Wij nodigen u van harte uit

We cordially invite you

Back in the US, I was a performer. That’s what I spent most of my life doing. I stopped because I realized I would rather have a family and be able to spend time with them than be a Broadway actress.

In the US, there were plenty of opportunities to do community theater and be involved in the arts without being a professional. Here, not so much.

I wanted the chance to perform, so I started looking at some English speaking opportunities. There weren’t many. So I looked into Dutch speaking performace opportunities. Not many of those either. To be in a play, I could either make my way to Amsterdam for every rehearsal and performance and pay €40 to be in the show or I could stay in Utrecht and pay over €200. Neither sounded extremely attractive to me. So I gave up on the idea of doing amateur theater in the Netherlands and started concentrating on building my own after-school theater program.

Then I got a Facebook message from a fellow IWCU member asking me if I’d be able to babysit for her two daughters. A few days later, I went to meet them. She and I started talking and she mentioned that she belonged to a women’s close harmony vocal group. Sounded right up my alley. And they were having auditions that night to replace some singers who, for whatever reason, were leaving the group. “Sure,” I thought, “Why not?”

So off to the auditions I went and roughly two weeks later I got a call asking if I wanted to join the group. I’ve been a member for almost a month now and am loving every minute. The gals are really nice and the music is fun and varied. Another bonus is that the rehearsals are held in Dutch and some of the songs are in Dutch as well. So every Monday evening from 7:30-10pm I get to practice my Dutch listening and speaking skills.

But, back to the question above. What are we inviting you to? The group is called Divina and we are getting ready to celebrate 15 years of making music! And what would a birthday celebration for a musical group be without a special concert? We’ve got some great selections, a stunning sound, and beautiful divas!

So, if you are free on November 28 at 8pm, we would love to see you at the Stefanuskerk, Braziliedreef, Utrecht (Overvecht). Tickets are only €12.50. You can purchase tickets in advance through direct banking to Divina. For more information, click here. This concert is one not to be missed! We would love to see you there.

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Mundane Tasks: Groceries

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…”

Doing groceries probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is to me. For two reasons: 1. I never cooked in the US and therefore never really needed to do groceries and 2. I do my grocery shopping in the Netherlands now, which is not where I’m originally from.

My first trip to the Plus during my first week here was an adventure to say the least. It also resulted in three trips in the same day because I wasn’t really sure what I was getting and had no phone to call my husband with for help!

It certainly is an experience and I do enjoy grocery shopping in other countries. Just to see how it’s done and what’s different from what I’m used to. One of my favorite things to do when friends and family come to visit is to take them grocery shopping with me. Sound boring? Think again! Here’s an idea of what it’s like to do your groceries in the Netherlands.

  •  There are several main chains of grocery stores: Aldi (actually a German franchise), Plus, Albert Heijn, C1000, and Super de Boer. I have only had the pleasure of shopping at Albert Heijn and the Plus, although I have stepped inside a nearby Aldi that, unfortunately, didn’t have what I needed. We do most of our shopping at the Plus since it works out to be about 200 meters round trip. 
  • Not everything can be found in the super markets. You may also need to pay a visit to a Toko (the Malaysian word for store. Tokos sell mostly eastern food items and the odd product like Mountain Dew and Cup O Noodles that are not found anywhere else), Turkish store, butcher, baker, or market in order to find everything you need.
  • Everything – for obvious reasons – is in Dutch. Meaning if you are heading out to buy ginger, good luck! You’ll have better luck if you look for gember. I still find myself looking up Dutch translations for an ingredient called for in one of my English recipes. Most of my grocery lists are a combination of items in English and Dutch.
  • In most stores, you weigh produce yourself. Although this is being phased out in some stores because of the “zakje thing.” You’re also responsible for bagging your own items at the checkout. This is different from many stores in the States where the sales clerk or a helper bags your things for you. (Totally off topic, but the grocery clerks here have nice cushioned seats to sit in as they ring you up! Almost makes me want to go to the Plus and pick up a job application… or not) Which brings me to my next point:
  • Don’t forget to bring your own bag. If you forget, be prepared to pay for a plastic one at the kassa. They usually run about €0.17. Most people bring their own vinyl bags for shopping in general. That or they stuff their purchase(s) in their purses, bags, backpacks, etc or just carry them by hand. So environmentally friendly!
  • Unlike in the US, food items here tend to be more on the fresh side. Meaning, they’re not overly processed or overly fortified with heaven-only-knows-what. Meaning that shelf lives of products are not so long. Add to that the fact that you can only fit so much into the pint-sized Dutch refrigerators, and we’re talking a trip to the grocery store almost every day. Your main modes of transportation to the supermarket are by foot and by bike. Buying enough food for a few months is all well and good when you can just load them in your car, but I certainly have no desire to try to transport the amount of groceries your average American buys in one go via Bonnie or my peds!
  • All stores are only open six days a week at most and are usually closing at anywhere from 6-8 o’clock in the evening. There are koopavonds (usually Thursdays or Fridays when shops are open sometimes till 9 pm) and koopzondag (the 1st Sunday of every month shops in certain cities are open for a special shopping day), but most grocery stores are closed at 7 pm and open for a limited time on Sundays if at all. Albert Heijn does, however, have some locations that are open until 9 pm on weeknights and from 4-9 pm every Sunday.
  • You pay a bit extra for the bottles your beer comes in. This deposit is called statiegeld and can be retrieved. To do that, just bring your empty bottles to your local supermarket and slip them into the designated machine. Once you’re done feeding all your bottles in, push the green button and out pops a receipt. Take the receipt to the kassa and have the amount on the receipt subtracted from your total. You can do this with one and two liter plastic bottles as well. The Plus gives back €0.10 for every glass bottle and €0.25 for every plastic bottle.
  • Many stores have rewards systems for loyal customers. Sign up for a grocery card for additional savings and coupons. Collect stamps to earn money or free grocery items. Sometimes supermarkets offer free entrance into theme parks or reduced train fair if you collect the specified number of stamps. These stamps are called zegels. Do you collect them? I do.

Not such a mundane task anymore now is it?

What differences do you notice between grocery shopping in your home country versus your host country?

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It Is a Small World… Afterall

It’s a small, small world

I don’t know how many times I’ve watched Miracle on 34th Street. Must be thousands. Though, admittedly, it’s been a while. A very long while. So I was surprised when a director friend of mine in the US contacted me asking if my husband and/or I could help him with something in the script.

Perhaps I just don’t remember because it’s been so long. Maybe it’s because I had no reason then to care. But when I read the two pages of the script he sent me, I was both baffled and pleasantly surprised.

The scene takes place in Macy’s department store where children are lining up to sit on Santa’s lap. The real Santa. A little girl is presented to Santa in tears. The girl does not speak English and has no friends, but she immediately recognizes the man in red: Sinterklaas. Wouldn’t you know it, the girl is an orphan from Holland. And good old Kris Kringle instantly begins to speak to the girl in her native tongue.

My duty was to help the little girl playing the orphan with her Dutch pronunciation and my husband’s was to come up with a Sinterklaas liedje for Kris and the little girl to sing. It was funny reading through the script with my new found Dutch skills. I giggled at the funny Americanized spellings and the grammatical errors. I felt giddy at the fact that I effortlessly understood and could say everything. And my husband dug up what is now my favorite song ever. Try getting that one out of your head!

Sinterklaas kapoentje (kapoentje is a silly made-up word to rhyme with schoentje)
Gooi wat in mijn schoentje (throw something in my little shoe)
Gooi wat in mijn laarsje (throw something in my little boot)
Dank u Sinterklaasje (thank you Sinterklaasje)
*the “je” at the end of a word does the same as “ito” or “ita” in Spanish*

 

Yesterday, we spent about 30 minutes on Skype with the girl playing the orphan in my friend’s production and her father. Her dad even edited and sent us an mp3 of my husband and I reading the lines between Kris and the girl! It felt wonderful to be helpful and share my new culture, language, and lifestyle with someone “back home.” I was able to show off a bit and you could tell that my husband was proud of how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come.

Today, I’ll be heading to the MediaMarkt and digging around for a copy of Miracle on 34th Street if they have it. And later this week, we’ll watch it – particularly that scene in Macy’s – and, for the first time, I will hear and understand that scene as the story becomes an even bigger part of me. 

Update: I ended up not being able to find either version of the film on DVD here in the Netherlands. But it was gifted to us for Christmas 2009 by my parents. Interestingly enough, the song my husband found is the exact same song they use in the film!

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I Am Not a Tourist 2009

Nope – not a tourist

This time last week, I was just coming home from Expatica’s 6th annual expat fair, titled “i am not a tourist: Lifestyle Fair for Internationals.” Expatica is an organization dedicated to helping expats with their every needs in their new country through websites and events.

The event was held at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam. Tickets were free if ordered online in advance and €10 at the door. This year, more than 4,000 internationals were in attendance to check out over 90 exhibitors and choose from more than 30 different workshops and sessions. The idea behind the event was to provide expats and internationals living in the Netherlands with the “opportunity to get all the information and contacts [they] need in one place.”

Considered to be the most important 19th century architectural monument in Holland, the Beurs van Berlage was teeming with businesses, groups, and curious expats. The hallway leading up to the workshop rooms played host to an all-day art exhibition while the main part of the building housed a stage and a bevy of stations to check out. Upstairs, various workshops and sessions were held. Topics ranged from writing workshops to tax and employment seminars to mini salsa lessons. For an extra €15 you could participate in chocolate making or a do-it-yourself sushi workshop or attend a wine or whiskey tasting. For the single expat, the fair also included speed dating sessions!

Exhibitors present included Expat Women, Dutch News, Typical Dutch Stuff, Women’s Business Initiative, Worldwide Brokers, ABN AMRO bank, Hard Rock Cafe, Tulip Expat Services, Expatcenter Amsterdam, American Women’s Club Amsterdam, International Women’s Clubs of Amsterdam and The Hague, British School of Amsterdam, English Breakfast Radio, Xpat Media, Time Out Amsterdam, Webster University, eXtremoS Dance Company, Pet Travel Clinic, and Undutchables… just to name a few!

There were also raffles with some excellent prizes like hotel accomodations, workshop tickets and magazine subscriptions. Many of the exhibitors also had their own raffles and games where you could win additional prizes. I did a few, but as it’s been a week and I haven’t heard anything, my guess is that I was not one of the lucky winners. But loads of fun just the same! Nearly every exhibitor had at least one free goodie for anyone who visited their station. I, for one, don’t think I’ll ever have to purchase another pen again! Click here to read the Expatica summary of the event.

I found out about the fair while digging around Expatica reading some articles. Something inspired me to attend (perhaps the free factor) and I ordered two tickets – one for myself and one for my husband. When my husband fell ill and informed me the day before the event that he wouldn’t be joining me, I considered not going. So I text messaged some girlfriends asking if they’d be interested and let fate work it out. A good friend responded almost immediately and I found myself on the train to Amsterdam with her the following morning – each of us with the obligatory cup of coffee in hand.

The venue is within walking distance from Amsterdam Centraal Station so we enjoyed a nice walk and talk, stopping to check out the occasional elephant. A better building could not have been chosen – although they may need a bigger one for next year as the Beurs van Berlage was packed tighter than a can of sardines! We were greeted at the door by volunteers who checked our tickets and graced us with a goodie bag. Just to the right of the entrance was a free coat check and as far as the eye could see expats, volunteers, and exhibitors mulled about, engaged in conversation.

We went to several different stands just checking everything out. Then we headed upstairs for the Writing Your Life Story workshop led by Jo Parfitt. A writer, publisher, and expat with 26 titles under her belt, Jo now devotes much of her time to teaching writing workshops. The one she gave at “i am not a tourist” was a very much condensed version of her 2-hour session on putting your life on paper and possibly on the shelves of bookstores. It was an excellent workshop and very inspiring. I will definitely be attending more of her workshops in the future.

After that, we wandered through the art exhibition, admiring the work of fellow expats in the Netherlands. Then it was back to the stands to gather information and some really cool free items! Less than a year in the Netherlands for both of us and we’ve already adapted the Dutch habit of gravitating towards anything with the word ‘free’ attached!

I am now a member of Democrats Abroad, have two bags full of freebees, will be enjoying 2-for-1 cocktails with a friend later this week courtesy of Hard Rock Cafe, have a knitting group and writing workshops to attend, and have joined the Women’s Business Initiative. Some great connections were made and valuable contacts were established.

I only wish I had done more planning before the event as I would have been sure to have made the most out of the workshops offered and made sure I had a list of questions to ask and Little Broadway business cards to pass out to the schools in attendance. But there’s always next year. And speaking of – after getting home and telling my husband all about it and showing him all the goods I collected, he’s already making plans to go along next year!

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The Halloween Spirit

Not celebrating the holiday doesn’t mean the Dutch don’t have words for it!

Halloween is coming fast! Here’s a mini Dutch-English Halloween dictionary to get you in the spirit. To hear the words pronounced in Dutch, go to acapela-group.com. Select either “Femke” or “Max” under “select a voice,” copy and paste the word you want to hear in the text box, and press “say it”!

skeleton – (het) skelet
pumpkin – (de) pompoen
ghost – (de) geest
spooky – spookachtig
spider – (de) spin
cobweb – (het) spinnerag

witch – (de) heks

vampire – (de) vampier
werewolf – (de) weerwolf
candy – snoep
October – oktober
monster – (het) monster
bat – (de) vleermuis
scary – eng
full moon – (de) volle maan
mummy – (de) mummy
autumn – herfst
costume – (het) kostuum
owl – (de) uil
night – (de) nacht
dark – donker
broom – (de) bezem
cat – (de) kat or (de) poes
darkness – (de) duisternis
tombstone – (de) grafsteen
zombie – (het) levend lijk
graveyard – (de) begraafplaats
scarecrow – (de) vogelverschrikker

Can you think of any more?

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Darkness at the Dom

If you were in or around Utrecht city this past Saturday night, you may have looked at the skyline and wondered where the Domtoren was. My husband and I certainly would have had I not read aggieLap’s blog entry Nacht van de Nacht. The Domtoren was, of course, still standing tall and proud in the Domplein, but unlike every other night of the year, the tower was not illuminated.

The Domtoren was not the only one to turn off it’s lights. Throughout the Netherlands, lights were turned off and special candlelit events took place. Night photography and astronomy workshops were also given and zoos remained open.

The idea behind Nacht van de Nacht is to inspire people to reduce their light usage and create an awareness of light pollution. This is a major concern for the Dutch as the Netherlands is one of the top three generators of light pollution in the world, according to the Light Pollution Handbook. Most of this is due to keeping the country’s many greenhouses lit.[/caption]

Why 24 October 2009? This day marks the official move from fall to winter this year. It’s also the day that the Dutch moved their clocks back an hour. There was very little moon that night which, in combination with turning the lights out at monuments, bridges, and major buildings throughout the country, makes for optimal star gazing opportunities.

 

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Before and After Meme for Expats: After

I’ve walked a mile in someone else’s clogs

Several months ago, Isabella over at A Touch of Dutch posted the following Meme to get an idea of many an expat’s first impression of the Netherlands and how they feel after having lived here a spell. I decided to join in on the fun! Here are my answers:

AFTER

Upon arriving, can you remember the overall impression you had in the first 48 hours?
It was so much to take in. I actually ended up hiding in my new home with my husband, unpacking, getting over jetlag, making myself at home, and spending time together. There were a few “what am I doing here?” moments, but also a wonderful sense of adventure. It was a bit scary at first and I remember feeling so alone in taking this big step – like I was the first woman ever to move to the Netherlands for love.

Tell me about your bicycle, if you have one. Is it borrowed or rented or do you own it? Have you ever had your bike stolen? Feel free to mention and elaborate on anything special concerning experiences you have or have had with your bike.
Her name is Bonnie. Oddly enough, I never had the inclination to name any of my 3 cars, but the bike didn’t go for more than a week without a name.

She’s my husband’s bike (his friend never used his bike, so gave it to my husband so we would each have a bike to use) and has back-pedal brakes and is a putrid brown color. I’ve since jazzed her up with a pink fietstas and a pink Disney princess bicycle bell. My plan is to paint her pink with white stencils.

Luckily, no one’s ever stolen Bonnie or any of her accoutrements. I love Bonnie – she’s the best! I’d rather take her out than take the bus or the car, even if it’s raining. The biggest issue is getting my dog Turner used to her. He’s an American dog and absolutely chicken about everything. Especially bikes.

I’ve had my share of spills and embarrassing moments, but now I can cycle while carrying an umbrella, in heels, with Turner, with flowers, with ridiculous amounts of cargo on the back, while sending text messages and making phone calls, and I can keep my balance in almost all situations! The only thing I haven’t done that I’m dying to try is carry someone on the back of my bike. I just need to find someone brave enough to give me a chance!

Name three of your favorite things about the Dutch culture that first come to mind.

  1. Bringing flowers or a bottle of wine for your host
  2. Acceptance of animals in public places (restaurants, cafes, shops, parks, etc)
  3. Cycling!

Of the things you never knew before coming here, what have you learnt about the NL?
There are over 400 museums and castles in the country. Different regions have their own dialects and, in some cases, their own languages. It was occupied by the Nazis during WWII and much of the Dutch army at that time traveled by bike. The most fascinating things are all the connections with New York. There’s even an Utrecht in New York!

Culture shock. Does it ring a bell?
Yes, but not a particularly loud one. I think the biggest thing for success in moving here is to get over your own culture. No, they don’t do things or behave here like they do in your country, but guess what? It’s not your country! I hear all the time about how rude the Dutch are and, while I agree in some instances, I am making this judgment while holding them up to American cultural standards. In the US, they would be considered rude. In the UK and France, the same. But we’re not in any of those countries.

You also have to realize that many of the things you do that are acceptable in your culture might not be acceptable here. When we’re in someone else’s country, we need to adopt the “when-in-Rome…” attitude.

The first month I was here, I noticed the lack of excuse-me-pardon-mes and even got grabbed by the shoulders and physically moved to the side so someone behind me could get past. It doesn’t go unnoticed that the waiters would let me sit and rot before they’d think to come and get my order. But that’s how things are done here more often than not and I need to accept that and move on.

How far have you come with learning Dutch?
Not bad! My husband and I have 2 days during the week when we speak Dutch to each other and I now speak mostly Dutch with his friends. I’ve only taken one formal class, but am going to be starting my inburgeringscursus later on this month. As part of my inburgering, I’ve opted to do a Duo Project where I’ll meet with a native Dutch speaker one day a week and talk with them (in Dutch, of course). I’ve also joined an all-women, all-Dutch singing group, which has been a fun little challenge. And I speak only Dutch when I go into town.

Has your view of politics or world issues changed from how you previously viewed things before living in the NL?
I always knew things were less than desirable in the US, but moving outside of my country made me realize just how bad it is. How naïve, closed minded, and self-centered many Americans are. It has been interesting to see some of the same issues from a different perspective and I certainly understand the idea of a modern-day monarchy much better now. I’ve always been very liberal in my thinking, so I fit in much better here than I did in the US!

Coffee-shops and smart-shops. What is your opinion?
To be honest, I have no idea what a smart-shop is. Coffee-shops though are fine by me. I’ve never been in one and of the people I know, if they end up paying a visit once a year that’s a lot.

I’m a huge advocate of the philosophy that if you can do it and it’s easily accessible, you’re less likely to want to do it. There’s something so uncontrollably appealing about forbidden fruit. Plus, if you make it legal, you can control it. In the US, people pay a fortune and can’t guarantee that what they’re paying for and using is safe or good. People get killed in drug busts all the time.

The main problem with coffee shops and the legalization of drugs in the Netherlands is that when tourists come in, they abuse the privilege, binge on it, and ruin it for everyone else. FYI: the UK, the US, and Australia are just a few of the countries that have a higher rate of soft drug use than the Netherlands.

Since living here, have you learned anything new about yourself? Or perhaps you have learned something new? A new hobby or a new way of life?
I’ve certainly made a lot of new friends and seen a lot of new things and been to a lot of new places. I’ve become more independent. I started this blog and began my journey to becoming a freelance writer.

I also got up the gumption to start selling some of my handmade yarn products at http://www.stuffmadewithyarn.etsy.com/ and started my own business, which is something I never would have had the guts to do before. My company, Little Broadway travels around to international schools with an after school musical theater program. So far, I have 2 schools lined up for this fall.

I’ve also gotten much closer to my dog. About a week before moving here, I got married and married life has also taught me many things about myself. And I’m loving everyday of my marriage and my adventures here in the Netherlands!

Check out the previous post to see my BEFORE answers

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Before and After Meme for Expats: Before

Several months ago, Isabella over at A Touch of Dutch posted the following Meme to get an idea of many an expat’s first impression of the Netherlands and how they feel after having lived here a spell. I decided to join in on the fun! Here are my answers:

BEFORE

– Before you knew you’d be coming to the NL, for whatever reason you originally came to the NL, truthfully how much did you know about the country?
Not much actually. I knew about the windmills, clogs, and tulips. I was aware that NL was in Europe but had no idea where exactly. I had no idea that Holland was the Netherlands (although now I know that’s incorrect and that Holland is actually referring to sections of the country). The shame of it all is that I should know more as the Netherlands played a huge role in the development of part of my country!

– Did you learn about the NL in school when you were growing up?
I probably did at some point, but it obviously went in one ear and out the other.

– Do you have family who is Dutch or of Dutch heritage?
Not that I know of, but I don’t know much about my family history/origins at all, unfortunately.

– Were you aware the language the Dutch spoke was Dutch and not German or any other language?
I had honestly never given it much thought until I started dating a Dutchman. But, then again, it is kind of obvious that the Dutch would speak Dutch.

-Have you ever lived outside of your home country for longer than one month prior to living in the NL?
I lived in the UK for 3 months as part of a study abroad program in college and lived in France prior to that for right at a month with friends.

– Had you learned to speak a language other than your own, even if only partially so, before coming to the NL?
French and Spanish

– When you learned you’d be coming to the NL, did you feel it was important to learn Dutch?
I didn’t feel as though it was important – it was imperative. I was not going to go to another country to visit, much less live there, without knowing the language. Plus, I want to learn my husband’s first language and I realize that our children will also speak Dutch. How can I not want to learn?

– Did anyone prepare you with info of any type before you came to live in the NL, did you attempt to find info on your own, or did you come to the NL without preparing?
A friend of my husband’s is married to a Canadian woman who has been living in the Netherlands for 7 years now. I met her about a month before I moved and she told me about the International Women’s Contact Utrecht. She and her husband paid for my membership for the first year as our wedding gift and I went to my first event three days after landing at Schiphol airport. That was a tremendous help! Other than that, I’ve just been figuring things out on my own – and more often than not, the hard way.

– How did your family and friends react when they learned you’d be moving to the NL?
My mom gave us a year before she wanted us to move back to the US. Now she’s starting to be a little more realistic, but not by much (our new deadline is before we decide to have children)! My other friends and family members were impressed, shocked, surprised and jealous all at the same time. The general reaction was “I could never do what you’re doing – you’re so brave,” followed by “I’m going to miss you!”

– What did you think would be your biggest challenge living in a foreign country ? Or did you feel you would face any big challenges?
I was terrified of the cycling culture. Physical activity, having to cycle in the rain and cold was just too much to bear! I was also worried about how I would handle the weather. Then, of course, there was the worry about finding friends, a job, activities and hobbies.

To break things up a bit and keep you on your toes, the AFTER will be appearing in the next post

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Little Broadway!

Bringing a little bit of Broadway to the Netherlands

Little Broadway is in business!

Bank account. check!
Kamer van Koophandel (Chamber of Commerce) registration. check!
First gig. check!
Website and email address. check!

The first session will take place at the Violenschool in Hilversum on 26 October 2009. Sixteen students between the ages of 4 and 8 are enrolled and excited as I am to get started! The website is still under construction and awaiting a proper logo. You can send an email to littlebroadwaynl@gmail.com.

I also recently did a theater workshop for the October monthly meeting of the International Women’s Contact Utrecht. Ten women were in attendance and had a blast! I’m still hearing about it!

And Hubs has been working hard at the office, where they have just switched over to a new data base. They are still ironing out a few problems with the new system, but once everything’s in place, life at the office should get much easier.

Turner is still helping me babysit on Tuesdays and this upcoming week, we’re adding another little one to the list. This means Turner will be cycling every day this week – a big step!

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Elephants on Parade

You’ve heard of Party Animals and Pandamonium. Now it’s time for Elephants on Parade

If you’ve been to Washington, DC in the last five or so years, you may have seen some real Party Animals or experienced a bit of Panda Mania. Well, it’s DC’s turn to step aside as Amsterdam plays host to a pack of colorful pachyderm from September 5th through October 31st for the Elephant Parade.

This collection of 100 elephants – whose predecessors were previously seen in Rotterdam and Antwerp – is the brain child of father/son team Mike and Marc Spits and are modeled after real live baby Asian elephants. Local and international artists painted the elephants which are to be auctioned off on Novemeber 12th at Zuiveringshal Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam following a pre-bidding auction November 3-11.

Proceeds accrued from the auction will be donated to Elephant Family, the world’s largest charity for elephants. The hope is to raise money and publicity for the Asian Elephant. With only 40-50,000 in the world today (16,000 of which live in captivity), the Asian elephant – numbered at 300,000 at the turn of the 20th century – is undoubtedly headed for extinction. The efforts in Antwerp and Rotterdam in 2007 raised over €700,000 and the upcoming auction in Amsterdam is expected to do even better.

This past Friday, on my way into a meeting in Amsterdam, I happened to catch a few along Rokin and on Spui. Not having heard of the display, it was an unexpected, yet very pleasant surprise. And, of course I took the opportunity to snap a few pictures to share! More elephants can be seen in the following locations.

  • Museumplein
  • Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal
  • Koningsplein
  • Westermarkt
  • Jodenbreestraat
  • Kalvertoren
  • Amstelveld
  • Frederiksplein
  • and Nieuwmarkt

If you must miss this go around, however, don’t fret. More parades are being planned for France, Belgium, and Thailand. Enjoy the photos! If you have additional ones that you would like to share, leave a link. Do you have an account of your own run-in with the tusked beasts that you’d like to tell us about in a comment? I’d love to hear from you. :0)

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