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: