Showing posts with label Holland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holland. Show all posts

30 October 2012

A Visitor

My mom is coming and I am super excited. She’ll be in the US long before she travels up north to visit us, but just the thought of having her close makes me happy. Of course “close” is a relative term. She will be about 1,000 miles away for most of her visit, but still, she’s here. In the country. I can hop in the car and according to Google Maps I can be with her in 18 hours. In current traffic. Not stopping for gas or food.

She is planning to come up mid December. She’ll stay for about a week and then we ship her back to her sister to spend the holidays there. She hasn’t been to Wisconsin before; the last time she visited we were still in Washington. Hopefully it snows when she’s here. I have a few fun things on my list to introduce my mom to the Northwoods, and some of them involve snow.

Naturally I have sent my mom a nice little wish list with things to bring back from the homeland. It’s interesting what you miss when you live in another country; band-aids by the yard, homeopathic meds, and anti-fungal cream are on my list. I remember going shopping for my aunt and uncle when I would fly out here to visit them. They too, had a interesting list with salad dressing being the strangest in my eyes.

Of course my mom will probably want a decent place to sleep in return. It’s time we get going on that guest bed we have been talking about.

12 June 2012

Orange Metamorphosis

The Miller High Life cans have changed color, presumably in honor of the upcoming Summer Olympics. The red and gold has morphed into red, white, and blue. I like this about Miller, they do it for hunting season too. The cans change to camouflage colors during the fall. My favorite year was when the cans were blaze orange for the season but that appears to have been a one time thing.

I don't know if you're aware but preceding the Olympics is another major sports event: the European Cup Soccer. The US not being part of the European Union, this gets very little press here. Fortunately it's relatively easy for me to follow the Dutch, albeit in print, not on TV. So far it's not been great, we lost to Denmark. Tomorrow the Dutch play Germany, the mother of all soccer games. If you're Dutch, that is.

Not to brag, but the orange metamorphosis taking place in Holland right now puts Miller's efforts to shame. This is how it's done, people:

They go a little crazy, those Dutch, but I like that about them. Hup Holland!

03 December 2011

Advent Wreath

I remember making Advent Wreaths every year when I was growing up. A centerpiece with some Christmas greenery, small colorful ornaments, and four white candles. We had a special ceramic ring for the wreath. The candles would be lit one at a time, on Sundays only. They were allowed to burn for about an hour, and then extinguished. The following Sunday two candles would be lit, then three, and finally, on Christmas Day, all four.

Not once have I seen a homemade Advent Wreath in this land I call home now. I never hear talk of the first, second, third, and fourth Sunday of Advent. Is it something that only happens in church, a place that I don't visit very often anymore? Or is the homemade Advent Wreath a European, perhaps even Dutch, custom? Is it just a Catholic thing? I am not sure. But I miss it.

I made my first Advent Wreath this year. I stocked up on my favorite candles during my visit to Holland, although an advent wreath was not on my mind when I bought them. Since they are quite burly, we burn the candle(s) every day when the sun sets.

My mom still makes her Advent Wreath in that ceramic ring. Mine is quite different but I am very happy to have this as a part of my family's Christmas traditions.

10 December 2010

The World's Largest Christmas Tree

When I was growing up, we lived in IJsselstein, a small historic town about an hour away from The Hague, the city where I was born. Whenever we drove to The Hague to visit family, my sister and I would be on the lookout for the red brick chimney stacks of the Nutricia factory, a sign that we were almost there. On the way back our focus point was the tall broadcast tower of Lopik, a little neighboring town just a few miles from IJsselstein.

The chimney stacks are long gone but the broadcast tower is still there. In December of 1990 someone thought of the brilliant idea to put lights on the cables that hold the tower upright, turning it into the world's largest Christmas tree.

I read on the Dutch news the lights came on again today. Little children driving home with their parents can marvel at the sight of the beautiful 'tree' lighting up the nighttime sky and start singing "We're almost there...," just like my sister and I once did.

15 September 2010

Legally Dutch

Because Lola has an American father and a Dutch mother, she can have dual citizenship. Ryan and I would like her to have options when she grows up, and by establishing two nationalities the world, quite literally, would open up to her. I called the Dutch consulate in Seattle shortly after she was born, and a very kind gentleman explained the process to me.

The first step was getting Lola an American passport. That part was easy. We had her picture taken, went to the post office with a certified copy of her birth certificate, filled out a form, paid a fee, and she was good to go. Step two, obtaining a Dutch passport, was a hell of a lot more complicated. For this we needed another certified copy of her birth certificate, a certified copy of our marriage certificate, and her American passport. All documents, with the exception of her passport, must be less than a year old and have an apostille attached to them. An apostille is a certificate stating the certifier of the certified documents is certified to do so. Are you still with me? We Dutch don't kid around.

Just before we left Washington last November, we gathered all the necessary documents. Unfortunately there was no time for a visit to the Dutch consulate in Seattle. Instead we were forced to travel to the nearest consulate for Hollanders living in Wisconsin, Chicago, a mere seven hours away. The event took place this weekend. We combined it with a visit to my family in Kenosha and turned it into a wonderful mini-vacation.

Our appointment at the consulate was scheduled for Monday morning. Since my passport expires in January of next year, I had made an appointment for myself as well. The most stressful part of our morning was getting our pictures taken. The Dutch have insane requirements for passport photo's. Seriously, they provide an eight (!) page booklet with instructions for photographers. And there are no exceptions. My aunt was sent back three times before her pictures were accepted. That was obviously not an option for us. The Sears portrait studio staff however, knew exactly what to do.

The visit itself went flawless. A few signatures and $132.75 plus shipping later we walked out the door with the promise of two Dutch passports delivered to our door step in two to three weeks. We bummed around Chicago for a little bit and then made our way back to the Northwoods.

Now Lola can move anywhere in the EU should she wish to do so. I know, she's only three, but she'll be eightteen before we know it. And we can take the short line at customs when we fly back for a visit to Holland...

13 July 2010

Lost For Words

We lost. The Dutch were unable to defeat Spain in the World Cup final. The third time was not the charm in this case. It is painful to write it, but there you have it. And that's all I am going to say on the subject because I'd rather not talk about it.

Speaking of talking, Lola has developed a stutter. It started about six months ago. When we first noticed it, we attributed it to the language explosion going on in her head. We did a little reading on the subject and found out stuttering is not that unusual at this age. It is called normal disfluency and should go away by itself after approximately six months.

But it didn't. And instead of getting better, it got worse. To a point where it would take her up to thirty seconds to get a word out, resulting in Lola saying: "I can't say that word" and moving on to something else. We felt it was time to consult a professional. We saw her pediatrician last week who agreed there was cause to see a speech therapist, which we did this morning. He sat on the floor with Lola, playing games and counting her words. He needed at least one hundred words to make a proper assessment. Miss Chatty Kathy, who never stops talking, did not take long to get there.

As it turns out, her language skills are exceptional for her age. She has an awesome vocabulary, makes fairly complicated sentences, and can pronounce sounds she should not yet be able to. The stutter, he told us, was nothing to be concerned about. She shows no signs of a genuine stutter problem, and the repetitions will go away in three to six months. G-g-good.

So we will continue to wait patiently for the words to come out, and will not interrupt or tell her to slow down, or start over. No need for speech therapy. That will surely disappoint Lola because she had a blast at the doctor's office. They have the coolest toys!

06 July 2010

Temporary Orange Insanity

Hup Holland Hup!
While I miss my family and friends, and a few things like working part time with full benefits, twenty two vacation days, sixteen weeks of paid maternity leave, high quality and affordable health insurance for all, etc., I am never homesick for Holland.

But today, I wish I was there to join in on the temporary orange insanity. Go Holland!

Update: The Boys in Orange won!!! We will be playing the final on Sunday for the first time in 32 years. I wonder if I can book a plane ticket still...

20 February 2010

Take That, Tiger!

Tiger Woods's public apology really has people talking around these parts. Some think he's sincere, some don't. They're very passionate about the subject. Personally, I don't care. It is none of my business. It is nobody's business in fact, but Tiger's and his wife. They should be left alone to work out their issues. Or not. It's their choice, and I don't need to hear or read about it.

But this morning, when I checked my email and found the CNN AM Fix in my inbox, I noticed the Dutch have beaten out Tiger Woods for the Top Story. Ha! Just barely, though, and only because the US has an interest in the matter. Unlike Tiger, the Dutch cabinet has decided not to work out its issues. I wonder if the citizens of Holland get a public apology, too?

30 April 2009

Long Live The Queen!

It's Queen's Day today in Holland. The day the Dutch celebrate Queen Beatrix's birthday. It's not really her birthday, though. It's her mother's birthday, the late Queen Juliana. And her brother-in-law's. Beatrix's birthday is in January. However, since her palace is too small to host a party for all of Holland, the event is usually celebrated outside. And it's cold outside in January. Practical as we Dutch are, Beatrix decided not to change the date of Queen's Day when she assumed the throne.

Naturally I will have an orange beer in her honor tonight. Hip, hip, hurray!

Update: I just read on a Dutch news site how this year's Queen's Day turned deadly when someone drove his car into the crowd cheering on Queen Beatrix and her family, killing five people and wounding thirteen others. That makes me so sad.

08 February 2009


Twice now have I turned on the television and found myself transported back to Holland. The first time was a little over a year ago and a nasty surprise. Picture this: you're working out at the gym, pushing your own weight with your legs. You look up at the row of television-sets suspended from the ceiling, when all of sudden, without warning, Peter R. de Vries appears on screen! Dutch self-proclaimed crime solver and reporter. Very annoying man. He claimed he had solved Natalee Holloway's murder and was advertising his show during which The Truth would be revealed. Right.

Yesterday morning was a much more pleasant experience. Nijntje! Or Miffy, as she is known here. Lola loves Nijntje, we read her books frequently. She didn't feel the same about the cartoon though. After the initial happy recognition, she quickly became bored with the bunny and moved on. She doesn't care much for watching television. She prefers playing with her nipples.

24 January 2009


I speak Dutch with Lola, everyone else English. As a result Lola speaks Denglish. She says "ja" in Dutch but "no" in English. She says "bye-bye" in English but "hallo" in Dutch. Actually it's "hawwo." She has some difficulty pronouncing the L. She calls herself "Wowa." S’s are also pretty problematic. At least when they are located at the end of a word. She can say "I see..." but not "poes". I thought "Sandman" would be a bit ambitious so I call the cat "poes" around her. Whenever she sees him, it's "Ha poef." His cue to take off. She loves him so, he still doesn’t feel the same. Alas.

Lola repeats everything I say these days. In the morning we drink a "kopje koffie" (a cup of coffee) - well, I do, she drinks milk. She can't have coffee until she's four. But she can say it. (I don't know where the four comes from; you'll have to ask my mom about that, it’s her rule.)

We have funny conversations with each other. I told her during a diaper change "You stink," to which she replied "I know." Ryan feels I give her more credit on her language skills than she deserves. He will often ask her silly questions just to emphasize that her answering the question correctly does not mean she actually understands it. He claims she says "Ja" to everything.

"Are you going to climb the Empire State Building?"


"Are you going to party with your friends?"


"Is dad funnier than mom?"

My girl cracks me up.

When she drops something or makes a mess, it’s "Oh Lola!" In a painfully high pitch. When she finds something it's "A-ha!", "Boing..." when she falls. "All done," she'll declare when she's had enough of whatever it is she's doing or eating. Occasionally, when I point out there's a big pile of food on the table rather than on her plate, she'll act all surprised. Where did that come from? We are currently working on "I love you."

"I wuv you."
"I lllllllllove you."
"I wuv you."

Those darn L’s.

For a long time I was convinced Lola's first words would be "Bless you" because of the amount of sneezing going on in our house. No. When she started talking, she said the usual first words for a child; da-da, ma-ma, aardbei (Dutch for strawberry). But this morning, when I sneezed, she said it. It may sound different than when I say it, but I heard it loud and clear.

"Bwev you."