Sunday, November 28, 2010

Getting into the Christmas spirit

I always find it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit early in the Netherlands.  The majority of people will not decorate until Sinterklaas leaves for Spain on the 5th of December.  Even my husband has set the rule (maybe the ONLY rule he has been successful in enforcing in our house) that no Christmas decorations go up until Sinterklaas goes out. But let me tell you as soon as that Dutch Christmas party pooper is out... I am decking the halls with boughs of holly!
One way I can always count on to get into the Christmas mood is by going to Intratuin (our largest garden centre chains).  They always have this garden centre so beautifully decorated that scrooge would even be inspired to decorate. This one is in Duiven, when it opened up it was the largest indoor garden centre in Europe.

Notice how big this display is!  This is just one of many.
With beautiful Dickensville displays like this it makes me almost want to start another space consuming pricey collection...... Almost.
I really got some superb idea's and some great inspiration.  I can't wait to decorate.  I even hope it snows (really snows not just sprinkles) to add to the Christmas feeling (the snow can leave in January).

And, la piece de la resistance, radioactive animals!

Another great way to get into the Christmas feeling around here is by going to the markets, particularly the German ones. My good friend Sonya went to one in Osnabruck, Germany this weekend (I´m so jealous), she has some beautiful pictures you can see her blog at Home Cooking with Sonya

Friday, November 26, 2010

Report card time

My oldest daughter Breanna came home from high school (middelbare school in Dutch) with her report card and a big smile on her face.  I knew it had to be good, she was just so excited to show us.  I remember report card time as a time of grief, guilt and wondering how I can hide it from my parents.  We will expect to see about three or four report cards from Breanna each year.  This one wasn't perfect but it was one to be very proud of.  Marks here are graded out of 10 and not A,B,C... The value is pretty much the same though.
After looking at her marks and telling her how proud we were of her she was very quick to ask, "well, what do I get?" hmmm don't get me wrong I am extremely proud of her but maybe it's just me but I never got anything for report cards except my end report card.  Apparently offering a hug and a pat on her back wasn't what she was looking for.  That offer sent me on the "worst mommy of the year list".  To put myself back on the best mommy of the year list, my husband and I offered to bring her to the Harry Potter movie this weekend.  BINGO that worked. 
Supper time was at Oma and Opa's today and Breanna as proud as she had every right to be brought her report card with her.  Oma and Opa were also very proud of their granddaughters grades and like second nature had their wallets out and they were emptying it out into Breanna's hand.  Ok I barely bat a lash, I'm used to this by now - Oma and Opa spoil their grandgirls. Then uncle came and right away Breanna had her report card out again and she was hinting telling him how much she just got from Oma and Opa.  I gasped and turned to my husband and asked him under my breath if she is asking for money.  "No this is normal" he reassured me.  Normal?  are you kidding me?  My husband continued to tell me how he would make his rounds with each and every report card robbing his poor aunts of their hard earned money (and anybody else he could sucker out of their money).  I think something happens to these Dutch people when they see a teenager with puppy dog eyes holding onto a fresh report card, it just makes them want to pop their wallets out.  I swear I grew up in the wrong country cause I know for sure I could have made a killing with my large family!

That time again... Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piete

I know I have been M.I.A. lately.  There has been a lot of personal stuff with my parents visiting and my first niece/ God daughter being born.  My mind has just been else where lately.
I know in the past I have made this blog more about what you will expect to see in the Netherlands but now I am running our of idea's here.  I have decided to turn this into just plane and simple my life and what we as a family experience in the Netherlands.  Some of it may or may not be Dutch living related.  If I do come across a "must see" tourist spot or something you "must try before you die" - I'll be the first to tell you.


Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet has once again invaded the Netherlands with whipping pepernoten at children, leaving goodies in their shoes and making parent's wallets a little lighter.
Last week Kiana (my youngest daughter) starts off her school morning as normal as can be, being greeted by her Siamese twin  best friend.  This time her best friend had a pretty little gold box in hand with a glass angel in it, "See what Sinterklaas brought me?".  Kiana's jaw dropped.  Ever since she saw this glass angel in the pretty gold box she could not stop talking about it.  Every night she would put her shoe out and beg pray ask Sinterklaas for a gold box with a glass angel in it just like he gave to her best friend.  She even wrote a letter in the best writing a 5 year old can. What was I to do???  As a good mommy Sinterklaas, I went to every single store in town in search for this golden box with the glass angel in it.  Four hours later I was tired, still empty handed and about to give up.  I started to head back to my bike and noticed one last gift store, "Pour Toi". Deep breath, fingers crossed... oh who am I kidding?  I went in, started to look around and finally in a ray of golden heavenly light... there she was ... HALLELUJAH!! Ok she wasn't in a gold box but at this point I did not care! Pink is pretty, my daughter is a girly girl so ya pink is good!  I had her wrapped up [yes this is one luxury of the Netherlands - almost every store will ask if your purchase is a gift and they will wrap it for you] and I biked home as fast as my tired legs could.  While waiting to pick Kiana up from school I decided to share my scavenger hunt story with Kiana's friends father.  Before I could finish the story he stopped me to inform me that they bought that gold box and angel in.... BELGIUM! If I would have known that in the first place, I would have saved my self a whole morning in the cold searching for my child's happiness! Since when do children want golden boxes with glass angels anyways?  At that age I was more than happy with toys... real toys! Anyways, I almost couldn't wait to give it to her, just to see her happy little face but I did at least wait to put it in her shoe that night.
The next morning I really did want to sleep in but around Sinterklaas time.... that is just not going to happen.  Kiana came running into my room "mommy mommy mommy!  Sinterklaas brought me the glass angel!!" All of a sudden the excitement left her face so I asked her what was wrong "it's not a gold box".