutch

About half a year ago it came to my attention that because I am married to my Dutch partner, I can become a Dutch citizen and keep my Canadian citizenship.  After ten years, the only reason I did not get my citizenship was because I was told this was not possible to have a dual citizenship. Every five years we would pay about 300 euros for our residence permit but every five years this price would drastically seem to increase. Unfortunately our residence permit had to be renewed a month ago and I had to have a valid residence permit in order to obtain my Dutch citizenship so with in the same month we had to pay for the residence permit and the 650 euro citizenship fee.  That was a hard blow but now we are finished with all expenses that will keep us in this country.
Other valid reasons for obtaining Dutch citizenship :
  • I can vote
  • I can live anywhere in Europe if I wish (Italy is looking good about now) just joking.... a little. 
  • Easier to get a passport
  • I'm not a "foreigner" and don't have to worry about the government putting me through more courses.
  • My husband is not financially responsible for me.
 Today with great pleasure my daughter and I received our Dutch citizenship.  What also made this day special is that today is "Nationale Naturalisatiedag" National Citizenship Day.  The press was present at our ceremony and a picture will be printed in our local paper and the photographer from the press said he will send a picture to my home address. 

For any  foreigners considering this big move, some of the requirements to become a citizenship are:
  • You must live in the Netherlands for 5 years or have been legally married to a Dutch partner for three years. 
  • You can not have a criminal record. 
More information can be found at:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sinterklaas Surprise

I loved this time of year when I was younger.  I was always right into the Christmas mood - yes I was the kid wearing the lighted up Santa hat to school with matching mitts, earrings and socks! I may have toned it down over the years (I know my husband is grateful for that) but that doesn't mean I love Christmas any less. One thing I always looked forward to was secret Santa at school (or any other after school organization I was in).  For anybody who has never heard of a "secret Santa": everybody draws a name and doesn't tell anybody who that name is.  You discretely try to find out what your victim  chosen secret Santa's interests are and you buy a little gift for them and wrap it nicely and give it to them on the arranged day. 
For the Dutch children that are a little old to believe in Sinterklaas (about age 10 plus), they also have a "secret Santa" but they call it "Sinterklaas surprise" (surprise is pronounced sup-reese). Children write their name on a piece of paper and make the quest a little easier by adding what their interests and hobbies are ex. soccer, spider-man, and swimming. Just like a secret Santa, the idea is that the name you have chosen is kept top secret.  The children then buy a small gift (usually no more than a few euros) and then they decorate the gift to one of the chosen childs interests. 
Last night I found my self once again making Breanna's Sinterklaas surprise at the last minute!  I love this child dearly but she did not inherit my creativity (and she knows it - or she is just smart enough to act like she doesn't have any creativity so mom will do it all for her). Her friends are all on msn together and they all figured out who chose who, so there really is no more surprise.  The girl Breanna chose is into field hockey - we couldn't make a stick thick enough to fit the gifts and Breanna didn't want to make the field (thats boring mom). So I made her look on her Facebook to find out more about her - found out she likes to ski too.  So here was her  my late night last minute creation.

Here are a few from previous years: