Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sint Maarten

Tonight the Dutch (and the Lesters) celebrated Sint Maarten's day. It's essentially the feast day of St Martin of Tours, a roman soldier turned monk. (That's about all the history I know). Anyways- for an expat it meant searching the stores for a lantern, attempting to learn a dutch song so my child could get candy from strangers, and explaining a new tradition to children who insisted they needed to wear costumes because we made a rookie mistake of comparing it to "halloween" 

There was a huge Lampion (light) parade at Vondelpark, the cities biggest park, just down the street from us. We met up with some of Luke's school friends and our play buddies. I made a few more rookie mistakes- like not opening the lantern packaging until arriving at the park- "batterijen niet inbegrepen" apparently means "Batteries Not included". Lucky for us I had a spare bike light in my bag and another friend had two random batteries in her purse. I also bought the ready made paper lanterns- so cute- so cheap- broken in 10 seconds flat! No wonder everyone makes a big deal here about making your own lantern. Next year I'll just have to make a sacrifice and drink two boxes of wine to have the empty cartons and make our own lanterns (i saw it on pinterest!). The sacrifices we make as parents:)
The parade started with a marching band and we jumped in toward the front to hear the songs. It was PACKED- and we hopped out of the route by our house- it was a sea of people. If I had to estimate it was close to 1,000 people walking with kids and lanterns. 

On the walk home Luke was brave enough to jump in and sing with other kids to get his candy!
The candy givers were hard core- no signing no candy.
The song my Dutch teacher taught me translated to "my mother is fat, my father is small now give me some little candy". I chose to teach Luke and alternative song-
                                   Elf november is de dag, (11th of November is the day)                                                 dat mijn lichtje (that my light)                                   Dat mijn lichtje branden mag"  (that my light may burn)

Derek and I had to laugh as he showed us his Unwrapped Candy (gummies and marshmallows)! It took us back to our childhood of pre-wrapped halloween candy.

So that's Sint Maarten's day in Holland.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bikes... Bikes and more Bikes

Just when you think you have seen all the different kinds of bikes that exist- you find a new one. I wish my bike had an odomoter on it- I easily log 40+ miles a week on it- so in almost 6 months that would be close to the 1,000 miles marker. I feel like I should take it in for a tune up, tire rotation or maybe a break inspection.

rent a bike- just like green wheels
Nice outfit
The true mean of group fitness

our adorable little strider- she can really move on this!

More to come- I really need to get back to taking pictures while out and about

The Marathon

Last weekend Derek and I ran the Amsterdam Marathon with 33,000 other runners! It was my third full and Derek's first. We ran the first 30 km together before I hit a burst of energy and Derek hit a brick wall. I finished in 4.17 beating my best race time by nearly 30 minutes! Derek finished in 4.29 beating my first marathon by 17 minutes. I will run another one some day- Derek is officially finished.
Before and After- look how proud we look!

Usually when people think about running a marathon they think of the 26.2 miles or in this case 42 kilometers that you run on the official day. But the real experience includes 26 weeks of training to build up the 26.2 miles of running. For us that meant a combined few hundred miles of running around and through Amsterdam, eating up our weekend mornings!

We stuck together for 30km and then our paces changed.

Here I am running the last loop around the olympic track and cheesing for the camera...
                                             and here is Derek- not feeling as celebratory!
Derek will now mark Marathon off his bucket list. I will try to do a few more every few years or so-any takers?

*** Pirated photos compliments of my mom! ***

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat

Halloween does not exist in the Nederlands. That is until you start an expat website and word gets out and over 400 families sign up to attend! Families were asked to donate 6 bags of candy prior to today and then the candy was distributed to volunteer "host" families. A map was given out of over 70 houses that agreed to pass out candy in one particular neighborhood. Host families spared no expense. The decorations were over the top, businesses gave out free food, had wine tasting, free perfume, hair products and off course there was a Pofferties van- passing out "lekker" Dutch pancakes! This may have been the BEST halloween event I have ever seen. Here are our images:
Hard Rock Cafe Trick or Treating

Apparently there are only two sizes of Pumpkins in Amsterdam- Small and X-Large.
We Chose to carve small:)

Hanging out waiting for trick or treat to start

Luke came home with a full bucket of candy.... Audrey's was empty because she ate it all!
The effects of Sugar!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Short Weekend Away

When we contemplated moving here, I was most excited by the idea of traveling throughout Europe. Seven months into this adventure abroad we have not really begun that part of our journey. We have spent our time really learning Amsterdam. We could probably spend all of our travel time the next year or so taking quick weekend trips around the Netherlands and to close surrounding towns in Belgium and Germany. Planning and geography are two of my weakest skills so each attempt so far at traveling has been quite the adventure. Throw in two small kids and you have the perfect equation for a true Adventure Abroad!
This past weekend I overbooked our activities and chose to take a short weekend trip to an amusement park in the Netherlands called Efteling followed by an overnight in Brugge, Belgium. Both sites were good choices although an amusement park in freezing cold weather with two small kids and no stroller is not quite paradise. Needless to say we did LOVE our time there.

              "It's a Small World" Dutch Style

Prince Charming driving Princess Aurora 

I just LOVE watching the world through a childs eyes- they were so fascinated by things!

Clearly Daddy was the fan of the day- I was just the Mom behind the camera toting around bags and snotty tissues.

Luke thought this was a power ranger show- he couldn't stop talking about it!

"SUCCESS" as the Dutch always say- Our timing was perfect for leaving the park and driving two hours to Brugge with SLEEPING children.

Full moon by night, double rainbow in the morning, hail in the late morning and sunshine by departure time! After 7 months of living abroad- I'd call that a European Weather SUCCESS!
Belgium is best known for Waffels, Chocolate and Beer
Dat es Lekker! (It's is Yummy) SUCCESS!
Brugge is a quaint small village with canals woven throughout. 
We enjoyed strolling the streets, taking a canal tour, watching candy making demonstrations, drinking hot chocolate and being together-