First Month of School

So this post (like many others lately) is a month overdue so instead of writing about the first day of school, I’ll write about the first month.  The kids actually started school back in mid August (I still have trouble wrapping my arms around finishing school in July and going back in August).  But with Aidan starting secondary school this year, there have been a lot of changes here! Continue reading

“Celebrating” One Year in the Netherlands

I use “celebrating” as a loose term here.  It’s more of a congratulations on our survival and the fact that while we had one slightly maimed this year, no one died and for that we raise a toast. This past year was bad. Like record books kind of bad. In fact, I pretty much had to be dragged kicking and screaming back to the Netherlands.  I just didn’t want to go back. Continue reading

Aidan’s Graduation

If we had stayed in Attleboro, Aidan would already be in secondary school.  With schools in every state and even every town doing things differently as far as the definition of elementary, middle, junior high, high school – its often hard to keep track.  It’s not a lot different I think in Europe.  It all depends on where you are.  In Spain, Aidan would still have had this year, 5th grade, to finish up elementary.  But instead, he’s finished it up here in the Netherlands with a new group of kids.

Here in the Netherlands, 5th grade is called Group 7.  And next year he will go on to MYP1 (middle years program 1) at a secondary school down the road.  At least that is the plan – subject to change as always and a big subject of controversy in our house these days (unbeknownst to the kids).

Monday was Aidan’s graduation ceremony at school, despite the fact that he still has almost 2 weeks left before summer vacation.  Yes, school here goes until July.  My American mind (and even my Spanish one) has trouble wrapping itself around this idea.  Supposedly next year they are on the “late” schedule which means school until MIDDLE of July.  Even worse if you ask me!  But anyways, off the subject there.

The graduation ceremony isn’t an official graduation but a high tea where the students receive certificates for passing their Anglia exam.  This is an exam that states you are proficient in English and therefore can continue to secondary school in English.  As Aidan is a native English speaker, this was really never much of a cause of concern for us with him not passing or anything. But many in his class are not native English speakers and the presentation of the diplomas is also for the Dutch side of our school.  To back up, our school consists of two sides – the Dutch side and the International side.  However, this diploma is important for international school kids in that when they go to transfer schools, it proves their proficiency in English.

The ceremony itself was nice with a stage set up in the gymnasium.  The international kids (there are only about 14 of them) went first and Aidan, like his mother and father, is not one to like being the center of attention.  He walked up, grabbed his certificate and didn’t even look up – just walked to the side of the stage to wait for everyone else.  His class took about 5 minutes.  The Dutch side, with about 60 kids, took slightly longer.  But impressive that these 11 year olds are already proficient enough to take this exam in English.  Many start learning the language by 5 years old.

Waiting to go on stage

Waiting to go on stage

Doesn't even look up - just grab the certificate and walk away....

Doesn’t even look up – just grab the certificate and walk away….

A few of the boys in Aidan's class

A few of the boys in Aidan’s class

Yup, this is basically the ENTIRE 5th grade.  We're not talking one section of 5th grade.  This is the ENTIRE 5th grade class.

Yup, this is basically the ENTIRE 5th grade. We’re not talking one section of 5th grade. This is the ENTIRE 5th grade class.

Proud recipient of his Anglia certificate and happy to be moving on to secondary school.

Proud recipient of his Anglia certificate and happy to be moving on to secondary school.

After the ceremony was a high tea.  We didn’t hang out long at the tea as both kids were anxious to hit the road and mingling and small talk has never really been their thing.  But diploma in hand, we are excited for this new chapter to begin in Aidan’s life.

I’m excited for lies ahead for Aidan.  Secondary school, as it was for most of us I imagine, is a whole other ball of wax.  From changing classes throughout the day to significantly more homework to becoming a more independent student from that of his elementary years.  So much changes in secondary school.  I know he’s ready for this change but am I?  My little boy is growing up too fast!

Knuffels en kussen,

Julie

Quaint Dutch Villages: Giethoorn

Our original plan yesterday was to go into Amsterdam with Kyle and Kelly.  Josh had to work and Liam was having a sleepover at a friend’s so we figured we’d make it in for lunch, wander around a bit and then meet up with Josh later for dinner.  With rain the forecast we weren’t sure how well it would work out from a drenching standpoint, but it was the best we could come up with… sad I know.  But hey, we are still trying to get to know this country as well! Continue reading

Three in a Row: More Visitors (and one last trip to Keukenhof)!

You’d think with visitors three weeks in a row we’d be not only exhausted but done with the touristy thing over and over again, but it has been just the opposite.  Each of our guests over the last 3 weeks have come here with different purposes (aside from visiting us of course) and different lifestyles, making each visit completely unique and not redundant at all.  In fact, with each of our guests, we have explored things we had not yet explored which made it even more fun for us! Continue reading

The (Tulip) Road Less Traveled: Noordoostpolder

When people think of going to see the tulips in the Netherlands, the most common place that comes up to see them is Keukenhof and the driving route that is nearby.  And I’ll be honest, that’s where I had seen the vast majority of tulips here as well. Until, that is, a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of the Noordoostpolder region. Continue reading

Another Perspective of Keukenhof

As you know, I went to Keukenhof last week with my friend Brenda.  But as it is tulip season and we had more visitors this week, there was no getting around seeing it yet again.  However, don’t get me wrong – I wanted to see it again.  This is not a painstaking kind of thing for me.  Tulips are my favorite flower and while there are certainly other flowers on display at Keukenhof, the vast majority are tulips.  Not to mention that Keukenhof is a lovely place to just take a nice leisurely walk with friends while enjoying the sights and smells of 7 million flowers in bloom. So it was no skin off my back to go see them again with our friends, the Giddys. Continue reading

Diergaarde Blijdorp (Rotterdam Zoo)

In our attempt to start doing more exploring, a few weekends ago we headed west… to Rotterdam.  My initial plan was a spontaneous trip to Berlin, however, it turns out that Berlin is still 6 hours by train, so that took a little of the spontaneity out of that one.  Then I thought perhaps Antwerp, Belgium since that’s less than 2 hours drive.  But it was going to be cold out and who wants to wander around a city in the freezing cold?  In the end, since we had one sick child on board, we opted for the zoo – feeling it would be low key and easy on a cold spring day.   Continue reading

The Big 4-0

It’s the year we (ok I) have been dreading. The big one. 40. Thankfully Josh is taking one for the team first. This being a big one, I really wanted to make it special for Josh.  But I found it to be a struggle.  I wanted us to go somewhere for a few days, but then there were personal things that came up that made us rethink spending the money on 2 trips – one for each of our birthdays.  We thought we’d go on one trip some time in April – only April is in another week and between our availability, our babysitter, visitors, etc – that’s not going to happen either.  We’ve got both kids birthdays and then a surprise trip with Liam and Josh at the end of the month, so we’ll postpone the trip to perhaps June.   Continue reading

Milestone: 6 Months

This week we “celebrated” 6 months since the kids and I arrived in the Netherlands.  Josh, having been commuting for the 9 months prior was obviously more at home by the time we arrived.  But as a family, the Netherlands has been our home for 6 months now.  It feels like more.  I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  Good in the sense that I feel comfortable and that we are getting into a “normal” kind of groove and routine that one can only have when you are home.  Bad because I think, god, it’s only been 6 months?????   Continue reading