Our New Moving Tradition – The ER

For the longest time, our family “tradition” involved having at least one child (usually Liam) puke on any given trip.  It wasn’t a good trip unless we could count on Liam vomiting somewhere, and bonus if it was multiple times (remember that trip to the US when he puked 11 times???).  As Liam has gotten older, this phase seems to, thankfully, be waning.  However, a new “tradition” seems to be emerging. Continue reading

What a Difference a Year Makes – Thanksgiving 2015

Last year we celebrated Thanksgiving just the 4 of us.  Josh was still recovering from his knee surgery and we really didn’t have any friends.  It was the first time we’d ever celebrated “alone”.  And it sucked.  I hated it. We were alone in yet another country.  The anger took over me for a long time – especially over the holiday season.   Continue reading

Vrolijk Pasen – Easter in the Netherlands

It used to be that with every passing holiday that we were gone, a little piece of me died.  Sounds dramatic, I know. But being away from friends and family during any holiday has to be one of the hardest things about being an expat.  However, you’ll be happy to know that these days, instead of a little piece of me dying, a little piece of me is growing.  I’m finding pleasure in new traditions and for us to find ways to celebrate as our little family unit of four. 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

Dutch Fall Traditions

While I know that this does not cover everything that happens here in the Netherlands in the fall, I’ve started to compile a list of things that we’ve noticed so far – most of which we are thoroughly enjoying. I’ve no doubt I’ll be adding more to the list as we learn about more and more traditions here in the Netherlands.

Sint Maarten
As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, Sint Maarten is the patron saint of the poor and of children. Similar to Halloween, kids go door to door singing a song about Sint Maarten and Continue reading

Sint Maarten Day

With just about 3 months under our belts here in the Netherlands, we’re now at our first Dutch holiday. Sint Maarten.  Almost identical to Halloween (and comes only days after we celebrated the American goodness of that holiday), we were excited to start learning more about the traditions celebrated here in our host country.

Sint Maarten is celebrated in much of Europe and in a variety of ways.  No matter the country, the origin is the same.  Sint Maarten is considered to be a friend of children and to the poor.  Celebrated since around the 4th century, the legend that is most famous is that Sint Maarten cut his cloak in half during a snowstorm in order to help clothe a homeless man.  As he died on November 11th, this is why Sint Maarten is celebrated on this evening.  In older times, Continue reading

Thankful…

We obviously don’t have Thanksgiving here in Spain.  After all, last I checked, the Spaniards had nothing to do with settling in America… oh well, they did have Christopher Columbus who discovered America.  But I guess that doesn’t count.  Anyways, Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday here and I don’t expect it will be.

However, that doesn’t mean we don’t still celebrate.  Just a little differently.  First off, we don’t do it on Thursday.  The kids have school and Josh has work, this year in Amsterdam so it’s not even like he’s close enough to celebrate in the evening.  Regardless, we shift our Thanksgiving to the Saturday after – my thought is that it shouldn’t matter when we celebrate a day of giving thanks as long as we do it! Continue reading

Festa Major de Gràcia 2013

 For two days last week I took a stroll around our neighborhood, Gracia. You see every year, there is the Festa Major de Gracia, the biggest festival in our neighborhood. This is a tradition that dates back around 200 years. Streets are decorated in different themes, a project that runs the entire year and is painstakingly put together in the days leading up to the start of the Festa. There are also tons of squares where bands ranging from folk to pop and all in between entertain people day in and day out. And let’s not forget the traditional entertainment made up of castellers (human towers), batucada (percussion parades) and gigantes.

Continue reading