Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saying Goodbyes

I posted this question on my boarding school facebook group and it has elicited a lot of discussion.
I'm curious to hear your opinions, so I'm reposting the question here. I would love to read your reactions in the comments!

I just waved goodbye to my daughter, who is going to India for two months. The reactions from those around me who aren't MK's or TCK's are all about wishing me good luck, and wondering won't I miss her a lot, and aren't you worried, wishing me strength for the time she's gone. However much I appreciate the good wishes, they don't resonate with me. I think it's because I'm still so used to saying goodbyes, and being in touch with people in other countries, that I don't have that big of a sense of loss. I know she's going somewhere safe, that she's in good company, that she's doing something she likes and that she's confident and capable. So, my question is, have I become hard hearted because of growing up as an MK, or do you guys share the same feeling? (or am i just not that sentimental?)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Greeting people

Greeting people in Holland still makes me uncomfortable after more than 20 years. I know the norm is to hold out my hand, give a firm handshake and state my first and last name clearly. But I'm more of a "Hi, I'm here and wave in the air to all the strangers" kind of person. Very often I find myself walking into a meeting and forgetting to shake everyones hand. Or meeting someone new and forgetting to introduce myself.

The same thing happened yesterday. I went to pick up a number of my girls friends from the train station. I said Hi (I think) and told them I would give them a drive to our house. What followed was a very quiet drive.  And then got to thinking. I think the silence came from me not following the norm. What I should have done is shaken their hands, said my name, and introduced them to the others that were driving along. Then the ice would have been broken and chatter might have ensued. 

All during the afternoon and evening I watched how people greeted or didn't greet each other. Some friends came in and immediately introduced themselves. Others came in and gave me the obligatory three kisses that you give if you know people just a little bit longer. (I accepted them with good grace but felt just a tad uncomfortable). Some ignored me entirely which also didn't seem appropriate. And one or two got and gave a big hug, but those are the ones I know very well.

If I had been a good hostess, dutch style, I probably should have walked up to every person and introduced myself. But like I said, greeting people in Holland still makes me feel uncomfortable! It feels so formal and distant and so not like I want to be. But yesterday I also realized that me not following the norm may have led others to feel uncomfortable as well.

I suppose I need to resign myself to this dutch norm. That way it will only be me feeling uncomfortable. And who knows, maybe dutch formality will grow on me!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I'm grabbing a moment in the midst of the sound of drilling coming from the next door neighbor, ethiopian radio blaring, brownies baking, eggs and potatoes boiling, and the rearranging of the garden to harbor a lot of friends.

Lately my tried and true brownie recipe has failed me. Hopefully it won't today! And the carrot cake usually gets much appreciation after people look at me strangely when I say it really is carrot cake. Until recently carrot cake was not a very well known cake. Dutch people like their slagroomtaart, tompouce, and vlaai.

Baking is something that's becoming more and more popular here. Or maybe I should say that the decorating of cakes is becoming more popular. A store opened recently here in town, called Mmmuffins. And guess what it sells? Cake decorating ingredients. Much to my disappointment, because I would have preferred for it to sell real muffins or at the very least baked and decorated cupcakes. Weird name to use. I'm guessing the owners aren't at home in the english language.

I have a minor reputation for the goodness of my baked goods. Imagine my chagrin when I made brownies for my sons football team and the darn things turned out as hard as rocks! But the taste was good, the laughing moms told me :-). A week later I made sure to drop off a lemon cake at two of the mothers houses. I really felt my reputation was at stake.

Last year I hosted a baking session at my house with a bunch of woman I know. My house is actually a bit too small, but it turned out to be fun anyway. Everybody made accomodations and we ended up having quite a spread of cupcakes, cakes and cookies. Maybe something to repeat sometime this summer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Grocery shopping

Daughter dear is heading off to India on friday, for a two month stay. Her birthday is in exactly a month, so she's decided to throw a party tomorrow. 40 people or so are expected for some baked goods and a bbq.

So today is spent in preparing. Which meant we first headed off to the Lidl, a german based discount supermarket, comparable to the Aldi in the US. We also have an Aldi here, but the assortment of food is much smaller than that of the Lidl.

Since maybe half a year the Lidl is open until 8 on most nights, and 9 on friday night. Before that it was open until 6. Which meant some smart planning  as far as shopping goes. Often times the supermarket would be packed full with last minute harried shoppers frantically grabbing their dinner ingredients. Now it's just a bit less stressed.

This is all local information though. Big cities have longer opening hours, but that much modernisation has not yet migrated to our small bible belt town.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Eating Out

Eating out weekly, or even daily, is not common here in Holland. And definitely not an ordinary happening in my little family. That's because the prices of going out to eat are way above what it costs to make at home. It's still mostly considered a luxury, and not a common occurrence.  Possible exception maybe being  the one euro breakfasts at the IKEA, which are so popular that they have been copied by the HEMA. A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine decided to take advantage of the cheap breakfasts and celebrated her birthday there! That was a first...

So tonight was a treat. We went out with the kids. To celebrate the start of the summer holidays, the fact that son seems to have passed his sophomore year (I'm waiting for his report card to confirm what he's saying!), and daughter her first year at university. We went to Elburg, a small town (with city rights) about 20 minutes away from here. At some point in time I'm sure to show some pictures of its delightful dutchness on this blog.

It was a great pleasure to have the family complete, to soak in the sun, and enjoy the good food and sense of humor that we share. Unfortunately for me, it also meant not taking pictures, as they all start to groan and moan if I get my camera out, and I didn't want to spoil the mood ;-).

Monday, June 25, 2012

Student Housing

When kids here go to college or university there usually isn't a dorm attached. So each student has to find a room to stay in, or travel back and forth from home. I picked up my daughter today, from her student housing in Utrecht. Student housing has become notorious for its filth. I was kind of shocked at the state of my daughters housing, but really, that was clean! So today I had the "pleasure" of visiting a friends student pad.
This is what I beheld. And this is considered normal.....
In the middle is the relatively clean bedroom of aforementioned friend. The other pictures are of the communal areas. I was glad to be gone! (you can click to enlarge, in case you want some more detail ;-))

Sunday, June 24, 2012


On a gloomy miserable rainy day like today taking a bike ride is just about the last thing on my mind. Nevertheless, biking is a pastime eagerly employed by many a Dutchman (or woman). Maybe sometimes not so eagerly, but more out of necessity. My family went for years without a car and did everything by bicycle and public transportation. Those days are over though, as we even have the luxury of two cars in front of the house now. Only one of which I can drive, the other being for my husbands business.
But this is all besides the point. 

The point being that I own a lovely bicycle! After working a lot of hours at my job, I had built up a backlog of time off. Too much time off. So one of the options I was offered was a trade. My hours for a bicycle. This pretty pink bike is the result of that exchange. I have the most awesome bicycle bags ever on the back, they are picnic bags! Haven't been able to use them much though, with the nasty weather being what it is.

Hopefully this bike will be used for some good adventures in the surrounding area, soon, if possible!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


When telling other dutch people where I live, the reaction I get most often is "oh, I used to go camping there, the forest is beautiful!". Lucky me.... I don't particularly enjoy walks in the forest!
Nunspeet is located in the middle of Holland, in a region known as the Veluwe. Nunspeet has its charms. I'm hoping to use this blog to showcase some of the charms of this area and its surroundings, and also to give just a glimpse of history, culture and the odds and ends of life as a dutch person.
I'll try to make this blog as "real time" as possible, but will most likely be placing pictures of things I've done over the last few years as well. I hope you enjoy!

(this picture is of one of the entry roads leading into Nunspeet. In the spring the municipality plants flowers along a lot of the main roads, leading to seas of daffodils)