National Tulip Day in the Netherlands

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Fresh tulips in the house
Yesterday was  National Tulip Day in the Netherlands. Everyone is free to pick tulips in the ‘picking garden ‘in the Dam square in Amsterdam. Bursting with around 200,000 tulips on display, an event that should not be missed if you’re in town. More than 10,000 people come and pick their own free tulip, and you know what makes this event really rocks?  

You pick FREE tulips of your choice, with its bulbs,so you can bring Spring to your homes,All for FREE! The special theme for 2017 is ‘Mondrian to Dutch Design’, as the Netherlands celebrates 100 years of De Stijl.

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National Tulip Day in the Netherlands
I don’t know about you , but one of the things that I love in this world are Tulips!  Although tulips originally came from Turkey, the Netherlands and Tulips are two things inseparable! Just like Curry wurst and Germany. Yesterday, my husband surprised me with a handful of fresh bulbs of flaming yellow-red tulips, as he always does. He knows that I loved them. The aftermath, of course, me taking some photos and getting some inspiration from it.

There’s something about its slim perfect skinny stem, the fresh long green leaves, and it’s cup petals  bursting with unique charm and beautiful vibrant colors. The “flames” and mosaic in the petals is a total stunner, a nature’s wonder. Tulips  is the ultimate symbolic flower for grace. No wonder tulips (Tulpen)  is  3rd world’s most popular flower! Such a surprise that I married a Dutchman and that tulips is just right in the doorsteps!

Did you know that the first Dutch’s financial bubble is because of tulips? Can’t believe that a single bulb of tulips could cost more than 10 times the annual  income of a skilled person! So precious…

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Tulip mania
The Dutch love affair with tulips during the Dutch Golden Age of the mid-1600s paved way  to tulip bulb bubble or also known as “Tulip Mania”.  Generally considered to be the first recorded financial bubble, the Tulip Mania of 1636-1637 was the time in which tulip bulb prices were propelled by speculators to incredible heights before collapsing and plunging the Dutch economy into a severe crisis that lasted for many years. Incredible, right?

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Graceful tulips
While it’s not the fanciest flower in the garden, the beauty and grace of a simple Tulips means it has become a symbol for many things. Here are some interesting facts about this flower that I have found out;

  • A dark or light-colored center contrasts against the petals and can symbolize a broken or light heart respectively.
  • Bright red is the color of passion and perfect love. Don’t send a bouquet of these flowers to a family member or you’ll be sending the wrong message!
  • Tulips are edible but not medicinal. They become emergency food during WW II.
  • Perfect, enduring love between partners or family members
  • Undying passionate love, whether the passion is spurned or returned
  • Royalty and a regal nature
  • Forgotten or neglected love
  • the 11th wedding anniversary
  • Abundance, prosperity, and indulgence
  • Charity and supporting the less fortunate

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The beauty and grace of a tulip flower
I fell in love with tulips even before I have seen a real one. Seeing it from the magazines and in TV made me dream to see it for real. I am just so engrossed in its form, and how delicate it looks and yet so proud. Same as an obsessed gardener, I have this urge to plant dozens of bulbs into our garden. Spring is still  far away from our doorsteps and yet, the sight of tulips in flower shops makes me dream of  bright sunny days ! There’s nothing compares to the sight of  fresh bunch of Tulip  in your hands, in a vase full of these inside your living room, even a single stem can really make a change in the ambiance of your place.

I can’t wait for Spring for our Easter trip to  finally see and visit Keukenhof  gardens to  indulge in the sight of these babies up close!

But for now, this sight is enough for me to look forward for more beautiful days!

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Tulips and a freshly baked Angel Food cake with warm cup of tea equals a perfect  winter weekend treat!

“A tulip doesn’t strive to impress anyone. It doesn’t struggle to be different from a rose. It doesn’t have to. It is different. And there’s room in the garden for every flower.” – Marianne Williamson

 

How did your weekend go? Have you seen something that inspired you?

 

Thank you for stopping by friends. Are you on Twitter? Please follow me on my  Twitter  and my Instagram if you want to see more photos of our adventures and  Expat Life in Germany!

 

The Dutch life: Habitual Element of Surprise

Do you like surprises?

If there’s any inspiring quality out of being married into a Dutch family that  I could share here with you, it is the Dutch’s habitual element of surprises.You might wonder why,  but aside from their lifestyle full of ‘Gezelligheid,up to their unbelievable generosity despite of the infamous Going Dutch‘. I found Dutch people, particularly the family I’ve married into, to be very good in making surprises.

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My Dutch Parents-in-law enjoying the busy stalls in Souk Mubarakiya in Kuwait. They were surprised to see the famous kissing Dutch figurine here.

Even here in my own Blogging community , I have met  Dutchies who are worth mentioning. When I was a newbie in Blogging (Still I am..!) here and made my first 5 posts, Frank Jansen of Dutch goes the Photo is  very supportive through his meaningful comments. He took time to comment and give me encouragement, even boost my confidence by giving me my very first Blog award– the Liebster which I really find to be a kind gesture. His Yoga tree photos are total stunner and if you love fine photography in your own wall, check it out Here. There is also my good friend Ann, of Grubbs ‘n Critters , a fellow Expat-Mama, who is actually married also to a Dutchman.She made a wonderful surprise to me when she sent over a box full of spices! How cool was that? Now everytime I cook, I remember her. It was just purely coincidental that we have met here and shared common parenting stories and  I often steal her luscious recipes! Finally, I was really thrilled when  Diana,a total congenial person, a Book Author by heart, and the soul behind Myths of the Mirror became one of my reader,we’ve beautifully connected and eventually  I felt I belonged, to the right circle in internet. I love the fact that I have these people in my life. All of them came also by surprise, along with all my friends here, as fate leads me to know them through their Blogs. If you have time,make sure to check out their Blogs and if you are a bookworm and still thinking of a gift to give to someone you love, you should check out Diana’s books  that will leave you in trance!

Now back to my subject, who doesn’t like surprises, I guess everybody does. I am talking about a good kind of surprise, not the prank type, obviously a good kind of surprise is always great, personal, always unforgettable and lastly,  full of fun.

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FIL enjoying the beautiful sunset along the Arabian Gulf in Kuwait

On the side note, I can only talk about my own experience with my own Dutch family. I don’t know how is it with other Dutch interracial marriages  so this post really doesn’t intend to do a rationalization of Dutch people.

“Surprises are beautiful because they come without waiting! “

My Parents in Law (PIL) are really unique and one of a kind individuals. First, my FIL (Father-in-Law) subscribed and reads my Blog so obviously He will read this post and how cool is that?! They are two people who loves to plan out surprises for us, without giving us the hassle of waiting.

There’s something about having a surprise from unexpected people and time. It is the element of surprise that keeps me on high and really appreciate the thought of it. Since I was married into this Dutch family, my life was full of surprises that made me fall in love with them even more, each day. Here I wanna share with you why my Dutch family are people who have a thing with habitual surprises  and their surprises keep on blowing my mind away each time they do it. Call me old fashioned, but I find this a rarity.

“Surprise them once in a while and let them know how special

they are!”

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A beautiful surprise with a unique Dutch Baby tradition – Beschuit met Muisjes

My PIL surely knows how to let us feel loved. They gave us special surprises on their visits while we are still living in Kuwait. I find it special when they surprised us in coming over to our wedding with such a very short notice from us. Once we came back from our short stay in our hotel, we found out that our flat was fully decorated with colorful buntings and balloons! Something that I never expected because I wondered how they got the key. Later on, they gave us a photo book of our wedding photos which came from all the photos which my MIL took. She really loved taking photos and  wrapped up  a beautiful surprise and of course, a film made by my FIL.

 

Then again, they brought another strange yet  unique Dutch tradition of Beschuit met Muisjes  when my daughter was born. Far away from Holland, they have made us so close to home. They are not that young anymore, but they are full of vigor, strength and vitality. They have brought 2 suitcases full of gifts for my daughter, they have collected cards from our relatives in the Netherlands prior to going to Kuwait. I was amazed with their organization skills when they lay out all the gifts that fit the whole couch ! Their effort was worthy of appreciation.

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My MIL wearing an Abaya during our visit in the Grand Mosque in Kuwait

“Surprises are better than promises ! “

When my daughter celebrated her 2nd Birthday here in Germany, they came for a week- long visit. The surprise came in later when they asked us to check out the door and my face was full of delight to see my husband’s sister and her whole family came by to join my daughter’s birthday!It was totally unexpected,even my husband is clueless. It was such a crazy surprise for me because we don’t even have enough plates for more than 5 people, I haven’t even prepared enough food to feed them ! Despite the frenzy preparations, in the end, it turned out a great day because indeed, surprises are better than promises!

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Trying out Indian food in Germany where we reminisce the grilled foods ,kebabs, flat bread and Hummus in Kuwait.

 

Last week, we were planning to go to Nuremberg to visit the Christmas Market, also to have a weekend trip to celebrate my husband’s birthday. It was planned from last month but was postponed when my daughter got sick. We were still having second thoughts  because my daughter still had a bad cough and the weather is always grey, and gloomy, it’s not just the mood to do some sightseeing. While taking a walk before we do our grocery shopping, a car pulled down in front of us and there they are again–my PIL smiling and waving at us! They did it once again. Totally out of the blue, they came to join us to celebrate the weekend with us for my husband’s birthday. We spent a great time in the Christkindlmarkt ,drank Glühwein, visited the Nativity or the Krippenweg, and devoured Schnitzels and curry wurst with delight.

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It was their turn to be surprised and get mesmerized by Kuwaiti food !
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Now I know that a couple who  travels together, stays together.

“Expect Nothing. Live Frugally on Surprises! “~Alice Walker

Again, they filled our home with their sunshine and made everything better.I know that they can always come over to our place from 6-7 hours drive from the Netherlands but still, they do it in a beautiful surprise. When I saw the face of my husband and the delight in my daughter’s face, I couldn’t agree no more because I am, too, was overwhelmed. They know how to bring us cheer, and they are so good at it.Also, every time they bring tons of goodies which we all enjoyed, then who am I to complain?

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Enjoying the waves of the Arabian Gulf, my PIL finds it Gezelling despite the winds!

The surprise continues when they brought Sinterklaas to my daughter in line of her celebrating  her first St. Nicholas here in Germany. My MIL packed a handful of my favorite spices like Gehakt and Spekulaas which I really find it sweet. We are so overwhelmed with the Sinterklaas goodies they’ve brought like the Chocolate letters,Kruidnoten, Stroofwafels,Gevuldekoeken, so much more. They know that my husband adores these things and I am a convert now myself. At the end of their visit, I was surprised again to see another ornaments in our little tree. I was so busy that I didn’t notice it hanging in there. They adorned it with their love. Another lovely surprise.

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Airport moments while leaving Kuwait

Near or far, they  always try to bridge the gap and cross the distance to let us feel loved. Habit or not, my Dutch family has certainly a trait that I’ve learned to appreciate. Beyond gifts and everything, it’s their thoughts behind it that really matters. I have learned to appreciate surprises but right now, I am enjoying the Dutch’s life habitual element of surprises!

And how sweet that this post falls as my 200th post here ! Surprising that I have made it this far, Thank you my friends for following and reading my posts!

How about you, when was the last time you’ve made a surprise ? Or the last time you’ve been surprised?

How was your experience?

 

A day in the life of a Dutch Kid

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I want to ride my bicycle , Queen is certainly right!

 

I’ve been reading a lot about the acclaimed ‘Why Dutch kids are the happiest Kids in the World’ as it was sensationally supported by Experts who study  about this subject and made some interesting statistics. I was even more thrilled  when Rina Mae Acosta, a Filipino-American freelance writer and the Blogger behind ‘Findingdutchland‘ , who also happens to be married to a Dutch guy, recently published her book–” The Happiest Kid in the World“, Bringing up children the Dutch way. There’s something about this subject that resonates my interest on Dutch culture and oh well, their crazy ways.

This triggered my curiosity , and made me wonder if it was really the case in a normal, average, Dutch childhood.  Are Dutch kids really happy? What’s the measure of their happiness since I find the subject of Happiness being subjective. I am also raising one Dutch kid, but the thing is, we don’t live in the Netherlands, we live in Germany and she is growing up in a German environment.

Does it mean that my daughter grow up less-happy? or what?

As the old adage say ; ask a local and you’ll get real answers, or better, get to know one!

So one fine morning while we sit in the table for breakfast, I say it’s a fine one since I was able to sip my coffee before the toddler wakes up. I chatted with one former Dutch kid. I’m talking about one particular Dutchie who lives under one roof with me : my Husband , a.k.a BlueDutch.   

Husband’s reply really made sense :

It’s simple. We don’t like complicated things. Everything is simple.So we are happy, I was a contented kid and I had a happy childhood and even now as an Adult, I am living a simple life, but a happy one.

Does doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg or  just act normal, that’s already crazy enough, rings a bell?

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Cleaning the fields from dog poop has never been so much fun!

Less is really more for the Dutch

My husband is the third child of a family of 3 children. He is the only boy and this alone makes him the apple of the eye of the whole family. He was born in a cold December night 2 weeks overdue for his birth. As a true Dutch protegé, he was born in their home, a typical way of giving birth in the Netherlands. His mother, my amazing Mother-in-law is strong, and one proud Mama who is very hands on to her children. He learned to stand in his Baby Playpen box in their living room which is another typically Dutch in raising children. Dutch parents normally put their babies in this box in the early days up to the time he can’t walk yet. In it were toys,and other things for the baby to play on, spacious enough to wiggle and convenient for mothers while doing other chores.

He grew up riding ponies, playing in the sand pit, and getting dirty as most kids do. He began taking swimming lessons at the age of 6, basking in the beach,and watching Top cat after school. A typical dutch kid is baptized into “Dutchness“with two important things : Riding a bike & playing football (or Soccer in America).

As what Holland is famous for, He eats Hagelslag since he is allowed to eat solids. Oh yes, did you know that Hagelslag is chocolate sprinkles in solid form? He still eat Hagelslag up until now, we have boxes of this precious sprinkles courtesy of my generous parents in law. It’s a big panic if we ran out of this ‘staple‘. He had to share this now with my daughter who also devour toast covered in sprinkles.Everyday. He grew up developing a serious fondness with ‘Patat‘ and the magic meat balls (Gehaktballen)  his mother makes. This is normally eaten with boiled potatoes (again!) and some beans and gravy or pepper sauce. I successfully  stole this recipe  to continue the meat balls saga in our family. He is Dutch but he denies the existence loathes  of cheese and eggs. Sometimes I think he is just pretending to be Dutch! He can eat Pannekoek for dinner,enjoys Drop with delight, and drink chocolate milk more than he drinks water.

Just like any typical Dutch kids, he played enormously with his Duplos, wooden blocks, & his beloved Lego. He had a wooden bike which he got when he was 1-year-old and this has been passed on to our daughter along with his wooden plate with his name engraved on it. I find Dutch’s simplicity navigates to their source of worry-free happiness, take for example Dick Bruna’s Ninjtje (or Miffy ). A symbol of a cartoon character so simple and yet so good, without the complicated animation. Celebrating birthdays as a kid is more of a family celebration. It’s enjoyed with simple ‘Taart‘ and sitting in circles  with friends and family. There is no pressure of throwing off a grand party either.

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Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Piets

Dutch kids indeed have an enchanting childhood. Now who wouldn’t be thrilled when Sinterklaas comes on 5th of December. The sight of Kruidnoten, Spekulaas, Marzipan, and the yummy chocolate letters are everywhere. Typical dutch kids are showered with gifts and threats on this day. Sinterklaas is celebrated favorable in the Netherlands than Christmas. The sight of the  Zwarte Piets  (Black Peter’s ) seemed perfectly normal for all Dutch kids where it could be a daunting sight for others.

Growing up, he was also brought up visiting his Oma frequently, (Dutch for Grandmother). Grandparents are a big part of Dutch culture. It’s very typical for dutch kids to spend time & have a healthy connection with their Omas & Opas. The  feeling of security and being well-taken-cared off comes naturally among Dutch kids since it all starts from their family.

Once a year they go on a holiday as a whole family and here you can see that travelling is part of a humble Dutch culture. My husband has 8 thick photo albums filled with vacation photos and stories of his childhood. He climb mountains and earn medals for Wandern , going on a sled in winter, visiting castles,exploring the gorges, or just roasting having barbecue in their backyard during summer.

What I have also learned about my husband’s childhood is  the unique approach on education in the Netherlands. Homework is unusual in Dutch primary schools and students have one afternoon a week off school ( usually on Wednesday)  which means kids have lots of time and space to be … Kids. Spending their childhood without worries.They only have homework in their Topography subject where they learn about cities, rivers & countries.

Dutch children are given lots of autonomy and the freedom to explore, while parents aren’t burdened with the expectation that their child has to be the best in order to succeed. This made me gasp since my childhood is totally different from him. Remembering that in Philippines, kids have huge backpacks filled with books and we always have homework. Even preschoolers! Imagine the early strain on kids having the high expectation to excel and achieve more than what the average kids does.

Based on these, I could sum up that growing up in a Dutch household is pretty awesome. His own story of childhood and growing up ‘doe maar normaal makes him the relaxed, easy-going person He is right now. I presumed that the big factor why Dutch kids are simply happy apart from the significant aspects that the studies have proven, is because their parents are  also happy.  Statistics have shown that Dutch women and Kids tops it all but I can only write about Dutch people who I knew. Maybe the daily  doses of drop, stroopwafels and Bitterballen adds to their vigor and their adrenaline boost is the result of their bodies intertwined with their bicycles. Believe me, they don’t have the time to worry, because their time is already spent discussing about the weather, making their agendas and shopping for orange clothes!

With Dutch, less is simply becoming more.

How can  you describe your childhood in one word? Feel free to share!

Little Expats and Grandparents

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My daughter at 2 months old with her Oma

I am one of the kids who had normal‘ childhood spent with Grandparents. My Lolo & Lola (grandparents in Tagalog) live just a few kilometers from us and we often visit them especially on weekends.On special occasions, they were always present.Being in a big family,we grew up messing up their house together with my cousins, having sleepover and dipping in the nearby fish pond. Being clannish is a  norm in Philippines and extended families are living close-by.Grandparents normally fill-in during the times where both parents are unable to attend to the kids.In Philippines, there’s a high percentage that kids grow up close to their grandparents.

As an Expat living miles & miles away from my home country, I reflect on the life of my daughter not having this kind of “normal “childhood that I had. Announcing the birth of my daughter to my mother is coupled with ‘sadness‘ knowing that my mother lives so far away from us. My daughter was born in Kuwait while her grandparents are in the  Philippines and in the Netherlands.Now that we’re living in Germany, closer to one, and yet, still separated by distance . Both worlds are far, but totally embraceable. Seeing the fantasy-reality of an Expat Life, I realized that Grand-Parenting is a luxury that Expat kids doesn’t have naturally due to the distance factor. It needs to be worked on.

 Grand-parenting is the second important family role you could teach your child, most especially to an Expat Child.It is your responsibility as a parent to bridge this gap, or else, their Grandparents will become a stranger in their eyes.

Does your child knows her Grandparents?

What is special about the relationship of Expat child and their Grandparents?

Their best gift is : LOVE

When I become a parent, I realized just how vital the Grandparent-child interaction is in the early years of a child development. It is truly a special bond. You can’t really appreciate how big the hearts of Grandparents for their Grandchildren unless you have a child of your own.If you don’t grow up having this relationship or your Grandparents are gone before you were born then this feeling might be totally unknown to you. Grandparents could be the best caregivers, and often times, provides genuine parenting support for busy parents, and usually without a cost. If you are a parent & you have your parents living close by and giving you constant support on parenting, then you must be lucky.Very lucky. Not everyone have this privilege.

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Handmade shirt from my Oma.

There is something about the love that only an Oma & Opa  ( Gransparents in Dutch) can give to their Grandchildren.Their presence transmits to their grandchildren that security and protection is all theirs, right in their loving arms.

My daughter’s Oma & Opa flew to Kuwait when she was born and was too excited to see their first interracial grand-daughter.They are not the youngest anymore but they are very keen in having a healthy relationship with all their grandchildren.But with my daughter,I find it is quite special since we live far away from them.

I remember the first time my parents in law saw their grandchild.It was a special time. Along with their big hearts, they brought 2 suitcases filled with gifts. I really don’t know how did they managed to do that. They were really clever in Packing. But I am not talking here about the amount of gifts they’ve brought with their flight. I’m talking about their effort to bring the best gift that they could give to their grandchild.

Their presence is the best present.

They have brought the walking bike that belongs to my husband since He was 1.Now my daughter rides it.Such an important “Toy”for her. I find this truly heart warming because they transmit such positive values on Family attachment.I am sure that when my daughter learned about this story when she grew up, it would certainly have an impact for her. That her Oma & Opa cared about her.

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I love my Papa’s bicycle!

They’re passing on Family heritage

The moment you introduce your child to her Grandparents, you create the connection and letting them into the path of Family Heritage. Who else can be their role models? Who else can tell better stories about you to your sons & daughters more than your own parents ?

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Postcards from Philippines: In the loving arms of her Lola

There is something about interaction both with young & old that is very important.Both young & old have an impact  to each other. I almost cried when my mother carried and hugged my daughter for the first time when we visited Philippines last May.. Looking back at this moment, all I wanted to say to my mother was : Thank You.

I knew that those moments for a Grandmother is precious, a priceless one. With the whole time that we’ve stayed with her, my daughter felt her love, her same  caring nature that nurture her other 5 grandchildren. A Grandmother’s love is endless and has no boundaries.Many times when my daughter is sick, the first thing I ask  for advice is my Mother. Grandparents have wisdom that has been gained through time and reliable.

With today’s modern technology and ease of travelling, living far away from Grandparents is no longer an excuse for this connection to be not established. Distance is the only factor that makes this relationship difficult, but then, there are ways to bridge the gap.There are so much fun  ways for Expat kids to learn to connect & build this relationship with their far away Grandparents. With internet,it’s as simple as  Whatsapp or Kakaotalk away, or more often, a Skype call could do wonders since sending letters is so-old fashioned nowadays. For Expat Kids, the physical gap can be bridged with constant visits, but then, constant contact will solidify the bond.

I just knew that hopefully, someday, I would also have this special role…of being a parent again, to my future Grandchild. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a visit or through internet, as long as it is a real connection.

When was the last time you call your Grandma? or your Opa?