S and T

My nephew Joseph asked me to teach him a little Dutch by making him a Dutch Alfabet. The easiest way for me to do this for him is through my blog. These are written for him, but hopefully anyone else reading this can learn a little Dutch!

S is for Sinterklaas

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Sinterklaas is the Dutch for Saint Nicholas. In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas’ feast day is bigger than Christmas. Sinterklaas comes on a boat in late November and stays until December 6th, his feast day.

The feast day is celebrated usually with a parade, where Sinterklaas rides through town on a white horse, assisted by his Zwarte Piets, who represent a boy who Saint Nicholas saved from the Roman Soldiers.

Sinterklaas gives children chocolate letters. pepernoten and kruidnoten, which are both a traditional candy that taste almost like gingerbread.

Saint Nicholas’ feast day is full of games, songs, and celebration. But make sure you are good, because at the end of the day Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Piets gather all the bad children and send them to Spain! Yikes!

 

T is for Tulp

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Tulp is the most popular flower in the Netherlands, the Tulip.

Although tulips are originally from Turkey, The Netherlands known worldwide for their large tulip fields and tulip festivals. The most famous tulip garden is located just south of Amsterdam called Keukenhof, which holds over 7-million flower bulbs.

Tulip season goes from late March to the middle of May. This makes Spring the best time for tourists to visit Holland!

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Q and R

My nephew Joseph asked me to teach him a little Dutch by making him a Dutch Alfabet. The easiest way for me to do this for him is through my blog. These are written for him, but hopefully anyone else reading this can learn a little Dutch! 

Q is for Quark Cheese.

howto-make-quark

Quark cheese is a type of cheese found mainly in Germany, but common also in the Netherlands. Quark cheese is made from fermented sour milk.

The word “quark” does not have an exact translation into English, but it roughly means “thick milk” and it tastes kind of like cottage cheese or cheese curds.

In Germany and the Netherlands they actually make cheesecake out of Quark cheese, but it isn’t as sweet as our cheesecake, it has more of a cheesy taste.

R is for Regenboog.

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Regenboog means rainbow.

In the Netherlands it rains a lot. Much more than it rains in Iowa. But one good thing about all the rain is that it is often followed by a regenboog, or a rainbow.

The colors of the rainbow obviously stay the same, but the names are different. In Dutch they are:

  • Red = Rood (Rude)
  • Orange = Oranje (oh-raan-ye)
  • Yellow = Geel (heel)
  • Green = Groen (hroan)
  • Blue = Blauw (Bl-0w)
  • Indigo = Indigo (in-de-ho)
  • Violet = Violet (vee-oh-let)

365 Days of Joy: July

I’ve decided to do 365 days of joy this year (inspired by the wonderful Raquel Kato, author of the Story of a Rose blog).  Some posts my be long, some may be only a sentence, but the important thing is finding joy in your everyday life, because there are so many things to be joyful about, and I tend to forget that. I’ll be posting one every week, and hopefully, along with joy, I can gain a little consistency in my life. 😉

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Ok, so July was a mess of a month and I didn’t do any blogging whatsoever. While it was annoying that I didn’t have enough time to blog, it was also nice that I was busy enough to not have time to blog. Instead of doing a daily account of my joy, I will just write a summary and then get back to the weekly thing on Wednesday.

July started off with two of my best friends arriving in Europe. Kate and Marissa started their 8-week European backpacking adventure by visiting me in the Netherlands. Their visit brought so much joy into my heart. Not only was it great to get bear hugs instead of the European kisses on the cheek, but it was also great to be with people who I could be 100% myself around.

I spent a little over 2 weeks with Marissa and Kate. We went to Germany first to visit Linda, who was Marissa’s foreign exchange student in high school. And then we went to Spain.

I’m not going to go into detail about Spain because I want to save it for my travel blog, and I will let you all know when that get’s posted.

I left Spain and went back to the Netherlands for my last five days in Europe. Those days were consumed mostly with tying up loose ends and packing. The family did have a celebration for my feast day (July 22nd) and they had a wonderful going away dinner for me. Not only that, but they got me a sweatshirt that says “I was an Au Pair at Kasteel Amstenrade, and I survived” followed by the names of the kids. It is so cool.

Leaving the Netherlands was hard. I was shocked that I made it through the day without crying, but I think I was just too overwhelmed and jittery to have any real emotion. It was like I was shell shocked the entire trip.

The airline lost one of my bags, which was annoying at first, but all that didn’t seem to matter when I stepped out of the customs area and was greeted immediately by Grace jumping into my arms! Then I saw the rest of my welcoming crew and I was in a state of overwhelming bliss. My grandparents, my brother Joe, my brother-in-law Bryan, and two of my nephews, Matthew and Dominic, were there waiting for me with a sign that read “Welkom Thuis Madeline.”

The next few days were just as joyful as I reunited with my family and my best friend, Katlin. My mom had a party for me on Sunday and it was the first time our whole family was together in over 15 months.  It was loud and full of laughter, just how it’s always been.

The last week of July was spent getting my room together at Kilty’s and starting my new part-time job as a nanny for three kids in Des Moines. Yes, I’m still a nanny, but hey, when you are good at something and love it, why quit?  It’s weird being back in Des Moines and having it be a permanent stay. I have never actually lived here for more than 3 months, and I’m excited to call this city my home. I still need to find a weekend job and a car, but so far I think I’m adjusting nicely to the new arrangement.

I loved my year in the Netherlands, even with the tough language and cultural barriers. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I will always have fond memories of it. But now, I’m so happy to be back in the good ol’ USA.

Now, as I always try to do when I start somewhere new, I have a list of goals for my new life back in America.

  • Get a second job
  • Buy a car (yikes)
  • Get started on a book program
  • Volunteer for a presidential campaign in Des Moines
  • Get involved with the Church, hopefully by helping with a pro-life or youth group
  • Write book reviews for my blog
  • Start a work-out routine
  • Save my pennies for traveling

This list is pretty vague right now, but it’s a start!

O and P

My nephew Joseph asked me to teach him a little Dutch by making him a Dutch Alfabet. The easiest way for me to do this for him is through my blog. These are written for him, but hopefully anyone else reading this can learn a little Dutch! 

O is for Onzevader.

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The Onzevader is the Our Father in Dutch.

The Netherlands is historically a Christian country. The region I live in is known as the Catholic region. All over the Netherlands you can find beautiful churches that are usually the center of the town.

Here is a translation of the Our Father so you can practice it in Dutch! (Joseph, your Dad can probably pronounce most of the words because it is very close to German!)

Onze Vader, die in de hemel zijt,
uw naam worde geheiligd.
Uw rijk kome,
Uw wil geschiede,

op aarde zoals in de hemel.
Geef ons heden ons dagelijks brood,
en vergeef ons onze schuld,
zoals ook wij aan anderen hun schuld vergeven.
En leid ons niet in bekoring,
maar verlos ons van het kwade.


Amen.

P is for Pannenkoek.

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Pannenkoek is the Dutch work for pancake!

The Dutch love to eat pancakes, but their pancakes are very different from ours.

The Dutch pancake is very thin and it is very big–they take up the entire plate!

In America we put blueberries, chocolate chips, and bananas in the dough and cook them inside the pancake. Here they would put the fruit or chocolate on top and cook it that way.

There are pancake houses all over the Netherlands and people usually don’t go there for breakfast, but rather for lunch or dinner.

When you eat pancakes here you can have them either salty or sweet. The salty pancake is almost like a pizza. It has different toppings on it, like ham, cheese, and vegetables. The sweet pancake is closer to an American pancake, but they don’t eat them with maple syrup like we do.

Here is a recepie for a Dutch pannenkoek, so you can try them at home!

http://stefangourmet.com/2013/12/31/dutch-pancakes-pannenkoeken/

They are really simple, and all you need are 4 ingredients to make the pannenkoeken, and then you can put whatever you want on top!

M and N

My nephew Joseph asked me to teach him a little Dutch by making him a Dutch Alfabet. The easiest way for me to do this for him is through my blog. These are written for him, but hopefully anyone else reading this can learn a little Dutch! 

M is for Molen.

Me in front of the Windmills at Kinderdijk
Me in front of the Windmills at Kinderdijk

Molen means mill. The most common mill in the Netherlands would be the windmill.

A few weeks ago I put up my post for the letter d and I told you about the dikes that kept the water out of the Netherlands. Well, the dikes would not work very well if they didn’t have the windmills to push the water away from the land.

There are windmills everywhere and there is also a National Windmill day.

The windmills are also used for grinding grain into flour and in some places they use mills to make “jenever” which is a Dutch gin.

Windmills are so important that they are often used as a symbol of the Netherlands, along with wooden shoes and tulips.

N is for Nee.

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As I’m sure you can guess from the image above, nee means no.

Nee is pronounced NAY, and it is probably the most useful word to know in Dutch.  A lot of words sound different depending on where you are in the Netherlands because people have different accents. For example, many people from Amsterdam have a hard time understanding people from Limburg because the southern accent is so strong. But one word that remains the same in all the accents is Nee.

Since it’s so easy to say tourist and visitors can easily pick it up and use it without sounding that foreign. Most of the Dutch can speak or understand English, but they like it when people try to speak Dutch even when they don’t know many words. So when tourists and visitors say nee instead of no, it makes the people here very happy.

Before I came to the Netherlands, nee was the only word I knew because of the comedian Seth Meyers and his experiences in the Netherlands:

365 Days of Joy: Week 24

I’ve decided to do 365 days of joy this year (inspired by the wonderful Raquel Kato, author of the Story of a Rose blog).  Some posts my be long, some may be only a sentence, but the important thing is finding joy in your everyday life, because there are so many things to be joyful about, and I tend to forget that. I’ll be posting one every week, and hopefully, along with joy, I can gain a little consistency in my life. 😉 So here we go, week 24!

1b711321c20e2400aabe6e403b3485a4This week I took that quiz that has been going around Facebook, the “Which Bible verse describes you” one. I was so happy when it gave me this one from Psalm 91. I have always loved Psalm 91 because it is about total faith in God and in yourself. It’s about trusting that God will help you through everything, the good times and the bad, and with him you can do all you need to do. I have used this Psalm to get through the times I have felt the hand of fear or when I have felt alone.  This Psalm is often known as the “Soldiers Prayer” and while I’m not a soldier in the military, I have always felt like a soldier for Christ. Right now our morals, our beliefs, our rights and our faith are under constant attack and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. In this time I think we all need to remember Psalm 91 and remember that God has our backs and we just need to trust in Him and keep fighting the good fight.

06.18.15

Had a fun time playing with the kids in the trees and teaching them how to make little houses in the roots like I used to do when I was little. We never actually got one made, apparently the destruction of any progress is a lot more fun than seeing it completed…despite this it was still a lot of fun!

06.19.15

First day of the season picking Raspberries!

I also put up my blog post about my weekend in Prague. You can read it here!

06.20.15

I had the kids for the night and so I used up some time by calling Kilty and my nephews and introducing them to the kids here. It was really cute seeing Lambert-Joseph talk to Pepe, and Elisabeth was so excited to finally see baby Maria! The rest of the night the topic of conversation was Pepe’s hair and the question “why is it yellow?”

06.21.15

Spent some time reading Pope Francis’ new Encyclical “Laudato Si” –I didn’t make much of a dent but what I have read so far is good and I’m looking forward to finishing it.

06.22.15

I’m starting this horrible mess called packing…somehow I have to fit all my stuff into two bags–it may be impossible. But my joy of the day came from Clemens-August walking by himself for more than 10 steps! Whooo!

06.23.15

More Raspberry picking and the continuation my mission of getting these kids accustomed to the Oldies…mainly The Eagles and James Taylor.

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06.24.15

It is officially my last month in Europe. This is a very bittersweet day and it has been spent mostly packing since I’m leaving for Spain in a week and I should have most of my things packed before that…yikes. But I did spend the day reminiscing with the Top Hits of 2001…that year gave us some great songs.

And that’s my week! I don’t know how the next few weeks will go for my blog because I will be in Spain. I’ll try to post, but no promises 🙂

Peace!

K and L

My nephew Joseph asked me to teach him a little Dutch by making him a Dutch Alfabet. The easiest way for me to do this for him is through my blog. These are written for him, but hopefully anyone else reading this can learn a little Dutch! 

K is for Koningshuis

Koningshuis

Koningshuis means the Royal House.

The Netherlands does not have a President like we do in America. Instead they have a Prime Minister and a Royal House.

Since 1559, the House of Orange-Nassau have been the royal family in the Netherlands. This is why all the main color in the Netherlands is orange instead of their flag colors, which are red, white, and blue.

The King of the Netherlands is King Willem-Alexander. His queen is Queen Máxima and they have three daughters, Princess Catharina-Amalia, Princess Alexia, and Princess Ariane.

King Willem-Alexander is a very new King. In 2013 his mother, Queen Beatrix, stepped down from her throne and he became king.

The King does not have absolute power in the Netherlands. He works together with a board of ministers and is apart of the executive branch of the government.

The Royal family in the Netherlands are very open compared to many other monarchs. They are often seen at festivals, sporting events, and other public events.

L is for Limburg.

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In America we have 50 different states. In the Netherlands they have 12 different regions.

The most famous region is North Holland, except most people just call it Holland. It is so famous that most people just call the whole country Holland. The main reason it is so popular is because Amsterdam, the countries capitol city, is located in North Holland.

I, however, do not live in North Holland. I live in the region called Limburg. Limburg is the southernmost region in the Netherlands. If you look at a map of the Netherlands you will see that a skinny part of the country between Belgium and Germany, that part is Limburg.

Limburg has a lot of farms and small communities. The people are very relaxed and fun. They love having festivals and big parties where they can sing and dance all night long. More than anything, they are very traditional.

This region, as opposed to the other 11, is primarily Catholic. They still celebrate all the Catholic feast days and they are the main region to celebrate Carnival.

I have enjoyed living in Limburg because it reminds me a lot of the midwest in America.

I and J

My nephew Joseph asked me to teach him a little Dutch by making him a Dutch Alfabet. The easiest way for me to do this for him is through my blog. These are written for him, but hopefully anyone else reading this can learn a little Dutch! 

I is for Inwijken.

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Inwijken means immigrate.

A long time ago many people from the Netherlands came to America to live. When they came there in the early 1600’s, they founded a city called New Amsterdam. This was the major city in the New Netherlands territory, which the Dutch owned in America.

A few years later, the Dutch decided to trade the New Netherlands Territory, including New Amsterdam, to the British for the Spice Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The British changed the Territory name to New York, and changed New Amsterdam to New York City.

The Dutch didn’t only settle in New York, however. In the 1800’s many Dutch farmers left the Netherlands to look for cheaper farm land. When they got to America they came west and settled in places like Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.

The Dutch have lived in America for a long time now and around 5 million people in the States say their heritage is Dutch. They live all over, but most of them live close to Des Moines and in Wisconsin (maybe that’s why Wisconsin has really good cheese!).

In Iowa there are a lot of places to buy Dutch food or go to Dutch festivals. One of the most famous ones is the Tulip Time festival in Pella, Iowa, which is not very far away from Des Moines.

J is for Juf.

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Juf means teacher.

In the Netherlands, once you turn 5 you have to go to school.  Elementary school lasts from ages 5-12, and then you go to a high school of some sort. When you are 12 you take a test to see what level of high school they will go to.

Most of the schools in the Netherlands are public or religious. There are some private school as well, but they are less common.

It is not allowed to home school in the Netherlands unless you can prove that the schools do not meet the needs of the child.

For the most part the schools are considered very good in the Netherlands and it is ranked in the top ten of the best educational systems in the world.

G and H

My nephew Joseph asked me to teach him a little Dutch by making him a Dutch Alfabet. The easiest way for me to do this for him is through my blog. These are written for him, but hopefully anyone else reading this can learn a little Dutch! 

G is for Grappenmaker.

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In Dutch, grappenmaker means joker or funny man.

The Dutch love playing practical jokes, in fact one of their favorite days is April Fools’ day.

They have been celebrating this day for over 400 years because it was on April first when the Dutch rebels beat the Spanish army in a major battle that eventually led to them gaining their independence.

On April 1, 1572 the Dutch claimed the town of Den Briel from the Spanish commander Lord Alva. Ever since that day the dutch have celebrated this embarrassing loss for the commander by playing pranks and making jokes on the first of April.

The people are not the only ones who get involved in telling jokes. In the past the government has played pranks on the people, and so have the police, newspapers, and the public transportation services.

April is a beautiful month to be in the Netherlands, but if you are there on April 1, be ready to get pranked by a grappenmaker.

H is for Haven.

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In Dutch, haven means harbor or port.

Because the Netherlands is right on the ocean, and it has lots of rivers and canals, they have a lot of ports and harbors for boats to come into.

The biggest port in Europe is the Rotterdam Port, which is located in South Holland.

The Rotterdam port opened in the 14 century and is over 25 miles long. In 2014 almost 30,000 ships came into the Rotterdam port.

The Netherlands ports help the Netherlands stay on of the leading exporters in Europe, they also help Europeans get supplies from other continents, mainly Africa and America.

F is for…

My nephew Joseph asked me to teach him a little Dutch by making him a Dutch Alfabet. The easiest way for me to do this for him is through my blog. These are written for him, but hopefully anyone else reading this can learn a little Dutch!

F is for Fiets.

When you are in the city, you see bikes parked wherever there is an opening...usually by a canal. The picture was taken in the city of Utrecht.
When you are in the city, you see bikes parked wherever there is an opening…usually by a canal. The picture was taken in the city of Utrecht.

Fiets in Dutch means bicycle.

In the Netherlands, people ride bicycles almost as much as they drive cars. Instead of taking the bus or having their parents drive them to school, most kids in the Netherlands ride their bike.

The Dutch government has been encouraging people to ride bikes because it cuts down on traffic and it’s better for the environment. Because of this they have insured that all roads have special bike lanes, and that the driving laws keep bicyclists safe from the cars. The government works hard to keep bicyclist safe, and they claim that Holland is the safest place for someone to ride a bike.

In bigger cities, like Amsterdam, instead of finding lots of huge parking garages for cars, you will find parking garages for bikes. Some of these garages are three stories high.

AMS-bikes

There are lots of bicycle races in the Netherlands. One of the most famous ones,The Amstel Gold Race, takes place just 30 minutes away of where I live. The race is about 100 miles long and takes 3 days to complete.

While a lot of people like to race bikes, most of the Dutch just ride them to get around, not for racing. Families will also take biking holidays, where they will ride their bike to their vacation instead of taking a car.

It’s fun to ride bikes in the Netherlands, because everyone does it, however, they take it very seriously here, so you can’t get in the bikers way!