Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Year in Review: The travel edition

I realize I could write a lot about this last year.  How my life has completely been changed by a three year old.  Or how it's been one of the greatest experiences of my life.  Or something along those lines.  But it's hard to put 365 days into words.  So instead...just like last year...I'll stick to pictures...
What's funny is, I haven't even blogged about some of thiese things yet.  But eventually you will hear about them.  I mean, I ahve to write about something when I'm back home and have no life right?

Anyway...enjoy...and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

In January  went and visited my friend Mark in Copenhagen.  There I saw my first international city outside of Holland, as well as The Little Mermaid.

In February I went on my first big trip - Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Zurich, Bern, Cologne, and Muenster.  My trip including falling in love with cities, making new friends, and ending up on my butt for the majority of my ride down a Swiss Alp.

In March I celebrated my birthday in true Californian style - with Mexican Food and Margaritas.

In April I went with my munchkin to Disney on Ice.  Yes it was in Dutch.  But that didn't stop me from seeing Disney for the first time through a child's eyes.

In May I did probably the most Dutch thing there is to do - visited the Keukenhoff.

In June my sister came to visit.  We started off our Europe adventure with a trip to Barcelona and Southern Spain.

In July, Nina and I continued our travels ending in an amazing long weekend in Paris.

In August I went to London to hang out with one of my best friends, Kate, and see Sister Act the musical...magic.

In September I took advantage of my last few days living on a beach and ran around in the sand among the sand castles with the little one.

In October I went on a seventeen day vacation including Muenster, Munich, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Athens.  Some of my favorite cities by far.

In November, Sinterklaas once again arrived in Noordwijk.  And this time, Fien ad I were ready for him!

And this past month I spent my Christmas sadly, away from my family.  But happily, in my favorite European city...Prague with a bunch of fellow orphans.

I can't imagine aother year of my life being more exciting than this...seriously.
I promise that one of these days I will get around to blogging about these things.  Until then...enjoy the pictures...
How was your year?  Are you looking forward to the next one?

See you in 2011!!

Word of the Day: Oude en Nieuw - Old and New (New Year's)

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Just a little pre-recorded video that still turned out to be late.
Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Better than Catching a Foot

Well it’s been pointed out to me (because I hadn’t noticed) that there are several things that I have yet to write about.  But if you are anything like me, if you have to write about something, you usually don’t want to.  So I was putting it off.  But because I knew I had to write about it, I didn’t write anything.  Until eventually, once I assumed enough time had passed, I just completely forgot about it and never wrote about it.
Well I’m going to fix all that.  On the weekends (or whenever I feel like it,) when I’m playing catch up anyway with the rest of my life, I’m going to catch up on this blog.  With stories that I hinted at but never actually told you about.  I could come up with a name and make a nice picture for it…maybe I will.  I like those…they distract me from actually writing. :-P  But not today.

For this first one we’re going back…way back to July when Nina was visiting…WHOA!
So Nina and I decided to take a little weekend trip down to Belgium for the weekend.  We started it off with a quick stop in Den Haag and ended it with an outrageous crowd of Orange in Amsterdam.  But between those two things, we did manage to make it down to another country.
Since I had already been to Brussels, and Brugge is apparently the city for lovers, Antwerp seemed like the obvious choice in this situation.  Antwep is an artsy, multi cultural town in the north of Belgium.  Here they speak Flemish, no French, which came in handy until the locals actually heard me and then said in English “oh you must be Dutch.”  Which I guess is a compliment to my Dutch, but I don’t think they meant it that way.
Anyway, our first night there we indulged in some Belgium fries…mmm mmm mmm.  And by first night, I mean, first night, the following lunch, accompanying dinner, and a late night snack.  What can I say? They were cheap.
But other than that, we didn’t do much our first night…just made friends in the Hostel and discussed all our world traveling plans before going to bed in a ridiculously hot room only to be woken up by sirens outside the window and the itching of a bunch of mosquito (at least I hope) bites.
Anyway, it was time to wander the city.  It’s a fairly small city, so I planned out our own personal walking tour and we set out.  First we stopped here…
The towns first bakery, over 100 years old and home to some DELICIOUS pastries.

Then we continued to the Old Church...
Because every European city has an “old” church even if there isn’t also a “new” one.  This one had a clock tower…

We also visited the City Party Hall where they have epitomized the word “boujie” by creating a Champagne Bar…shaped like a Champagne glass…
Fancy huh?
We also got lost in the shops, not only name brand stores, but also fun thrift stores down allies.  We also saw some street art…
And some statues…
And what is soon to be the entrance to China Town…

Then we went and saw the major tourist thing…the town hall…
And in front of it is this…
Yes that is a man with a hand.  Not just any man though – Brabo.  Because the legend of Brabo, based on a Dutch fairy tale, is how Antwerp got its name.  There was a tyrant giant who was ruling over them who would cut off the hands of men who wouldn’t pay the toll.  So in a delicious act of irony, the hero Brabo cut off the Giant’s hand and threw it into the river.  And the giant went on his way…I’m assuming… Anyway, Antwerp in Dutch (yes Dutch, not Flemish) can be derived from “hand werpen” – Antwerp…see?

Well, it was getting late and we were getting hungry (fries not being a suitable form of sustenance surprisingly) and we made our way to a little sidewalk cafĂ© for the traditional Belgium sea food – mussels…
Nina stuck with soup…with fries of course.  And I introduced Nina to the wonders of Belgium beer – Kriek Cherry Beer – or as I like to call it, Candy Beer.  Seriously…tastes like candy.  Anyway, she liked it...
But then it started raining…no not raining…pouring.  And while we were quite fine under our umbrellas, I was not fine when people decided that standing under our umbrellas right next to us (and I mean RIGHT NEXT TO US) to escape the rain while we ate was a socially acceptable thing based on the current state of the weather.  But eventually, we were escorted inside.  Not because we were wet, but because they couldn’t be held responsible if an umbrella fell down and killed us.  But it was fine! We had our own little balcony with one other table where we enjoyed some hot drinks and listened to the rain fall.
And then it was time to go back to the hostel.  But not after dancing in the rain…

The next day (dressed in our Dutch colors) we headed back to the train station (the third prettiest train station in the world apparently…)
And squished onto an already packed train car full of people dressed in Nederlands colors heading to the city…just like we were.
Antwerp was a cute little city.  It wasn’t the coolest city I’ve been to, but I’m glad to have one more culture stop to cross of my list...oh and also we ate chocolate...lots and lots of chocolate!

Word of the Day: hand werpen – throw a hand

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Top Ten: 30 minutes of Holiday Cheer

Being once again in the Christmas mood, I decided to do another themed...

And this one also ties in with my...

All the Christmas episodes are coming out now, which makes me happy.  And it got me thinking about my favorite ones.  When I looked back at some series though I was surprised to realize that some just weren't big on the holiday themed fact all of my just watched series - Frasier, Cheers, and Gilmore Girls were scarce on the Holiday Cheer and the ones they did have didn't have the stuff to make it on the list.  Ah well...
If you've seen any of these episodes, you'll know they're adorable.  And if you haven' on the lookout this holiday season...those reruns are popular!
So here are my...


Season 7
Ross wants to teach Ben about Hanukkah, but can't think of any type of character that can compete with Santa.  Then the costume store has nothing left and he's stuck in a giant armored outfit attempting to explain the Festival of Lights only to have Chandler show up as the Jolly man in the big red suit and overshadow the "weird turtle man thing".
(This runs a close second to The One With The Routine but that one is technically about New Years not Christmas)

Will & Grace
Season 5
Grace continually switches her date for Christmas Eve from Will to her new husband Leo (Harry Connick Jr...sigh) based on Leo's on call duties.  The continuous calls back and forth are funny, but even better is Jack and Karen wearing bathrobes in their expensive hotel suite and ordering room service just so they can carol to the bellhops.

Season 2
Claymation...self explanatory.

Big Bang Theory
Season 2
Probably the funniest episode of Big Bang ever if just for the final sixty seconds.  Penny brings gifts over for the boys and Sheldon must then figure out the gift equivalent without knowing what he is equivocating it to.  But when he does open his seems he was unprepared...

30 Rock
Season 3
This one is on here for many reasons, but for one above all others...Elaine Stritch and Alec Baldwin singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."  And she's apparently back this year!  Can't wait!

Modern Family
Season 1
Christmas gets canceled over and over again as the Phil and Clair try to figure out who was smoking in the house.  At the same time Cam and Mitchell share Christmas dinner with Santa after getting him fired...only to fear for their lives should he ever find out it was their doing.

Raising Hope
Season 1
This episode shows a new twist on "sacrifice for family during the holidays" with the must have toy of the year being passed around for favor upon favor.

Full House
Season 2
I haven't seen it in years, but I still remember this episode.  Stephanie wonder how Santa will find her family when they're stuck at an airport on Christmas Eve.  The mystical element at the end when Joay is revealed to NOT have been the Santa that just visited caused me to believe in him for just a little longer.

Season 3
The classic Psych comedy combined with Mall Santas, Nativity scenes, and Phylicia Rashad is a thing of beauty.

Season 8
Ok it's not technically a Christmas episode.  But it did premiere right before Christmas and it had the mystery of who killed Trudy tied back to a special Christmas gift Trudy left for Adrian their last Christmas together.  A very heart warming episode. you all enjoy your Christmas breaks and catch up on the tivo, let me know what your favorites have been!

Word of the Day: geest - spirit

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Follow-up:

Hooray for being back on schedule!  Wow!  We've had A Piece of Me, A top Ten Tuesday, and now an alliterated Friday!  So today it's...

Now since it's been a while, some of these you may not actually remember...but that's a chance I'm willing to let's begin...

February 7 - Wow!  Million years ago!  But it doesn't matter.  Because one of the pictures I posted on that site has been selected for the 2012 (yea I have to wait a year) I Can Haz Cheezburger Day by Day Calendar!  I'm so excited...and it's pretty adorable too if I do say so myself...
So go out and buy it!
In a year...

September 2 - Before I started watching the Gilmore Girls, I couldn't have cared less about movies just because Alexis Bledel or Lauren Graham were in them.  But then I discovered this movie and besides being completely in love with the other main characters in this movie, she plays the Mom and I was excited!
Oh but that's not the point of this Follow-up...the!

September 29 - Yes I'm still obsessed with watching these videos online.  But apparently...I'm not the only one!  Check it out!  (P.S. the last one is priceless)

October 5 - I finally uploaded my photos of me at Oktoberfest so you can go check me and my dirndl out. Pretty good I must say...

October 25 - I totally forgot that I had this photo.  I've been saving it for probably the entire time I've been here waiting until I went to Florence and saw the David.  Ok I didn't actually see the David, but I saw a replica.  Plus this picture is hilarious...

October 29 - Yea, fairly sure this one is self-explanatory...GO GIANTS! (However, come March, it's back to GO OAK-TOWN)

November 1 - On the title I wrote that we weren't going to have turkey...we did.  Just sayin.  I'll actually write a post about it...eventually.

Word of the Day: ingehaald - caught up

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Top Ten: You can play these while you decorate the Christmas Tree...

It's Tuesday!  And you know what I haven't done in a very long time?

That's right.  So to get you in the Christmas spirit (because I am!) here are some songs you can play while you make cookies.  Mmmm.
Now there are so many Christmas songs I LOVE, but I decided to go with the songs that I like how they are sung, not just the song itself (hence no Jingle Bell Rock, or It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year).
Here are my...


All I Want for Christmas is You
Performed by Mariah Carey

O Holy Night
Performed by Mariah Carey
(I normally wouldn't put the same singer twice - but these two are probably my two favorite of all)

White Christmas
Performed by Bing Crosby

You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch
From How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Performed by Judy Garland

Baby it's Cold Outside
Performed Live by Velma Middleton and Louis Armstrong

I Want a Hippopatomus for Christmas
Performed by Gayle Peevey

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Performed by The Jackson 5

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays
Performed by N'Sync
But for a magical music video, click here (embedding was disabled)

Here Come Santa Claus
Performed by Elvis

There's so many more I could list, but oh well.  I'm off to listen to all of them!
What are you favorites?

Word of the Day:  Het is de mooiste tijd van het jaar - It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Monday, December 6, 2010

I did not get Shoe Fruit

Well, Sinterklaas came and went.  It was a pretty awesome little party.
Photos from the actual night (along with the awesome presents) will be up shortly.

But until then...let's talk about when Sinterklaas first arrived a couple weeks ago.
Since Noordwijk is on the sea, and he comes by boat it only made sense that he should arrive in our fair city.  And just like last year...Santa comes with the need for speed!  Yep...he arrives on a speedboat which is then hoisted onto the sand by this other mechanical thing...
See him?  Yea!  I actually got a picture of him this year!

Fien, being a year older, and no longer afraid, had a blast waiting for him with Papa...

And enjoying the company of the yet to be deemed racist Zwarte Piet (and their accompanying Peppernoten!)...

Once the crowd got a little crazy, we decided to head out.  Suzan being unbelieveably pregnant had held back with Aunt Hester, Uncle Maarten, and cousin Quinten, who, not being as old and mature and experienced as Fien, was not enjoying the festivities.  Fien (having all the above named qualities) attempted to calm him to no avail...

With the crowd following Sint like sheep, we took advantage of the desserted beach for some quick family photos...
Me and my munchkin

Mama, Papa, Fien

The neighbors - mom is also pregnant!

Later as we wondered down the Hoofdstraat, we entered the Hema only to find SINTERKLAAS WAS IN THERE!  Unlike mall appearances, this was a once a year, couple hours in the day sort of thing.  And as we entered the workers swept Fien in to be the last kid seen by Sinterklaas!  What a lucky girl!
She was a little cautious, but once Mama stepped in, all was fine...

AND the mayor even came over, Shook Fiens hand, and held her up for a photo!  She had no idea who he was however, so she was a little weirded out...
(Suzan believes this is because I had my big camera and looked like press - which I totally believe)

It was a wonderful day!  My only regret is that I didn't get my own photo with Sinterklaas or a Zwarte Piet.  Oh well.  Fien still had a fabulous day...

And to continue from the last post with "Sinterklaas in the Media" - allow me to share with you a Stephen Colbert clip from his very first season, five years ago!

What's funny is, if I had seen this five years ago, I would have thought it was ridiculous.  Now I know that (besides the shoe fruit) it's completely true...which makes it that much better!

Word of the Day: Zwarte Piet - Black Peter


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